How is Rama’s killing of Vali and Ravana good whereas Ravana’s killing of the human beings not good? How is Sri Krishna’s killing of Kansa and Sisupala good whereas the killings done by Kansa are bad? Here we have to understand that Indian spiritual thought gave importance to the state of consciousness in which a thing is done rather than on the action itself. When Shiva and Kali kill or destroy it is an act of compassion and love, to release a humanity imprisoned by the ego and ignorance, a humanity that arrogantly holds on to its error refusing obstinately the ways of Light and stands in the way of human progress. On the other hand when the Asura kills and destroys he does so satisfy his lust and expand the empire of his ambition. No doubt the Divine uses this too as indeed He uses everything and brings out fruits of Good even out of Evil’s soil. He uses even the gory deeds of Kansa to awaken an aspiration in humanity for a new life. He uses the deceit of Shakuni to bring the Pandavas to a point where they will be ready to become his instruments for the intended and needed destruction. Otherwise their virtuosity would never allow them to lift a single weapon against their own clan.
If the Asura were to just remain only as a faithful instrument then there would be no problem. There have been such Asuras in the past. But more often than not they overstep their limits, destroy out of vengeance and anger and wanton ambition hence they meet their nemesis. This is the difference. If Sri Krishna killed Kansa out of the spirit of vengeance then there would be nothing divine in it. But he killed him because it was needed to open the way to a new form of kingdom governed by dharma and hence it stands justified both to the intuitive sense within as well as to the logical mind. Hitler did not only destroy the old world order but filled it with the horror of carnage and terror and ambition. He destroyed the finest values that the world stand for, values of kindness, mutuality, nobility, truthfulness, love. Whereas when the Divine destroys the old world order He does it with perfect Wisdom and Compassion filling the hollow thus created with a greater love and compassion and light and truth and the urge towards harmony and beauty. That is the difference. Sri Aurobindo brings it out with great force in one of the writings reproduced below:
“God and Titan, Deva and Asura, are indeed close kin in their differences; nor could either have been spared in the evolution. Yet do they inhabit opposite poles of a common existence and common nature. The one descends from the light and the infinity, satisfied, to the play; the other ascends from the obscurity and the vagueness, angry, to the struggle. All the acts of the God derive from the universal and tend to the universal. He was born out of a victorious harmony. His qualities join pure and gracious hands and link themselves together naturally and with delight as in the pastoral round of Brindavan, divine Krishna dominating and holding together its perfect circles. To evolve in the sense of the God is to grow in intuition, in light, in joy, in love, in happy mastery; to serve by rule and to rule by service; to be able to be bold and swift and even violent without hurt or wickedness and mild and kindly and even self-indulgent without laxity or vice or weakness; to make a bright and happy whole in oneself and, by sympathy, with mankind and all creatures. And in the end it is to evolve a large impersonal personality and to heighten sympathy into constant experience of world-oneness. For such are the Gods, conscious always of their universality and therefore divine.
Certainly, power is included. To be the divine man is to be self-ruler and world-ruler; but in another than the external sense. This is a rule that depends upon a secret sympathy and oneness which knows the law of another’s being and of the world’s being and helps or, if need be, compels it to realise its own greatest possibilities, but by a divine and essentially an inner compulsion. It is to take all qualities, energies, joys, sorrows, thoughts, knowledge, hopes, aims of the world around us into ourselves and return them enriched and transmuted in a sublime commerce and exploitation. Such an empire asks for no vulgar ostentation or golden trappings. The gods work oftenest veiled by light or by the storm-drift; they do not disdain to live among men even in the garb of the herdsman or the artisan; they do not shrink from the cross and the crown of thorns either in their inner evolution or their outward fortunes. For they know that the ego must be crucified and how shall men consent to this if God and the gods have not shown them the way? To take all that is essential in the human being and uplift it to its most absolute term so that it may become an element of light, joy, power for oneself and others, this is divinity. This, too, should be the drift of supermanhood.
But the Titan will have nothing of all this; it is too great and subtle for his comprehension. His instincts call for a visible, tangible mastery and a sensational domination. How shall he feel sure of his empire unless he can feel something writhing helpless under his heel,—if in agony, so much the better? What is exploitation to him, unless it diminishes the exploited? To be able to coerce, exact, slay, overtly, irresistibly,—it is this that fills him with the sense of glory and dominion. For he is the son of division and the strong flowering of the Ego. To feel the comparative limitation of others is necessary to him that he may imagine himself immeasurable; for he has not the real, self-existent sense of infinity which no outward circumstance can abrogate. Contrast, division, negation of the wills and lives of others are essential to his self-development and self-assertion. The Titan would unify by devouring, not by harmonising; he must conquer and trample what is not himself either out of existence or into subservience so that his own image may stand out stamped upon all things and dominating all his environment.
In Nature, since it started from division and egoism, the Titan had to come first; he is here in us as the elder god, the first ruler of man’s heaven and earth. Then arrives the God and delivers and harmonises. Thus the old legend tells us that the Deva and the Asura laboured together to churn the ocean of life for the supreme draught of immortality, but, once it had been won, Vishnu kept it for the God and defrauded the fiercer and more violent worker. And this seems unjust; for the Asura has the heavier and less grateful portion of the burden. He begins and leads; he goes his way hewing, shaping, planting: the God follows, amends, concludes, reaps. He prepares fiercely and with anguish against a thousand obstacles the force that we shall use: the other enjoys the victory and the delight. And therefore to the great God Shiva the stained and stormy Titan is very dear,—Shiva who took for himself the fierce, dark and bitter poison first churned up from the sea of life and left to others the nectar. But the choice that Shiva made with knowledge and from love, the Titans made from darkness and passion,—desirous really of something very different and deceived by their stormy egoism. Therefore the award of Vishnu stands; to the God shall fall the crown and the immortality and not, unless he divinise himself, to the proud and strenuous Asura.
For what is supermanhood but a certain divine and harmonious absolute of all that is essential in man? He is made in God’s image, but there is this difference between the divine Reality and its human representative that everything which in the one is unlimited, spontaneous, absolute, harmonious, self-possessed becomes in the other limited, relative, laboured, discordant, deformed, possessed by struggle, kept by subservience to one’s possessions, lost by the transience and insecurity which come from wrong holding. But in this constant imperfection there is always a craving and an aspiration towards perfection. Man, limited, yearns to the Infinite; relative, is attracted in all things towards their absolute; artificial in Nature, drives towards a higher ease, mastery and naturalness that must for ever be denied to her inconscient forces and half-conscient animals; full of discords, he insists upon harmony; possessed by Nature and to her enslaved, is yet convinced of his mission to possess and master her. What he aspires to, is the sign of what he may be. He has to pass by a sort of transmutation of the earthly metal he now is out of flawed manhood into some higher symbol. For Man is Nature’s great term of transition in which she grows conscious of her aim; in him she looks up from the animal with open eyes towards her divine ideal. [The Superman, CWSA 13:1-8]