Book III : Aranya Kanda  The Forest Trek
Chapter [Sarga] 43 in prose

On spotting the deer 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 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



That slenderwaisted Seetha whose limbs are flawless, whose complexion is like purified gold, and who is presently culling flowers is highly gladdened to observe the Golden Deer that is brightened in one flank with the colour of gold and the other is silvery, and she shouted for attention of her husband, and even that of Lakshmana who is presently weaponed.

"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," and again gazed at the deer, and thus she oftentimes called and oftentimes saw the deer fondly..

Those manly lions Rama and Lakshmana thus bidden by Vaidehi came there exploring that place and then they saw that Golden Deer..

But Lakshmana became incredulous on seeing it and said to Rama, "I believe this deer to be that Maareecha, the demon...."

"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 guisechanger by his wish... Maareecha is an expert in many wiles and he has now assumed the form of this GoldenDeer, oh, manly lion, which is not more than the scintillating city of Gandharvas, a city of wiles, which any trickster can create to makebelieve....

The 'Gandharva city' is the name given to a makebelieve formation of a citylike structure in skies by magicians, and presently the magicians world over are making the apparent structures to disappear, rather than constructing one which is unmanifest.

"Oh, Raghava, this kind of amazing animal with gemlike dapples is nonexistent in the world, isn't it Hence, oh, lord of the world, this is truly a phantasm No doubt about it" So said Lakshmana to Rama:

Here the timely provision of data by Lakshmana may be noticed Rama is also aware of it, but Lakshmana is reminding him Lakshmana cites even the name of Maareecha and by this, we can infer as to why Ravana chose Maareecha for this particular purpose Because Maareecha has that extraordinary ability to lure and has a good record of wily accomplishments, Ravana chose him Lakshmana has done his duty in presenting expedient data and it is up to Rama to analyse it Rama argues on this point later in the chapter.

While Lakshmana of Kakutsthas is speaking thus, she who is selfsatisfied as her heart is conjured by the cozenage, such a Seetha of a toothy smile deterred him and spoke:

"Oh, nobleman's son, that delightful deer is stealing my heart, oh, dextrous one, bring it round, it will be our plaything... Here in the threshold of our hermitage many animals with adorable manifestation are moving about in flocks and herds, say Caamara deer, like that Srimara deer....

The chaamara is the kind of deer of species Bos grunniens and shrimara is a larger variety than chaamara.

"Also the animals that are excellent in their form, say monkeys, are moving here.... Likewise herds of Kinnara deer, spotteddeer, and even bears of greatmight are freely moving here....

Here the Kinnaraas are another kind of deer and not to be confounded with yaksha, gandharva, kinnaraa celestials.

"As to how this extraordinary deer is appearing, oh, king, by way of its brilliance, tameness, or by the lustre of its skin, I have not so far seen any coequal to this... Diversely coloured, amazingly limbed, and spotted with gemlike dapples it is shining forth like a deer that is completely gemmy, and while nonchalantly moving before me it is enlivening the forest like the moon....Ah, what a form, ah, what a brilliance, what a beautiful bleat! This amazingly limbed deer is wonderful, and this is stealing my heart, as it were... It will be surprising if this deer draws into your capture alive and well, as it creates astonishment to one and all.. When we return to kingdom on completing our dwelling in forest this deer becomes a masterpiece in palacechambers for us...

"Oh, lord, the form of this deer creates an excellent jubilation to Bharata, to you the son of the nobleman, to my mothersinlaw, and also to me in palacechambers.. Else if that best deer does not come into you capture while alive, oh tigerlyman, at the least its gorgeous deerskin will be remnant of it... I wish to sit along with you on its golden deerskin, overlaying it on a seat of tender darbha grassblades, in case the deer is felled....

The seat of those that are under a vow is called bR^isii, vratiinaam aasanam bR^isii, ajina, carma, kR^ittiH : amara kosha 'A seat covered with darbha, the sacred grass, [and if available] a deerskin thereon...'

"Tradition says that this sort of unruly selfseeking is unbefitting to women, yet that deer's beautiful body is inducing curiosity in me" Seetha said so to Rama and remained waiting for his reply:

Seetha talked only this much and left the fulfilment of her indent to the discretion of Rama There is neither demand nor compulsion to bring the deer in her talk But we usually hear the telltale stories, bringing from some other texts, which say that Seetha pestered, nagged, and harassed Rama to get this deer But nothing of that sort is evident from the dialogue given to her by Valmiki She started to ask Rama with a suchiH smitaH 'a white smile, ie, a toothy smile or a simpering smile' that too to deride the security guard, namely Lakshmana These security personnel all over the world and in all situations and always forewarn the secured, and on the other hand, it is customary to the secured person to jump off the cordon of security, disdainful of the security measures After all, human nature wants a free living Thus, when Seetha is trying to jump off the cordon of security laid by Lakshmana, commentators say that she is said to have smiled scornfully  lakshmaNa vaakya shravaNa janita kopaa siitaa raamam eva aaha  dk  'with the anger generated on listening Lakshmana's words, Seetha spoke to Rama,' Whether Seetha is with kopa 'anger' or not, it is unsaid in the text.

As for that deer's horns they vie with excellent sapphires, its golden coat with the glitter of tender sun, and its ambience with silver spots on coat with a milk way containing twinkling stars, and by that reason even Raghava's heart is awestruck when he saw it ...

According to this original text, Rama is more lured by the Golden Deer than Seetha, whereas later legends made Seetha a scapegoat Rama too did not fancifully come under the lure but he got his own logistics to fall after the deer, which we come across in the following speeches of Rama The word api 'even,' is a normal metrical filler at most times, but assumes importance at times Here Rama is the all knowing and all deciding personality as depicted until now, and 'even' he is lured by the deer, say Maareecha's supernal trickery.

In this way, hearing the words of Seetha and observing that wondrous deer Raghava is also amused by its form, and even motivated by Seetha in fetching it, he delightedly spoke this word to his brother Lakshmana....

When Seetha placed her indent before Rama, Rama is speaking to Lakshmana, only to allow us to listen his strategy in going after the deer atra mR^igayaa vyasana doShaan jaanan api raamo  lobhitaH ten ruupeNa  iti anayo uktayaa mahaa purusaanatra mR^igayaa vyasana doSaan jaanan api raamo  lobhitaH ten ruupeNa  iti anayo uktayaa mahaa puru//saanaam api bhavati vyasana anuruupatayaa buddhi vyaamoho bhavati iti suucitam  dk 

 'here knowing well about the blemishes of hunting games, Rama is lured, ambitioned, hankered after etc By these words it is suggested that even great people are beguiled for their inclination in such matters  Dharmaakuutam;

asambhave hemamayasya jantoH tathaa api raamo lulubhe mR^igaaya | sabhaa parva  bhaarata  raamo hema mR^igam na vetti    dyuute bhraatR^i catuSTayam ca mahiSiim dharmaatmajo dattavaan | praayaH sat puruSo hi anartha samaye buddhyaa parityajyate   praaciinaa

 'even if it is impossible to have a golden deer, Rama is lured by it for his hunting game' Maha Bharata, sabhaa parva ; 'Rama, unable to distinguish illusory deer [went after it] Yudhistar staked all his four brothers and his queen [in dice game] thus even great people at inopportune times loose their brains,' an ancient saying 

"Lakshmana, behold this enthusiastic delight of Vaidehi... Oh, Soumitri, presently no other deer indeed with such an excellent form exists in this forest..  Or else, does it exist in Nandana Gardens of Indra -  no, it cannot be there; in the adjoins of Caitraratha Gardens of Kubera - no, it will not be there; then how can there be some deer on earth which is similar to this!

"Amazing are its hairlines with hair upturned at some places and downturned at other, and the golden spots embedded on the coat of the deer are glittery... See at its tongue that is exserting from its mouth while it is yawning, which is similar to the flaring tongue of fire and to the lightning from a cloud.. Its face is like a mug made up of sapphires, its paunch is pearly and conchoidal, and whose heart is it that will not be lured for this deer with an inexplicable beauty.. On seeing at this astounding look of the deer which is golden in glitter and bejewelled numerously as it were, whose heart is it that will not be transported into astonishment... Kings pursuing games of hunting in great forests, oh, Lakshmana, will be felling deer either for the sake of flesh, or just for the purpose of sporting archery... And exerting themselves in great forests, they, by far, amass forest produce, ores, jewels, gemstones and the gravel of gold...

'And this deer is also the produce of this forest, as such hunting this for taming or tanning is befitting to us, as we are princes' One should not 'exert oneself,' or 'amass' forest produce even if he is a king, but collect it casually without looting it

"Everything of that wealth from forest produce will be filling the treasuries of kings, like the speculated objects filling the entire treasury of Shukra just by his thinking of them in his mind...

Whatever object Shukra thinks wilfully, it becomes a reality, filling his treasury So also, whatever objects the kings desire they come to reality through forest produce This is a puranic/ legendary saying which Rama is quoting

Or, as contained in Maha Bharata, Udyoga Parva, SuparnaNarada discourse: manuShyebhya samaadatte shukraH cintaa aarjitam dhanam 'the pipedreams, [the unattainable or fanciful hopes or schemes,] of people fill up the coffers of Shukra'

Or, dhaninaam kosha vardhanam dhanam saaram 'for rich people [like kings, merchants,] coffer, filling, wealth, ie, the forest produce is the best' 'The forest produce is the best wealth for enriching the coffers of the kings for maintenance of kingdom, and for other rich people it is for trade etc' Hence, this deer, or its deerskin is saaram 'an excellent gift' to be taken to Ayodhya on our return' Rama's saying is interpreted in this way giving a high priority to forest produce

"The financial experts and the other financially welloff people say that with which aspirational activity an aspirant unhesitatingly scurries and achieves it, that achieved target alone is lauded to be worthwhile, or, as real wealth...

To support his argument that bringing the Golden Deer shall not become a pipedream but it shall occur in reality, Rama is substantiating with this statement This is called apuurva vastu sekaraNa 'collection of valuable objects' which is a fashion to anyone, especially to kings Then Lakshmana may further insist 'even then you shall not go, it is a fanciful deer/demon,' for which Rama is saying 'getting the ungettable itself is worthwhile'

"This comely Vaidehi will be sitting on that invaluable golden skin of that gem of a deer along with me....

Rama is not primarily bothered to tame the Golden Deer by declaring about its skin and its usage at this juncture. This skin alone is the 'laudable wealth' 'worthwhile object' and a 'masterpiece'

"I think the skin of Kadali deer, or of Priyaki deer, or of Praveni deer, or as a matter of fact the skins of best breed of deer or sheep will not be match to the deerskin of this deer, insofar as the softtouch is concerned....

Kadali, Priaki and Avi are the names of breed of deer that yield best deerskins It is said in amara kosha: kadalii kandalii ciinaH ca camuuru priyakaH; amii ajina yonayaH; avayaH shaila meSa arka Kadali is the deer with white stripes on its neck that lives in a big burrows Priyaki will have thick brown and black hair and these yield the best and soft deerskin for sitting AviH is the sheep in breed The word Praveni may perhaps not of a breed of deer as said in amara kosha: aiNeya meNyaaH carmaadyameNaH aiNam ubhe triSu Thus it conveys the meaning aiNeya, the best deer belonging to doe, and aiNa, belonging to buck Some take this praveNi as a separate breed whose dictionary meaning is completely different than that of deer

"Only two divine deer are there, this magnificent deer on earth, and the other that moves in skies remaining in stellar region....

The deer in skies is taken in two ways; one, the deer in the moon and the other, the Orion constellation, mR^iga shiirSa, mR^iga shira 'deer, as its head,' ie, the deerlike stars in the head of Orion, where East takes this Orion as the 'hunted' and West takes it as the 'hunter', in which 'hunting' is common And Rama wants to hunt down the reality of the deer But Lakshmana may still insist saying, 'maybe, only these two deer are the unavailable objects We cannot leap up to skies to catch hold of those deerlike stars, or the deer in the moon Equally this tricky deer on earth is uncatchable Thereby getting its skin is also that dreamy' For this Rama explains his duty in his next course of action, viz, killing the demon

"You are telling me that 'this is the wizardry of the demon' Even then, if this results in that way as a demon's wizardry, Lakshmana,  my duty also results in the elimination of that deer... If this deer is to be demon Maareecha, this heinous and vicious-souled demon who has indeed tortured many eminent sages earlier when he was on the prowl in the forests, even then he is eliminable... He rebelliously killed many kings who are excellent archers while they were in hunting games, at least for that reason this bestial monster is eradicable...

The last word in second foot mR^iga is also identifiable with 'beast' thus a bestial monster

"Demon Vaataapi who held ascetics in contempt was here earlier, and staying in the stomachs of Brahmans he used to come out by ripping their stomachs open and thus he was killing Brahmans, like a marecalf killing its own mother at its time of birth by ripping the womb of its own mother...

The legend of Vaataapi is said in detail in chapter  of this Aranya Kanda when Rama and others were going to Agastya's hermitage

"On one occasion after some time, that Vaataapi avariciously obtained that great saint and the one who is endowed with effulgence, namely Agastya, as an eatable; but actually that demon has became an eatable to the sage .. On observing the demon Vaataapi who is trying to assume his original form of demon in order to come out of his stomach, that godly saint Agastya spoke this to Vaataapi with a scornful smile...  'Oh, Vaataapi, you have irreverently eradicated the best Brahmans in this world owing to your might, therefore I have assimilated you' So said sage Agastya to Vaataapi

"Such a demon, Lakshmana, who is like Vaataapi will not be there any more... He who disregards someone of my kind, who always abides in righteousness and who is self-controlled, such a demon will be eliminated by the righteous as sage Agastya has eliminated demon Vaataapi, if that demon happens to get at me... Oh, Lakshmana, the descendent of Raghu, you stay here in all preparedness and guard Maithili steadfastly, whatever enterprise of ours is there that is founded in her...

The first foot 'she is the basis of our mission' is a debated expression Their mission is to eliminate Ravana Seetha as Vedavati, an earlier incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, vows to eliminate Ravana when she comes to earth as Seetha Then Rama should have said 'look Lakshmana, our task is to kill Ravana, for that Ravana has to kidnap Seetha, and to make that kidnapping possible do not guard her' Can he say so? Neither Rama, nor any ordinary husband can say so Then this predictive sentence becomes selfcontrary Contrariwise, taking some concessions of grammar, because most of Ramayana is unPaninian, Rama is indirectly hinting Lakshmana that something is immanent, because 'after the elimination of demons like Khara, Duushana nothing drastic has happened, but a queer deer has come, and thus something may now happen' Then, if this asyaam is given to kartavyam 'the enterprise' as tasmin then the connection is: asmaakam yat kR^ityam asyaam [tasmin] aayattam asaama 'for us, which, enterprise is there, in that, circumspect, we shall be' 'Which enterprise is there for us individually, in that we both shall conduct separately and circumspectly, and you do your job of guarding Seetha and I mine in bringing the deer or its skin, duly eliminating that conjuring demon' In such a case, the blemish soothsaying or prophesising will not occur to Rama, in saying 'Seetha as the pivotal character is to be kidnapped by Ravana' etc In fact, Rama is the person who is more beguiled by the deer

"I wish to catch this deer, Soumitri, if not I will kill it, and I will be going forthwith to fetch the deer... Lakshmana, see how Vaidehi's percept is overtaken by deerskin... Indeed by the strangeness of its skin that deer must be a mysterious being, hence, it will not survive now... Apply yourself vigilantly, Oh, Lakshmana, while staying in hermitage along with Seetha... So soon as I go I will be felling that spotted deer with one arrow and returning quickly...

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

"Oh, Lakshmana, you be here taking care of Maithili along with the forthright, formidable and fatherly bird Jatayu, and be watchful and suspicious from everywhere and every splitsecond..." Thus Rama spoke to Lakshmana and started to go after the deer...


Lure for Golden Deer


Poor Seetha, she could not romanticise the Golden Deer better than Rama Then it may be asked 'what is the necessity for Rama to romanticise and compare it to the skyey stardeer and others.   Is it for the deer or for the deerskin?' This is the unanswered question 'It is for the deer alone but not its skin,' said so in reply by some If it were to be for the deerskin, from the view point of Rama, he could have shot his arrow from where he is standing, which arrow miraculously pierces any terrain, kills the deer, and safely comes back into his quiver, as in the case of showing his prowess to Sugreeva Otherwise, Rama should have turned down the request of Seetha, as he did in the ninth chapter of this Aranya Kanda, when she was saying: 'where that weapon? Where this forest? Where the principles of Kshatriya? And where is the sageness? All this is inconsistent By us, let the laws of the land be esteemed' as at  When kings come into such a sort of allurement, many wise men quote this instance of Rama's going after the deer as a reminder to them, as in Maha Bharata

asambhavam hema mR^igasya janma - tathaapi raamo lulubhe mR^igaaya |
praayaH samaasanna vipatti kaale - dhiyo pu~Nsaam malinii bhavanti ||

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

karmaNaa baadhyate buddhiH - na buddhyaa karma baadhyate |
subuddhiH api yat raamo - haimam hariNiim anvagaat ||

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

na bhuuto puurvo na ca kena dR^iShTo - hema kura~Ngo na kadaa api vaartaa |
tathaa api tR^iShNaa raghunandanasya - vinaasha kaale vipariita buddhiH ||

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

Hence Rama's going after the deer is for the deerskin, on one count, and for the deer itself, on the other as affirmed by Lakshmana because Lakshmana never says untruth This Maareecha is recurrently falling after Rama Once an accident, twice a coincidence, but thrice a habituation and it become habitual for Maareecha to dare Rama Hence, Rama has to do something to Maareecha, permanently

The other view according to puranic/mythological sayings is that god endows whatever you seek But that god alone says: 'Seek you will get it, but seek not by the extrinsic values of objects' This saying has it counterpart at: 'Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth' St Matthew, p[Ch , v ] The Bible But 'seek something within the nature, according to your nature but not the supernatural for eyes belie the nature of objects' is the essence here He/she who seeks beyond means will have to suffer, either by getting it or devoid of it This is said in innuendo at , that 'the results of pipedreams fill the coffers of Shukra'

Further, because parlous time has come to Rama and Seetha, epically, providentially, and episodically, Rama has to move away from Seetha While going after the deer, Rama says much to Lakshmana about the security to Seetha and also informs him that 'she is pivotal to our mission' He did not say these many farewells when sending Seetha and Lakshmana for hiding in a cave at the time of elimination Khara, Duushana, and the other fourteen thousand demons At one time Rama spared Maareecha's life in the forest of Tataka while guarding Vishwamitra's ritual, only to cause Maareecha to come now As such, Rama has to go after Maareecha Besides, Seetha or Goddess Lakshmi will let none killed in her presence.


Thus, this is the 43rd chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India

© Sept, 2002, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : September 04]

Further info on deer and along with rama
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