“Then I, resembling a cloud and having molten-golden earrings, made my way into Vishvamitra’s ashrama, for I was very proud of my strength due to the boon given to me by Lord Brahma. As soon as I entered, Rama quickly noticed me and raised His weapon. Though He saw me, Rama strung His bow without any fear.” (Maricha speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 38.16-17)
बली दत्तवरोदर्पादाजगाम तदाश्रमम्।।
तेन दृष्टः प्रविष्टोऽहं सहसैवोद्यतायुधः।
मां तु दृष्ट्वा धनुस्सज्यमसम्भ्रान्तश्चकार सः।।
balī dattavarodarpādājagāma tadāśramam।।
tena dṛṣṭaḥ praviṣṭo’haṃ sahasaivodyatāyudhaḥ।
māṃ tu dṛṣṭvā dhanussajyamasambhrāntaścakāra saḥ।।
Shri Krishna institutes the varnashrama system for everyone’s benefit. There is placement based on karma, but the system of action and reaction, mixed with desire, also fulfills a vital need in society. One of those varnas, which can be translated as “occupation,” is kshatriya. The root meaning is “one who protects against injury,” and without such a robust class operating on patrol, the rogues and thieves run rampant.
Case in point the Rakshasas of Lanka, per the period of time described in the Ramayana of Valmiki. These people had their own kingdom. It was on an island, and not easily accessible from foreign countries. The place was filled with gold, so much so that it was incorporated into the construction of the buildings.
More wine and animal flesh to consume than any person could imagine. The leader, Ravana, had the most beautiful wives as queens. Yet Rakshasas are going to remain true to their nature. They are generally wicked in character, so low that they will eat other human beings.
They don’t attack in the open, either. Though they will talk for hours about their fighting prowess to anyone who has the misfortune to listen, when it comes to satisfying desires, they will resort to deception in the extreme.
Another name for those Rakshasas is nischachara. This translates to “night-ranger.” With the people from Lanka, they were more like night-prowlers. Instead of looking to steal property, they wanted to disrupt activities in dharma, which is righteousness, piety, or religion, depending on the context.
The nischacharas attacked in the Dandaka forest. This was a tapo-vana, a place conducive to sacrifice, austerity and penance. The sages, the highest class in the varnashrama system, intentionally took up residence there to make the efforts in dharma more fruitful.
It would be something like a writer retreating to a log-cabin for the weekend to work on their latest book. An athlete visiting a training facility for several months, one that provides the ideal climate for the practice of their craft.
The Rakshasas knew this practice and they took advantage of the vulnerability. They would attack at night, right at the time of completion of yajna. This is like a specific religious observance, with rules and regulations. The end is everything; something like putting the final nail into a board during construction of a house.
These Rakshasas came with the intent of destroying the house. They succeeded many times. So many occurrences, in fact, that they thought no one would stop them. Maricha, one of the night-rangers from Lanka, described this to Ravana one time.
He relayed a story of how when he was going to attack at night in this way, there was a youth protecting Vishvamitra. The youth was Shri Rama of Ayodhya, a member in training of the kshatriya class. Vishvamitra was the guru. The brahmanas are able to offer guidance to every member of society, no matter their role.
Maricha tried to attack in the usual way, but something different happened. Rama reached for His bow and fitted an arrow to it without fear or hesitation. The resulting shot threw Maricha away a great distance. The demon landed in an ocean some eight hundred miles away.
This was the hammer of justice crushing the asura class, who always thinks that there is no God. They maintain this mindset until the very end, when they reach the painful discovery of all-devouring time, kala, to whom they must submit. Maricha was fortunate to receive that lesson early, but he was unable to avoid a second strike from the same Rama, one that would prove to be fatal.
Like from baby taking candy,
Boons of Brahma coming in handy.
Brahmana victims considered weak,
Rakshasas attacking at yajna’s peak.
But not when Shri Rama standing,
Dexterity of bow and arrow commanding.
So that Maricha some distance away landing,
Hammer of justice on him branding.
Categories: maricha describing rama