“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।।
Is taking birth as a Rakshasa really that bad? The descriptions of this species we get from shastra do not bear any resemblance to modern-day life. In other words, we don’t typically run into a person with ten heads and twenty arms. We know that bears hibernate for the winter, but what kind of human being sleeps for six months at a time and then wakes up with a voracious appetite?
Birth in this species was the result of a curse, but if we study some of the enhanced accompanying abilities, we might think that is incorrect. Many people would love to be empowered as a Rakshasa, but upon careful analysis of the basic behaviors, we begin to understand why it is indeed a curse to become a man-eating ogre.
1. Cheating others
Deception. Dishonesty. Lack of candor, which is the kinder way of describing lying in the legal world. Many government officials lack candor, which helps to soften the image when described to the public. They are expert at cheating others; it is almost a necessary qualification for holding public office.
The Rakshasas were also cheaters. They did not play fair. If one man was ready to defend Himself and family members, the Rakshasas would gang up and send up to fourteen thousand of the best fighters known to the universe. A Rakshasa male would overpower a delicate and peaceful princess. They would eat messengers not intending any harm.
2. Intruding areas undetected
If you are visiting someone’s home, you typically make some sort of announcement. Ring the bell. Knock on the door. In gated communities, the guardsman might place a phone-call as prior notification, after asking identification from the visitors.
Rakshasas showed up unannounced. They were burglars looking to do more than steal. They went to the tapo-vanas with the motive to interfere with spiritual activities. The human residents of that place were not expecting night-rangers of wicked intent as unannounced visitors.
3. Enjoying eating and sleeping in excess
Shri Hanuman witnessed everything firsthand. As a sort of poetic justice in karmic-reaction, he intruded the city of Lanka. He went into that place undetected and unannounced, as the Rakshasas had done previously. Lanka was their home, and Hanuman saw the excess in lavish living.
More wine and animal flesh than any person could consume. Constant intoxication. If we eat too much, it is difficult to move after the fact. The same applies to intoxication. While in the beginning it seems like a good idea, afterwards we regret. This explains why the new diet and exercise products always find paying customers.
4. Being falsely proud over temporary achievements
The king of the Rakshasas was proud over what he had been able to accomplish. Sure, there was originally the curse to appear in that form. There were boons received from Lord Brahma which gave de-facto immunity from enemy attack. There was the name provided by Lord Shiva due to the terrifying scream.
Ravana would boast of his accomplishments to anyone who would listen. The problem was that the rewards were temporary in nature. The entire city of Lanka could be burned down in an instant, as would take place with a vengeful and angry Hanuman. Moreover, the Rakshasa leader had to use deception, cheating and unfair play in order to succeed.
The bhakti path is always superior. Though it may seem like the other side is winning, eventually the Divine will succeeds. This was seen in the case of Maricha, who was one of the deception-employing Rakshasas that would attack the tapo-vanas. He was accustomed to spoiling the yajna of Vishvamitra Muni.
Then one time the situation changed. Maricha did not succeed. Vishvamitra had prepared beforehand and found a bodyguard. A youth by the name of Rama, who happened to be an avatara of Vishnu. The dedication in dharma paid off by catching God’s attention. The Supreme Lord defended against Maricha and He continues to support the efforts of the devotees, who never stop singing His glories: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Never stop His glories singing,
Who everything to them bringing.
Better in that life to sound,
Than to Rakshasa form found.
Who with sinful ways aligned,
In excess of enjoyment to find.
But always relying on cheating,
Rama with single arrow defeating.
Categories: the four