Mara is a devil with an agenda. He is what the Buddhist consider, darkness. To understand Mara, one must understand some about Buddhism and the fundamentals of living a Buddhist lifestyle. Buddhists are travelers on a path leading them to Enlightenment, and although their religion is one of peace and humility, the Mara still haunts their every move. There is not much written about on “sins,” but instead the Buddhists are taught to flee from selfish desires of the world and live a pure and plain lifestyle. They devote their words, actions, and desires all to the common goal of Enlightenment ridding out as much of the world and material things as possible.
Mara’s role in this religion is one of temptation. He is characterized as a trickster and as one who distracts. If one person’s weakness is greed Mara will concentrate all his attacks around this one imperfection, making this person’s ability to resist temptation less definite. Mara will often place distractions in the way of a follower and it will not always be something considered evil. A good job, abundant wealth, and even physical salvation could be placed as a distraction or interruption in front of a Buddhist’s path. These things are not evil but will keep the follower from reaching their goal of Enlightenment and can blind their vision and mindfulness of the world.
Although much of what we see of Mara is considerably different compared to common interpretations of religious devils, particularly Satan, a large amount of parallels exist that question the origins of these defining characteristics of Mara. Because of early syncretism in medieval Europe of Buddhism and Christianity, a lot of characteristics that define Mara can be compared to many traits that Satan is known for. Darkness, deceit, and temptations are only a few of the tools both of these devil figures are seen using when studied in context. This knowledge makes one more aware of the possible origins of their religious ideas and evokes question in their certainty of particular doctrines or teachings.