“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 am genuinely scared at the moment. I realize people face similar, if not greater, problems in other countries. But here things were always relatively free. You could argue that there might have been too much freedom, that life in excess went too strongly in the direction of sinful life.
“Now there is a self-correction, it seems, in the extreme. Practically everyone in government is a fraud. They lie about everything. Nothing in the news is true. Something I witness with my own eyes, the next day the reports are of the exact opposite. The reporters are not that foolish; they are lying and misleading intentionally.
“I get it that the material world is a dangerous place. I understand the teaching from the acharyas that in this dark age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the worst of the worst will rise to power. Led by the demons, the people are in a perilous condition.
“I am worried about myself. In particular, what will happen to devotional life? What if chanting the holy names becomes an unapproved activity? What if they censor any and all discussion of truth? What if they put faithful, honorable people in jail? How will we survive?”
Such egregious violations of natural law have been commonplace since time immemorial. In the ancient history documented in the Ramayana of Valmiki, for instance, we have the most innocent people attacked in the dead of night. They weren’t doing anything wrong. They had no money. They were not stirring up a rebellion. There was no insurrection. They did not share anything offensive on social media.
They were targeted precisely because of the efforts in dharma. The attackers could change shapes at will. They could see well in the darkness. They had no sense of decency. There was no remorse after the fact.
The perpetrators were Rakshasas from Lanka. People who literally ate other human beings. Because of boons offered by Lord Brahma, the leader was safe from attack. He had an almost impenetrable defense. No one dared raise hostilities against him, no matter how justified.
We see saintly people like Vishvamitra Muni continuing without fear. He did not flee the scene or pretend to be something else. He did not disavow his occupation. He knew something special at the time. Vishvamitra went to the kingdom of Ayodhya and asked for Dasharatha’s son as a bodyguard.
Though a youth at the time, Shri Rama defended Vishvamitra in the forest. He delivered a shocking blow to the attacking Maricha. That demon later recounted the amazing incident to Ravana. The event gives life to the promise made in Bhagavad-gita:
अनन्याश् चिन्तयन्तो मां
ये जनाः पर्युपासते
योग-क्षेमं वहाम्य् अहम्
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)
Bhagavan protects what we have and gives to us what we are missing. Visible indications of the imminent arrival may be missing. All hope is gone, but it never should be. There is always a way to access the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one can ban the production of sound, especially the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sparks of oppression to fan,
The truth everywhere to ban.
So that now living in fear,
How to Godhead coming near?
Still can produce the sound,
In which all glories found.
That holy name daily chanting,
For relief in distress granting.