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While all the gods of the Kāmadhātu are subject to the passions to some degree, the Asuras above all of them have become addicted to them, especially wrath, pride, envy, insincerity, falseness, boasting, and bellicosity.
Because of their passions, rebirth as an Asura is considered to be one of the four unhappy births (together with rebirth as an animal, a preta, or a being in Naraka). The state of an Asura reflects the mental state of a human being obsessed with ego, force and violence, always looking for an excuse to get into a fight, angry with everyone and unable to maintain calm or solve problems peacefully.
Beings may go to the Asura realm because in human form they had good intentions, but committed bad actions such as harming others.
Concerning Asuras, the Great Calm-Observation by Zhiyi says: “Always desiring to be superior to others, having no patience for inferiors and belittling strangers; like a hawk, flying high above and looking down on others, and yet outwardly displaying justice, worship, wisdom, and faith — this is raising up the lowest order of good and walking the way of the Asuras.”
The Asuras are said to experience a much more pleasurable life than humans, but they are plagued by envy for the devas, whom they can see just as animals perceive humans. The Asuras of some inferior realms however, are malevolent (such as the corruptor Mara) and can be referred to as demons. They are alternatively called Rakshasas.
In terms of power, Asuras rank above humans but below most of the other deities. They live in the area at the foot of Mount Sumeru, at least partially in the sea that surrounds it.
On the popular cosmic picture of the Bhavacakra, the Asuras are sometimes shown as a sixth stage of existence, and sometimes grouped together with the devas. The five-stage version was the original, and the addition of the Asuras as the sixth was done in Tibet on the authority of Je Tsongkhapa.
The leaders of the Asuras are called Asurendra (Pāli: Asurinda) "Asura-lord". There are several of these, as the Asuras are broken into different tribes or factions. Among them are the bow-wielding Dānaveghasa Asuras, and the terrible-faced Kālakañjakas. The principal leaders are Vemacitrin (Pāli: Vepacitti), Rāhu (also called Veroca or Verocana), and Pahārāda.