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In some ways the Asura may be seen as a parallel to the Greek Titans or Norse giants, being primordial deities that embody a more savage ruling style than the younger pantheon and as a result frequently antagonise them - however the Asura were seen as being equally prepared to attack humans as they were Devas and over time they became very similiar to the idea of demons in other religions (though they retained their status as deities).
Despite the great number of legends that have the Asura as antagonists they are, like all deities, not always seen as entirely evil and can be amoral or even benign in the minds of some - to some the Asura simply represent an alternative path (much like the concept of Mammon in Abrahamic religions).
According to some the main principles of the Asura were pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, and ignorance - which would certainly explain why they were often at odds with the Devas.