“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।।
Friend1: You know what I was thinking the other day?
Friend1: That if the bad people of this world just left everyone else alone, there would be peace and prosperity. Maybe not at a perfect level, but one that is significantly superior to the conditions today.
Friend2: What makes you say that? In what ways are they harassing today?
Friend1: It seems like you are getting attacked from every corner. Since most of the world has these elections to decide who runs the government, the worst of the worst have taken advantage of the opportunity to inject mass control.
Friend2: You mean liars, cheaters, thieves, and so forth are running for office and getting elected?
Friend1: Absolutely. They forgive certain crimes, based on constituency groups, and then criminalize normal behavior, like walking around outside, going to the store, running your business, and so forth.
Friend2: There is a saying going around. “Rules for thee, but not for me.” Something like that.
Friend1: Yeah. They go nuts over a mask mandate, for instance, and then you see that they never wear masks when out in public. They know it’s a giant farce, yet they have so many innocent people fooled.
Friend2: That is a hot-button issue, for sure.
Friend1: They’ve shut down religious gatherings. That bothers me the most. How are people not protesting this? What a huge infringement on the rights of the citizen. Are we going to look at everyone as a set of germs, now? Is that a healthy outlook to have moving forward?
Friend2: I don’t know. We’re living in troubling times, for sure.
Friend1: Unnecessary harassment. Give these leaders some money, send them off to an island to live happily ever after, and we can go about our lives.
Friend2: You will be surprised to learn that this issue has been ongoing since before anyone can remember. In terms of Vedic literature, it is presented as the struggle between the suras and the asuras. In other words, the good guys against the bad guys.
Friend1: Good versus evil. The perennial problem. Dating back to the beginning of the creation.
Friend2: In the Ramayana we find the horrible situation of the sages living in the Dandaka forest. Okay, we acknowledge that civilized society has its defects, which can often be traced to the leaders. But here certain members of the priestly class left everything behind and went to live in areas known as tapo-vanas. Forests conducive to austerity and penance.
Friend1: Isn’t that what every parent within Vedic culture is afraid of? That their children will end up learning Vedanta and renouncing the world as a result?
Friend2: Exactly, but the fear is usually rooted in the missed opportunity for enjoying the senses, earning a lot of money, getting married, and so forth. There is hardly concern over personal safety. The sages should have been fine in the tapo-vanas. The problem is that even there the asuras had to attack.
Friend1: Why? How?
Friend2: Sages perform yajna, which is sacrifice. Pouring oblations into a fire. Chanting sacred mantras. The offerings work their way up to the heavenly region, feeding the demigods, who are known as suras. The asuras cannot leave well enough alone. They seek to diminish the influence of the suras.
Friend1: But why? If someone else wants to be religious, why should I care?
Friend2: Think of it as eliminating opposition. Defeating your competitors. If I want to live a life of sin, stealing and killing, then I can’t have others around who will shine the spotlight on my deeds. Better to get rid of them. Like a society without police.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: And so these asuras, in this case man-eaters known as Rakshasas, would attack in the night. Without prior notice, in disguised forms, right at the time the yajnas were set to complete. In many cases, they would kill the sages and eat their flesh.
Friend1: What in the world? That is horrible.
Friend2: You’re telling me. This is described in the Ramayana by one of the Rakshasas. Maricha was successful many times, but on one occasion there was a youth guarding the yajna of Vishvamitra Muni. This youth was Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya.
Friend1: The Supreme Lord.
Friend2: Yes. In any manifestation He retains full potency. He successfully protected Vishvamitra and others. Maricha took with him a lesson never to be forgotten.
Friend1: I guess that same spirit of instigation and interference remains.
Friend2: No one is ever safe in this material world. There is danger at every step. Ultimately, we can only rely on the same Rama. He will help us if we really want Him by our side. This desire can be made known through the steady chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Like by Rakshasas shown,
Never to leave people alone.
Who their own business minding,
Forest ideal for yajna finding.
But Maricha surprised one time,
When Rama in defense to shine.
So relying on Lord the same,
Through chanting holy name.