A Touch Of Evil

[Rama holding bow]“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)

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ततोऽहं मेघसङ्काशस्तप्तकाञ्चनकुण्डलः।
बली दत्तवरोदर्पादाजगाम तदाश्रमम्।।
तेन दृष्टः प्रविष्टोऽहं सहसैवोद्यतायुधः।
मां तु दृष्ट्वा धनुस्सज्यमसम्भ्रान्तश्चकार सः।।

tato’haṃ meghasaṅkāśastaptakāñcanakuṇḍalaḥ।
balī dattavarodarpādājagāma tadāśramam।।
tena dṛṣṭaḥ praviṣṭo’haṃ sahasaivodyatāyudhaḥ।
māṃ tu dṛṣṭvā dhanussajyamasambhrāntaścakāra saḥ।।

How did Maricha descend so low? How did he become so bad in character and deeds? How could he be aligned with the greatest of fiends, Ravana? Why did he dare return to the scene of the greatest lesson taught to him? An arrow that would normally be fatal in contact hurled him eight hundred miles away. It was a direct touch of the higher nature.

There is the saying that you can judge the character of someone based on their friends. It is making an assessment based on the company a person keeps. Vigilant parents maintain a watchful eye in this area. They do not want their children getting in with the wrong crowd.

We could say that Maricha came in contact with a touch of evil, and so he was doomed to the path of adharma. He had received boons that made him powerful enough to attack innocent sages in the forest of Dandaka.

While those sages were searching for the light, Maricha and company thrived in darkness. While saintly people look for peace and quiet in order to conduct yajna dedicated to Vishnu, the asura class takes advantage of that renunciation to further their own evil ways.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the touch of the superior nature is required for anything we see to function. A simple example is the tape recorder. Used more so decades ago, the concept still lives on. You press a button on a machine. That starts the recording process.

[tape recorder]In the days of the large machine, the tape inside the recorder might get stuck. In that case, the machine will not fix itself. It remains in the jammed state until there is outside intervention. That external force is the touch of the superior nature.

This nature has to be superior because the recorder would otherwise not work. It would not be able to function. That superior nature is actually the living beings. If we analyze God in terms of two natures, superior and inferior, the living beings are equal to the higher side.

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति।।

mamaivāṃśo jīvaloke jīvabhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ।
manaḥṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati।।

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

The living beings run into trouble when they come in contact with the inferior nature. The immediate impact is birth and death. This cycle is tragic. It is debilitating to those who remain aware of it. Whatever enjoyment we experience has an expiration date. It will have to end. The entire experience will be wiped away, forgotten in a short time.

Within that context, there are different degrees of activity. Maricha fell into the most harmful behavior due to the touch of evil. He did not realize that his boons were from a higher power. He did not understand that there were limitations on what he could do. He could not always succeed. His desires were not satya-sankalpa.

In a memorable encounter, the superior nature humbled Maricha. It was the energy in the personal form. Shri Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, released an arrow in defense of Vishvamitra’s yajna. The arrow took aim at an attacking Maricha.

If Maricha were truly the superior nature, without vulnerabilities, then he would have succeeded. Just like the attacks from the past, there would have been joyous celebration in skewing the spiritual alignment of the saintly class.

[Rama holding bow]Instead, the arrow dealt such a blow that Maricha was hurled eight hundred miles away. He knew that Rama could have killed him. That advisor to Ravana understood that he was spared on that day, for some reason. He used that firsthand experience to try to counsel his friend to move in a different direction, to not tempt fate. Ravana would not listen, and so ultimate destruction was in his destiny, delivered in a beautiful way by the source of all energies.

In Closing:

Maricha wanting to stay,
Not again into harm’s way.

Already one time spared,
When attack against Rama dared.

But with evil in that place aligned,
So trouble through Ravana to find.

Such that against arrow again to meet,
But this time with fatal defeat.

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