Ram had come to exile with his wife Sita, said Akampana. She has unparalleled beauty and Ram loves her madly. If Ravana were to somehow seperate Ram from his beloved consort, He may die in agony, or at least surely, he’d become weak, after which Ram could be easily quelled in battle.
Ravana liked the idea. He immediately decided to get help from the magical Maricha who could help in creating some illusions and seperate the couple. Maricha stayed as a recluse in the Himalayas. When Ravana arrived to seek his assistance, Maricha was surprised and wondered if everything was all right in Lanka. Ravana described to Maricha what Ram had done to his army in Janasthan and proposed he help him kidnap Sita.
Maricha leapt up from his seat in horror. He screamed, “Your enemy has surely come in disguise as a friend to suggest you do this most dangerous act. Don’t even look at the direction of Ram. Oh king, whom have you ofeended that to seek revenge, he has advised you to pick cudgels with Ram? Whoever has said this to you is mad and seeks to use you as a tool to destroy the entire Rakshasa race. He is trying to extract the fangs from a posionous serpent. Oh mighty Ravana, even as you are sleeping peacefully, this foolish advisor of yours has kicked you on the head. Go back to sleep and forget any misadventures with Ram as a bad dream.”
Ravana was struck by the passion in which Maricha spoke. Maricha continued to pace up and down, shaking his head in disbelief. Ravana thought Maricha was unnecessarily getting worked up; after all Ram is a human, he told the bewildered Maricha.
“Human?”, Maricha screamed. “You just said that he single handedly killed 14,000 of your soldiers including Khara and Dushana, who are equal to you in battle, and yet now you live in denial? Please know Ram is not an ordinay human; he is a lion amongst men. The endless arrows that rush from his bow are the teeth of this ferocious lion and just as a lion easily kills all small animals of the forest, Ram will crush the entire Rakshasa dynasty with utter contempt and disdain. Don’t hurl yourself into the deadly ocean called angry Ram. When Ram is angry, his arms are the sharks and alligators of this ocean, and his numberless arrows are the hurling waves that will drown all of Lanka.”
Maricha then sat down, again got up and exclaimed, “Oh king of Rakshasas please enjoy with your queens blissfully in Lanka and let Ram sport with his wife Sita in the woods.”
Ravana was still not convinced of Ram’s greatness. He remembered though how when he took boons from Brahma, he hadn’t asked immunity from humans. He had thought what could humans ever do to him. Now he remembered the incident and felt sobered and then sat thoughtfully. He asked Maricha if he had personally experienced Ram’s prowess that made him so scared of Him.
Maricha then recounted how years ago, when he was the most fearful of Rakshasas, he roamed the forests harrassing sages. To stop him, Vishwamitra brought the teenager Ram to protect his sacrifices. Maricha recalled that at such a young age Ram had killed Maricha’s mother Tataka and brother Subhau and with a powerful arrow threw Maricha 800 miles into the sea. Maricha then reminded Ravana that many years have passed since that event and now Ram is a full grown man with more celestial weapons at his command.
He also recalled how sometime ago he and his two accomplices again tried to attack Ram. This time he had taken the guise of Shabara – an eight legged carnivorous animal that feasts on lions and tigers. Again, in an instant Ram killed the other two and mysteriously allowed Maricha to flee.
Maricha then candidly shared his own pitiable condition. He said since the last incident involving with Ram, he is seized with terror. Wherever he sees, he only sees Ram. He gets nightmares of Ram and lives in morbid fear. The entire forest to him appears is filled with thousands of Ram. He is now so scared of Ram that he has accepted sannaysa- renouned life and in every bark of every tree he only sees Ram wielding his bow. Anyone utters any word beginning with the letter R, invokes fear in his heart. “Oh Ravana”, Maricha pleaded, “Under no circumstances shall I be persuaded to take part in this insane mission. Leave and go back to Lanka immediately. “
Ravana sat soberly for some time at Maricha’s hermitage. He recalled Brahma’s boon and wondered what to do next. Slowly, he rose and said cynically that Ram is ordinary but he would let the Janasthan incident pass. Maybe, Ravana said, their paths would cross one day in future and at that time he’d see what to do. Ravana then trudged back to live in Lanka peacefully.
But peace would be elusive to Ravana. No sooner he reached Lanka, he had a special visitor who would change the course of history….
To be continued….