“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।।
“I love the Ramayana story. It is inspiring, uplifting, entertaining, instructional, and full of wisdom. I can see why it is a timeless classic. I just love how the original language has been maintained through these many thousands of years.
“You will have different interpretations based on the time and circumstance. Just look at the way English has evolved. If you read documents and published works from the time of the American founding, the phrasing is different. There are run-on sentences. People would capitalize the first letter of every noun. Strange stuff to us today, but that is how people of that time would write. It was considered proper.
“No matter what happens with the evolution of time, we still have the original Sanskrit verses from the Ramayana and other important Vedic texts, such as Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. I particularly love how the main character, Shri Rama, defends against the innocent. He is supposed to be an avatara of the Almighty, and so His abilities are extraordinary.
“How do you convince people of that fact? How do you convey the enhanced ability in fighting found in the Supreme Lord? How do you make it comprehensible to people who otherwise might doubt? Well, you pit Rama against the worst enemies a person can imagine.
“Today, that might be an extraordinary military force. Fighter jets. Tanks. Drone strikes. Heat-seeking missiles. All supported by an army massive in soldier-count. During Rama’s time, as documented by the Ramayana, the enemies were actually more powerful. They didn’t need any of the modern technology because their personal abilities were beyond belief.
“Take Maricha, for instance. He could change shapes at will. He would arrive in the nighttime, nishachara. He came from Lanka, where its leader, Ravana, was so feared that people considered him to be invincible.
“The eldest son of King Dasharatha, the elder brother of Lakshmana, defended against such attackers. In one case He taught Maricha a lesson never to be forgotten. One man, who was a youth at the time, more capable than His devious enemies, who were on offense.
“I guess one issue people would have is believability. They may believe in God, but they would have a difficult time following the accounts from the Ramayana. It resembles mythology to them. After all, who has seen a man-eating ogre in real-life? Who has seen a handsome youth fire a single arrow that threw back an attacker eight hundred miles, without killing them?
“Followers of such a tradition get mocked. They are considered to be primitive, not fully developed in mind. Some people capitulate. They agree to the mythology angle in order to get along. They want acceptance in the higher social circles. What can be done?”
The sophisticated world will not get me anywhere significant, especially when considering the longer-term goal. This is known as paramartha in Sanskrit. The foolish person focuses only on svartha. Such as how to satisfy the taste buds today. Where to eat dinner. What video game to play next. Which partner for enjoying intimate association.
The acharyas of the Vedic tradition, who align with the original authors of these great Sanskrit works, understand the bigger picture. They know that life and death occur in a repeating cycle. There is a way to break free. Just as Rama released arrows to end the reign of terror of Ravana and his ogre-men, so the same Supreme Lord can rescue me from the dreaded fate of a repeat birth.
Whether the sophisticated world accepts me or not is irrelevant. A wise person understands that life itself is a miracle. Everything in the material world is without a rational explanation. How did the sun just emerge one day and remain fixed in position for seemingly eternity? How did the plants and flowers align where they did? How do the clouds know to pick up water and then return it back to the earth? How does the earth stay in orbit?
If such miracles already take place, is it a stretch to believe that a devious human-like character could change shapes at will and attack in the middle of the night? The less intelligent consider those to be amazing abilities, but the wise understand that even living for thousands of years is nothing in comparison to the potency in the Almighty. He is Shri Rama, and devotion to Him is always the sane and rational decision.
From Ramayana accounts to receive,
Found abilities not to believe.
Like changing shapes at will,
And forests with terror to fill.
The Rakshasas from Lanka coming,
But ideal victim for Rama becoming.
Who greater than the mind can conceive,
By the sophisticated be not deceived.