2ndlook

Asuras and Slavery – The Indic Disconnect


Demons, Satan and Ogres and Monsters

The world calls them by many names – demon, daemon, daimon, deuce, devil, daeva, evil spirit, ghost, fiend, imp, monster, ogre, rogue, savage, satan, villain, et al. All cultures in the world, extant and extinct have a vast array of villains. The Desert Bloc has the Satan and the Greeks had the sundry Medusa, Titans and Cyclops. The Sumerians had Gilgamesh and Enkidu take on Humbaba.

But the Indian tradition does not really have demons. The closest that Indian texts offer are the asuras - blessed by the Gods, especially by Brahma and Shiva. Unlike demons in the rest of the world, the Indian asuras are believers in God, at least in the Indian trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Their rivals are the devas – led by Indra. The struggle between devas and asuras is an ongoing theme in Indian classical texts. Some asuras like Ravana are highly learned, some were Brahmans before becoming asuras, like Vritrasura and there is the highly righteous asura, like King Bali.

What is one to make of the Indian asura?

Asuras in Indian texts

Indian pauranik and classical history begins to make sense only after the concept of ‘asuras’ as a verbal cue for slavery and slave masters /traders is used. In the Ramayana, there is great elaboration about Ravana’s palace and cities – and Ayodhya was itself an unremarkable city.

The Jatakas - At The Borobudur Temple

The Jatakas - At The Borobudur Temple

Jataka stories (mainly considered as children’s stories in the West) are a reflection of social mores, realities- and also cautionary tales for adults. This Jataka story (click on the link) refers to a “demon’ (another word for a slave trader) and cautions travellers and merchants about slave traders. This ‘demon’ kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind.

Similarly, the story of Bali, the ‘righteous’ Asura king, who was sent to the patalaloka, by Vamana, makes sense, the moment ‘demons’ are defined as slave-owners and enslavers.

Daas /Daasyus and Slavery

Daas and daasis in India are correctly, attendants or servants. The Pandavas, Harishchandra, Nala (of the Damyanti fame), all became dasas during adverse times. After their period of service, they could freely leave their employers. This was voluntary – and they were NOT captured, sold, resold, traded – as slaves, in slave societies were. Slaves have no control over the recompense for their output.

The word गुलाम ghulam is an import into modern Indian languages.The more wrongly and commonly used Sanskritic synonym is दास dasa - an attendant, or a servant, but not a slave. Draupadi was a daasi to the Queen of Virat-desh. The Pandavas became daasas at the court of Viraat-naresh. Raja Harishchandra became a daasa to a chandala. These were kings who became daasas. Nala, (Damayanti fame), the King of Nishada, became a daasa – but not a slave. Interestingly, in neo Assyrian period, “daughters of vassals (especially from Syria and Palestine) were sometimes sent to the Assyrian court to act as servants (ana abrakkuti)”

Therefore, once asura for slave traders /owners is used, the reading of Indian Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Mahabharat and Ramayana, everything, begins to makes much sense – especially historical sense. Without this interpretation, there are missing elements. For instance, the story of Bali and Vamana, the horror stricken response of readers to Sita-apaharan by Ravana and others.

Similarly, the story of Dadhichi, from whose bones the vajrastra was made to kill the ‘demon king’ Vritrasura! Or the ‘Nahusha’ story, where a ‘mere’ mortal human being was elevated to the position of Indra, to defeat the ‘asuras’. This interpretation of asuras as slave owners /traders, also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing jauhar. In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example.

Angkor Vat - Hanuman in Lanka (errata at Kshirsagar manthan).

Angkor Vat - Hanuman in Lanka (errata at Kshirsagar manthan).

Missing Monuments

The Pyramids, the Coliseum, the Great Wall, were all monuments that were raised by slave societies. To impress the slave population?

India has no such monuments because India had no slave populations to build such showpieces – and no slaves to impress. Monuments, in the forms of temples, started showing up in India too, after 10th century AD – including in Indic ruled countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, etc.

Slave monuments

Valmiki’s Ramayana is breathless with wonder at Lanka – and makes no mention of Ayodhya as a city.

samaasaadya cha lakshmiivan laN^kaaM raavaNapaalitaam |
parikhaabhiH sapadmaabhiH sotpalaabhiralaMkR^itaam || 5-2-14
siitaapaharaNaarthena raavaNena surakshitaam |
samantaadvicharadbhishcha raakshasairugradhanvibhiH || 5-2-15
kaaJNchanenaavR^itaaM ramyaaM praakaareNa mahaapuriim |
gR^ihaishcha grahasaMkaashaiH shaaradaambudasannibhaiH || 5-2-16
paaNDuraabhiH pratoLiibhiruchchaabhirabhisaMvR^itaam |
aTTaalakashataakiirNaaM pataakaadhvajamaaliniim || 5-2-17
toraNaiH kaaJNchanairdivyairlataapaN^kivichitritaiH |
dadarsha hanumaan laN^kaaM divi devapuriiM yathaa || 5-2-18

the city which looked like the city of Gods in heaven, decorated by moats filled with lotuses and water-lilies, which was well protected, since the time of Seetha’s abduction, by Ravana and by Rakshasas with horrifying voices roaming around, which was surrounded by a golden boundary wall, that beautiful great city consisted of houses equal in height to mountains and which looked like autumnal clouds, with white and elevated main streets, decorated with flags and pennons, with excellent golden hued archways adorned with sculpted rows of vines.

So, shining and gleaming cities were out of place in India – but Indians did associate such cities with slave-societies of Asuras.

Pandavas learn their lessons …

The Mahabharata has a cautionary tale about the Khandava-dahan and the building of city of Indraprastha -which the Pandavas lost very quickly.  A reluctant Maya was pressured, persuaded and influenced to build Indraprastha for the Pandavas.

This tale in the Mahabharata is an interesting insight on monuments and man-nature conflict. The Pandavas, having secured a favorable award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute, decided to set up a new capital. The divine architect Maya was retained to build this city. The site chosen for the new capital city – a forest, Khandava. Overcome by their hubris, the Pandavas, burnt down the entire forest - and the animals inhabiting the forest. In place of the forest came up the gleaming new city of Indraprastha.

All the kings were called to marvel at the new city. And in her pride, Draupadi mocked at Duryodhana – a guest. To avenge this mockery, Duryodhana challenged Yudhishthira for a game of chess (instead of a war) – which Yudhishthira promptly lost. They lost their new city – and were sent into exile by Duryodhana. Lessons duly learnt, the Pandavas after the completion of their exile, asked for five villages. After winning the War Of Mahabharat, they ruled from the ancient capital of Hastinapur. No more gleaming cities for them.

India and slavery

Unlike in the rest of the world, no records, ever, have been found of human trafficking in the India. Sanskrit and Indic languages have no word for slave’. Based on inertia and social design, it would be difficult to imagine, that Indians woke up in 1000 BC and decided to abolish slavery. Instead, a pre-existing, anti-slavery bias, was re-affirmed repeatedly, is a more feasible hypothesis.

Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, there is no Sanskritic word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery, as a concept does not exist in India – and it was slave traders who were defined as asuras.

Slave Memory In Indian Society

There are also no historical records of slave trades, prices, quantities, ownership anywhere in India. In fact, Sanskritic Indian languages have no word for slaves.

By the 10th century, Slave memory faded out in India. The Indic word for slave owning cultures, asur, became disconnected with slave ownership. The understanding of the word ‘asura’ changed – and foreign words like ‘ghulam’ made their way into Indic languages. Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ shubh-labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade. In modern times, India, though a power in computing industry, is not a big player in spamming or in software virus.

What Did This Do In India

At least 4000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.

Asuras & Devas

Durga and Mahishasura battle

Imported words like गुलाम ghulam or the xenophobic, Euro-interpretation of asuras as ‘Dravidians’, ‘foreigners’ or ‘others’ further dimmed Indian perception of slavery. Instead, created divisions within Indians. On the contrary, asuras could even be Indians – and even ‘righteous’ kings like Bali. The entire Ravana characterization was not about Sita being abducted. The outrage was the ‘asuras’ i.e. slave traders, trading her.

Similarly, the story of Dadhichi, from whose bones the vajrastra was made to kill the ‘demon king’ Vritrasur. Dadhichi was a former king, son of Atharvan, and Vritrasur was a brahman who became a slave trader – an asura. Or the ‘Nahusha’ story, where a mere mortal was made Indra, to defeat the ‘demons’.

Asuras in History

Interesting are the many Mahishasurmardini statues, coins and seals, especially by the Gupta kings and coins by many other Indic rulers, recovered from Afghanistan and Iran.  The issuance of Mahishasurmardini seals and coins continued, going by by appearances, celebrated the victory of Tomyris, over Cyrus, for the next 800-1000 years. Such coins, seals and statues have been found in modern day Iran, Afghanistan, which support this linkage.

The possible link between Ahura Mazda and Mahishasura (Sanskrit root of Mazda Ahura?) has been the source of much speculation. Ahasuerus, is the Persian King, in the Hebrew Book Of Esther and Ezra – who is considered by some to be Xerxes. The commonality of Sanskritic language, symbols between Zend Avestha and Aryan India are well known for me repeat. After all, Zarathushtra was also from Bactra (Bharata-ah).

The Persian linguistic makeover from the Dravidian-Elamite language to Sanskritic-Old Persian however did not change everything. The Elamite element in Zoroastrian revolt against the daiwas (devas), continues today in Elamite-Dravidian-Tamil Nadu, where asura kings like Ravana and Neduncheziyan are respected.

Rural, Tribals and Urban

The Desert Bloc typically, targetted tribals for slavery – and in recent history, it was the Africans. In India though, the relationship was different. The interaction of tribals with the urban populations, limited to the extent of trade of produce needed by the urban dwellers – and urban products needed by these forest dwellers.

Early Indian records like the Ramayana recognized these rights – when Ramachandra on his way to exile was welcomed into the forest by Guha, the forest king, hunter king of the Nishada tribe – the ruler of the forests. Such centuries of tradition are today being trampled by the Indian State, which continues with some colonial practices – in the name of progress and public good.

tataH niSaada adhipatim dR^iSTvaa duuraat avasthitam |
saha saumitriNaa raamaH samaagacchad guhena saH || 2-50-35

35. dR^ishhTvaa= seeing; duuraat= from the distance; nishhaadaadhipatim= the king of Nishada; upasthitam= coming; saH raamaH= that Rama; soumitriNaa saha= along with Lakshmana; tataH= thereupon; samaagachchhat= went forth to meet; guhena= Guha.

Seeing from a distance the king of Nishada coming, Rama along with Lakshmana thereupon went forth to meet Guha.

Slavery – in recent Indian history

This also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing sati and jauhar was a response to the huge slave market that operated in the entire Central Asian geography and the Levant. The Central Asian region from the 10th century to the 17th century, imported Indian slaves – and exported horses.

In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example. But before that, suddenly intrepid Indians discovered kaala paani - a response to indentured labour, which was a close parallel to slavery.

Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, Sanskrit language, which is a synthetic and artificial language, works on the system of relational data base system, has no word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery as a concept does not exist. And it is this unceasing opposition to slavery, which has made India the longest, continously extant civilization in human history.

Where Do We Go From Here

The world has looked to India for answers. But modern India looks to the West. And Western history, by drawing away our attention from the elephants in room has irrelevant answers – a trail of red herrings. It is this lack of slavery, it is these values that gives India the lowest prison populations in the world – and few positions in the Forbes ‘Most Wanted’ List.

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49 Responses

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  1. Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on March 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I am continuously amazed at the scholarly research and depth of understanding offered in this blog. I’d like to make a few comments for consideration. My teacher, the great traditional Indian architect Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati of the very ancient Vishwakarma tradition (who is incidently getting an award from the Indian Gov’t in a few days) is also a sanskrit and tamil scholar on both literary and technical levels, told me that the word “asura” meant “one of great power” and should be associated with siddhas or awakened individuals. He said that from his tradition Mayasura or Mamuni Mayan the ancient scientist and architect was a siddha and rishi. Mayan is mentioned throughout ancient literature in the Bhagavatam and elsewhere. He related to me that people were afraid of Mayan’s great powers and the powers of other asuras (siddhas) and equated them with demons. The fact is, Mayan wrote texts on architecture, herbology, ship building, space craft, drawing and painting, Surya Siddhanta (astronomy) and numerous other topics beyond architecture. He is the author of the Vaastu Shastras, Aintiram, Pranava Veda, and Agama that exist even today. He is said to have lived around 10,000 B.C. during the global warming following the last ice age that caused extensive rise in sea level which engulfed his homeland of Jamboo Dweepa. The Vishwakarma tradition of Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati’s family also holds that Ahura Mazda was Asura Maya. And, that the Zend Avestha is replete with information similar to the Pranava Veda and Aintiram. In addition, Ravana was not a demon and did not “steal” Sita. She in fact went to visit him and his wife, Mandodori, the daughter of Mayan.

    Mayan and his students traversed the subcontinent of India and went to the middle east and even further to the Americas where the Maayan culture was established centuries later. The body of evidence is growing that these stories are true.

    If these stories are true, then someone has been out to discredit them. Who in history would want to discredit a great scientist and artist who had immense influence over world culture, and who hailed from South India?

    I recently returned from a six week visit to India. While there I gave an hour long lecture on traditional Indian architecture (Vaastu Shastras) to a department of architecture in a college near Chennai. I spoke of Asura Mayan and the profound scientific principles established by him. I spoke of the principles of mathematics and physics employed by him and his descendents in building architecture of Sthapatya Veda and Vaastu Shastras. Imentioned that the same mathematical principles of Mayan were also employed in traditional music and dance in addition to architecture , poetry and sculpture. I told the students that cultural artifacts that employ Mayan’s principles create waveforms that affect human life and activity in an amazing and positive way. I told the students and faculty that they must be proud of their heritage and brilliant history.

    After the talk, the Dean spoke with me and said he had never heard of these things and was amazed at the importance of building in this way. He said he thought all of this “stuff” going around India today (vaastu) was superstition and now he can see most of what is being done in the name of vaastu was trash. He invited me back to lecture next year. My point in saying this is that somewhere along the line, Mayan was turned into an evil being, Ravana was turned into an evil being and the fruit of his teaching Vaastu and Agama Shastras were turned into superstition. His texts, the Aintiram and Pranava Veda are almost completely ignored in India. I have worked endlessly but fruitlessly to try to obtain funding to have these books translated into English so that the rest of the world could be exposed to this amazing knowledge.

    In my research, I also learned the the famous Max Muller who translated many Sanskrit texts into English and German was PAID to mis-translate and to add information that would be deceptive. In my research I also learned that until only a few hundred years ago the Vishwakarma’s (shilpis, stapatis and other clan members) were highly respected in India. They not only carried out their arts but also were kings and statesmen (King Bhoja Deva for example wrote a Vaastu Shastra). They held prominent positions in society within their art and in addition to their art. They made jewelery, farm implements, drawings and paintings, sculpture, forts, palaces, temples, and contributed to almost every aspect of society. Today, they barely exist. Their progenitor, Mayan, is called a demon, and their contribution to Indian culture, art and science, is ignored.

    One of the reasons that India’s great monuments were not built with slave labor is that each person working on the building had to have very specialized skill. The monuments of India are Vaastu or Mayonic structures built based upon scientific principles that include mathematics and principles of physics. Every person working on the projects had to be well trained – they could not be untrained slaves.

    Lord Macaulay toured India and followed his tour with an address to
    the British Parliament on Feb 2, 1835 here is his address:

    “I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not
    seen one person who is a beggar,(or) who is a thief. Such wealth I
    have seen in this country. Such high moral values. People of such
    caliber that I do not think we could ever conquer this country, unless
    we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and
    cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old
    and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think
    that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their
    own they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they
    will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

    From my research, the cultural heritage of India spoken of by Lord Macaulay that kept her vibrant was born of the science and art propagated by Brahmarishi Mayan. I have rambled around a bit to make the point that India has a culture, that if re-ignited and employed world wide could bring humanity to a new level of consciousness that is desperately needed at this time in history. I would like to suggest that the root of what is needed today throughout the world is the work of Asura Mayan.

    • samadhyayi said, on December 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

      that macaulay address in parliament is not true. macaulay nor any briton would ever speak in that way. in fact macaulay was not present in the parliament at that time. the briton used a lot of nonsense language in their parliament. it is really disgusting to read the parliament records. the way they dressed their shameless evil deeds in some pseudo just language.

      and sita went to ravana. i see. for what. did she fall in love with him. stop spreading such abominable notions

      ravana was rajas. he wanted to subdue everything by force. his character is consistent to me even if it baffles others. sita would never go to ravana.

      • samadhyayi said, on December 13, 2010 at 6:23 am

        i repeat . ravana ‘s character as depicted in valmiki ramayana is consistent. it was not a distortion of a good ravana into bad one. in india truth is God. if the rishis distorted ravana’s character. nothing in the indian tradition would make sense. which is impossible.
        as we have seen thousands of enlightened souls in india. experienced their infiniteness. indian tradition is therefore based on truth. and no distortion. ravana was what he was as in valmiki ramayan.

    • GK said, on May 1, 2013 at 8:14 am

      I think you must not take your teacher’s words on Ravana, asura demonization seriously. His view is biased and has lot to do with politics of the region.
      You can say Ravana descended from both Deva/Asura lineages. The Asuras/Devas are depicted as half brothers (descended from same father). in the Hindu scriptures. So the fight after all is between brothers.

      The state of Tamilnadu has political movements based on Aryan Invasion Theory. They equate Asuras to Dravidians/Tamils and Devas to Aryas/North Indians. In order to give their made up linguo-ethnic race of Dravidian some legitimacy, these modern day dravidian leaders, started revisionist interpretation of puranas so that they can call Asuras as ancient Tamil people who were unjustly conquered by north indians. Ganapathy Stapathy is obviously taken in by this propaganda. In fact, according to the puranas, Ravana never considered himself as human and when denied immortality wanted a boon that he could only be killed by a human (weak opponents and extremely unlikely) and not devas or other higher beings. Some asuras might have been great scholars, mystics and might have created monumental works. But those cannot absolve the asura collective of their misdeeds.

  2. Tom said, on March 30, 2009 at 8:01 am

    rakshas?
    taj mahal wasn’t slave labor?

    what about the flesh eating demonesses ?
    and the great wealthy yogic warrior castes were angels?

    where has there been the accumulation of material wealth
    but on the backs of others, except for the accumulation of virtue

  3. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

    rakshas?
    taj mahal wasn’t slave labor?
    Taj Mahal is definitely a symbol of slave labour – and the Desert Bloc. There is nothing Indian about the concept. Mughal Kings of Kabul were definitely corrupted and contaminated by their association with the Persiana and Turkic courtiers! Kindly read the 2ndlook post on extinction of slave societies.

    what about the flesh eating demonesses ?

    Flesh eating demonesses is a symbolism for slave owners and traders, and are the asuras – and India’s ceaseless battle against the asuras is what this post was about!

    and the great wealthy yogic warrior castes were angels?

    No .. they were not angels .. they were, as you describe them, great wealthy yogic warrior caste, who fought against the ‘flesh eating’ demons and demonesses.

    where has there been the accumulation of material wealth
    but on the backs of others, except for the accumulation of virtue

    Rare and far in between. And the Indic system was against accumulation of wealth!

    • S Kumar said, on July 20, 2012 at 5:37 am

      Anuraag,

      You have brought out a very interesting concept. The reference to the Taj Mahal by Tom in the above post is indeed specious.

      However my point is that would our texts not include some term to indicate this foreign context of slavery e.g. there is no word for chlorophyll in Hindi. However, Hindi textbooks on chemistry would mention the word as is i.e. chlorophyll. Why would this not happen in the case of slavery. Slavery was an abhorrent concept, not an unknown one. You mention that Vritrasur was a brahman who became a slave trader – an asura. Would that and other similar incidents not preclude some narration in our texts which would indicate slavery.

      • S Kumar said, on July 20, 2012 at 6:24 am

        Also, was the Chinese civilization not in the same boat i.e. was slavery a foreign concept there too?

    • Mahal said, on July 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Taj mahal is moslem building. The other i have nointerest to comment.

      • Mahal said, on July 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

        The law of manu from brahmin priestes has evil writings like the abrahamic. If soul is unaffected by our actions how can you say if you touch an untouchable that you must clean your self!?? That is corrupted. Unless we are ahamkara then we could believe so.

  4. Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on March 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Typo- the word is rakshasa.

  5. Tom said, on March 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    oh so they were the arian Orriana whites? the demons or the non demons?

    my experience with demons is they exist in every color
    and they are born of hate and anger and desire
    the least powerful destroy themselves and their family
    the most tens of thousands to millions

    ‘Flesh eating demonesses is a symbolism for slave owners and traders, and are the asuras – and India’s ceaseless battle against the asuras is what this post was about!’

    no there are pictures of them in the ajanta buddhist caves, they were male prince yakshas (cannibals) and the then the female flesh eating rakshasa are depicted they lived in cemeteries and the buddhist chakrasamvara tantra cycle is connected to subduing them red headed, mad and white these were rakshasa and ancient, before the aryans came

    ‘No .. they were not angels .. they were, as you describe them, great wealthy yogic warrior caste, who fought against the ‘flesh eating’ demons and demonesses.’

    their neighbors who pissed them off? Ashoka?
    anger and hate are the demons they have no color

    ‘And the Indic system was against accumulation of wealth!’

    which system the aryan or the gangetic?
    there appears to be a alot of white aryan in the yogic warlord lineages…
    like the tao did it dome through the women? were the davidian nobility
    co-oped by the aryans? that is what happened with the indigenous Irish when the kelt came. perhaps the remnants

    you could say that the aryan dynasties have been among the greatest accumulators of wealth at the expense of 99% of all people regardless of what color from India, to Europa, to Morocco and Egypt-Greece-Rome-Britain-US, and the people always follow like lemmings thinking as they raise them up, suck the life out of them and crash them down. this time is special they took the entire world.

    but lets not forget the Mayan/Aztec and China/Hong Kong/Japan aka oriental triad…
    or the ivory coast cannibals for that matter.

    of course the Indic math was superior for its time, as was the mayan, but this game is being ran on a calculus/chaos/livingnetwork/evolution model

    there are a group of pueblo indians/native americans in the southwest who are the most balanced and communal oriented among all communities in the world. ‘the hopi’ have 4 mesas, and in one night they killed every man, woman and child on one of the mesas for being christian…

    Nice blog Sir Sanghi,
    but get rid of the racial hate and your insight into the problems of the world will increase exponentially as will your ability to be a positive factor for all people

    when we stop hating each other the 1% overlords will have no leverage.
    we will start giving to each other and they will have not leverage of goods based
    insecurity to divide and destroy

    there is the think tank from the 80’s that developed the derivative driven new economics

    http://www.santafe.edu/

    they were funded by big banks…

    too bad you edited my post where I said you were a racist hater
    the overlords do that too, they control to make only themselves look good
    its called white washing

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm

      … they were the arian Orriana whites? the demons or the non demons? my experience with demons is they exist in every color and they are born of hate and anger and desire the least powerful destroy themselves and their family the most tens of thousands to millions

      Tom! Read the post carefully, before you start pounding the keyboard. The post specifically talks about “Imported words like गुलाम ghulam or the xenophobic, Euro-interpretation of asuras as ‘Dravidians’, ‘foriegners’ or ‘others’ further dimmed Indian perception of slavery. Instead, created divisions within Indians. On the contrary, asuras could even be Indians – and even ‘righteous’ kings like Bali.”

      no there are pictures of them in the ajanta buddhist caves, they were male prince yakshas (cannibals) and the then the female flesh eating rakshasa are depicted they lived in cemeteries and the buddhist chakrasamvara tantra cycle is connected to subduing them red headed, mad and white these were rakshasa and ancient, before the aryans came

      I am glad that you associate Buddhism with Indian thought – and specially Ajanta. The Buddhist thought against Asuras was very relevant to my post.
      I am completely lost on the male prince yakshas (cannibals) point you are making! Are you reading cannibalism in Indian history?
      The Aryans were always Indian – and they went from India – Western propaganda notwithstanding. So, your statement about before and after Aryans is recycling of Western propaganda, which is trying to arrogate Indian achievements to itself, by distorting history.

      ‘And the Indic system was against accumulation of wealth!’ which system the aryan or the gangetic?

      India has been a continuously evolving culture. This is no place to recycle Western propaganda – posing as history. This blog is about 2ndlook. Your question of Aryan or Gangetic is non-sequitur, meaningless. Indian culture has always defined itself as aryan – period.

      there appears to be a alot of white aryan in the yogic warlord lineages…

      Wishful thinking at best. Ignorance, to be generous. There is no such thing as White Aryan!

      you could say that the aryan dynasties have been among the greatest accumulators of wealth at the expense of 99% of all people regardless of what color from India, to Europa, to Morocco and Egypt-Greece-Rome-Britain-US, and the people always follow like lemmings thinking as they raise them up, suck the life out of them and crash them down. this time is special they took the entire world.

      Like I said, the White Aryan is a piece of fiction. It does not exist.

      but lets not forget the Mayan/Aztec and China/Hong Kong/Japan aka oriental triad…or the ivory coast cannibals for that matter.

      Maybe you should be clearer in your thoughts and spelling.

      of course the Indic math was superior for its time, as was the mayan,

      Maths is Indian. Are you calling Roman numbers as maths? Western progress started with Indian maths – known to the West as Arabic numerals.

      Nice blog Sir Sanghi, but get rid of the racial hate and your insight into the problems of the world will increase exponentially as will your ability to be a positive factor for all people

      Sir Tom – You will have to do better. Where do you find evidence of racial hatred? Would you like to point one complete sentence which is hateful?

      too bad you edited my post where I said you were a racist hater the overlords do that too, they control to make only themselves look good its called white washing

      Sir Tom – You are definitely rambling! You have lost track. Your earlier comment about my purported racism, is published here. Please check out.
      Your comments need edition – which I am not doing, being pressed for time.
      But racism is something that Indians do not understand. They have been brought up to believe that all are वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं ‘vasudhaivah kutumbakam’ and ईसा वास्यो मिदं सर्वं ‘isa vaasyo midam sarvam’ (meaning we All on Earth are one family and God is in everyone and everywhere respectively).

  6. Tom said, on March 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    p.s. the ivory coast cannibals were black, and I am looping back to another of your posts
    the derivatives are doing this in infinite scale
    its mimicking a living network
    keep up, keep deleting the parts you don’t like
    to us its words to others its people, cultures and
    oh yes end game, now america/britain and any other northern clime with high minority poverty or white poverty population goes into colonus state too, and those in control are no longer local they are ‘global’

    we suited educated ones < 9% and our children, no matter our race or culture are the world’s nobility at the knee of the global elites

    the other 90%+ are feudal slaves and feudalism was invented in China, evolved in the Mediterranean/Britain and the US becoming Capitalism. it just took a gigantic leap.

    • Jolly Swagman said, on April 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

      HOW THE WEST WAS LOST, THE EMPIRE’S MEDALS WERE REFUSED DOWN UNDER BY LABOR UNITED AGAINST SLAVERY

      The 1946 Pilbara strike was a landmark strike by Indigenous Australian pastoral workers in the Pilbara region of Western Australia for human rights recognition and payment of fair wages and working conditions. The strike involved at least 800 Aboriginal pastoral workers walking off the large Pastoral Stations in the Pilbara on 1 May 1946, and from employment in the two major towns of Port Hedland and Marble Bar. The strike did not end until August 1949 and even then many indigenous Australians refused to go back and work for white station owners.

      It is regarded as one of the longest industrial strikes in Australia, and a landmark in indigenous Australians fighting for their human rights, cultural rights, and Native territories.

      Working Conditions for Aboriginal Pastoral Workers
      For many years Aboriginal pastoral workers in the Pilbara were denied cash wages and were only paid in supplies of tobacco, flour and other necessities. The Pastoral stations treated the Aboriginal workers as a cheap slave labour workforce to be exploited. If they tried to leave the Station, they were found and brought back by the police, according to McLeod.

      European attacks and brutal shootings of whole family groups of indigenous Australians are part of the history of the region, though often not well documented. One attack took place at Skull Creek near Barrow Creek in the1870s, which resulted in the bleached bones and thus the name for the place [1]. There is a well documented account of a massacre in 1926 by a police party on the Forrest River Mission (now the Aboriginal community of Oombulgurri), in the East Kimberleys. Though there was a Royal commission into the Killing and Burning of Aborigines in East Kimberley, none of the police responsible were ever brought to trial and convicted.[2] (see List of massacres of indigenous Australians).

      As well as proper wages and better working conditions, Aboriginal lawmen sought natural justice arising from the original Western Australian colonial Constitution. As a condition for self-rule in the colony, the British Government insisted that once public revenue in WA exceeded 500,000 pounds, 1 per cent was to be dedicated to “the welfare of the Aboriginal natives” under Section 70 of the Constitution.[3] Succeeding colonial and state Governments legislated to remove the funding provisions for ‘native welfare’. Aboriginal plaintiffs from Strelley Station finally commenced an action in the State Supreme Court in 1994[4], seeking a declaration that the 1905 repeal was invalid. In 2001, after protracted litigation, the High Court held that the 1905 repeal had been legally effective[5].

      The Strike
      The strike was coordinated and led by Aboriginal lawmen Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna; and Don McLeod, an active unionist and member of the Communist Party of Australia for a short period. According to McLeod in his book, How the West was Lost self-published in 1984, the strike was planned at an Aboriginal law meeting in 1942 at Skull Springs (east of Nullagine), where a massacre had previously occurred. The meeting was attended by an estimated 200 senior Aboriginal law men representing twenty three language groups from much of the remote north west of Australia. Discussions were protracted with the meeting lasting six weeks. McLeod was given the task of chief negotiator. The strike was postponed until after the Second World War had ended.

      Crude calendars were taken from one station camp to another in early 1946 to organise the strike. The efforts, if noticed by the white people present, were dismissed and laughed at. When 1 May 1946 occurred hundreds of Aboriginal workers left the pastoral stations and setup strike camps.

      The strike was most effective in the Pilbara region. Further afield in Broome and Derby and other inland northern towns, the strike movement was harshly suppressed by police action and was more short lived. Over the three years, occasionally strikers went back to work, while others joined or rejoined the strike.

      Don McLeod was an Australian Workers Union delegate at Port Hedland wharf at the commencement of the strike in 1946 and was able to motivate support by the Australian labour movement. The Western Australian branch of the Seamen’s Union of Australia eventually put a blackban on the shipment of wool from the Pilbara. Nineteen unions in Western Australia, seven federal unions and four Trades and Labour councils supported the strike. The strike stimulated support from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, who helped establish the Committee for the Defense of Native Rights. This organisation raised funds for and publicised the strike in Perth including organising a public meeting in the Perth Town Hall attended by 300 people.

      Many of the Aboriginal strikers served time in jail; some were seized by police at revolver point and put into chains for several days. At one stage in December 1946 Don McLeod was arrested in Port Hedland during the strike for ‘inciting Aborigines to leave their place of lawful employment'; the Aboriginal strikers marched on the jail and McLeod was freed. McLeod was gaoled a total of seven times during the period, three times for being within five chains (100 m) of a congregation of natives, three times for inciting natives to leave their lawful employment, and once for forgery.

      In one incident during the strike, two policemen were sent out to the Five Mile Camp near Marble Bar. When they arrived they commenced shooting the people’s dogs, even when they were chained up between their legs. Shooting the dogs of Aborigines was considered by some frontier Europeans as a sport. On this occasion the endangering of human life angered the strikers who quickly disarmed the two policeman. The local strike leader, Jacob Oberdoo, and other strikers held the policemen until they had regained some composure and then arranged their own arrests insisting they be taken into custody.

      Jacob Oberdoo was jailed three or four times and suffered humiliations and deprivations of many kinds during the strike, but maintained his dignity and solidarity for the length of the strike. In 1972 he was awarded the British Empire Medal but turned it down. McLeod described Oberdoo’s reply to the Prime Minister rejecting the medal:

      “he was unable to do business with, or accept favours from Law-carriers in bad standing. “You pin medals on dogs” was how he explained the real message underlying the award.”
      The strikers were forced to sustain themselves by their traditional bush skills, hunting kangaroos and goats for both meat and skins. They also developed some cottage industry which brought some cash payment such as selling buffel grass seed in Sydney, the sale of pearl shell, and in surface mining.

      Wages and conditions were eventually won by the strikers on Mt. Edgar and Limestone Stations. These two became a standard, with the strikers declaring that any station requiring labour would have to equal or better the rates of pay and conditions operating on these two.

      By August 1949, the Seamen’s Union had agreed to blackban wool from stations in the Pilbara onto ships for export. On the third day after the ban had been applied, McLeod was told by a government representative that the strikers’ demands would be met if the ban was lifted. A week after the strike ended and the ban was lifted, the government denied making any such agreement.

      After the strike concluded many Aborigines refused to go back to working in their old roles in the pastoral industry. Eventually they pooled their funds from surface mining and other cottage industry to buy or lease stations, including some they had formerly worked on, to run them as cooperatives.

      Aftermath
      The poet, Dorothy Hewett, visited Port Hedland in 1946 and wrote the poem Clancey and Dooley and Don McLeod about the strike, which has subsequently been put to music by folk musician Chris Kempster and recorded by Roy Bailey. In 1987 a documentary film was made of the strike by director David Noakes, titled How the West was Lost.

  7. Raman said, on March 31, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Anurag,
    I discovered your blog via the History Carnival on varnam.org/blog. It’s brilliant; great scholarship. To come to your article on slave trade I have a few queries:
    1. How did u reach this conclusion? Nowhere in the Puranas or the itihasas or the Vedas are the asuras / danavas etc. referred to specifically as slave traders. Surely if slave trading had been the main point of difference between asuric and Aryan (Aryan in the sense of noble, or dharmic, or shrestha) societies, there would have been some reference to slave trading by these people in Indian texts.
    2. Could u elaborate a bit more on Sanskrit being an invented language?

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on April 25, 2009 at 7:45 am

      Apart from the reply given below, have you checked out the links on the Jataka stories and the other stories linked in this post itself.

  8. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 31, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Raman – There are two posts which deal with Sanskrit Language.

    India Imports Hazardous Waste

    Why Did Software Become Such A Big Thing in India

    How come Indian engineers with such low levels of prior exposure to computers could ramp up so quickly and tackle such a complex problem? How could a country with the lowest computer penetration become the largest exporter of software in less than 10 years.
    The answer goes back to 5000 years ago.
    When Sanskrit language was invented. Yes. Invented.
    What!! What Has Sanskrit Got To Do With This
    Sanskrit is an artificial, synthetic, revolutionary language – unlike all other languages in the world; which are Prakrit (natural and evolutionary). The next set of artificial languages came into this world after 5000 years later.
    About 50-75 years ago, the next set of artificial languages were invented. These are the computer languages. Between the invention of Sanskrit and the computer languages , there was no other culture which created an artificial language system.
    What is special about Sanskrit?
    Sanskrit is nothing but a database system with millions of database tables and a system of linking concatenated data records. Every word is a table (I studied Sanskrit 30 years ago, and if I remember correctly, it is a 3 column x 8 row table). And all words then combine with each other as per these table rules.
    And all Indian languages are derived from Sanskrit.
    While most of us do not know Sanskrit or understand it’s structure consciously, we all use Sanskritic structures everyday. It is easy for us to learn another “Sanskritic” language! Hence, for all those brilliant engineers, their base in Sanskritic languages gave them a head start.
    And the rest, as they say, is history!

    Asuras as slaves
    On the hypothetical base of Asura, Slavery and Indic thinking, there are embedded links to 2ndlook posts – which will take you there. For some factual background, there are other embedded links.

  9. […] cant Westerners get a simple idea in their head. Aryans are from the land of Bharata-ah. Aryan culture is based on values – and not race and language. The single biggest differentiators, between Aryans and other cultures, […]

  10. […] “There are also no historical records of slave trades, prices, quantities, ownership anywhere in India. In fact, Sanskritic Indian languages have no word for slaves,” writes Anuraag in a post about Demons, Satan and Ogres and Monsters. […]

  11. Kamini said, on April 15, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Fascinating stuff – thanks for all the effort you have put into sharing this with us.
    I have seen the “Hanuman” bas-relief in Angkor Wat – apparently there is a fair amount of debate as to whether that monkey is actually Hanuman or not – that particular sculpture depicts the churning of the milk ocean (with the devas on one side and the asuras on the other, pulling on Vasuki the serpent), and the debate is whether Hanuman could have been present at that time. I suppose that this is one debate that will never be satisfactorily resolved!

  12. Anuraag Sanghi said, on April 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Kamini – This is interesting.

    Hanuman at the churning of the Kshirsagara! Thanks for bringing this out!

    On the debate – The very idea of the debate itself is wrong. It assumes that the Indian version is the only ‘correct’ version. The ‘correct’ version is a feature of the Desert Bloc – One Book, One God … et al. India’s holiest books, have multiple versions.

    I am sure that the kshirsagara-manthan will have many more iterations and interpretations.

  13. Harish said, on April 24, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Hindu Philosophy is much deeper for the grasp. Reference to Asuara and Devas is the personalities within individuals. The whole creation being based on dwaitya – good and bad, each individual has some good and bad in him and depending on which personality is more visible, he gets recognized as Deva or Asura.

  14. Anuraag Sanghi said, on April 25, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Harish – This is of course, symbolic – and also true.

    If you look at the Assyrian civilization of Semiramis or the Persian Empires of Cyrus the Great, which was significantly influenced by the Indic civilization was a mix of both sur and asur qualities.

    But the Egyptian civilization was pure asur. Pure slavery.

  15. Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on April 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    This is a rather lengthy post and i apologize in advance. I think it is interesting to note the definition given in the cologne sanskrit, tamil, pahlavi lexicon of the word “asura.”
    asura a. spiritual, divine. m. spirit, esp. the highest spirit, later a bad spirit, demon f. {I} (opp. {sura} a god).

    If you will notice, as with many words in Sanskrit, the original meaning was positive and of high caliber but was changed to mean something bad or demonic. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, (awarded the esteemed Padma Bushan award), a Sanskrit and Tamil scholar, a member of the ancient Vishwakarma clan (indigenous creative race of India) has told me many times that the term “asura” is a technical term; is mistranslated in sanskrit texts – does not mean demon in its origin. It means “divine”, one of great power (in a positive sense).

    Asuras were a group of men and women who had perfected their consciousness and were thus feared by many. Mayasura or Mayan (from south India and Kumaria) , the progenitor of Pranava Veda, Suria Siddhanta, Mayaagama, Vaastu shastras, treatises on drawing, painting, herbology, architecture, sculpture, dance, space craft, mathematics, poetry, earth science, astronomy, ship building, and a number of other topics was not a demon. He was hailed as a great teacher in his time and his works influenced the root of Indian culture. He is depicted in thousands of temples in India as Dakshinamurthy. He faces south as it is his home of origin. Some of his original writings exist (preserved through palm leaf transcription for thousands of years preceding Buddha) namely the Aintiram, Surya Siddhanta, Pranava Veda, Mayaagama, and Vaastu Shastras.

    Mayasura discovered the mechanism through which the quantum field (what he called Brahmam) manifests itself as the material world through an orderly mathematical process. His work has been mistranslated and misunderstood due to the lack of understanding of “Technical” Sanskrit and Tamil. I have studied his writings and the literature called the Vedas, I have come to believe Dr. Sthapati in his assertions – the Cologne lexicon verifies this concept. Many sanskrit words that, according to the Lexicon had original meanings that were positive and deep but somehow became negative and surface. Some of this has to do with the difference between technical language and literary language. If a scholar does not understand the true meaning of a word because they don’t know the technical language then they might ascribe a meaning that isn’t accurate.

    In addition if a translator is paid (like some of the European translators were – Griffith for example) to put a negative spin on Indian writings and culture to make it look “less than,” then his or her “spin” will become the norm. Thus, the India population (and the rest of the world) is led to believe that India and its people were “less than.”

    Let’s take the words vastu and vaastu for example. The conventional, literary, translation is thought of as meaning “house” or “dwelling place.” This is an extremely small meaning that has evolved to be filled with superstition and ignorance like many of the Sanskrit and Tamil concepts. Let us consider the real meaning through the Technical or actual understanding of the term:

    An examination of the various Sanskrit and Tamil meanings associated with the
    root “vas” and the combined word “vastu” and “vaastu” will shed light on the
    comprehension of the meaning of Vastu Science.

    Vas: to shine; to grow bright, to bestow by shining upon, to cause to shine; to
    enter into, to dwell, becoming light, dawning, the seat or place of, an abiding
    substance or essence, the pith or substance of something, to cohabit with.
    Vaas: to make fragrant or to perfume, an intoxicant, to be or make firm, dwelling
    place, to assume the appearance of, matter. (Cologne Lexicon)

    In examining these definitions, we can see that Vastu is the seat of an abiding,
    shining substance or essence. It has a quality of growing brightness and is the
    pith or substance that enters into and cohabits with that in which it dwells. It is
    the source of all of the material world yet it cohabits with the material world as
    Vaastu. It does not separate itself from the material world.

    Vaastu is that which assumes the appearance of matter. It makes firm or gives
    concrete shape to the place where it dwells. It makes fragrant that in which it
    dwells. That fragrance is the intoxicating spiritual bliss experienced by people
    who live in or visit a Vaastu structure.

    Vastu Science is an ancient science that describes the process through which
    Vastu (unmanifest energy- quantum field) turns itself into Vaastu (manifest forms and material world). (A topic of great interest to modern physics already know to Indian Scientists 10,000 years ago.)

    Vastu written with one “a” refers to unmanifest Absolute Space or Pure Consciousness – the quantum field. Vastu written with two “a’s” (Vaastu) refers to the unmanifest Absolute Space having taken on its material form. Vastu Science then is the science of unmanifest Pure Consciousness and Vaastu Science is the science of manifest Pure Consciousness (Vastu as the material world).

    “This science deals with the eternal process of the subtle energy manifesting into material space or material form. In short, it is the science of manifestation of
    energy into matter or material form.” (Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati).

    Mistranslation by literary scholars is rampant in Indian history. It has led to all pervasive superstition and religious dogma based on mistranslation. Until one begins to truly understand the real meanings of these words one cannot fully understand the real history, culture and science of India.

    I believe that this blog presents an amazing link to the authentic past of India and the struggle that it as a nation and a people have had to face in uncovering its true and great past. The Europeans (including my own family the Jardines who were co- founders of the East India Company) have done a great disservice to India and her people. It needs to be set aright.

  16. Anuraag Sanghi said, on April 27, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Dr.Jessie – There is 3 aspects of your comment that need to be elaborated upon.

    If you will notice, as with many words in Sanskrit, the original meaning was positive and of high caliber but was changed to mean something bad or demonic.

    Vocabulary is a part of the problem. Strictly, demons from the Desert Bloc and Asurs are NOT equivalents. Demon and their equivalents in other languages are evil – and is a negative characterization. But in Indic thought, all Asurs are not negative. Thus the word asur is fact, a noun – without any moral load. Based on the context, the Asur can be positive (like Bali) or negative.

    Mayasura or Mayan (from south India and Kumaria) , the progenitor of Pranava Veda, Suria Siddhanta, Mayaagama, Vaastu shastras, treatises on drawing, painting, herbology, architecture, sculpture, dance, space craft, mathematics, poetry, earth science, astronomy, ship building, and a number of other topics was not a demon.

    Now this is indeed interesting. From the Indic trinity, Brahma and Mahesh were long the patrons of the Asuras. Brahma is the God of Creation and Mahesh is the God if Renewal and Re-Creation /Re-production. But Asurs in Indic thought are anti-sustenance – and hence, Vishnu is never a patron of the Asuras. Vishnu-Dashavataram is a campaign to kill the ‘rampant’ Asurs.
    Asurs because of the pro-slavery outlook – will have a ‘creative’ gene – which is greater than the sur creative gene. In the modern era, you will find that slave-civilizations have been significantly innovative and inventive, due to the mechanism of patronage and greater availability of time and resources.

    In addition if a translator is paid (like some of the European translators were – Griffith for example) to put a negative spin on Indian writings and culture to make it look “less than,” then his or her “spin” will become the norm. Thus, the India population (and the rest of the world) is led to believe that India and its people were “less than.”

    The most interesting bit is the cold-blooded muder of the historical Semiramis. You will find that Semiramis as an Assyrian Queen till the 1850-60 period histories. Suddenly, all books from 1860 onwards, treat Semiramis as a wanton, decadent, probably mythical perverted sluttish character.

    I believe that this blog presents an amazing link to the authentic past of India

    Thanks for this bit – as much for the rest.

    The Europeans (including my own family the Jardines who were co- founders of the East India Company) have done a great disservice to India and her people. It needs to be set aright.

    The tragedy here is that Indians need Western setting right – which to me is a matter of concern.

  17. […] indeed does India have a scarcity of ‘monsters’. Even Indian asuras are not really monsters or devils! This columnist speculates […]

  18. Osawatomie said, on May 11, 2009 at 11:55 am

    When there have been a few who took the initiative to actively fight slavery, raise funds and troops to fight it, there have been the many who used their establishment, their standing armies to defend slavery and perpetuate it. The US civil war was precipitated by the actions of John Brown. And this quote from his speech in court ( he was hanged ) is from the Wikipedia page –

    “ Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case), had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.

    This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!”

    — Excerpt from a speech given by John Brown in court after his conviction, John Brown’s Last Speech, November 2, 1859

    John Brown’s struggle evoked support from the truly greats such as R Waldo Emerson and H David Thoreau. He simultaneously believed in Freedom and Equality. In addition he was a highly respected authority on sheep rearing and wool industry.

    • Ticketholder said, on May 18, 2009 at 10:32 am

      What happened to M K Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg ( SA) has a clear precedent set by the citizens of New Orleans who tested the law and the judiciary on Segregation by enlisting the cooperation and support of an “octoroon” – Homer Plessy. The separate car requirement on Louisiana Railroads was contested by them in an ingenious way.

      The extent to which the legal system refused to be progressive could be clearly seen in the final verdict from the court after some four levels of hearing had been conducted.

      The great outcome from all this has been very recent – the descendants of Homer Plessy and judge Ferguson of Louisiana court have come together in a reconciliation to promote awareness about the civil rights movement.

      The following is from the Wikipedia page on the Plessy vs. Ferguson case which was tried in the US Supreme Court with Justice Harlan contributing his dissenting statement.

      “The Supreme Court had ruled, in the Civil Rights Cases (1883), that the Fourteenth Amendment applied only to the actions of government, not to those of private individuals, and consequently did not protect persons against individuals or private entities who violated their civil rights. In particular, the Court invalidated most of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, a law passed by the United States Congress to protect blacks from private acts of discrimination.

      In 1890, the State of Louisiana passed Act 111 that required separate accommodations for African Americans and Whites on railroads, including separate railway cars, though it specified that the accommodations must be kept “equal”. Concerned, several African Americans and Whites in New Orleans formed an association, the Citizen’s Committee to Test the Separate Car Act, dedicated to the repeal of that law. They raised $1412.70 ($33768.76 in 2008 USD) which they offered to the then-famous author and Radical Republican jurist, Albion W. Tourgée, to serve as lead counsel for their test case. Tourgée agreed to do it for free. Later, they enlisted Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black (an octoroon in the now-antiquated parlance), to take part in an act of planned civil disobedience. The plan was for Plessy to be thrown off the railway car and arrested[2] not for vagrancy, which would not have led to a challenge that could reach the Supreme Court, but for violating the Separate Car Act, which could and did lead to a challenge with the high court.

      The Committee hired a detective to ensure that Plessy was arrested for violating the Separate Car Act, which the Citizen’s Committee wanted to challenge with the goal of having it overturned. They chose Plessy because, with his light skin color, he could buy a first class train ticket and, at the same time, be arrested when he announced, while sitting on board the train, that he had an African-American ancestor. For the Committee, this was a deliberate attempt to exploit the lack of clear racial definition in either science or law so as to argue that segregation by race was an “unreasonable” use of state power.

      The intellectual roots of Plessy v. Ferguson were in part tied to the scientific racism of the era. However, the popular support for the decision was more likely a result of the racist beliefs held by most whites at the time.[3]

      The case
      Marker placed at Press and Royal Streets on February 12, 2009 commemorating the planned arrest of Homer Plessy June 17, 1892 for violating the Louisiana 1890 Separate Car Act.

      On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a car of the East Louisiana Railroad that was designated for use by white patrons only. Although Plessy was born a free person and was one-eighth black and seven-eighths white, under a Louisiana law enacted in 1890, he was classified as an African-American, and thus required to sit in the “colored” car. When, in an act of planned disobedience, Plessy refused to leave the white car and move to the colored car, he was arrested and jailed.

      This was an act of civil disobedience carried out by the Comité des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens) made up of the educated Free People of Color in New Orleans. Committee members were Arthur Esteves, C.C. Antoine, Firmin Chrisophe, C.G. Johnston, Paul Bonseigneur, Laurent Auguste, Rudolph B. Baquie, Rudolphe L. Desdunes, Louis A. Martinet, Numa E. Mansion, L.J. Joubert, Frank Hall, Noel Bachus, George Geddes and A.E. P. Albert

      In his case, Homer Adolph Plessy v. The State of Louisiana, Plessy argued that the East Louisiana Railroad had denied him his rights under the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. However, the judge presiding over his case, John Howard Ferguson, ruled that Louisiana had the right to regulate railroad companies as long as they operated within state boundaries. Plessy sought a writ of prohibition.
      Back of the marker placed Feb. 12, 2009 recalling the arrest of Homer Plessy for violating segregationist state law

      The Committee of Citizens took Plessy’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Louisiana where he again found an unreceptive ear, as the state Supreme Court upheld Judge Ferguson’s ruling. Undaunted, the Committee appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 1896. Two legal briefs were submitted on Plessy’s behalf. One was signed by Albion W. Tourgée and James C. Walker and the other by Samuel F. Phillips and his legal partner F. D. McKenney. Oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court on April 13, 1896. Tourgée and Phillips appeared in the courtroom to speak on behalf of Plessy. It would become one of the most famous decisions in American history because, for the first time, it established that racial segregation was protected by federal law.

      The decision

      In a 7 to 1 decision in which Justice David Josiah Brewer did not participate,[4] the Court rejected Plessy’s arguments based on the Fourteenth Amendment, seeing no way in which the Louisiana statute violated it. In addition, the majority of the Court rejected the view that the Louisiana law implied any inferiority of blacks, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, it contended that the law separated the two races as a matter of public policy.

      When summarizing, Justice Brown declared, “We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

      While the Court did not find a difference in quality between the whites-only and blacks-only railway cars, this was manifestly untrue in the case of most other separate facilities, such as public toilets and cafés, where the facilities designated for blacks were poorer than those designated for whites.

      Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner who decried the excesses of the Ku Klux Klan, wrote a scathing dissent in which he predicted the court’s decision would become as infamous as that in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Harlan went on to say:

      But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.

      New Orleans historian Keith Weldon Medley, author of We As Freemen: Plessy v. Ferguson, The Fight Against Legal Segregation, said the words in Justice Harlan’s “Great Dissent” originated with papers filed with the court by “The Citizen’s Committee”.[5]

      The case helped cement the legal foundation for the doctrine of separate but equal, the idea that segregation based on classifications was legal as long as facilities were of equal quality. However, Southern state governments refused to provide blacks with genuinely equal facilities and resources in the years after the Plessy decision. The states not only separated races but, in actuality, ensured differences in quality. In January 1896, Homer Plessy pled guilty to the violation and paid the fine.

      Influence of Plessy v. Ferguson

      Plessy legitimized the move towards segregation practices begun earlier in the South. Along with Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise address, delivered the same year, which accepted black social isolation from white society, Plessy provided an impetus for further segregation laws. In the ensuing decades, segregation statutes proliferated, reaching even to the federal government in Washington, D.C., which re-segregated during Woodrow Wilson’s administration in the 1910s.

      William Rehnquist wrote a memo called “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases”, when he was a law clerk in 1952, during early deliberations that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In his memo, Rehnquist argued that “I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.” He continued, “To the argument… that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are.”[6][7]

      Plessy and Ferguson Foundation

      Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the players on both sides of the Supreme Court case, have announced the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation for Education and Reconciliation. The foundation will work to create new ways to teach the history of civil rights through film, art, and public programs designed to create understanding of this historic case and its effect on the American conscience.[8]

      “It is no longer Plessy v Ferguson. It is Plessy and Ferguson,” said Keith Plessy in a Public Broadcasting radio interview[9] with WWNO in New Orleans on February 12, 2009, the day that historians gathered with the Plessy and Ferguson families and a member of the Louisiana Supreme Court to unveil a historical marker recalling the case, according to an article in The Times-Picayune.”

      regards.

  19. […] Indic rulers (like The Hittites, Mittanis and the Elamites) confronted and had to compete with slave owning Asura societies – especially in the Middle […]

  20. […] award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute, decided to set up a new capital. The divine Asura architect, Mayasura, was retained to build this city. The site chosen for the new capital city – a forest, […]

  21. […] this project will do is create ‘maya’ – an ‘asuric’ illusion of a ‘caring State‘, of an ‘efficient’ government, a ‘vision’ of an ‘effective welfare […]

  22. ramkumaran said, on January 4, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    i am from tamilnadu and ravana is not venerated as rama is in tn, it is only the dravidian(political parties) spin masters who gave credence to ravana saying that he is a dravidian and rama is aryan and to further take advantage of an artificial aryan-dravidian divide, u can see this by the number of temples dedicated to ramar in tn and somemany ppl naming their children(me included) , places under the name of ramar,seetha,lakshman etc whereas nobody elaborates about ravana. neduzhecian was a pandya dynasty king and he was not a asura, he was the great king who died immediately when he knew that he had erred in his judgement

  23. Anuraag Sanghi said, on January 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Ramkumaram – Thanks for your comment.

    Two things. We urban Indians (with our English language education) know little about the Indic nation and culture. I shall NOT suppose that you may be an exception.

    With about ‘40,000 endogamous’ groups, India is a country with diversity beyond comprehension by any ‘modern’ standards. The Dravidian political parties could not have made a success of themselves had there not been some level of truth to the Ravana worship. I have linked two external sources which support this theory.

    Interestingly, there is a tribe, which goes by the name of Asurs – and worships, Mahishasura – and not Durga.

    On the Silappathikaraam-Neduncheziyan story. If you do a blog search for Silappathikaraam-Neduncheziyan, you will see how this story is much bigger than ‘modern’ Tamil Nadu – and even ‘modern’ India. It is possibly a peek into a untold (in recent times) history of India.

  24. Incognito said, on July 31, 2010 at 2:42 am

    There is no sufficient reason to conclude that ‘asura’ is verbal cue for slavery and slave masters/traders.

    Ravana’s palace in Lanka was not built by Ravana. It was built by Kubera. Ravana appropriated it from Kubera. Kubera was just and dharmik, with talent for creating material wealth, much like most of Bharat was before islamic invasion. The self-aggrandizing Ravana appropriated it much like the marauding muslims and british imposed upon India.

    Is there reason to consider Maha Bali as slave owner ?
    He was reasonably just compared to other asuras and facilitated great material prosperity for his kingdom. But he engaged in self-aggrandizement and self-promotion, identifying too much with his material achievements and name and fame. Raja should be upholding dharma without taking undue pride in his ‘achievements’. When the king starts to take pride in his ‘achievements’ and engages too much in it, it adversely affects society. It was to prevent such damage to society that he was sent to pataala loka.

    There is also no sufficient reason to conclude that Sita-apaharan was to trade her as slave. On the other hand, in Ramayana it is evident that Ravana wanted to make Sita his queen, or one of his queens.

    Story of Dadhichi also does not give credence to think that ‘asura’ is slave owner/trader. Dadhichi was a realized soul, he knew that physical body is only a vehicle for actualization of karma, and having achieved that aim, there was no further purpose to Dadhichi’s body and he willingly gave it for further benefit of world.

    Nahusha story also does not give credence to ‘asura=slave owner’ theory. Humans have been known to assist devas in fight against asuras. Dasharatha did so. purana have many such instances. The position of Indra is achieved by humans who perform good deeds in earth, and is not permanent. It was the fear of one such Indra that Vishwamitra might displace him from his position that prompted him to sent Menaka to disrupt Vishwamitra’s tapas. Other such instances have been there as well. There are other stories too that show that while devas are non-self-aggrandizing by and large, they were nevertheless subject to human frailities like insecurity, indulgence and sometimes even showed duplicity. In the subject case the then Indra had gone into hiding for some reason (Maharshi Gautama’s curse or so) and Nahusha, then a dharmik king of earth, was given that position.

    Shining gleaming cities does not automatically mean that they were produced by slave owning societies. Not in Indian context. It only means that the Vyshyas of that place did good job, and that the king was just. Description of Lanka in Ramayana does not suggest that slaves built it, because it was not slaves who built it, it was Kubera, son of Maharshi Vishravas, half brother of Ravana, who built that city.

    Indraprastha was also not built by slaves. Maya was a skilled builder.
    Khandava forest was not burnt down by Pandavas overcome by hubris. It was consumed by Agni deva for a different reason. Arjuna only helped Agni deva who had asked for help.

    When samskritam does not have a word for slave, isn’t it incongruous to consider ‘asura’ as slave owner/trader ?

    dhanyavaad

  25. Arumi said, on September 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Interesting thoughts, but i cant fully agree with your comparision of Asuras with slave traders. I consider the Asura and the Deva stories were just stories and Myths and these were created to brainwash and control the majority people by some section of people who were proficient with language and nearer to the kings or advisor of kings. The origin of these words can be somewhere in North India or Iran and the time when Rid Vedas came in mostly meaning “not strong”
    Whenever there is a looser he was potrayed as Asura or bad, like the victor writes the history and wants to associate himself with God and fought against evil.

    so atleast in India the Asura is bad loosers and the deva associated always with god and the victors.

  26. Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on September 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I love this site. So much very interesting information comes to light here…
    I would like to draw our attention back to the sanskrit definition of Asura that may have been prevalent during ancinet times. In doing so I would like to remind all of us that ancinet Sanskrit (prior to Pannini) was quite different from what we know as classical sanskrit. In addition, Technical sanskrit is quite different from literary sanskrit.

    In ancient sanskrit, Asura meant a person of “great spiritual power.” It speaks nothing of demons or slave owners. I’d like to suggest that asuras were demonized by Brahmins. Asura Maya was a potent siddha architect and scholar. There is no evidence anywhere that he was a so-called “demon.” He built forts, castles, towns, ships, machines, war implements – you name it he built it and many of the shastras exist that show his technology. He was admired by kings and common people. He is mentioned in numerous ancient text including the Bhagavatam.

    I don’t think that he was ever considered to be a demon by anyone in ancient history. . My point here is that there seems to be a misunderstanding of what the word asura really means and how it was misused.

    Another point that I would like to make is that it is difficult for me to believe that any of the ancient buildings were built by “slaves.” The traditional workers who built these buildings were a very special clan of people who were highly respected and highly skilled. They may have been forced to build the Taj by a muslim invader, I really don’t know. But this clan of builders – shilpis and sthapatis, have built all over India, Indonesia, the mid east and in many other places in the wrold from time immemorial. King Solomon’s temple was built by a Sthapati – King Hiram a Phoenician. So, my point here is that these specialized builders were respected throughout the far and near east for their craftsmanship. Were they simply slave labor? I find that difficult to believe. It’s possible but in my mind not probable…

  27. Bharat Bhushan said, on December 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I agree with Arumi. There are myths indicating that Asuras were made slaves by Aryans. These slave races are still struggling for annihilation of caste system. They are still living wretched life in villages. Their latest names are ‘Scheduled Castes’, ‘Scheduled Tribes, and ‘Other Backward Castes’. They are yet to know about ‘human rights’.

    • Sridhar said, on October 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Bharat, you should definitely read more articles on this blog.There is no such aryan-dravidian racial divide as you tell. The shudra system came into being during the british era when the britishers started categorizing Indians in specific groups (for census). It was also the time when they realized that some areas of India had more muslims than Hindus and then they planned the scaring the masses by spreading the fear that if they don’t react, the muslims might cease to exist, creating Hinduphobia among muslim masses and turning them against their own people. As far as shudra goes, they were another group of people, who specialized in manual labour and activities that required strength, there are many incidents in ancient India where shudra’s wrote a part of India’s history and their works were given as much importance as other “higher castes”. Just like today, there exists different occuptations and sub-occupations under which people are categorized,so did ancient Indians with some 40,000 castes…. also shudra’s come under “varna” (section (note that,it doesn’t mention high or low)) .

  28. senthil said, on March 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Anurag,

    How did you come to the conclusion that Asuras did slave trade? While i agree with your concept that dasas/dasis are attendants/servants, i have difficulty in accepting that asuras were slave traders.. is there any mention in valmiki ramayana?

    Secondly, we have to see slave trade in the context of the prevailing economic system..

    Also, shudras are also NOT slaves, as per my analysis.. Shudras are servants, and a class in themselves.. they are free to live as community, have their own religion, and rituals..

    Next, while reading history of chatrapathi shivaji, it was mentioned that shivaji’s mother was captured and sent to slave trade by abyssinians ruling in western coast. But in the middle, she persuaded them to sell her locally at a place, where they will get good price.. the place were where her brothers stayed as part of mughal army.. her request was approved, and when she was sent to local market, her brothers came to know of this, and they promptly bought her, thus saving her..

    Next, Big cities are NOT an indicator of slave trade.. i dont know how you came to this conclusion.

  29. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 6, 2011 at 4:39 am

    i have difficulty in accepting that asuras were slave traders.. is there any mention in valmiki ramayana?

    How will you find a direct reference to slavery, when Sanskrit refused to recognize that condition of human beings? If Global Indians travelled to Greece, Persia, Assyria (correctly called Asuristan), saw slavery, why did they not have a word for it? For more on this read the latest 2ndlook post – http://goo.gl/fb/qL7RX

    shivaji’s mother was captured and sent to slave trade by abyssinians ruling in western coast

    Now, this will explain many, many things. Any on-line links to this?

    • senthil said, on March 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      /** How will you find a direct reference to slavery, when Sanskrit refused to recognize that condition of human beings?
      **/

      If it can refer to various other things like chandala, para etc, then it would have definitely referred slaves..

      When it could use words like asura & deva, it would have used some words for slaves if it had come across..

      Why it had NOT?

      In my view, the asuras would not have used slaves.. rather, they would have forced people to do work.. or some kind of autocratic rule.. But may not be slaves as we see in the west..

      that means, the devas would had free society, based on dharma, whereas asuras would have forced dictatorial societies based on forced labor, which cannot be called as slaves..

      Any thoughts?

      Regarding life history of shivaji, the following link can be used to download the e-book..

      http://www.archive.org/details/lifeofshivajimah00keluiala

      there are only few lines of reference to selling of shivaji’s mother as slave..

      You can read it from the initial chapters..

  30. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Senthil –

    1. Exquisite nugget of information.

    2. Modern Indians think slavery was something remote, alien or exotic.

    3. The Great Mughals were incapable of (if not the licensees) eliminating raids by slave-traders.

    4. The fact this was common and prevalent till a few hundred years ago should make all of us more aware of the role of slavery in the Desert Bloc – and India’s anti-slavery campaign over the millenia.

  31. Julian said, on March 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Megasthenes observes the following about India:

    “several remarkable customs existing among the Indians, there is one prescribed by their ancient philosophers which one may regard as truly admirable : for the law ordains that no one among them shall, under any circumstances, be a slave, but that, enjoying freedom, they shall respect the equal right to it which all possess: for those, they thought, who have learned neither to domineer over nor to cringe to others will attain the life best adapted for all vicissitudes of lot : for it is but fair and reasonable to institute laws which bind all equally, but allow property to be unevenly distributed.

    The same writer tells us further this remarkable fact about India, that all the [S. 69] Indians are free, and not one of them is a slave. The Lakedaemonians and the Indians are here so far in agreement. The Lakedaemonians, however, hold the Helots as slaves, and these Helots do servile labour; but the Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, and much less a countryman of their own.”

    “But, farther, there are usages observed by the Indians which contribute to prevent the occurrence of famine among them ; for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil, and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they neither ravage an enemy’s land with fire, nor cut down its trees.”

    http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen1102.htm

    Muslim invaders practiced slave trade on a large scale and sold millions of Hindus as slaves in Central Asia and Arabia. The mountain name Hindu Kush (Hindu Killer) derives from the fact that large numbers of these slaves would freeze to death while being transported on foot into Central Asia.

    Later Christians also did the same. In Shivaji’s last major campaign into the South he issued a proclamation to the Dutch forbidding it:

    “the
    following passage from his qaul granted to VOC ambassador Herbert de
    Jager in 1677. In it Shivaji puts his proscription of the slave trade discussed
    above in the context of a radical (and ideological) break with the past:
    In the days of the Moorish government it was allowed for you to buy male slaves
    and female slaves here [the Karnatak], and to transport the same, without anyone
    preventing that. But now you may not, as long as I am master of these lands, buy
    male or female slaves, nor transport them. And in case you were to do the same,
    and would want to bring [slaves] aboard, my men will oppose that and prevent it in
    all ways and also not allow that they be brought back in your house; this you must
    as such observe and comply with.92

    https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/13850/2/Kruijtzer2009-low+resolution+small+file.pdf

    Also Ravana is not venerated along side Rama in Tamilnadu, that is rubbish.

    “I agree with Arumi. There are myths indicating that Asuras were made slaves by Aryans. These slave races are still struggling for annihilation of caste system. They are still living wretched life in villages. Their latest names are ‘Scheduled Castes’, ‘Scheduled Tribes, and ‘Other Backward Castes’. They are yet to know about ‘human rights’.”

    More nonsense, Asura’s have nothing to do with any “Scheduled Castes” or any other castes.

  32. Sonya said, on April 27, 2011 at 3:09 am

    View :
    *Ancient India criminal justice system in Google
    *Timeless India on Youtube
    *Dwaaraka a lost city of Krishna on Youtube (the most ancient architecture of the world was in India 2000 BC minimum since Hinduism is that ancient!) See dating of Bhagavad Gita in Google for proof.
    **Asuras = Assyrians? Babylonians = or similar to Baabul (Hindi for father), Parsus = a tribe recognized in Vedas,= to Persia?
    ****No one talks about Islamic Slave trade or the Hindu holocaust; 60 million killed and hundreds of ancient temples destroyed..The Koran is so new to 700 Ad; it is truly stated in the Koran to kill the infidels (nonbelievers of Allah), research it! This is not to be taken as offense by individual Muslims – it is just history and reality/facts, not bias.

    See Violent Oppression of Women in Islam on Youtube as well as http://islamicterrorism.wordpress.com/

    • shiva said, on August 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Here islam attacks not only women but hindus as a whole.. Thank you for showing me this site. good site about islam..

  33. pawan verma said, on September 10, 2011 at 2:44 am

    i think u got d book ”vyom raksham” by acharya chatursen publish in 1955

    if not den plz read ,much more metrial for u

  34. admin said, on October 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm

  35. GK said, on May 1, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Interesting take on Asura and Slavery. Are there are any hindu scriptural references to Asuric societies, their social organization/economic models etc ? I find it difficult to believe that Bharat did not have slavery in all the many thousand years of its existence. I think both the devas/asuras were trying to influence Bharatiya manushyas. You trying to equate asuras to slavery and further implicate the western civilization is interesting. I read from some other channeling material about Service to Self (STS) and Service to Other(STO) modes of civilizations in Creation. The characteristics of these two kinds are quite similar to the Deva/Asura polarities and definitely imply that the western societies are STS or Asuric.

    Interesting thing about the ancient western religions like Egypt, Zorastrian is their obsession with death and raising from the dead. This is similar to the asuric dependence on being resurrected from death by Sukracharaya. Also, the west has Luciferian cults. Lucifer is considered the fallen angel, leader of demons, morning star and associated with Venus.


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