Valmiki Ramayana - Why Sri Rama did not captured the Golden Deer alive?

Maareecha predicted that he was going to die at his third encounter with Lord Rama. First episode was while Lord Rama was safeguarding Vishwamitra's Vedic-ritual, when Rama was a young boy (Chapter 38). Second episode was at Dandaka forest when Rama was in his adulthood (Chapter 39).

On spotting the deer Ma Seetha calls Rama and Lakshmana to have sight of it.

Lakshmana immediately concludes it to be Maareecha, but Seetha, keeping his observation aside asks Rama to fetch it, alive for play or dead for its skin .

Rama is also fascinated when he looked at that deer and he explains to Lakshmana as to why that particular deer is to be hunted down.

Rama eliminates Maareecha when he is escaping beyond reach in the form of Golden Deer. He sports with that deer for a long time and when it is leading him away and afar from the hermitage, he is vexed with the trickery of the deer and kills it.

2) Detailed Answer:

(i) Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, Chapter 41:

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Maareecha said to Ravana,
"That Rama will soon kill you after killing me, and I will be dying at the hand of my enemy rather than at the hand of my own clansman like you, whereby the purpose of my life will be brought to an end. (3-41-17)

"If you are going to bring Seetha from their hermitage on going there with me, then you will not be there, I will not be there, Lanka will not be there, the demons will not be there. (3-41-19)

(ii) Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, Chapter 43:

Ma Sita said,
"Oh, noble prince, come here," thus she called her husband and peered at the deer, and again she called, "really come with your younger brother quickly," ...... (3-43-3)

But Lakshmana became incredulous on seeing it and said to Rama, "I believe this deer to be that Maareecha, the demon."(3-43-5)

"Oh, Rama, when kings engaged in hunting games were delightedly moving in the forest, this Maareecha killed many of them resorting to many disguises, for he is a guise-changer by his wish. (3-43-6)

Ma Sita said,
"Oh, nobleman's son, that delightful deer is stealing my heart, oh, dextrous one, bring it round, it will be our plaything. (3-43-10)

"Else if that best deer does not come into you capture while alive, oh tigerly-man, at the least its gorgeous deerskin will be remnant of it. (3-43-19)

Lord Rama said,
"If this deer is Maareecha, this heinous and vicious-souled demon has indeed tortured many eminent sages earlier when was on the prowl in the forests, thus he is to be eliminated. (3-43-39)

"I wish to CATCH this deer, Soumitri, if NOT I will KILL it, and I will be going forthwith to fetch the
deer. (3-43-47b, 48a)

(iii) Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, Chapter 44:

Again on seeing Rama who is stalking his catch that deer ran towards him as though to impress with its guilelessness, and just at that moment it vanished again as if with extreme fear. (3-44-11)

Then that deer has again emerged out of the thick of trees, and on spotting it the great-resplendent Rama has firmed up his decision to fell it. (3-44-12)

At that instant Raghava became highly infuriated and unholstered a holocaustic, enemy-subjugating arrow that is similar to the flare of the sun, tautening it on his very sturdy bow that forceful Rama forcefully outstretched the bowstring with arrow targeting the Golden Deer alone ..... (3-44-13, 14, 15a)

When Rama's incomparable arrow has indeed shattered his crucial organ, namely the heart, in a downright manner, then Maareecha assumed a very massive physique of a demon, abandoning the form of Golden Deer. (3-44-20, 21a)

"This is the trickery of Maareecha which Lakshmana vouchsafed earlier, that has indeed happened in that way alone, and the one whom I have killed now is none other than Maareecha. (3-44-23)

3) Lure for Golden Deer:

The ambiguity is whether Rama is going for the deer, or deerskin, or for the latent demon. He is going for the deer epically, for the memento of deerskin to Seetha as a hero of the epic, and for the demon in deer, according to mythology.

'asambhavam hema mrugasya janma - tathapi ramo lulubhe mrugaya |
prayasamapanna vipatti kale - dhiyopi pumsa malinii bhavanti ||' (hitopadesha, Verse 28)

Impossible is the birth of a Golden Deer, even then Rama is lured, if time is perilous, even the best man's brain deranges.

'karmana badhyate buddhih - na buddhya karma badhyate |
subuddhih api yat ramo - haimam hariniim anvagaat ||'

Fate harasses the faculty, faculty cannot harass the fate, even the cleverest Rama, went after the Golden Deer.

'na bhuto purvo na ca kena drishto - hema kurango na kada api varta |
tatha api trishna raghunandanasya - vinasha kale vipariita buddhih ||'

Unborn it was, none has seen yet, nor mentioned about it, such is the mirage of Rama. Parlous time causes perilous percipience.


C. Sri Vidya Rajagopalan

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