“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।।
Parashara Muni is kind enough to give a definition to the Sanskrit word ‘bhagavan.’ Though it is sometimes used to address a saintly personality such as Narada Muni or an important heavenly being such as Lord Brahma, it is most appropriate for describing the one who is commonly referred to as God.
For that word, the closest Sanskrit equivalent is ishvara. A great controller. A Divine being. Ishvara refers to God in the generic sense. At least in terms of how it is accepted. With Ishvara no sectarian distinction is implied. Ishvara is for everyone.
Bhagavan is just as appropriate, though with a more specific definition. Parashara Muni says that this word refers to the Supreme Lord possessing six opulences simultaneously and to the fullest extent. Beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation.
While we can identify these attributes, they cannot accurately be measured. This gives rise to another Sanskrit word: Adhokshaja. Bhagavan is a person whose features do not register on blunt instruments. Take weight, for instance. The Supreme Lord is the heaviest person in the world. He is heavier than the heaviest, which is also one of the siddhis of mystic yoga.
You could ask Him to stand on a scale, but the instrument itself would fail to register a weight. The same applies in the opposite direction. Bhagavan is simultaneously lighter than the lightest. Place Him on the scale and it would defy logic. He is on top of the device, but the needle does not move. No weight registered.
Embedded within the list of opulences is nuance and detail. For instance, Bhagavan is also faster than anyone else. He can rush to any place in an instant. He can also detect intruders without much notice. Case in point the attack in the forest described by Maricha in the Ramayana.
The Rakshasa demon from Lanka was expert at changing shapes. Pouncing on innocent victims in the dead of night, nishachara. Carrying wicked intent, to spoil a yajna from the brahmana community. Throwing blood and pus onto the fire; in other words, making a mess of things.
For this one attack, Vishvamitra prepared beforehand. He brought Shri Rama with him. The eldest son of King Dasharatha, though only a youth, was already skilled in the military arts. He noticed Maricha approaching. Without hesitation, Rama fitted an arrow to His bow.
The arrow struck the target. Before Maricha knew what had happened, he was thrust some eight hundred miles away. The demon was spared on that occasion, and he pressed his luck again at a later time. He wouldn’t escape alive, as Rama swiftly caught the enemy again.
Time is quickly dwindling in this short, but important human birth. There is immediate urgency for relief. The highest court in the universe, the ultimate deciding factor, Bhagavan, can remedy the many wrongs committed over countless lifetimes. He can both hear my appeal and solve the problem in mere moments.
Uncertain afterlife fearing,
So hopefully my appeal hearing.
Like when Maricha demon caught,
When terror to yajna brought.
Rama quickly arrow fitted,
Strike the demons befitted.
So now looking for rescue me,
That not again this world to see.
Categories: maricha describing rama