02.gif (22449 bytes)

   

   Ravana and Mareecha ascended Ravana's aerial chariot and proceeded towards the Dandaka forest. They flew over cities, mountains, rivers and kingdoms. Reaching Dandaka, they saw Rama's aashrama in a banana garden.

They alighted at a distance; Raavana  pointed to Mareecha the aashrama and told him to do his part according to their plan.

At once Maareecha transformed himself into a wonderful deer. Every part of the animal had its own different hue and exquisite beauty. Like a rainbow in the sky, it charmed the eye of the be holder. Gold, silver, diamonds, gems and flowers seemed to appear in succession on its beautiful skin. It was like a living stream of jewels flowing on a beautiful golden body.

With such surpassing beauty the magic deer wandered here and there, now resting for a while and now pursuing its graceful gambols. It would sometimes bend and nibble the grass on the ground, again lift its head up to eat the tender leaves of plants;

Sometimes walk slowly near the aashrama and again jump away and disappear and re-appear at a distance. Sometimes it would join a herd of deer; then it would part from it and walk alone.

Seeta, who was then gathering flowers in the forest, looked at the stag and stared spell-bound at its wondrous beauty. The deer, too, stared back at her and ran here and there in front of her, shedding a new beauty on the landscape.

"Do come and look! Do come and look!" cried Seeta, eager that Raama and Lakshmana too should see that wonderful stag.

"Come quickly, quickly!" she cried. Raama and Lakshmana came out of the cottage and saw the exquisite creature and marvelled at its beauty.

Lakshmana grew suspicious. It seemed to him it was no ordinary deer, but a Raakshasa in disguise. Both Raama and Lakshmana had heard about Maareecha and bad been told how, assuming the form of a deer, he would often beguile and destroy those who came for hunting deer in the forest.

Lakshmana said, "This is no ordinary animal. This is a trick of the Raakshasas."

But Seeta said: "Do catch this deer for me. We shall bring it up as a pet in the aashrama. This is the most beautiful creature.

I have so far seen in this forest. Look! Do look at it: What colour! What playfulness!"

And so she went on, talking of the deer and desiring to possess it. And she pleaded, "Do somehow catch it for me."

She begged Raama; "Soon we shall have to return to the city. Should we not take some rare thing from the forest to Ayodhya? How beautiful it will be, this exquisite creature moving in the inner apartments of our palace? Bharata would be so pleased. I should love to give it to him. Do my beloved, catch it for me. Somehow catch it for me,"

Raama could no longer resist her entreaties.

He said to himself: "Even if Lakshmana be right and the creature is a Raakshasa so much the better reason for killing it. What is there to be afraid of? If I cannot catch it alive, I can bring it down with an arrow and give the skin to Seeta. When she is so keen on having it, is it not my duty to get it for her?"

And he told Lakshmana to bring him his bow and arrows. Lakshmana's heart was not in it, but he obeyed.

And Raama set out saying, "Mind, Lakshmana, remain by Seeta's side and guard her vigilantly. I shall come back soon with this stag alive or killed. Do not be anxious. Even if this is a Raakshasa, I will kill it. But, be careful. Mind Seeta. Anything might happen at any time. Be vigilant."

In order to give Raavana plenty of time and opportunity, Maareecha kept within sight of Raama, but beyond his reach, and drew him on and on like Fate. The deer would take a few steps, then stop and turn and stare at the pursuer. Then suddenly it would start as if in fear. Pricking its ears, it would spring drawing up its hooves to its breast. It would disappear for a while among the trees. Emerging soon on some tall mound, it would display its lovely out line framed against a passing cloud. Sometimes it allowed near approach as though tired and so easy of capture but presently it would spring up and bound far away.