Ramayana Reflections – 4

Ramayana Reflections – 4

She explained to Kaikeyi that Lakshman was faithful to Rama, while
Shatrughna to Bharata. So the rivalry is essentially between Rama and
Bharata. And if Rama became the king, Bharat would be destroyed.

Kaikeyi dismissed this theory by saying that Rama was trained properly
by his elders, and he cultivated gratitude. He would surely take care
of his brothers and servants, just like a father protects his
dependents. Besides, after Rama’s rule of hundred years, he’d give
away the kingdom to Bharata. So there is no need to worry. Kaikeyi
emphatically explained how Rama served her more than he served His own
mother Kaushalya, and therefore this is a joyous occasion indeed.

Manthara scoffed at the point that Rama would give the crown to
Bharata. “What logic is this?” she haughtily dismissed Kaikeyi, “After
Rama, the kingdom would be ruled by Rama’s sons. There is no question
of Bharata or his children becoming kings. You stupid woman, you don’t
realize that Rama would never harm Lakshmana but Bharata would always
remain a threat to His peace. So He’d surely send him away to the
forest or get him killed.”

Initially, Kaikeyi didn’t take Manthara’s outbursts seriously. She
knew the old woman was cranky at times, but she meant well. However,
trusting her as a real well-wisher, Kaikeyi soon began to see merit in
what she said. Her mind changed.

The turning point in this brain washing exercise by Manthara came when
she expertly played on the natural rivalry that existed between the
queens in Ayodhya. She pointed out that if Rama became the king,
Kaushalya, for being the mother of the king, would get all the worship
and attention. So far, it was Kaikeyi who was the king’s favourite as
he spent every night with her. But once Rama got the throne, the
equations would change. Kaushala who was snubbed by Kaikeyi, and
Kaushalya’s servants who were also treated with lesser dignity by
Manthara, would now take revenge.

The unspoken fear expressed by Manthara was that if Kaikeyi gets a
second class treatment, then Manthara would also lose her position as
the head amongst the servants in the royal palace.

Power, false pride and hankering for position is not a pursuit merely
of the wealthy and aristocratic people; even lesser mortals could
become victims of this mentality. Srila Prabhupada writes in one
purport that the nature of false pride is such that even a beggar is
proud of his penny. Thus, intoxicated by pride and due to fear of
losing her coveted position, she poisoned Kaikeyi’s heart with
imaginary problems of Kaushalya, the oldest queen of Dasaratha.

She explains to Kaikeyi that her past arrogance towards Kaushalya will
now come back with vengeance. It’s amazing how Manthara up until this
point in time didn’t see her mistress’s behaviour as egotistical, but
now suddenly she portends ominous time for her, as a reaction to her
past haughtiness.

To be continued…

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