“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।।
“I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the story Maricha told to Ravana. Actually, forget that one instance, just in general the regular practice that took place in the forest of Dandaka. Man-eating ogres from Lanka making the lengthy trip over the seas. They would wait until the opportune moment to strike.
“In the nighttime, when the religious ceremonies were just about to complete. The targets were innocent priestly men. Sages, if you will. Not bothering anyone. No connection to society. No interest in earning more money than the next guy, having a bigger house than the neighbor, or broadcasting to the world how much annual salary they pull in.
“How could Maricha and gang be so degraded in behavior? Who would actually be capable of going through with such a plot? Can you help explain that to me? I understand that the less intelligent relegate these stories to mythology, but I don’t think there is anyone with the imagination to make something like this up.”
A hypothetical situation of two brothers, in the childhood years, playing a video game. It is not a tandem affair; each side takes turns. The competition is based on score. The longer you survive in a particular challenge, the higher your score will be.
Though the two brothers are taking turns, there is a different disposition carried to the scene. The older brother is highly competitive; they want to do well. The younger brother is simply happy to spend time within the family playing a harmless game on the television.
Lo and behold, on one of the turns the younger brother advances far into the game. Their high score smashes the previous record. They can’t believe it. Suddenly, the older brother yanks the controller out from the console. The younger brother is helpless; he cannot reattach the wire in time to save the game. He loses, and the high score becomes frozen.
This is a small, almost harmless, case of jealousy leading to irrational behavior. Sibling rivalries operate in this way, back and forth, well into adulthood. Take the attitude to the extreme and you get an idea of how the Rakshasas of Lanka could attack in the way they did.
There was no ambiguity in intent. They struck at the moment they targeted; at nighttime and right at the completion of yajna, which is a Sanskrit word that means “sacrifice.” Though the Rakshasas were atheist in mindset, they knew of the existence of demigods, who are like administrators of the creation. The demigods manage from above, from the heavenly region.
They gain strength from the oblations poured into the sacrificial fire. Therefore, yajna is with a purpose, though the ultimate beneficiary, Yajneshvara, is always the Supreme Lord. He is the true enjoyer, bhoktaram, of austerity and sacrifice.
ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिम् ऋच्छति
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)
Maricha was not only accustomed to disrupting, but the attacks were lethal. Kill the victims and then eat them. He felt confident based on the boons previously received from Lord Brahma, who is the original demigod. Brahma does not discriminate when offering boons; good or bad is equally eligible for receiving his favor.
There was a hidden will to kill, and Maricha and friends would come in disguise. They could change their shapes whenever desired; kama-rupa-siddhi. This made the task of defense that much more difficult. What were these innocent priests to do?
They finally went for the best protection. Vishvamitra, a well-respected muni amongst the group, directly petitioned to have King Dasharatha’s eldest son serve as bodyguard. From Maricha’s testimony, we learn that Rama barely had signs of manhood on His face. He was an innocent youth, supposedly in training for the military arts.
That novice fitted arrow to bow without hesitation or fear. The lightning-like quickness of Maricha in the attack was met with a superior show of dexterity and alertness on the other side. Rama released an arrow that thrust Maricha backwards almost eight hundred miles.
This historical incident proves that the Supreme Lord can protect at any time and at any place, against even those who are favored by the creator, who has the ability to reach the highest limits in terms of benedictions offered.
Rama is the great protector of the saints, and through to the modern day He gives assurance of His presence through the incarnation that is the holy name: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Rakshasa of Maricha the name,
To Dandaka forest came.
Ready at yajna time to strike,
Accompanied with friends alike.
But Rama this time standing,
Firing arrow into target branding.
That same Lord there for me,
Powerful through holy name to see.