“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।।
1. Rama can see through darkness
Living up to their names, the nishacharas preferred to attack at night. They were not interested in a fair fight. Something like burglars entering the home while everyone else is asleep, the Rakshasas from Lanka arrived at a time when no one would suspect visitors.
The place of attack was the forest areas conducive to austerity and penance. Tapo-vana, ideal for the saintly class, who wished to worship God in peace and quiet. Fewer distractions. No upcoming elections to divert the attention. No interference through the pursuit of wealth and fame. No constant visitors asking for advice on how to enjoy the senses in a temporary existence.
It was something like a weekend retreat, and the attackers knew the advantage they had. The vulnerability was to their benefit. Maricha and friends were accustomed to success. One of the reasons Vishvamitra Muni specifically asked for Dasharatha’s eldest son as a bodyguard was to stop this harassment once and for all.
In the Ramayana, Maricha describes to Ravana the one time that such an attack failed. It was because Rama was standing by. Vishvamitra had his sacrificial altar as usual. The perfect time of night. Ready for reaching fruition, completing the proceedings.
Maricha did see Rama there. He was a youth with barely any signs of manhood on His face. What Maricha did not know is that Rama can see through the darkness. As explained in Bhagavad-gita, everywhere are His eyes.
सर्वतः पाणि-पादं तत्
सर्वतः श्रुतिमल् लोके
सर्वम् आवृत्य तिष्ठति
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)
2. Rama identifies the individual properly
It does not matter the form they have chosen. This ability was necessary in this case because the attacking Rakshasas from Lanka could change their shapes at will. The ability is known in Sanskrit as kama-rupa-siddhi. Though to take birth as a man-eating ogre is the result of a specific curse, we see that even in that inauspicious form there were extraordinary abilities.
If someone can’t see you, how are they going to identify you in time? Perhaps through sound, but then the remedial measures would at least require some sort of visual identification. This is not a problem for Rama, as He knows exactly who is in what location and what their intentions are.
3. Rama is never afraid
These were something akin to modern day terrorist attacks. They were meant to instill fear. Stop worship of the demigods, who were considered the enemy to the atheist class. Eliminate yajna from society. Suppress dharma, while increasing adharma.
Maricha was surprised that Rama did not hesitate. Though a youth who was apparently in training in the military arts under the guidance of the guru, Rama fitted arrow to bow in a split second. He released that arrow that perfectly hit the target. Maricha was thrust backward the equivalent of eight hundred miles.
Though an incident from many thousands of years ago, the attacks continue to this day. The struggle between good and evil is a constant one. The suras and the asuras have been at odds since the beginning of time. Sometimes dharma rises to prominence, and sometimes the majority of the population descends into the madness associated with adharma.
No matter the conditions, Shri Rama is ready to defend and protect. He is more powerful than any attacking force, and He can sniff out any secret attack, to the great surprise of the perpetrators. He stands by fearlessly, allowing for the continued free and voluntary practice of devotion in His honor: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Thankfully standing by,
When Maricha and friends to try.
Arrow quickly to release,
Giving sages relief.
Despite with ability invisible,
To Rama all are visible.
My devotion also can protect,
Obstructing intruders to reject.