As in title. Is it by birth? Especially righteous ones like Prahalada, Bali and to some extend Ravana. And many of them are sons of saints. So what defines an Asura?
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Generally asura means someone who is opposite or anti of the suras. Sura means the devas and are called so because they took Varuni (goddess of wine or sura) when she emerged from the churning of the ocean.
So Asuras are danavas or demons and they are such by their birth as they were born of Danu, a wife of rishi Kashyapa. The Mahabharata narrates about them and lists names of some well known asuras including Prahlada. Prahlada, as an asura, although should have been envious to Vishnu, was however very devoted to Him for which his father wanted to kill Prahlada.
In the Puranas like Shrimad Bhagavatam there is also mention of Brahma creating the gods and the asuras. And one nature of them is given that they are very fond of copulation: