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Maareecha , a demon and an associate of Ravana, appears in 2 episodes of Valmiki Ramayana.

  1. In Bala Kanda, while trying to defile the Yagna of Sage Viswamitra, he was thrown into the Ocean by the Maanava astra discharged by Sri Raama.

  2. In Aranya Kanda, he was eliminated by Sri Raama, while unwillingly assisting Ravana in diverting the attention of Sri Raama.


Sage Valmiki says through Sri Hanuman - वञ्चयित्वा वने रामं मृगरूपेण मायया। - "deceived Rama in the guise of a deer and abducted Janaki " (10th sloka of 31st Sarga of Sundara Kanda).

Again in the Sundara Kanda Sarga 34 and in Sloka 32 Sri Hanuman says - अपकृष्याश्रमपदान्मृगरूपेण राघवम्। - Ravana, who abducted you deceitfully in the form of deer.

So it was Ravana alone, who diverted the attention of Sri Rama and Lakshmana in the form of Deer, and abducted Sita. Mareecha was not mentioned here.

Can we interpret these statements of Sage Valmiki that though Maaricha advised Ravana against abducting Sita, but really did not assist Ravana and that the later part in which his elimination was mentioned, was an interpolated story?


26-6-19 Edited

As the answers posted by 2 members do not satisfy me, I request the moderators to decide, with respect to bounty offered, as per the rules of this site.

  • अपकृष्याश्रमपदान्मृगरूपेण राघवम् ... It does not contain the name Ravana right? – hanugm Jun 16 at 10:38
  • @hanugm: please read the slokas completely and understand the context under which the slokas were stated. – srimannarayana k v Jun 16 at 10:42
  • I dont know sanskrit, but the translation is "Showing an illusory antelope, Ravana detracted Rama and took you away from a deserted hermitage. You will see later, the consequence Ravana will get for this act." ... which does not say that ravana himself became deer... he just showed an illusory deer and carried his work...... ' – hanugm Jun 16 at 10:44
  • @hanugm: You are right. Ravana created an illusion of a deer, and distracted Sri Raama. Valmiki did not say that Mareecha appeared as deer. That is the point. – srimannarayana k v Jun 16 at 12:44
  • Valmiki Ramayana 3.44, 3.45, 3.57, 3.58, 3.59 confirms it was Maricha who disguised as golden deer. Later 6.126 also confirms the same. – Triyugi Narayan Mani Jun 19 at 7:29
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No, Maareecha taking the form of a deer in Ramayana not an interpolated story.

I am going to prove it in the following three steps.

1) Analyzing Knowledge of Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Sita regarding Maareecha taking the form of deer from the event of Sita liking deer to the event of Hanumamn talks with Sita

2) Interchange of knowlede regarding Maareecha among Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sita, Ravana

3) Interpretation of Hanuman's statements

Step 1)

Ravana knows that the deer is Maareecha because Maareecha executed the plan of Ravana only.

Lakshmana believes that the deer is Maareecha

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

Rama came to know that deer is Maareecha after killing Maareecha

"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]

Although she might hear the name of Maareecha from Lakshmana, Sita do not know with clarity that the deer is Maareecha because she was abducted away before Rama or Lakshmana confirms it with clarity.

From the information available, we can infer that Ravana, Rama knows the fact for sure. Lakshmana may be sure about the fact and Sita's knowledge is ambigious regarding the fact that the deer is Maareecha .

Step 2)

Ravana did not meet Hanuman and tell that the deer is Maareecha atleast before Hanuman meets Sita.

Both Rama and Lakshmana did not mention that the deer helped during abduction is Maareecha from the time of killing Maareecha to the time of Hanuman talking with Sita (Slokhas you mentioned from Sundara Kanda). We can also notice that neither Rama nor Lakshmana did not explicitly use even the name of Ravana till it comes from the Hanuman's mouth.

Thus no one among Ravana, Rama, Lakshmana tell to Hanuman that the name of Rakshasa who took the form of deer and helped in Sita's abduction is Maareecha.

We also need to note that Rama never disclosed this information to anyone atleast till Sundara Kanda that the deer is Maareecha. Observe that Rama did not even use the name Maareecha while talking to Lakshmana even

सर्वथा रक्षसा तेन जिह्मेन सुदुरात्मना |

वदता लक्ष्मण इति उच्छैः तव अपि जनितम् भयम् || ३-५८-१३

"That impostor and highly impudent demon (Maareecha) who shouted loudly as, 'oh, Lakshmana,' might have caused fear even in you in everyway. [3-58-13]

Step 3)

Now we will interpret the words of Hanuman you are referring. The words of Hanuman you are referring are neither supporting nor denying the presence of Maareecha but many other statements across Ramayana is supporting the presence of Maareecha.

Let us consider the statements one by one

First statement:

The part of the tenth slokha of the thirty one Sarga of the Sundara Kanda of the Valmiki Ramaya you referred is

वञ्चयित्वा वने रामं मृगरूपेण मायया |

It is the statement told by Hanuman to Sita. The literal translation is

deceived Rama in the forest by illusionary animal form

The meaning is

(Ravana) deceived Rama in forest by illusionary animal (deer) form (of Mareecha)

Which is not same as

Ravana deceived Rama in the forest by becoming illusionary animal form

Second Statement:

The part of the another slokha of the thirty four Sarga of the Sundara Kanda of the Valmiki Ramaya you referred is

अपकृश्ष्य आश्रम पदान् मृग रूपेण राघवम् |

It is a statement told by Hanuman to Sita. The literal translation is

Took away from ashram by showing animal form to Rama

The meaning is

Ravana took away (Rama) from ashram by showing animal (deer) form (of Mareecha) to Rama

Which is not same as either

Ravana took away (Rama) from ashram by becoming animal (deer) form (of Mareecha) to Rama

or

Ravana took away (Sita) from ashram by becoming animal (deer) form (of Mareecha) to Rama.

Now, your argument is that Hanuman did not use the name of Maareecha explicitly and hence there is a chance for interpolation. But we can notice that from steps 1 and 2 that Hanuman does not have explicit knowledge on Maareecha and hence he might not use the name Maareecha.

Now, from the comments, the question is that how do Hanuman then know about the animal form taken inorder to decieve Ram to abduct Sita.

Let us observe the following slokhas by lamenting Sita, which was observed by Hanuman secretly

तरस्विनौ धारयता मृगस्य |

सत्त्वेन रूपं मनुजेन्द्रपुत्रौ | नूनं

विशस्तौ मम कारणात्तौ |

सिंहर्षभौ द्वाविव वैद्युतेन || ५-२८-९

"In the disguise of a animal, those two energetic sons of Dasaratha were surely killed for my sake, as two excellent lions killed by a flashing thunderbolt."

नूनं स कालो मृगरूपधारी |

मामल्पभाग्यां लुलुभे तदानीम् |

यत्रार्यपुत्रं विससर्ज मूढा |

रामानुजं लक्ष्मणपूर्वजं च || ५-२८-१०

"Certainly that Time-spirit, assuming the guise of a animal, allured me, a woman of poor fortune at that time and to whom I, a stupid woman, sent forth (far away) Lakshmana and the noble prince Rama the elder brother of Lakshmana."

From the above slokhas, Hanuman can come to know that Sita sent the Rama and Lakshmana for the sake of illusionary animal form.

Along with these three steps, we can consider the following slokha:

Narada told to the Valmiki the following lines from the sarga 3 of Bala Kanda while saying Ramayana in sequence in concise form

The killing demons like Khara, Trishirasa and the upsurge of Ravana thereby, and also killing demon Mareecha, and Ravana's abduction of Vaidehi, likewise

Narada mentioned the Killing of Mareecha which happened only before the abduction of Sita. According to your argument if Maareecha does not involve in helping Ravana then the Killing of Maareecha should not be mentioned by the Narada to Valmiki.

  • Thanks for responding. However, according to my study, the Sargas 1 - 4 of Bala Kanda are interpolated and hence Sage Narada's assertion can not be accepted. In respect of your interpretation of slokas, shown the name Mareecha in brackets, is not acceptable to me. Lakshmana says (4-4-13) that his wife is abducted by a guise changing demon in a lonely place, of whom we know not... we know not which demon stole his wife, but never says anything about the deer (according to you Mareecha) that was purportedly killed by Sri Rama.@hanugm – srimannarayana k v Jun 20 at 7:27
  • But Hanuman always told animal form, not deer. So will it be enough if animal reference is provided( Some one telling to Hanuman)? – hanugm Jun 20 at 8:09
  • ok. please provide details and it should contain elimination of that animal by Sri Rama. And, that reference should be from Valmiki Ramayana only, but not from Puranas please @hanugm – srimannarayana k v Jun 20 at 8:15
  • please also avoid referring to Uttara Kanda, which is an interpolation.@hanugm – srimannarayana k v Jun 20 at 8:19
  • @srimannarayanakv Let me know once if any issue – hanugm Jun 20 at 10:18
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If you go with the story in the Critical Edition (CE) of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, there should be no confusion nor contradiction.

Sage Valmiki says through Sri Hanuman - वञ्चयित्वा वने रामं मृगरूपेण मायया - "deceived Rama in the guise of a deer and abducted Janaki " (10th sloka of 31st Sarga of Sundara Kanda).

That part of the verse is not present in the Critical Edition. In the CE, the śloka belongs to Sarga 29:

5029001a evaṁ bahuvidhāṁ cintāṁ cintayitva mahākapiḥ
5029001c saṁśrave madhuraṁ vākyaṁ vaidehyā vyājahāra ha
5029002a rājā daśaratho nāma rathakuñjaravājinām
5029002c puṇyaśīlo mahākīrtir r̥jur āsīn mahāyaśāḥ
5029002e cakravartikule jātaḥ puraṁdarasamo bale
5029003a ahiṁsāratir akṣudro ghr̥ṇī satyaparākramaḥ
5029003c mukhyaś cekṣvākuvaṁśasya lakṣmīvām̐l lakṣmivardhanaḥ
5029004a pārthivavyañjanair yuktaḥ pr̥thuśrīḥ pārthivarṣabhaḥ
5029004c pr̥thivyāṁ caturantayāṁ viśrutaḥ sukhadaḥ sukhī
5029005a tasya putraḥ priyo jyeṣṭhas tārādhipanibhānanaḥ
5029005c rāmo nāma viśeṣajñaḥ śreṣṭhaḥ sarvadhanuṣmatām
5029006a rakṣitā svasya vr̥ttasya svajanasyāpi rakṣitā
5029006c rakṣitā jīvalokasya dharmasya ca paraṁtapaḥ
5029007a tasya satyābhisaṁdhasya vr̥ddhasya vacanāt pituḥ
5029007c sabhāryaḥ saha ca bhrātrā vīraḥ pravrajito vanam
5029008a tena tatra mahāraṇye mr̥gayāṁ paridhāvatā
5029008c janasthānavadhaṁ śrutvā hatau ca kharadūṣaṇau
5029008e tatas tv amarṣāpahr̥tā jānakī rāvaṇena tu
5029009a yathārūpāṁ yathāvarṇāṁ yathālakṣmīṁ viniścitām
5029009c aśrauṣaṁ rāghavasyāhaṁ seyam āsāditā mayā
5029010a virarāmaivam uktvāsau vācaṁ vānarapuṁgavaḥ
5029010c jānakī cāpi tac chrutvā vismayaṁ paramaṁ gatā
5029011a tataḥ sā vakrakeśāntā sukeśī keśasaṁvr̥tam
5029011c unnamya vadanaṁ bhīruḥ śiṁśapāvr̥kṣam aikṣata
5029012a sā tiryag ūrdhvaṁ ca tathāpy adhastān; nirīkṣamāṇā tam acintya buddhim
5029012c dadarśa piṅgādhipater amātyaṁ; vātātmajaṁ sūryam ivodayastham

Here's how Bibek Debroy translates that sarga and there is no mention of Rāvaṇa directly deceiving Rāma:

Chapter 5 (29)

The great ape reflected thus, in many kinds of ways. He spoke sweet words and made Vaidehi hear those. ‘There was a king named Dasharatha and he possessed chariots, elephants and horses. He was auspicious in conduct and performed great deeds. He was upright and immensely illustrious. He was born in a lineage of emperors and was like Purandara in his strength. He was devoted to non-violence. He was not inferior. He was compassionate and truth was his valour. He was foremost among those of the Ikshvaku lineage. He was prosperous and extended his prosperity. He possessed all the qualities of a king. He was extensive in prosperity and was a bull among kings. He was famous in the four corners of earth. He was happy and conferred happiness. He loved his eldest son, whose face was like the lord of the stars. His name was Rama and he was especially best among all archers. He protected his own conduct and protected his people. He protected the world of the living. Dharma represented supreme austerities for him. The brave one did not waver from the truth. Following his aged father’s command, with his wife and his brother, he went on an exile to the forest. In the great forest there, while on hunts, he killed Khara and Dushana. On hearing that they had been slain in Janasthana, Ravana was angry and abducted Janakee. I have heard about her from Raghava and have found her, with the beauty, complexion and prosperous signs that were described.’ After saying this, the bull among apes stopped for a while. Hearing this, Janakee was filled with great wonder. Her excellent hair curved at the tips. The timid one’s face was covered with her hair. But she raised it and looked at the shimshapa tree. Not knowing what to think, she looked diagonally, up and down. She then saw the adviser of the lord of the apes. The son of the wind god resembled the rising sun.

(The Valmiki Ramayana: Volume 2 by Bibek Debroy)


The second verse you cite belongs to Sarga 32 of Sundara Kāṇḍa (CE). Debroy's translation follows.

5032030a apakr̥ṣyāśramapadān mr̥garūpeṇa rāghavam
5032030c śūnye yenāpanītāsi tasya drakṣyasi yat phalam

5032031a nacirād rāvaṇaṁ saṁkhye yo vadhiṣyati vīryavān
5032031c roṣapramuktair iṣubhir jvaladbhir iva pāvakaiḥ


Chapter 5 (32)

...

Hanumat, the son of the wind god, understood what Sita was thinking. He spoke words that were pleasant to the ear and delighted her.

'He is as energetic as the sun. Like the moon, he is loved by the world. Like the god Vaishravana, he is the king of all the worlds. He is full of valour, like the immensely illustrious Vishnu. He is truthful and pleasant in speech, like the god Vachaspati. He is handsome, extremely fortunate and beautiful, like the embodied form of Kandarpa. He is angry and strikes at the right place. He is the best maharatha in the world. The world rests on the arms of the great-souled one.

The form of a deer drew Raghava away from the hermitage and you were abducted from that deserted spot. You will witness the consequences of that. Before a long period of time, the valiant one will slay Ravana in a battle. He will angrily release arrows that blaze like the fire. I am a messenger sent by him and I have come here before you. Because he has been separated from you, he is afflicted by grief and has asked about your welfare. The immensely energetic Lakshmana is one who extends Sumitra’s delight. The mighty-armed one has greeted you and has asked about your welfare. O queen! The ape named Sugriva is Rama’s friend. He is the king of the foremost among the apes and he has asked about your welfare. Rama, Sugriva and Lakshmana always remember you. O Vaidehi! Despite being under the control of the rakshasis, it is good fortune that you are still alive. You will soon see Rama, maharatha Lakshmana and the infinitely energetic Sugriva, amidst crores of apes. I am Sugriva’s adviser and I am an ape named Hanumat. Leaping across the great ocean, I entered the city to come here to see you. O queen! I am not the one you take me to be. Abandon your suspicion. Trust my words.'

As you can see, neither the verse nor does the translation explicitly say that it was Rāvaṇa who drew away Rāma.

Alternate translation by Robert P. Goldman also doesn't say that it was Rāvaṇa who assumed the form of a deer; he simply employed a deer:

30. You will soon witness the punishment of him who lured Raghava out of the ashram through the ruse of a deer and abducted you when the place was deserted.

31—32. It is he who has sent me as a messenger to your side. That is why I have come. Afflicted with misery in separation from you, he now inquires about your wellbeing. That mighty man will soon kill Ravana in battle with arrows loosed in anger and blazing like fire.


You need much stronger evidence to claim that Mārīca's role in the Sītā abduction is an interpolation.

  • Before offering my opinion on your answer, I would like to know whether the Critical Edition of Ramayana contains the disowning of Sita by Sri Rama in Yuddha kanda @sv? – srimannarayana k v Jun 22 at 1:16
  • Yes, it does. The CE is the most accurate version of VR out there. @srimannarayana – sv. Jun 23 at 2:25
  • In that case, my doubt got confirmed. I will post my answer taking this aspect also. @sv. – srimannarayana k v Jun 23 at 3:37
  • The scholars, who finalised the CE of the Valmiki Ramayana, also carried away with the incarnation concept . That was why they included Disowing of Sita episode, Uttara Kanda and major portion of Bala Kanda as a part of Ramayana. That doesn't mean that their version of Ramayana is authentic. @sv. – srimannarayana k v Jun 23 at 5:10
  • 'carried away with the incarnation concept' - no they didn't. They just compared 100s of manuscripts and came up with a base version common to all. Incarnation concept is something basic in both the current versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana. No one has the original story of Ramayana. We just go with what we have. Do you have the "authentic" version of Ramayana with you or know anyone working on it? If not, no point in speculating @srimannarayana – sv. Jun 23 at 5:52
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The following is the brief story of Sita's abduction from Aranya Kanda.


A spy of Ravana named Akampana rushes to him to break the news of annihilation of Janasthaana by Sri Raama. He suggests Ravana to abduct Seetha as parting with Seetha causes grief to Sri Raama and thereby he dies. On thinking for while, Ravana goes to Mareecha seeking his help in abducting Seetha. Mareecha while explaining Sri Raama's capabilities advises Ravana to be content with what he has.

Later Shuurpanakha narrates about Sri Raama, Seetha, and Lakshmana and what had happened in Janasthaana. Thus she prompts Ravana to achieve Seetha as his wife, for none surpasses Seetha in her beauty.

Ravana proceeds to Maareecha seeking his help in the abduction of Seetha. Ravana seeks Maareecha's help to abduct Seetha. He asks Maareecha to assume the shape of a golden-deer and lure Seetha, and then Seetha asks Sri Raama and Lakshmana to fetch that golden-deer. If Sri Raama and Lakshmana are distracted from the hermitage, Ravana can safely abduct Seetha. Listening to this Maareecha is struck dead, because he is already struck with the arrow of Sri Raama when he was in Tataka forest. As such, Maareecha tries to explain Ravana about Sri Raama's quintessence.

Ravana rebuts Maareecha for giving an unasked advice and details his plan to abduct Seetha. Ravana intimidates Maareecha that he himself will kill Maareecha immediately if his orders are disobeyed, and Maareecha may perhaps have no opportunity to die at the hands of Sri Raama. Finally when Ravana is heedless of these advises, Maareecha prepares himself to die by the arrow of an enemy, namely Sri Raama, rather than by his own clansman, Ravana.

On travelling by the aircraft like chariot Ravana and Maareecha enter Dandaka forest and arrive at the threshold of Rama's hermitage. Then at the insistence of Ravana Maareecha assumes the form of an amazing golden Deer, and Seetha catches a sight of that deer. On spotting the deer Seetha calls Sri Raama and Lakshmana to have sight of it. Lakshmana immediately concludes it to be Maareecha, but Seetha, keeping his observation aside asks Sri Raama to fetch it. Sri Raama 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.

Sri Raama 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. At the time of his death Maareecha shouts out for Seetha and Lakshmana, as demanded by Ravana. Sri Raama is perplexed at this oddity of Maareecha and presumes that some danger is immanent and then returns to hermitage.

And, after departing of Lakshmana, Ravana abducts Sita.


As Sita was abducted by Ravana, she does not know as to what happened back in Janasthana. Sita only knows that she was allured by an animal. That was what she says to Sri Hanuman.

नूनं स कालो मृगरूपधारी | मामल्पभाग्यां लुलुभे तदानीम् | यत्रार्यपुत्रं विससर्ज मूढा | रामानुजं लक्ष्मणपूर्वजं च || ५-२८-१०

"Certainly that Time-spirit, assuming the guise of a animal, allured me, a woman of poor fortune at that time and to whom I, a stupid woman, sent forth (far away) Lakshmana and the noble prince Rama the elder brother of Lakshmana."


Sage Valmiki retells the abduction story very briefly on 2 occasions.

1) In Kishkinda Kanda, Sri Hanuman learns the Sita's abduction details from Lakshmana .

सुखार्हस्य महार्हस्य सर्वभूत हितात्मनः | ऐश्वर्येण विहीनस्य वनवासे रतस्य च || ४-४-१३ रक्षस अपहृता भार्या रहिते काम रूपिणा | तत् च न ज्ञायते रक्षः पत्नी येन अस्य वा हृता || ४-४-१४

"He who aspires to keep up the well-being of all the beings, and he who is merited for all comforts and respectability is now devoid of his prosperity and predisposed to forest dwelling... such as he is, his wife is abducted by a guise changing demon in a lonely place, of whom we know not... we know not which demon stole his wife.

2) In Sundara Kanda through Sri Hanuman -

जन स्थान वधम् श्रुत्वा हतौ च खर दूषणौ | ततः तु अमर्ष अपहृता जानकी रावणेन तु || ५-३१-१० वञ्चयित्वा वने रामं मृगरूपेण मायया |

"Thereafter, hearing about the killing of demons in Janasthana, a part of Dandaka forest, in addition to killing of Khara and Dushana the demons, the enraged Ravana took away, Seetha, by deceiving Rama in creating an illusive image of animal (deer) in the forest."

अपकृश्ष्य आश्रम पदान् मृग रूपेण राघवम् | शून्ये येन अपनीता असि तस्य द्रक्ष्यसि यत् फलम् || ५-३४-३२

"Showing an illusory antelope, Ravana detracted Rama and took you away from a deserted hermitage. You will see later, the consequence Ravana will get for this act."


In both the occasions mentioned above, Sage Valmiki said that an illusory animal (may be golden deer) distracted Sri Raama and then Sita was abducted. Later it was mentioned that it was Ravana, who distracted Sri Raama.

However, elimination of a demon in the form of an animal was not mentioned.

When Lakshmana narrates the story to Sri Hanuman, he said that a guise changing demon abducted Sita, but never added that the animal was killed by Sri Raama.

My doubt is that Ravana might have allured Sita in the form of a golden deer, diverted Sri Raama into far off jungle, thereafter might have mimicked the voice of Sri Raama and forced Lakshmana to leave Sita alone. Then disappearing from the vicinity of Sri Raama and abduction of Sita was very easy for Ravana .

As Lakshmana did not say anything about elimination of animal, elimination of Mareecha might be an interpolated story.

Further, Maareecha might not have accompanied Ravana.

So it was Ravana alone, who diverted the attention of Sri Raama and Lakshmana in the form of Deer, and abducted Sita.

  • 2
    Not the downvoter but how can one get from pure speculation: "My doubt is that Ravana might have allured Sita in the form of a golden deer, diverted Sri Raama into far off jungle, thereafter might have mimicked the voice of Sri Raama and forced Lakshmana to leave Sita alone." - to this conclusion: "So it was Ravana alone"?! – sv. Jun 26 at 20:18
  • @sv.: Yes. It was Ravana alone did all these things, in my view. – srimannarayana k v Jul 3 at 4:56
  • I understand that's your view. I'm just questioning how you got there. Facts don't support the conclusion. – sv. Jul 3 at 21:01
  • @sv.: I could not understand your doubt. Can you clarify? – srimannarayana k v Jul 4 at 15:01
  • You write, "elimination of Mareecha might be an interpolated story. Further, Maareecha might not have accompanied Ravana." So you agree these are speculations from which you cannot reach a definite conclusion like "So it was Ravana alone..." Facts (i.e., majority of the Ramayana text which say Maricha also helped in Sita's abduction) don't support your conclusion that Ravana alone was involved. Your argument is only as strong as the evidence you cite in the answer. – sv. Jul 5 at 3:35

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