That Night Was The Darkest Of All

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]“Being under the influence of illusion, I underestimated Rama and took Him to be a mere child. Thus I ran towards Vishvamitra’s sacrificial altar. With that, Rama released an acute arrow capable of destroying His enemies. Upon hitting me, that arrow forcefully threw me away to an ocean one hundred yojanas [eight hundred miles] away.” (Maricha speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 38.19)

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अवजानन्नहं मोहाद्बालोऽयमिति राघवम्।
विश्वामित्रस्य तां वेदिमभ्यधावं कृतत्वरः।।
तेन मुक्तस्ततो बाणः शितश्शत्रुनिबर्हणः।
तेनाहं त्वाहतः क्षिप्तस्समुद्रे शतयोजने।।

avajānannahaṃ mohādbālo’yamiti rāghavam।
viśvāmitrasya tāṃ vedimabhyadhāvaṃ kṛtatvaraḥ।।
tena muktastato bāṇaḥ śitaśśatrunibarhaṇaḥ।
tenāhaṃ tvāhataḥ kṣiptassamudre śatayojane।।

You can’t fight what you can’t see? Is that not true? You can’t locate that which cannot be seen. If there is total darkness, does not the one known as a night-ranger have the upper hand? Will they not emerge victorious every single time? As Maricha tells the story, there is one person with such illumination that their potency extends beyond revealing the attackers in the dark of night.

Maricha was proud. He could terrorize others. There was nothing they could do about it. He was the dominant one. The only human beings in the chosen area were sages. They were the victims. Frail. Skinny. You could only really see skin and bones.

They were near emaciation as a matter of choice. They had no interest in looking attractive. If women were to be repulsed by their image, that was kind of an added bonus. Less opportunity for interference. Less chance of being degraded through illicit sex life.

The sages chose the areas known as tapo-vana. A forest that is conducive to sacrifice and austerity. One sage in particular, Vishvamitra, was intent on performing a specific sacrifice. The problem was that outsiders would attack.

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]The intruders would wait until the precise moment of near-completion to intentionally spoil everything. Maricha was part of that group, and based on the boons he received he was standing tall. He thought that no one could ever get in his way.

Maricha had coconspirators. There were other members to his clan. They feasted on the flesh of sages. Who could ever be so degraded? Who would ever stoop so low in behavior? This is the class of living beings known as Rakshasa, as described in Vedic literature.

If we witness corruption, we might raise objections. If we see criminal behavior taking place in plain sight, we might incredulously ask why no one is helping. We might insist that others step up, that they lend their voice to the cause.

The truth of the matter is that unless there is an opposing force to stop the criminal behavior, nothing will be done. If there are no consequences pending, why would the criminals stop? What incentive do they have for behaving properly? What is the benefit of turning around and going “straight”?

Maricha happened to meet that opposing force. In the process, he learned a lesson that he would never forget. He attacked the sacrifice, as per usual. He waited until the proper moment, as he saw it. He expected the same success, to which he was accustomed.

Except this time Vishvamitra had help. He had specifically sought it out. That venerable rishi went to Ayodhya and requested the protection of Shri Rama, who was the eldest son of King Dasharatha. The amazing thing is that Rama was only twelve years old. He barely had signs of manhood on His face.

That beautiful, youthful image could be mistaken for kindness, compassion, and mercy. Not for the attackers. Not for the aggressors. Rama released an arrow that struck Maricha with such force that it flung the night-ranger some eight hundred miles away.

[Shri Rama]One arrow, from one individual, on one dark night, during one particular attack was enough to get the message across. The night-ranger learned that someone was out there who could see through the darkness of ignorance. Rama could locate the enemy through sound, and maybe others should think twice before ever trying to go against Him again.

In Closing:

One lesson should suffice,
To attack again think twice.

Where that arrow on Maricha blow,
Some eight hundred miles to throw.

Rama even in the dark receiving,
The attacker the truth not believing.

Even if enemy clandestinely to move,
Against Supreme’s dexterity to lose.

Categories: maricha describing rama

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1 reply

  1. I will never think of the term Night Ranger the same ever again LOL

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