In Hinduism, the Asura (Sanskrit: असुर) are a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes referred to as demons. They were opposed to the devas. Both groups are children of Kashyapa. The name is cognate to Ahura – indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary recognises the use of the term in reference to Zoroastrianism, where "Ahura" would perhaps be more appropriate – and Æsir, which implies a common Proto-Indo-European origin for the Asura and the Æsir.
The negative character of the asura in Hinduism seems to have evolved over time. In general, the earliest texts have the asuras presiding over moral and social phenomena (e.g. Varuna, the guardian of Ṛtá, or Bhaga, the patron of marriages) and the devas presiding over natural phenomena (e.g. Ushas, whose name means "dawn", or Indra, a weather god).
- Mitra/Maitreya/Miroku bosatsu (Buddhist saint who will relieve people in the future)
- Varuna/Sui ten (Ocean deva)
- Vairocana/Maha vairocana/Dainichi nyorai (Great Buddha who shines on all entire universes)
- Sumbha and Nisumbha Asura brothers/Trailokya vijaya and Vajra humkara/Gouzanze myo oh and Shyozanze myo oh (They are admired with the victor or Person who has them surrender)
In later writings, such as the Puranas and Itihasas, we find that the "devas" are the godly persons and the "asuras" the demonic. According to the Bhagavad Gita (16.6), all beings in the world partake either of the divine qualities (daivi sampad) or the demonic qualities (asuri sampad). The sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita describes the divine qualities briefly and the demonic qualities at length. In summary the Gita (16.4) says that the asuric qualities are pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance.
The term asura is linguistically related to the ahuras of Zoroastrianism, but with an inverted morality. Thus, while in Vedic religion the asuras are demonic, in Zoroastrianism, the ahuras are benign. This inversion also applies to the other class of immortals: where the Vedic devas are benevolent, the Zoroastrian daevas are malevolent.
The first of Gatha, which like all of Zoroaster's verses reflects a nomadic herdsman society, excoriates the devotees of the daevas for their malign treatment of cows and their efforts to kill/eat the cattle for sacrifice, while the ahuras make efforts to protect the cattle. Unlike in Vedic ritual, the asuras and devas are not portrayed as fighting with one another over the offerings, but rather the Zoroastrian daevas are seen as a disruption of the worship.
Nonetheless, judging from the similarity of terms, it is likely that the opposition between ahuras/asuras and daevas/devas is rooted in proto-Indo-Iranian society. In the verses attributed to Zoroaster himself, the daevas are not demonic (as they later appear) but rather the class of 'wrong gods' or 'false gods', whose devotees are to be brought back on the path of righteousness.
Asuras also appear as a type of supernatural being in traditional Buddhist cosmology.