Thanks to Sundararaman for the scintillating recollection of Mareecha’s advice.
The month of September has been bad for the believers amongst the Tamils. As usual Mr. Karunanidhi started off the season with his usual tirade on Ganesa. He says that Ganesa came to Tamil Nadu from Vatapi. He neither seems to know the history of Tamils nor has any sense of history of the Tamils. The days of yore of Tamils are associated with Sangam period. The grand old lady of Tamil, Avvayyar who wrote the oldest poem on Ganesa viz., Vinayagar Agaval, belonged to this period which precedes the Christian era. Since the attack on the Hindu belief by a rationalist started with the attack on Ganesa the rebuttal also should start with Ganesa.
The next and the most venomous attack was on Rama venerated not just in the North, but all over the landscape of India. Rama is venerated according to scholars even in the Sangam literature Silappathikaram and Manimekalai. It all started with the Central Government committing a blunder in questioning the faith of Indian people on Ram. When the Central Government, without any remorse, beat a grudgy retreat due to public outcry, Mr. Karunanidhi the champion of rationalist or the self-styled champion rationalist, jumped into the fray, bad mouthed, Ram and Rambhakts. He blew hot and cold on Ram. He questioned the existence of Ram. He says Ram is a lie. He apparently contradicted this by saying Ram was an aryan and he was (as a believer I shudder to even repeat) a drunkard.
The silent majority of Tamil Nadu who believe in Ram are keeping quiet like the courtiers of Dhritharashtra when Draupadi was disrobed. The words of Bharathi in Panchali Sabatham are worth recalling to stir them up “’Enna Kodumai ithu’ ena Pattai marangal ena ninru pulambinar pattai pulambal pirarku thunayamo”. Mr. Karunanidhi has thrown a challenge to the believers to have a debate about Ram on the basis of Valmiki Ramayana.
I feel before we have a debate, as a true Rama Devotee, it is incumbent upon me to warn the consequences of fighting Ram that may befall on the opponent. Mr. Karunanidhi will be happy if I quote from Valmiki who is a Scheduled Caste than Kamban who probably belongs to the forward Caste though not a Brahmin. Sargas from 36 to 40 deal with the conversation of Ravana with Mareecha. This is the apt episode to warn Mr. Karunanidhi. Moreover one believes whether Mr. Karunanidhi would have made all these noises if ever Mr. Maran his nephew were alive. One imagines Maran to have made similar advice not just because his name bears close resemblance to Mareechan, as he has been referred by Mr. Karunanidhi himself as his conscience keeper.. In the first Sarga 36 Ravana seeks Maareecha’s help to abduct Seetha. He asks Maareecha to assume the shape of a golden-deer and lure Seetha. If Rama and Lakshmana are distracted from the hermitage, Ravana can safely abduct Seetha.
While unfolding this plan Ravana quite unnecessarily not germane to the plan started attacking the personality of Rama much like the current day ruler Mr. Karunanidhi, who instead of advocating the Sethusamudram project started attacking Rama. Rama, according to ravana was, “put to flight by his infuriated father, and who came to Dandaka forest along with his wife, that ignoble Kshatriya is the slaughterer of that demonic army of mine, as his lifespan is diminished. He is out of character, brutal, firestorm, senseless, selfish, one with his senses unconquered and righteousness discarded, and he is an unrighteous soul just delighting in the disservice of all beings.”
We should remind that just because Valmiki is narrating Ramayan the words attributed to Ravana by the narrator could not be taken to be the words of Valmiki. Valmiki continues and gives details of the reaction of Mareecha to this move of Ravana. Mareecha who was hounded by Rama when he was a boy of 12 at Siddhashrama to protect the Yagya of Vishvamitra, on listening the very word “Rama”, began to tremble, his mouth was completely dried up, and he was fully frightened. Wetting dried up lips with his tongue he became goggle-eyed almost like an about-to-die animal, and he agonisingly looked up at Ravana with winkless eyes. Mareecha at this stage advises ravana with a nice upadesa which till this date is taken as an advice for the society at large.
sulabhaah purusha raajan satatam priyavaadinah
apriyasya ca patyayasya vaktaah srotasca durlabhaah.
“It will always be easy to get people who talk pleasantly, oh, king, but it is impossible to get them who talk judgementally and give suggestions that may be apparently insipid, but that are recuperative, more so, it is impossible to get listeners of such advises.” This particular advice seems to be apt to Mr. Karunanidhi that he should listen even within his camp more to Dr. Ramadoss than to his yes men such as Arcot Mr. Veeraswamy or Dr. Ponmudi. “So, listen to my words that may now be unsavoury, but will prove beneficial to you in long run, if you can foresee your future properly”, is the tone in which Mareecha pleads to Ravana in the same breath as the silent believing majority pleads with Mr. Karunanidhi.
He continues, “ Definitely you do not apperceive Rama who is decidedly dynamic and exaltedly adept, for you are impetuous and desultory… Any king of your like who is with a self-will, ill-will, ensorcelled by evil, and malicious in intent, that king alone ruins his own city-state, his own people, even himself, as a matter of actual fact.” Then Mareecha rebuts the wrong epithets against Rama categorically thus: “Rama the enhancer of his mother Kausalya’s happiness is completely forsaken by his father – no, he is not; there is unseemliness in him – no, not in the least; he is out of character – no; he is selfish – no; he is an ignoble Kshatriya – no, not at all; and he is neither a debased one insofar as the merits of righteousness are concerned, nor he is atrocious towards living beings, for he takes delight in the welfare of all beings. On seeing his father who is a proponent of truth, and whom Kaikeyi has outwitted, that virtue-souled Rama neatly decamped from Ayodhya saying that ‘I will prove my father to be a real proponent of truth.’ Discarding the kingdom and even royal-comforts Rama entered Dandaka forest only to fulfil the cherish of Kaikeyi, viz., kingdom for her son Bharata, and even that of Dasharatha, viz., to remain loyal to his promise to Kaikeyi. Rama is ruthless – no; an unscholarly one – no; unconquered are his senses – no…” He goes on to say that what you spoke is not the truth. Here the look at the actual sloka and its different wordings by two different schools gives a beautiful insight into the episode. One school gives the following:
Na raamah karkashastaata naavidvannaajitendriyaH
anrutam na srutam caiva naiva tvam vaktumarhasi.
“Rama is ruthless – no; an unscholarly one – no; unconquered are his senses – no. It does not behove of you to talk untruth and that which is unheard of”. There is another version of the Sloka which uses “dusrutam ” instead of “nasrutam”. This seems to be more apt. Here Mareecha is quoted as saying that what you speak is untruth or wrongly indoctrinated. The wrong indoctrination is there for all of us to see from the days of “Keemayanam” and “Ariya Mayai”.
Then comes the greatest praise of Rama ever heard. It is pertinent here to note this greatest praise of Rama comes from a demon who was hounded by Rama and the subsequent events would vouch the fact that Mareecha had no axe to grind to praise Rama, which would corroborate the truth in the acclaim for Rama .
Raamo vigrahavaan darmah sadhuh satyaparaakramah
raaja sarvasya lokasya devaanaamiva vaasavah.
“Rama” Mareecha says, “is the embodiment of righteousness, he is an equable person with truthfulness as his valour, and as with Indra to all gods he is the king of entire world.” “Rama’s principles alone make him victorious, as he does not deviate from the path of righteousness. And by not deviating from the path of righteousness, he is truly valorous and the question of his defeat does not arise, because he will abide by his conscience.” Mark these words. These are the very characters that become the ideal of every Indian and this has sunk into our consciousness whether we believe in the Rama in human form or in a Mythical form. This nation (even when there were no State to govern the nation) has never ever tried to be a cause of disturbance of world peace. Take the case of Bangladesh War. India overran the Pakisthani Army and rightfully proclaimed victory. But the Indians did not occupy the country for a day more than the declaration of independence. This is unheard of in world history. The international law recognises the presence of occupying forces as recently as in Iraq war. We did not do it. It was not Mahatma Gandhi who was in the throne at that time. It was the sterner Gandhi viz., Indira Gandhi at that time. But this is how a nation steeped with the consciousness of Rama would behave. If Rama is taken away from our hearts and soul India would also create its own Iraqs and Vietnams disturbing world peace. So for the sake of peace please do not take away Ram from our heart and soul.
Mareecha continues with his advices, “If you cherish to take pleasure for a long time in your life, in your comforts and also thus in your kingdom, which kingdom is highly impossible to achieve, do not do anything unpleasant to Rama.”
“Such as you are, you should firstly deliberate with all of your ministers that have a righteous bearing, duly keeping your brother Vibheeshana at the helm of affairs, and then you take a decision on your own considering rights and wrongs of the case, and bearing in mind about your own strengths and weakness, and even on making sure of Raghava’s capability in its reality, and then it will be apt of you to take up befitting action that will be conducive to your interests.” Alas not only Mr. Karunanidhi has lost Mr. Maran, he has lost the venerable Palanivelrajan for him to give proper advice.
“Oh, king of nightwalkers Ravana, I for myself deem that your confrontation with Rama, the prince of Kosala, in a war is improper, and a better, befitting, and a reasonable one is this advise of mine, to which you may listen further.”
Mareecha has some words for the believers who are maintaining an eerie silence “Even if with uncommitted sins, the sinless will get ruined owing to their interdependence with other sinners, like the fish in a lake with snakes. Bedaubed with divine sandal-paste, beautified with divine ornaments are the limbs of the demons now, perchance you will be seeing them trampled out on ground for the blunder of yours.”
Maareecha further advises Ravana to avoid confrontation with Rama for it would be ruinous to the entire demonic race. Narrating his experiences with Rama during Viswamitra’s Yagna and at another time in Dandaka, he says, “I am indeed descrying Rama at this tree and at that tree, dressed in jute-cloths and black deerskin, and handling his bow like the Terminator handling a tether. Given to fright I even visualise thousands Rama-s, and whole this forest is reflecting to me as one entity of Rama. Even at a place void of people I am envisaging Rama alone, and oh, king of demons, even if he enters my dream, in fact, I am jolting up and swooning. Oh, Ravana, appalled of Rama the names starting with the alphabet ‘ra’ like ratna-s, ratha-s, viz., gemstones, chariots are appalling to me, including your name, that starts with a ‘ra.’
“If I hear the first letter ‘ra’ of any given name, I am scared at the ensuing second syllable presuming it to be ‘ma’ and if that second syllable of that word I am going to hear happens to be other than ‘ma’ then my fear ceases.I am well-acquainted with his efficacy, and a war with him will be an unfair thing for you, for that Raghu’s descendant can in fact kill either Emperor Bali or Namuchi, the demon. Definitely Rama is the one with exceptional resplendence, exemplary courage and extraordinary power, and for sure, he becomes an eradicator of the world of demons.”
On further goading by Ravana Maareecha dissuades Ravana again and speaks thus: “Oh, night-walker, by which evildoer this thought, which is self-ruinous to you, along with your progeny, kingdom and ministers put together, is taught to you? “Who is that reprobate unhappy with such a happy one like you, and oh, king, by whom this door of demise is ingeniously shown to you?”It is very clear, oh, night-walker, that your rivals with skimpy might are aspiring that you should be completely ruined coming into conflict with more mighty Rama. He who wishes you to get ruined by your undertaking a self-made destruction is a scoundrel with a pernicious intent, as such, by whom you are counselled to do this? Your ministers are not curbing you anywise when you scramble on a high road to self-ruination, hence they are indeed to be sentenced to death, but they are not being executed for their dereliction.” Ministers who goad the King on the path of ruination is an expression very much applicable to the present dispensation which has goaded Mr. Karunanidhi to make blasphemous statement about Ram. “Veracious ministers have to restrain a self-willed king when he relies on a wrong-route, isn’t it. But you are unrestrained by your ministers though you are self-willed and though you are taking a wrong-route,”says Mareecha.
Now getting into probity and behaviour of Kings and Ministers Mareecha says:”Oh, best conqueror Ravana, probity, prosperity and pleasures, and even the popularity of the ministers, oh, night-walker, are achieved at the beneficence of their master. Contrariwise, oh, Ravana, all that beneficence of the king to ministers becomes futile when the king behaves perversely, and even the others, namely the subjects of kingdom, will derive distress by the negative virtue of their master. The king alone is the root cause for probity and prosperity, isn’t it. Therefore, oh, best prosperous one, in all situations the kings are to be safeguarded from the ill effects of influences. It is impossible to govern kingdom, oh, demon, the night-walker, for a king with acridity, with hostility, or with immorality. The ministers with drastic notions will indeed fall apart together with their king, like a chariot that gets ramshackled together with it charioteer on a rough road, though it is hieing with galloping horses but badly controlled by that slothful charioteer. In the world many saintly beings that are high-minded and pursuers of ethicality are completely ruined together with their kinsmen owing to the misdeeds of others.” How prophetic this words would turn out if amends are not made even at this late stage. “Oh, Ravana, the subjects do not flourish while a lord with contrariety and coerciveness safeguards them, just like goats guarded by a fox.” How nicely this expression sums up the current situation! Mareecha reiterates the catastrophe that is to befall on the demons thus: “All those demons will definitely ruin, oh, Ravana, to whom you are the acrimonious and malicious king with unconquered senses, though you have conquered the heaven.”
“As a desirer of your welfare I am dissuading you, oh, night-walker, but you may feel that this word of mine is unpleasant to you. People on diminishing lifetime will be similar to corpses and a corpse cannot take in the expedient spoken by considerate confidants, isn’t so.”
With these words Mareecha ends his advice to Ravana. Let us also warn those who have taken up cudgels against Ram that he is a warrior par excellance and he resides in the heart of this nation from time immemorial and anybody who attacks him attacks the nation’s soul.