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Ramayana

Ramayana - Kaikeyi’s Wrath

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When Rama returned to Ayodhya after his wedding, King Dasharatha decided to coronate him as the King of Ayodhya. The people in the kingdom rejoiced upon hearing this and immediately started the festivities for their new king. Queen Kausalya, Rama’s mother was absolutely delighted and gave her blessings. However, not everyone was happy with this announcement. Manthara, Queen Kaikaeyi’s housemaid was saddened upon hearing this news. And she became very angry when she saw that Kaikeyi was actually happy with this development.

Now Queen Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharata was one of the three queens of King Dasharatha. Manthara had been her maid since childhood and wanted to see Bharata become the King of Ayodhya. So she slowly started poisoning Kaikeyi’s mind with hateful speech and describing how they (she and Bharata) would lose all power if Rama became the king. Eventually, Kaikeyi was completely brain washed by the sinful Manthara. She hatched a plan to banish Rama to the forest for 14 years (Vanvaas) and have Bharata be coronated in his place.

When Kind Dasharatha came to Kaikeyi’s chambers to share the news, he found her full of wrath. She was lying down on the floor with all her ornaments strewn on the floor. Seeing her in this state, King Dasharatha asked the reason for her anger and discontentment. Immediately, Kaikeyi said to the king that she would come out of this state only if he promised to fulfill her wish. King Dasharatha who was blinded by her love and youth agreed to fulfill her desire even without knowing what she wanted. Then Kaikeyi said, “Remember the battle between the Gods and Demons? The one in which you were rendered unconscious and I had saved your life? Well, you had granted me a boon at that time where I could ask for anything I desire and you would grant it. That time has come now. And if you don’t grant my wish, I’ll give up my life. I want you to make my Bharata the King of Ayodhya and banish Rama into an exile in the forest for 14 years!”

King Dasharatha was shocked beyond all measure upon hearing Kaikeyi’s cruel demands. He tried to dissuade her using all his powers but to no avail. Kaikeyi remained adamant and continued to threaten the king about taking her own life if her desire was not fulfilled. Finally, the distressed Dasharatha gave in to her demands and summoned Rama to his quarters. When Rama arrived, Kaikeyi spoke to him of her wishes and how Dashratha had given her the boons to fulfill them. Rama was not perturbed at all with this news but decided to leave for the forest immediately. He calmly asked her permission to meet his mother Kausalya and wife Sita, before going to the forest. When his brother Lakshmana heard the news, he became terribly angry towards Kaikeyi. However, Rama consoled him and said that it was his duty to follow his mother’s wishes. Upon hearing the news, Sita immediately decided to follow her husband Rama. Even though Rama, tried to talk her out of it considering the perils of Vanvaas, Sita was very firm in her decision. At the same time, Lakshmana also decided to accompany them. Finally, Rama had to bow to their resolve and the trio headed out to begin their 14 year long exile. Dressed in simple rags, without any ornaments or riches by their side, they headed out of the city of Ayodhya towards the river Ganga. In the meanwhile, unable to bear the pain for losing Rama, Lakshamana and Sita, King Dashratha breathed his last is great agony and sorrow.

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Ramayana – The Story of Sita Swayamvar (Rama and Sita Marriage)

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King Janaka was the ruler of the kingdom of Videha. Its capital city was Mithila. Janaka was not only a brave king, but was also very well-versed in the Shastras and Vedas. One day, while a field was being ploughed in the presence of the king, he found a female child in the deep furrow dug by the plough. Janaka and his wife Sunayana were overjoyed by this discovery and adopted the little baby girl as their own. The child was named Sita, meaning ‘Furrow’ in Sanskrit. Thus, Sita is considered to be the daughter of Bhumi Devi (Mother Earth) since she was born or found in the earth.

Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm and possessed the greatest of womanly virtues. When Sita became of marriageable age, the king decided to have a Swayamvara which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the God Shiva. Whoever could wield the bow and string it, could marry Sita.

After the protection of Vishwamitra’s sacred ritual, on their way back to Ayodhya, Rama and Lakshmana traveled to Mithila. Accompanied by Vishwamitra, they attended Sita’s Swayamvara. Rama successfully broke Shiva's bow as he picked it up and was examining the tautness of its bowstring. The young prince’s strength and courage perplexed all the attendees. And with the breaking of the bow, Janaka proposed Sita to Rama in marriage. On the approval of Sage Vishwamitra, Janaka sent his messengers to Ayodhya to convey the message to Dasharatha. Upon hearing the story of how his son Rama not only lifted the bow of Shiva, but also broke it, Dasharatha was overjoyed. He gladly accepted the marriage proposal of Rama and Sita. The next day, King Dasharatha’s delegation traveled to Mithila to carry out the wedding ceremony. Upon reaching there, he received proposals for marriage of his other three sons. Lakshmana was betrothed to Urmila, another daughter of Janaka. Vishwamitra proposed the marriages of Bharata and Shatrughna with the two daughters of Kushadhvaja, the younger brother of Janaka. Thus Bharata was married to Maandavi and Shatrughna to Shrutakeerti.

After the wedding ceremonies of his four sons, Dasharatha and his delegation returned to Ayodhya. The young princes and their brides were welcomed with pomp and grandeur. Yudhaajit, the maternal uncle of Bharata, who had come for the weddings of the princes, now took Bharata and Shatrughna to his kingdom. Rama and Lakshmana engaged in the welfare of their subjects, at the behest of their father. The couples entered the threshold of their blissful married lives.

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