In Buddhism, Asura is one of the 6 classes of rebirth. According to popular narratives, the male Asura has a human body but an animal head. They are demi-gods who already enjoy a comfortable life but due to their covetous mind, they try to takeover the heavens occupied by the gods. They never succeed in their quests because they lack the good karma to ascend into heavens. Consequently, they suffer unbearable defeat and losses.
If we read this literally, it seems like another fairy tale or inter-galactical drama in the Buddhist scriptures. Not quite relatable, if you ask me. But if we examine the descriptions of an Asura, it becomes easy for us to identify them amongst human. Perhaps we may also have exhibited such tendencies at some point in life.
Asura amongst people can be easily spotted in work places. Be it a corporate office or amongst volunteers in a temple. Especially if they hold titles of assistant manager or supervisors etc. Or simply anyone who refuses to play second fiddle in life. Their mantra is “I love to compete!” or “I prefer to lead”; and with a restless and coveting mind, everywhere becomes their battleground. Yes, even the Buddhist temples and monasteries.
According to Buddhism, to be reborn a god in heaven depends on our good meritorious deeds. However, the Asuras in Buddhism coveted heaven by resorting on warfare instead of doing more good deeds. In anther word, these beings relied on the wrong method when pursuing their goals. Thus their victory, if any, is always short-lived.
If we are jealous of people who are more capable than us and we covet their position through wrongful deeds, then we are Asuras. Although a human, our head is that of an animal. We have that basic instinct to hunt and overpower, but we lack wisdom. In that manner, we engage in wrongful deeds such as backstabbing, slandering, sabotaging, aggression, passive-aggression and many more similar deeds.
Naturally, being an Asura creates bad karma for us. If we wish to become a leader, we need to possess good leadership quality and capability. We need to work and earn it; not wage a war against someone. War always result in casualties.
If we behave like an Aura in a Buddhist centre, then our Karmic debt becomes worse. This is because conflict will affect others and ultimately, some innocent by-standers are going to be adversely affected by our Asura ways.
If we like to lead and if we love to compete, it is good to sit back and self-reflect once in a while; are we wearing an animal head? Are we a venomous snake or are we an angry bull?
Lets not be an Asura.
May all be well and happy.