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Ramayana Reflections – 5

Ramayana Reflections – 5

Soon Kaikeyi’s mind changed. She was convinced of injustice and a
conspiracy against her son Bharat, while unwittingly it’s she who was
dragged into the machinations of crafty Manthara. If you have a
stinking fish bone stuck on your nostril, you’d declare the whole
world as foul-smelling. When I see that a problem is ‘out there’, that
vision could be a real problem. When you put on a red coloured glass,
the world appears red; it’s our paradigms that are often faulty and
rarely do we examine our own judgements. Kaikeyi was a partner in
crime but imagines herself to be a victim.

Emperor Dasharatha hadn’t planned to coronate Rama by sending Bharat
away; it was a coincidence that Bharat and Shatrughna had been out of
the kingdom when the auspicious time for Rama’s ascendency was
calculated by the royal priest. But Manthara latched on to the king’s
timing of Rama’s installation, and presented this as conclusive
evidence of his dubious intention. So powerful was Manthara’s
propaganda that Kaikeyi who a few minutes before thought that Rama was
most dear to her heart, was now swayed to believe that he was her
sworn enemy.

She desperately asked Manthara for a plan by which her son could be
the king and Rama could be banished to the forest.

Manthara recalled an earlier incident when Dasharatha was wounded
while fighting the demons. In that battle, Kaikeyi had expertly
maneuvered the king’s chariot and brought him to safety. Pleased with
her service, he had promised her two boons, which she deferred to a
later day. Now was the time, Manthara reminded Kaikeyi, to invoke the
two gifts by anointing Bharat as the king and sending Rama to fourteen
years exile into the forest. A valuable lesson to learn here: never
allow servants or those dependent on you to get so close to you by
your friendship, that they could manipulate you at a future date.
Kaikeyi shared intimate details of her association with her husband,
with her maid servant, who now used them to unleash a disaster in the
kingdom.

Kaikeyi wondered if Bharat can be made the king by asking a boon, why
should she send Rama to the forest? What purpose would that avail?

Manthara narrowed her eyes, lowered her voice, and bent low and
forward. She said, “Oh innocent one, when Rama goes to the forest,
Bharat will make friends with the citizens of Ayodhya and win their
trust. With Rama gone, there will be no threat to Bharat’s reign, and
besides, when Rama returns, Bharat would have consolidated his
position. He would be the undisputed emperor of the planet.”

Kaikeyi now began to see Manthara as her real well-wisher. She heaped
lavish praise on the hunch backed maid and even declared her hunch
back as the most beautiful creation. She promised to decorate it with
a golden necklace.

Manthara wasn’t impressed by her queen’s acclaim.  Instead, she
unveiled a deadly plan to achieve her goals.

To be continued…

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