Mareech was the son of rakhasni (demoness) Tadaka. His father was Sunda, the son of Jambha. His brother was Subahu. Both brothers were strong and mighty but their nature was cruel and destructive, a trait they inherited from their father Sunda.
The destructive Sunda was once creating havoc in the hermitage of Sage Agastya, when the sage cursed him to an instant death. When they heard of the death of Sunda, the two brothers Subahu and Mareech rushed along with their mother Tadaka to devour sage Agastya. It was then that the sage cursed the three to become narbhakshi rakshas (man-eating demons).
They used to live around Siddhashram in the area of Malad and Kurush. They hovered and waited for any passerby whom they attacked and devoured. When sage Vishwamitra arrived at Siddhashram and set up his humble hut there to conduct an elaborate long Yagna (fire-sacrifice), the three set to work. They tried various ways of spoiling the sacrifice by throwing impure objects into the sacred fire and thus interrupted the Yagna (fire-sacrifice).
It was then that Vishwamitra went to Ayodhya to ask Dashratha to send Rama and Lakshmana to help him so that they could kill the troublesome trio. Rama killed Subahu and Tadaka but he hurled a featherless shaft at Mareech, which threw him far away into the sea in the south. It is believed that the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is named after Mareech.
Being hit by an arrow thrown by Rama, made Mareech free from the curse of demon hood. He built a small hut and spent his tune in meditation and contemplation in the forest.
Some time later, Rama arrived in the forest with Sita and Lakshmna, to fulfill the boon given by Dashratha to Kaikeyi. They were dwelling at Panchavati by the banks of Godavari River (near Nasik – refer to map). Ravana’s sister, Shoorpanakha saw them and asked Rama to marry her, Lakshman cut off her ears and nose. Her cousins Khar, Dooshan, Trishala, along with fourteen thousand rakshasas fell on Rama in a terrible attack. But Rama decimated their army in minutes. Shoorpanakha then went to her brother Ravana to tell him her tale of woe. Realizing that Rama was no mere mortal, Ravana planned to kidnap his wife Sita.
Ravana knew that Mareech was a mayavi (capable of performing many a miracle). He asked him to take the form of a golden deer to lure Rama away. Mareech tried to persuade Ravana that meddling with Rama meant sure death. Ravana threatened Mareech that if he did not obey him, he would kill him. Mareech thought that the option of being killed by Rama was far better than dying at Ravana’s hand.
Taking the form of a golden deer, he appeared at Panchavati. Sita begged Rama to hunt the golden deer for her. Rama followed the deer into the forest. Mareech used his miraculous power but he was killed by Rama’s arrows. While dying he cried out in Rama’s voice, “Hey Lakshmana!”
Rama had asked Lakshmana to look after Sita while he followed the golden deer. But Sita asked him to go and help Rama when she heard the cry. Thus Mareech became the cause of Ravana’s abduction of Sita. However, being killed at the hands of Shri Rama helped him to attain moksha, eternal bliss.
Mareech – Ramayana Characters