Kaikeyi smirked. This was her chance. She reminded him of his two
boons that she had delayed to this day. Then she asked all the gods
and directions to bear witness to the emperor’s vow. Finally, she
spoke that which one wouldn’t even tell an enemy- she asked for Rama’s
banishment and Bharat’s ascension to the throne.
Dasarath Maharaj’s first response was shock. He sat stupefied; unable
to believe what he just heard. He then fell unconscious.
Slowly he rose and looked at his wife curiously. “Has some ghost
possessed you? Do you even know what you are saying?” he asked her
Kaikeyi continued her firm stance. It didn’t take long for Dasarath to
realize this was for real. Soon, anger engulfed him. “You sinful
wretch, what you are demanding is my death. You know very well that I
can’t live without Rama and yet you demand such a terrible thing.”
In his angry outburst he even disowned Kaikeyi and said she was the
scourge of his royal dynasty.
When he realized his anger wasn’t helping him achieve his objective,
he spontaneously sought logic as a weapon. “What harm has Rama ever
done to you? Haven’t you told me many times that Rama loves you even
more than his own mother Kaushalya? So what has happened to you now?”
In his logical presentation, he says a verse that caught my attention.
“Without Rama, Bharat will never take the kingdom of Ayodhya, because
I know him to be greater in virtue than even Rama.” (2.12.61)
This verse reveals the character of Bharat who was so exalted that
Dasarath Maharaj was convinced that he would never accept a kingdom
that belonged to Rama. Dasaratha Maharaj, even in his deep
lamentation, had the clarity and conviction of Bharat’s glorious
When both anger and logic failed, he bargained. “All right, let me
make Bharat the king. But why do you want to send my Rama to the
forest. That tender boy of mine would suffer in the forest.”
He then cajoled in love. “You are my most dear of all queens. You
surely love me, and wouldn’t ask for such a terrible gift”
He even begged. “Please take pity on this old man, and give me my
life” Dasarath said, touching her feet.
Earlier he had caressed her in love, straightening her dishevelled
hair. But now, he fell pitifully at her feet and sought the charity of
Rama’s staying with him in Ayodhya.
When all things failed- love, anger, logic, bargain, and begging, he
fell down unconscious.
When he rose again, Kaikeyi chastised her husband for going back on
Dasarath sat devastated.
Soon the sun was about to rise and Kaikeyi called for Sumantara to
share the news with Rama.
To be continued…