Asura, Ahriman and the Cosmic Order

The topic of asura came up in a February discussion on Mirror of Tomorrow blog. In the beginning of the discussion participants used the word asura to refer to anti-divine forces or beings (‘lords of darkness’). But apparently in Vedic times asura meant just the opposite. 

In The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo defines Asuryam as ‘the god-power, the mastering force of the Lord, the divine Asura in us.’ (p. 427) He also refers to asura in the positive when discussing the Angiras Rishis:
 ‘… the Angirases are not merely the deified human fathers, they are also brought before us as heavenly seers, sons of the gods, sons of heaven and heroes or powers of the Asura, the mighty Lord, divas putrāso asurasya vīrāḥ (III.53.7), an expression which, their number being seven, reminds us strongly, though perhaps only fortuitously, of the seven Angels of Ahura Mazda in the kindred Iranian mythology.’ [bold emphasis added] (pp. 159-160)

‘Asura, a word used in the Veda as in the Avesta for the Deva (Ahuramazda), but also for the gods, His manifestations; it is only in a few hymns that it is used for the dark Titans, by another fictitious derivation, a-sura, the not luminous, the not-gods.’ (p. 523)
I thought, from what I have learned in my studies of the Sanskrit language and Vedic cosmology that, if Asura once meant ‘the mighty Lord’, then the root sura would likely mean sun. Sure enough, sura means not only god or deity, but also sun. Surya means ‘the sun or its deity’ and also ‘a symbolical expression for the number twelve, in allusion to the sun in the 12 signs of the zodiac.’ Saura means ‘relating or belonging or sacred to or coming from the sun or the god Surya, solar; celestial, divine.’  

The funny thing about this word history is that in the aforementioned asura discussion, the habit of ‘[reading] geometry, numerology and astrology into everything’ was mentioned by an Aurovillian named Auroman to be perhaps an asuric (in its anti-divine/post-Vedic sense) bias of those who appreciate Thea’s supramental cosmology. But clearly I am not making this stuff up out of nowhere … the word Asura actually originates from the Sanskrit word for Sun, which is inseparable in Vedic wisdom, symbolism, cosmology and language from the 12 months of the Tropical Zodiac. At some point it evolved, or perhaps more appropriately, devolved to mean ‘not the sun’, sun-less or dark.

In The Secret of the Veda Sri Aurobindo mentioned the Iranian (Persian) god Ahura Mazda in his discussion of ‘Asura, the Mighty Lord’. Ahura Mazda was the Persian name for the sole creator the universe, maintainer of the cosmic order … ‘the epitome of the true order of the universe’. Ahura Mazda was also known as ‘Auramazda’, ‘Aramazd’ and ‘Hormazda’. Ahura Mazda’s ‘dark’ twin was known as Ahriman. They were apparently considered ‘the Twins of Time’.

There are several interesting things about these names. First off, saura masa means a solar month or 1/12th of the 360° measure of the Vedic year. Secondly hora in Sanskrit means ‘hour’ as well as ‘horoscopy’ (as in the 12-spoked horoscope). Ahoratra means a 24 hour day. So it seems there is a very real connection/continuity between the words asura, ahura, aura, hora, ahora (ahora is also the Spanish word for the hour or the moment that is now) … as well as Horus, the Egyptian sun god, and ‘horoscope’ which shows the cosmic order at the time of one’s birth. I am also wondering if the English words ‘sure’ and ‘assure’ are actually descendent from sura/asura. It seems that even the auro of Sri Aurobindo’s name (which denotes golden, solar energy) is connected to the same root as Auramazda – the Lord of the Universe.

Thirdly the Sanskrit word masta – which sounds a whole lot like mazda and also like the English word ‘master’ – means ‘measure’ and also ‘summit, top or head’ (as in mast and masthead). The Sanskrit root word ma means ‘measure’ or ‘to be measured out’ or ‘built’. Mas or masa means a month, specifically a 12th part of the Vedic year. Ahura Mazda (ahura or saura masta) could well have referred to the sole/solar Lord of Measure, Lord of the 12 Months … the Master of Time and Space.

Ahriman, on the other hand, was the dark or ignorant twin of this supreme organizing being or force in Persian mythology. [Image on right: Persian King in battle with Ahriman] It is truly fascinating that Ahriman turns out to be such a close etymological kin to the name Auroman considering Auroman’s February Mirror of Tomorrow outbursts, in which he belittled/ridiculed/caste shadows on Thea’s supramental knowledge of the solar year, sacred measure, and time. Auroman actually signed one of his belittling/ridiculing remarks as ‘me and my evil persona’. It was in petulant ‘jest’ of course, but when one considers the mythology and archetypes involved, it is all quite amusing. Auroman’s sidekick in the ridicule of Thea’s cosmology was another Aurovillian named Paulette who announced (and seemed proud of the fact) that Thea’s emails/messages/teachings are instantly deleted by her fellow Aurovillians. She contributed more than her fair share of ‘irrelevant-vicious-abusive-disrespectful-rude-extraneous-repugnant... comments’ concerning Thea’s yoga to the discussion. [1]

Ahriman in this divine play represents not only ignorance of time and ignorance of the cosmic order, but also obstruction of ancient wisdom or knowledge. This condition of cosmic ignorance and obstruction of the true light of the Self is widespread in our civilization; so Ahriman is in a sense ‘everyman’ who shares these common blinders and aversions to the sacred measures of our Earth and Universe. I look forward to the days when our resonance with the supreme organizing force of our being and Cosmos is greater than our resonance with Cosmic Ignorance. For starters the Mother’s Temple designs will be more and more appreciated and honored as a perfect expression of and alignment with Surya and the Cosmic Order, and the Auroville Temple will be recognized as an expression of the dark or ignorant (Ahriman) human consciousness. [see Matrimandir Action Committee]
5 February 2010

[1] The Mirror of Tomorrow moderator RY Deshpande deleted what he called ‘irrelevant-vicious-abusive-disrespectful-rude-extraneous-repugnant’ comments, so the full content of the discussion is not found on his blog.

Related Articles:
Number and the Supramental Matrix
* The Simultaneity of Time, Spirit and Matter 
* Macrocosm, Microcosm & the Laws of Time and Space

* A Higher Vision of Time Is Needed... (Quotes from PNB's Time & Imperishability and some commentary)
* The ALL-pervading Energy of Time - the New Time (Quote from PNB's The New Way, a study in the rise and establishment of a gnostic society).

* The Geometry and Superstructure of Time 

* 'Time as a Power (not an Enemy) of Self'  

Learning the One Song, Learning the Universe
In Harmony's Way

* God Forever Geometrizes 

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