“Rama showed His tremendous knowledge of fighting by killing the demon Tataka. The muni then gave to Him knowledge of secret mantras to be used in fighting.” (Janaki Mangala, 36)
The latest spending bill just passed. It was put together hastily. Though senators and congressmen love to lecture the public on civic responsibility and how they take transparency and forthrightness seriously, they only released this legislation to the public two days before it was voted on. Most members of the legislature did not have time to read it fully. After all, who is willing to sit down and study over two thousand pages of minutia?
One of the aspects highlighted by the leader is advancements in defense technology. The best weapons. The best airplanes. The best helicopters. The upgrades are needed since there has been a supposed austerity in the budget for so long. The idea is that the best deterrent of foreign attack is an overwhelmingly strong defense force.
What happens when such weapons end up in the wrong hands? What to do when the most powerful fighters go on offense, attacking the most innocent people in society? Who will defend?
A long time ago there was just one person. Named Shri Rama, He was the eldest son of the king of Ayodhya. Rama used a bow and arrow set, and He was accompanied by His equally capable warrior brother named Lakshmana. The different kinds of attackers Rama thwarted give further proof to the claim of His Divine nature.
1. Those that can’t be seen
Huh? What? Sight is the way to prove an existence, as far as we know. How do you fight someone that you can’t see? Don’t they have an unfair advantage? Forget calling it an advantage, isn’t it impossible to defeat them? In which direction do you aim your weapon? Do you just roll up in the fetal position and hope that the blows you absorb aren’t lethal?
Rama went fearlessly into the forest. Though young at the time, He was the selected bodyguard to the sage known as Vishvamitra. Dasharatha wasn’t in the habit of sending his beloved son out into the dangerous battlefield, but the request of a respected sage would not be denied.
The menace in the forest was a female Rakshasa named Tataka. Not mild mannered or shy in the least, she had strength which she used the wrong way. The sages focused on austerity and penance were harassed by her. Someone had to step up and fix the situation.
Shri Rama arrived and got the mission directive from Vishvamitra. Take her out. Rama was hesitant at first, since this was a female. Internally, He thought to first badly injure her. Hopefully that would drive her away.
Tataka was not as merciful. She could appear and disappear at will. Restating his original order, Vishvamitra expected Rama to use lethal force. The Supreme Lord then proceeded, locating the enemy using only sound. Though she thought she couldn’t be seen, no one is invisible to the person whose eyes are everywhere.
2. Those without a head
Another situation sometime later, also in the forest, the attacker lacked a head. Seems like he wouldn’t be much of a threat, but Kabandha was in a Rakshasa form due to a previous curse he received. He was practically invincible in this inauspicious body, but there was the benediction that liberation would arrive directly at the hands of the Supreme Lord.
First, Rama and Lakshmana had to figure out how to mitigate the threat. They realized that Kabandha’s strength was his arms. So the brothers lopped off those arms and the rest was rather straightforward. These odd forms described in the Ramayana should not confuse anyone. The bodies found in this world are simply different combinations of material elements. Those elements can combine to create very powerful forms, even in odd-shaped packages. That Kabandha could be dangerous while lacking a head is not very amazing.
3. Those with ten heads
Here was the leader of the Rakshasas. Another case of reaching his powerful, yet inauspicious rupa through the intervention of the demigods, Ravana was practically invincible in battle. Ten heads and twenty arms? That should be enough to see enemies coming in the ten directions. Who would be able to compete with that?
This time Rama acted alone. The culmination of a long and difficult struggle, Rama took out the great nuisance to the world, who had harassed innocent people for too long. The final straw was offending Rama’s beloved and faithful wife Sita. Even one hundred heads would not be enough to protect against the heat-seeking missile like arrows fired from the illustrious bow of the sun of the solar dynasty.
If Rama can protect against these different kinds of attackers, He can do the same for the enemy within, known as the mind. The great impediment towards progress in purification of the consciousness, maya’s real influence is through attacking the mind.
“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5)
Through devotion to the personal God, help arrives to turn the mind from friend to enemy. Then life becomes peaceful, just as the situation turned around in the forest for the sages. Coming in different shapes and sizes, the impediments to pure devotion are no match for the object of that devotion.
In different shapes and sizes coming,
Like Tataka who invisible becoming.
Or Kabandha without a head,
Ravana with ten to dread.
Shri Rama with arrows to free,
Impending danger soon to flee.
To protect the mind also at the ready,
To aid in practice of devotion steady.
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