“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।।
Beware what stalks you in the night. In this case, the demons from Lanka already knew where to go. They did not have to necessarily follow anyone. The sages in the forest of Dandaka were of fixed residence. They chose that location as a means to produce fruitful religious observances.
One of the difficulties with humility is that even if a person is genuinely humble, after a while they may become proud of it. Especially if everyone is constantly praising them, it is inevitable for the ego to swell from the appreciation:
“I am so proud of how humble I am. I can’t believe it. I don’t have to fake it, either. It comes naturally to me. People are right. I am so much better than everyone else.”
These sages were out of the spotlight entirely. They were humble, but who would actually meet them to find out? Even today, no one thinks of going to a remote area for vacation, to meet someone who has no possessions and is constantly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Maricha and friends visited Dandaka to cause damage and destruction. These were bad people. Enemies of the state, though Dandaka is something like outside of any jurisdiction. It should have been a neutral area, free of hostilities, but the demon class never leaves well enough alone.
They came from Lanka, which was an island not anywhere close to the area. The people there were Rakshasas, which is like a race of ogres. It is a curse to be born as a Rakshasa; the body type is anything but auspicious. Maricha’s history details how he was previously cursed to take birth in that form, to be a man-eater with a hideous appearance.
The Rakshasas attacked at night. They were also known as nishachara, which means “ranger of the night.” They travelled during the time of darkness so as to be less conspicuous. The targets, the brahmanas, were in the middle of conducting yajna. This has the multifold purpose of self-purification and feeding the residents of the heavenly region, who are responsible for the necessities on earth, for the continuation of life.
The Rakshasas were additionally aided by the ability known as kama-rupa-siddhi. Change your shape at will. At one moment an ogre, at another a golden deer, for example. This made it easier to attack the innocent. You can’t defend well against something you can’t see, during a time when there is little light, when you are otherwise focused on religious observances.
During one of Maricha’s attacks, targeted at the venerable Vishvamitra Muni, there was someone on the other side to offer protection. He can see through the darkness. He identifies the individual properly, no matter the temporary form they have chosen. He is never afraid, no matter how much fear the enemy instills.
The protector was Shri Rama, who is an avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though a youth at the time, Rama was more than capable of defending. Maricha and friends were battle-tested. They knew what they were doing. They knew how to pounce and be successful in the process.
Rama did not hesitate at the moment of attack. He calmly and quickly reached for His bow. He fitted an arrow that then blasted Maricha away some eight hundred miles. In a split second, like lightning striking, the attack was over.
This is but a glimpse into the potency of the Almighty. Proof of His existence is in every aspect of living, from morning until night, from childhood until old age, at the time of birth and also when it is the end of the line. The wise accept His shelter as the only impenetrable barrier, used to improve and extend the life in devotion to Him, which is the only one worth following.
Fragile this body of mine,
Eventual the end of the line.
The only life worth making,
Shelter of Shri Rama taking.
Who always ready to defend,
Infinite swift arrows to extend.
The Rakshasas away to blast,
Despite dexterous and fast.
Categories: maricha describing rama