“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।।
Vishvamitra attempted a special kind of vrata. A dedicated act in dharma, requiring ten consecutive days, uninterrupted. He was in the remote forest, a place conducive to austerity and penance. A tapo-vana, not unfamiliar to the priestly class, who were the wise counselors to the protectors of the innocent.
Despite residence in a quiet and secluded area, things were not going well. Vishvamitra needed help. Rakshasas from Lanka were obstructing. Two in particular seemed to be locked in on the place. Maricha and Subahu, who could change shapes at will, would attack right at the end. They would throw blood and pus onto the sacrificial fire, spoiling everything.
This yajna was such that Vishvamitra could not retaliate with a curse. He required an actual defender, someone like a bodyguard. He knew just the person to hire. Vishvamitra travelled to Ayodhya and paid a visit to King Dasharatha.
The welcome he received was hospitable beyond belief. Dasharatha offered the kindest words a human being could ever hear. He was willing to offer anything to Vishvamitra, but he was unaware that the promise would be taken literally.
Vishvamitra asked for Dasharatha’s eldest son, Shri Rama. Though a youth at the time, the muni assured the king that Rama was fully capable. He was uniquely qualified to deal with these shape-shifting, night-ranging ogres.
The symbolism from this historical event detailed in the Ramayana cannot be missed. Dasharatha is the monarch of the solar dynasty. The line of kings traces its ancestry to the sun-god, Vivasvan, who is also mentioned in Bhagavad-gita.
इमं विवस्वते योगं
प्रोक्तवान् अहम् अव्ययम्
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह
मनुर् इक्ष्वाकवे ’ब्रवीत्
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
Rama is the heir apparent. He is the sun of that dynasty, since He is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though the yajnas took place in darkness, though Maricha and company were previously successful, though Vishvamitra seemingly had no savior, the dawn was about to arrive.
Interestingly, the best account of the subsequent reversal comes from Maricha. He tells the story to Ravana, the king of the ogres in Lanka. It is a warning. Do not stoke the beast. Do not go up against the most powerful fighter in the world. Even during His youth, Rama was capable enough to successfully defend against Maricha and Subahu.
There was no fear. The darkness did not play a role. Dasharatha’s son could see everything. He fitted arrow to bow and released a targeted strike that addressed the heart of the matter. In the spiritual world, contradictions play no role. Though there is intense darkness, Rama’s presence creates the dawn. Though there are two attackers, a single youth is capable of successfully defending. Though Rama is seemingly a pupil, He is the one teaching a lesson to Maricha.
The issue resolved for the time, Vishvamitra continued the association moving forward. He passed on to Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana mantras to be used in military combat. These sacred formulas could turn ordinary arrows into nuclear weapons. Such potency was needed based on the ability of the opposing force. The Rakshasas could appear and disappear at will. As they could conjure up the energy found within the material world, someone even more powerful had to be on the other side.
Though we are not in the category of Vishvamitra, though King Dasharatha may not be nearby to offer His eldest son for assistance, we have the same opportunity to connect. The darkness will be dissipated by the light, who arrives through the sound of His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Always darkest before the dawn,
This time ready with arrow drawn.
So that ignorance defeated,
Maricha way back retreated.
Since Rama defending this time,
Sun of solar dynasty to shine.
For me also willing and ready,
Protected by that hand steady.
Categories: maricha describing rama