“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।।
There is a saying about beta software: it is not supposed to work. It is like publishing a rough draft of an essay for the entire world to read. There wasn’t sufficient time to iron out the kinks, to fix the errors, both obvious and nuanced. Allow others to have a look, to see if they can help in the editing.
The same applies to training, in virtually any field. Trial and error has meaning. Do something wrong in the first few iterations, in order to learn. There are obvious precautions necessary in some cases, such as with flying a plane, driving a car, or even cooking. Put salt in the place where the recipe calls for sugar, and there could be serious health consequences. Drive on the wrong side of the road on a major highway and there is sure to be chaos.
What if you were tasked with defending a sacrificial fire, in a remote forest area, with no reinforcements. Adding to the difficulty, the people known to attack, the ones you are on the lookout for, can change their shapes at will. The Sanskrit is kama-rupa-siddhi.
They are also known to attack at night. One of the names to describe their body type is nishachara. This translates to “night-ranger.” They move about in darkness, which has both literal and symbolic significance. The nishacharas are generally in the mode of darkness; they cannot discern right from wrong and neither do they care to.
They also travel at night in order to improve the chances at success in desires. They wish to obstruct the religious observances of priestly ascetics who have moved to the forests in order to better concentrate on their spiritual endeavors.
We may ridicule this sort of occupation, but everyone has to do something. No one can go against their nature, no matter how hard they try. It is the business of the nishacharas to be against genuine religion, dharma, and to thwart its otherwise free exercise.
सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः
प्रकृतेर् ज्ञानवान् अपि
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि
निग्रहः किं करिष्यति
sadṛśaṁ ceṣṭate svasyāḥ
prakṛter jñānavān api
prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni
nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati
“Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows his nature. What can repression accomplish?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.33)
You are asked to defend at night, while you are in training, against people on their home territory, so to speak. The night-rangers are expert at what they do, and you barely have any experience under your belt. How will you succeed? How could anyone place this kind of trust in you? Shouldn’t an apprenticeship involve some sort of expert leading the way?
Maricha entered this precise situation, except he was on the attacking side. The bodyguard in training was Shri Rama. There was Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana, also, but both were youths, with barely any signs of manhood on their faces. Maricha thought he had nothing to worry about. He and his nishachara friends expected success in disrupting the yajna, which was administered this time by Vishvamitra Muni.
The contrast in levels of experience from this one incident serves to further glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you know nothing else about Him, understand that He can act as an expert even with little training. As a novice, who would otherwise be prone to errors resulting from trial and experiment, Rama defended Vishvamitra’s sacrifice perfectly.
Dasharatha’s eldest son did not hesitate. There was no fear. Rama fitted arrow to bow and released the weapon in time to strike Maricha. The blow was not like anything previously experienced. Vishvamitra knew what he was doing. It was not a random choice to request Rama as a bodyguard.
The wise are not fooled by the visuals. They know that God is always God. In whatever manifestation He displays, He retains full potency, which is used specifically for protection of the saintly class, who are always harassed by the antagonistic atheists, represented in this case by Maricha coming from Lanka.
विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्
सम्भवामि युगे युगे
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
The pretense of training serves to further glorify Vishvamitra and those saintly people fully dedicated to the path of righteousness and virtue. God the person is the worshipable object of the saintly class, who never forgets Him, and who knows that good will always ultimately triumph over evil.
Completion later attaining,
Rama warrior only in training.
So for Maricha easy should be,
Accustomed to attack was he,
Pouncing like in manner before,
But not ready for response in store.
Rama like expert defending,
Bullet-like arrow sending.
Categories: maricha describing rama