Norse AEsir and Vedic Asura.

l.m.fosse at l.m.fosse at
Thu Oct 26 16:12:32 UTC 1995

> _Asura_ as a-sura is believed to be a false etymology dating from the
> upanishadic period, when it accordingly led to the creation of a new
> word for "gods", _sura_, not attested in older texts.
> The word stems in all probability from _asu_ "vital breath" + _ra_,
> meaning something like "master of vital breath", and as such it is
> indeed cognate to Norse _ass_ (pl. aesir) (as well as to Avestic
> _ahura_).

For an alternative opinion, look up Mayrhofer's etymological dictionary. If
I remember correctly, he offers another theory as well.

Lars Martin Fosse

Lars Martin Fosse
Research Fellow
Department of East European
and Oriental Studies
P. O. Box 1030, Blindern
N-0315 OSLO Norway

Tel: +47 22 85 68 48
Fax: +47 22 85 41 40

E-mail: l.m.fosse at


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