The Book of Eight Sages
Devas, Asuras and Rakshasas
Devas, though rare, are well-known throughout the Empire and beyond because all who meet them are left with a deep impression of shining purity and goodness, an impression which lingers and demands to be told and retold.
The most reliable reports state that devas devote their lives to sharing the teachings of the being they call the One, a figure that some have identified with the human teacher Siddartta, and others say is the beloved son of the Jade Empress who rules the Upper Kingdom (or so the Imperial snobs insist). When asked directly who the One is, devas smile and gently redirect the topic of conversation to his teachings rather than his nature. However, the poetry of the deva mystic Ravah implies that the essence of the One is shared among all devas. This may mean that the One is a divine being with which devas commune, perhaps in dreams. Alternatively, the One might be considered the collective consciousness of all devas. Devas may have a personal relationship with one or more of the commonly known gods, but the One holds their first loyalty.The Teachings of the One state:
“All earthly beings possess a divine and a demonic nature. Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the holy teachings; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor—these transcendental qualities belong to those in whom the divine nature is ascendant.”
Devas are known for exemplifying all these qualities, for the pale or dark lines on their face and torso, for stories of their reincarnation, and for the metal wings which they wear as a symbol of their devotion to the One, who is said to have attained such purity of mind that great golden wings grew from his back.
Devas follow a principle of nonviolence, but each individual deva falls in a different place on the spectrum. If a grievous wrong cannot be prevented save through violence, some will fight with a radiant joy, in the firm belief that the world will be a better place because of their actions. Others, if compelled to battle, fight with great expertise, but with tears of regret in their eyes that they could not find another way. The rest will not do violence even to save themselves or another, and often carry brooms to sweep insects from their paths.
The exceptions to this rule of nonviolence are unearthly creatures of purely evil nature. Even the most peaceful devas battle devils, demons, dark angels, and particularly asuras with a dispassion and resolve more chilling than a barbarian’s scream of rage. What is an asura, you ask? Ah, but you already know. The skull-bedecked destroyer of the last worldwide empire, the dread lord of the black adamantine wings who shall remain nameless for all time, was once a deva.
Devic nature is so completely pure that it can hold no intermediate state; a deva who turns to evil in the smallest thing is soon “Lost to the One,” as they put it, and becomes an asura. Ancient legends state that an asura who dies unredeemed instantly becomes an undead thing, its black soul pushing its body to fight despite all laws of nature. When this foul creature is slain, that soul is reincarnated as a rakshasa, a tiger who walks on two legs. Rakshasas are evil clothed in flesh, and if slain without the use of a specially blessed weapon, will return seeking vengeance against their killers. Devas are devoted to the One at least in part because the alternative is so very terrible, in the truest sense of the word.
( Deva Mechanics )