TransLiteral Foundation

MĀRĪCA I - मारीच

See also MĀRĪCA II , मारीच , मारीच II.
The uncle of Rāvaṇa. 1). Birth. On the banks of the river Sarayū, there were two states lying adjacent called Malada and Karūṣa. The great sages conducted Jaladhārā (showering of water) on the head of Indra to absolve him of his sin of killing Vṛtrāsura at this place. At that time Mala (excreta) and Karūṣa (spittings) of Indra fell at those places and so they got the name of Malada and Karūṣa. At that place was born after a few years a demoness named Tāṭakā who had the strength of a thousand elephants. A demon called Sunda married Tāṭakā and she got two sons named Mārīca and Subāhu. [Sarga 24, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa ];[ Bāla Kāṇḍa, Kamba Rāmāyaṇa].
2) Mārīca in his previous birth.
Mārīca was the servant of the gate-keepers of Vaikuṇṭha. One day Mahāviṣṇu was displeased by a conduct of his and he cursed him to be born as a demon on earth. But he added that Mārīcawould get salvation from the curse when he was killed by Śrī Rāma in which capacity Viṣṇu would incarnate soon. He would then return to Vaikuṇṭha to his original place. That was how Mārīca was born as the uncle of Rāvaṇa.
3) Āśrama life.
Mārīca and Subāhu were two inseparable brothers. They learned all tactics of war and their hobby was to torment the innocent sages of the forests [Sarga 19, Bālakāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa]. When the exploits of Mārīca became unbearable, Viśvāmitra brought Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa from Ayodhyā for help. The instant Mārīca heard the fierce twang of Rāma's bow he fled to the other shore of the sea. From that day onwards Mārīca grew matted hair and wore barks of trees and spent his life in an āśrama. [Sargas 35 and 36, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa].
4) Death.
When Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were living in the Daṇḍakāraṇya with Sītā they were annoyed by a demoness named Śūrpaṇakhā. In the fight that ensued very many demons were killed. Śūrpaṇakhā complained to Rāvaṇa who decided to kill Rāma and carry away Sītā. For this he sought the help of his uncle Mārīca. Flying in his golden Vimāna and crossing mountains and oceans he approached Mārīca and told him of his plan. Mārīca who was aware of the force of Rāmabāṇa dissuaded Rāvaṇa from such a venture. But Rāvaṇa persisted in his plan and gave Mārīca the following instructions: “Become a golden deer with beautiful white spots all over the body and roam about near the āśrama of Rāma for his wife Sītā to see. I am sure Sītā will request her husband Rāma to catch hold of you. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa will follow you and Sītā will be left alone. I will then carry away Sītā as Rāhu takes Candrikā (moonlight) and live happily with her. I will be contented if I can then tease Rāma who will be lamenting over his separation from his wife”. Thinking that it would be better to die at the hands of Rāma than at the hands of Rāvaṇa, Mārīca agreed to do as his nephew desired. Rāvaṇa and Mārīca came near the āśrama of Rāma in Rāvaṇa's aerial chariot. Mārīca on alighting from it took the form of a beautiful fawn and entered the precincts of the āśrama. The false fawn was capable of attracting the attention of anybody. It is described thus: “It appeared as a wonder to those who saw it. It was golden in colour with blue horns with white lines on it. The ears were like leaves of blue lotus and the face was of the colour of red lotus. The lips were like sapphire and the body beautifully shaped with sides like yellow flowers. The waist was thin and well-shaped and a rain-bow-coloured tail adorned its back. The whole body was silver-spotted and the deer was a feast for the eyes of anybody.” The deer went and grazed in places where it could be seen by Sītā. It would run away from the āśrama and graze hidden from Sītā but would come back again to the vision of Sītā. It would mix with the deer of the āśrama for some time and run away from them to distant places. Like a butterfly it flitted about always trying to attract the attention of Sītā. Other deer approached it but on getting its scent flew away from it. The false deer suppressing the demon-instinct in him to kill and eat the animals which came near it played well the role of a fawn. Sītā was enamoured of the deer and expressed to Rāma her desire to get it. Rāma followed it and finding it keeping a distance always got suspicious and shot it down with an arrow. The deer cried “Hā Lakṣmaṇa” and fell down dead. The cry was intended to mislead Lakṣmaṇa and draw him also away from Sītā. [Chapters 43-44, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa].

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