(Last Updated on : 18/03/2010)
Maricha is mentioned as a rakshasa in the great epic of Ramayana written by Valmiki. He was the son of Sunda, an asura. He played a very small but significant part in the epic and helped Ravana in the abduction of Sita from the jungle. There is a mythological story with regard to the life of Maricha. The demon used to disturb Sage Vishwamitra's Yajna and so for his misdeed was thrown into a remote island by the arrow of Lord Rama. When Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were living in the forest, there came to their hermitage a rakshasi named Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana and when she saw Rama she desired him. When refused by Rama, she approached Lakshmana but he also rejected her. Thus refused, she tried to kill Sita, but Lakshmana stopped her and chopped her ears and nose. She thus reported it to her brother Ravana and the king of Lanka worked out a plan with his obedient servant Maricha in order to abduct Sita and thus punish the two brothers for their wrath on his sister Surpanakha.
Maricha was living in the forest of Dandaka
which was under Ravana
. Ravana wanted to kidnap Sita
, the beautiful wife of Rama and told Maricha to help him in fulfilling his task. However, Maricha advised Ravana to stay away from Rama and Lakshmana
. Ravana got displeased and returned to Lanka. At Lanka
, he was again taunted by his sister Surpanakha
and Ravana again decided to consult Maricha. So he took his chariot and fared along by the sea to a great forest to consult again with Maricha, who dwelt there in a hermitage practicing self-restraint. Maricha still gave him good advice to stay away from any conflict with Rama and Lakshmana. Then Ravana blamed Maricha for ill-will toward himself, and threatened him with death. Then Maricha out of fear consented, though he looked for no less than death from Rama when they should meet. Then Ravana was pleased, and, taking Maricha in his car, set out for Rama's hermitage, explaining how Sita should be taken by a ruse.
Maricha, obedient to Ravana, assumed the form of a golden deer and ranged about the wood near the hermitage of Rama. The horns of the deer were like twin jewels and its face was piebald, its ears like two blue lotus-flowers, its sleek sides soft as the petals of a flower, its hoofs as black as jet, its haunches slender, and its lifted tail of every colour of the rainbow. The back of the deer was starred with gold and silver, and it ranged about the forest lawns seeking to be seen by Sita. When Sita saw the golden deer, she was astonished and delighted, and called to Rama and Lakshmana, and begged Rama to catch or kill the deer for her, and she urged him to the chase. Lord Rama
knew that the golden deer was something artificial and warned Sita that it was dangerous. But Sita was very obstinate and insisted on having it. After keeping Sita under the concern of his younger brother Lakshmana he went away for hunting the deer.
Maricha is Killed by Rama
The golden deer sometimes vanishes and sometimes comes close to Rama and in this way it led Rama far away, until he was wearied out and sank upon the ground under a shady tree and then it appeared again, surrounded by other deer, and bounded away. While chasing the deer, Rama came to know from the behaviour of the deer that it was in fact false and evil. Rama after a long chase came up with the Gazelle, and drew his bow and loosed an arrow that pierced its breast, so that it sprang high into the air and fell moaning on the earth. Then Maricha, at the point of death, assumed his own shape, and remembering the command of Ravana, he bethought him how to draw Lakshmana also away from Sita and called aloud with the voice of Rama to Lakshmana and Sita for help.
Sita heard that cry, and urged Lakshmana to go to help Rama. Lakshmana however knew that Rama was unconquerable, and he was pledged to guard Sita from all danger. But she called him a monster of wickedness, and told him that he cared nothing for Rama, but desired her. Unable to tolerate those harsh words, and though many an ill omen warned him, Lakshmana left Sita to go in search of Rama. So he bowed to her and went away, but often turning back to look at her, fearing for her safety. Thus the trick of Ravana worked and it was made successful by the sacrifice of the rakshasa Maricha and the demon king of Lanka finding Sita alone in the hermitage succeeded in kidnapping her.