Ayodhya Kand 2 - Kaikeyi’s Boons
Deepak M R is a professional writer and trainer. He has a rich work experience of more than 25 years in varies fields that include training, education, and consulting.
He is author of the novel Abhimanyu - the warrior prince (Bloomsbury, 2021). He is also once of the contributing authors in the anthologies Unsung Valour and Aryaa and has written Kindle eBook Mahabharata Tales: Justice for Draupadi and other stories.
As per Manthara’s wicked advice, Kaikeyi went to the room of anger and slept on the ground without her jewels and wearing dirty garments. When Dasharatha came there, he was shocked to see Kaikeyi in this condition. Kaikeyi then reminded Dasharatha of the two boon he had given her. She put forth the demand that Rama be sent to exile and Bharata be coronated.
Hearing this, the King collapsed on the ground and became unconscious. He angrily questioned his queen why she had hatred against Rama. He told her he could not survive without Rama and even fell at her feet, begging her not to ask these boons.
The cold-hearted queen did not relent and told her husband that if he did not grant her boons, then she would kill herself. With no option, Dasharatha was forced to agree. Kaikeyi then sent Sumantra to bring Rama there. Rama then left to meet his father. On the way, the people of Ayodhya greeted him, expressing their delight that he would be their King.
A grief-stricken Dasharatha sat silently, and Rama was confused as to why his father did not speak to him. When he asked Kaikeyi about this, she then told him about her boons. Kaikeyi then told Rama that if he cared for his father’s words, he must go for exile for 14 years to the Dandakaranya forest dressed in bark and rags.
Hearing her words, Rama immediately agreed and wondered why Dasharatha did not ask this himself. He even asked for Bharata to be summoned immediately, so his coronation could be done. Hearing this, Dasharatha fell unconscious. After tending to him, Rama told Kaikeyi that he would heed her words and leave for the forest immediately. He asked her to send for Bharata immediately.
He then bowed to the King and queen and left to meet Kausalya. Hearing this news, Kausalya was grief-stricken and fell unconscious. After she recovered, an angry Lakshmana told her he would use his bow and arrows to defeat anyone on Bharata’s side. Kausalya also supported this view and told Rama she could not survive without him.
Rama then told them how Sagara’s sons listened to him and dug the earth. He also told how Parashurama killed his mother to follow his father’s order. Rama told his mother it was his duty to obey his father’s words. Rama then told Lakshmana that if Kaikeyi was doing this to him, it was destiny. He asked Lakshmana to ensure all the rites were stopped and he would immediately leave for the forest.
A weeping Lakshmana begged Rama to use his weapons to stop Kaikeyi’s wishes. But Rama refused, saying it was his dharma to obey his father’s words. Kausalya then asked Rama to take her with him. But Rama advised her that in his absence, Dasharatha would be grief-stricken and she should take care of him.
Finally, Kausalya consented and blessed Rama to be safe. Rama then went to Sita, who became angry when Rama told her he would leave for the forests. She told him that she would go with him. Rama tried to dissuade her by pointing out the hardships sthat he would face, but Sita insisted that her place was with him. She also told him that brahmanas had told her she would have to spend time in the forests, and she was ready for it.
She told him she would be happy with him and survive on whatever fruits or roots he collected. Sita warned him that she would die without him and started weeping. Embracing her, Rama agreed to take her to the forest.
Rama then asked Lakshmana to remain in Ayodhya to take care of Kausalya and Sumitra. But Lakshmana refused saying Bharata would take care of them. On Rama’s instructions, Lakshmana then brought Vasishta’s son Suyajna, along with other learned brahmanas.
…. to be continued