Aesir-Asura correspondence is the relation between æsir, an Old Norse word meaning "gods" (the plural of the singular word áss "god") and ásuraḥ, a Sanskrit word referring to certain warlike and aggressive demons. Also related is the Avestan word ahura, found as the title of the god Ahura Mazda.
The Proto-Germanic form of Old Norse áss, deduced by comparison to other Germanic languages, living and dead, is *ansuz. The plural of this Proto-Germanic word was *ansiwiz, which by regular sound changes into æsir.
The word ásuraḥ can be postulated to come from Proto-Indo-Iranian *n̩suras, where *n̩su- is the zero-grade form equivalent to the Gemanic *ansu-, both from a Proto-Indo-European root *H2ensu-. In Sanskrit, ásuḥ (PIIr *n̩sus) means "vital spirit" or "life", and is presumably related, suggesting a common meaning "spirit".
The Æsir is the pantheon of the principal Norse gods. The Æsir are venerated and worshipped in the Norse pantheon.
Asuras are a group of demonic entities in Indian religions. The Asuras are constantly at war with the Gods called Devas or Suras. The term sura means divine, while asura means lacking divinity. The Asuras have a negative reputation in the Indian religions.
The use of ahura to refers to divinity in the Iranian religion, and was later designated to the greatest god of Zoroastrianism. In the ancient Iranian religion, Div or Dev refers to power hungry demonic entities. This is a reverse of the Indian pantheon where Devas are divine and Asuras are demonic.
Both the Æsir and Asuras share similarities. They are a family of powerful beings. Each group is set up against another group of gods; the Æsir warred with the Vanir, whereas the Asuras oppose the Devas.
- Watkins, Calvert. 2000. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. New York, Houghton Mifflin.
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