Monday, 29 April 2013

47. Mother Kausalya gets a shock of her life.

       The moment Rama stepped out of Kaikeyi's place, all the women in that palace burst out loud weep.  They started wailing "Our very dear prince Rama, who, even without being told by his father or anybody, used to look after all our comforts and requirements and protect the entire palace, is about to go to exile now.  Right from his childhood, he was showing the same attention to us, as he was showing to his mother Kausalya.  He never said or did anything to anyone which could anger that person and he always soothed all those who were angry.  He did not get angry even with those who abused him.  Such a sweet prince Rama is going today to exile.  Our stupid king, by abandoning Rama who was so helpful to all beings, is offending all."  On hearing the terrific distressing wailing sounds in the palace, Dasharatha clung to the seat, with extreme anguish for his son.
      Rama did not seem to be hurt.  He sighed like an elephant, subdued his senses and proceeded to his mother's palace along with Lakshmana.  Rama saw a much worshiped old man along with some people, obviously his disciples sitting at the gateway of the house and many others standing there.  On seeing Rama, all of them approached and greeted Rama, by uttering the words "May you have increased success!"
      Rama crossed the first gate and saw old Brahmanas conversant in Vedas and duly honoured by the king.  Rama offered salutation to those brahmanas and saw old women and girls, guarding the gate in the third enclosure.  Those women greeted Rama delightedly with good words of success, ran into the house and informed Kausalya about the arrival of Rama .
      At that time, Kausalya having spent the whole night praying Lord Mahavishnu with steadfastness, was performing worship to HIM from dawn, for the welfare of her son.  When Rama entered his auspicious mother's apartment, his mother was performing sacrificial ceremony in a sacred fire there.
      Kausalya, who became lean because of the observance of vows, was shining like an angel with her white silk sari and was satiating Gods by presenting Them libations by water.  She saw her son, OH! well! Can you imagine how pleased she felt?  Rama offered salutation to his approaching mother by touching her feet.  She took him into her arms and smelt his head.  She then blessed him and said "My dear child!  King Dasharatha, your father is a man of true promise.  Today itself, you will be installed as his successor."
      Kausalya offered him food, but he politely declined it and told her "Oh,mother!  Now father has decided to make my dear brother Bharatha as his successor.  And he wants me to go to Dandaka forest for fourteen years.  Time has come for me to sit on a seat made of Kusha grass.  I shall live in the forest like a sage for fourteen years, leaving off meat and living on roots, fruits and honey.  I have to be satisfied with the things existing in the forest and subsist with roots and fruits available there, for fourteen years.  I have come here to inform you of the same before leaving for the forest."
      The queen Kausalya fell on the floor all at once like the branch of a tree, cut down by an axe or may be, as an angel dropping down from heaven.
      Rama lifted her up and seated her on a couch.
      Hearing the noise, Lakshmana entered the hall.
      Kausalya, who deserved happiness only, but was afflicted with grief, spoke to Rama, who was sitting nearby, while Lakshmana was hearing "Oh, Rama! I would not have felt this much grief if I were childless.  There is no grief to a barren woman except that she is barren.  Oh, Rama! I have not seen any happiness or prosperity earlier, while my husband is in power.  I believed that I could see them at last when my dear son comes to power.  I had to hear so many unpleasant words from my fellow-wives who are inferior to me and who would pierce my heart with their words though I am a better and more virtuous wife than any of them.   Even when you are near by, I am being rejected.  What to tell when you leave for exile?   Death is the only recourse to me now.  My husband always held me down, without giving me any independence and treated me equal to or even lower than the servants of Kaikeyi.  Those who serve me now and those who follow me, will not even speak to me, after seeing Bharata as the next king.  How can I, the miserable one, see the face of Kaikeyi who always talks hurtfully because of her continuous anger.  Oh,Rama! I have been waiting for seventeen years after your thread ceremony, with the hope that all my troubles will vanish sooner than later.  Oh, Rama! At this old age, I cannot bear insult from the co-wives and this unending sorrow for a long time.  How can I spend this miserable life without seeing your face radiating like full moon.  You are the be all and end all of my life.  This grief is thrust into my body.   Even then, I wonder why my heart is stable.   It has not broken into pieces and fallen on the floor.  It is made of iron, I think.  There is no untimely death, it is certain.  I feel bad since all my religious vows, charities, restraints have all gone waste.  The austerity I performed has gone in vain, as a seed sown in a saline soil.   If a woman in great distress can get premature death out of her own will, I being separated from you, would have to attain the glory of the dead now itself like a cow without the calf.  Moreover, what is the use of life for me now?  Oh, Rama!  How can I live without seeing your brilliant face shining like moon!   My life is useless without you.   I shall accompany you to the forest like a weak cow going behind its calf."

Friday, 26 April 2013

46. Kaikeyi surpassed her tutor.

      Rama saw his father sitting on his usual couch, but with his face looking completely parched up and miserable.  Kaikeyi was at his side.  As usual, Rama, first reverentially saluted his father's feet and then saluted Kaikeyi's feet.  Dasharatha spoke only one word "Rama!" with his eyes filled with tears and dejected, being not able to see or to talk any further words.  As he had not seen earlier such a fearful form of his father, Rama was puzzled and was somewhat frightened too, as though he stepped on a vicious snake.  King Dasharatha was sighing heavily with senses sans pleasure, looked emaciated with grief and anguish, with distressed and agitated mind, like the ocean which is normally not  perturbed, becoming perturbed with a row of waves, like the sun which is eclipsed and lost its lustre and like a sage who spoke untruth.
        Contemplating over the unimaginable sorrow of the king, Rama was very much perturbed as an ocean does on a full moon day.  Rama, who was very fond of his father's welfare, anxiously thought "Why dad is not greeting me in return today?  At other times, even when angry, he used to be gracious on me.  Why today such a dear papa has become weary after seeing me?"
      Rama became distressed and afflicted with grief and with some loss of lustre  from his face, inquired Kaikeyi "I hope that I have not done anything wrong through ignorance.  Tell me why father is angry with me.  You alone can propitiate him in my favour.  Why my father, who has always been affectionate to me, has become displeased?   With his face becoming pale and dejected, he is not talking to me.  I hope that either bodily affliction or mental distress is not troubling him.  I agree that one cannot be happy all the time.  However,  I hope that nothing untoward has happened to Bharata, the delightful man to look at or to Shatrughna, the man of great strength or to my mother.   If my father becomes angry with me, I do not desire to live even for a moment without satisfying him or without fulfilling his command.  For any man, father is the visible god who is the root cause of one's own coming into existence and how else can he behave towards him (father) other than like that?   I hope you have not spoken anything which hurt my father's conscience with your pride and anger.  I am asking you why my father has become so perturbed.  I have never seen him so, before.  Please tell me the true reason."
      Kaikeyi kept silent for a moment to gather her wits and then she said sweetly to Rama "Oh, Rama! The king is not angry at all.  There is nothing to distress him.  But he has something in his mind which he is not telling you out of apprehension.   To him, words are not coming off to tell the disagreeable utterance to you, the dear one.  He promised me something.  It is to be certainly done by you.
      "Long ago, the king honoured me and gave me a boon, eh! actually a couple.  Like a common man, he is repenting now for having given the boons.  This king promised me to give the boon and now he desires to repeal it like building a dam (wastefully) on a place where all the water has gone away.  Oh, Rama! It is known by every wise man, that truth is the root of righteousness.  Ensure that your dear father who is a great  king does not abandon such a truth for your sake.  The king is about to mention that the truth which, he thinks, may not look auspicious to you and hence you may not agree to implement it.  However, I will tell you all that for you to implement it...."
       Rama felt pained and told her  "Oh! Mother! What a pity!  Please do not talk to me like that.  If father tells me, I will jump even in fire.  If father, who is the king, who wishes my welfare and who is venerable, commands me, I will eat fiery poison and shall sink into an ocean.  Oh Ma! Tell me the words of the king as desired by him.  I promise to do it.  Rama does not speak two things."
      Kaikeyi exhaled and then said "Oh, Rama!  During a battle, oh! no, a great war between the celestials and the demons long ago, I protected your father who was almost fatally hurt by darts.  Then, in gratitude, he offered me two boons, which I held on hold.  Oh, Rama! I decided to avail those boons today.  For the first boon, I asked the king for the coronation of Bharata and for the second,  your going to Dandaka forest today itself and stay there for fourteen years.  Oh, Rama! If you want to make yourself and your father faithful to a promise, listen to these words of mine.  Abide by your father's command.  As per his assurance, you have to stay in the forest for fourteen years.  Bharata is to be enthroned with the use of the same complete collection of materials already arranged by the king for your sake.  You have to leave this coronation function and dwell in the forest of Dandaka for fourteen years, wearing braided hair and covered with a hide.  Let Bharata rule this earth, by residing in Ayodhya endowed with various types of precious things together with horses, chariots and elephants.  For this reason, king Dasharatha who is overwhelmed with love, affection and sympathy towards you is not able to see you, with his face afflicted with grief.  Oh, Rama!  Do as per the words of the king and liberate him by giving your father an opportunity to vindicate the truth."
      Though she was speaking such harsh words, Rama was nonchalant.  But the mighty Dasharatha became highly disturbed, having been afflicted by the calamity hovering over his son.
      After hearing Kaikeyi, Rama stared at her and smiled.  He then told Kaikeyi "Let it be, as you said it.  I certainly shall fulfill the king's promise.  I will go to the forest from here to reside there, wearing braided hair and covered with a hide.  But I want to know why my dad is not greeting me today as before?  You need not be indignant.  I am telling before you again that I shall go to the forest, wearing rags and braided hair.  Please treat me and talk to me in the same manner as you were doing earlier.  How can I not be faithful to my father as well as the king.  My heart has become heavy with one sorrowful feeling that the king himself has not directly informed me about Bharata's coronation.  Being directed by the king, who is my father too, I cannot even think of disobeying or displeasing him.  I will most willingly give everything to Bharata, duly obeying father's promise to fulfill your beloved desire.  Please console him.  Why indeed the king is thus slowly shedding tears, with eyes gazed upon the floor?  Let messengers go now itself on fleet horses to bring Bharata from his maternal uncle's house as per the orders of the king.  I shall go and live in the forest of Dandaka for fourteen years, without reflecting on whether my father's words are right or wrong."
       Kaikeyi felt happy to see the reaction of Rama. Confident of Rama's departure to the forest, she urged him  "Let it be so.  Messengers can go on horses having rapid speed, to bring back Bharata from his maternal uncle's house.  But I think it is not quite appropriate for you, who are enthusiastic to go to the forest, to delay further.  It is nothing but shyness which inhibits the king from speaking to you.  Oh Rama!  Do not worry about it.  Your father will neither take his bath nor eat a meal until you leave the city for the forest."
      Hearing these words, the king murmured "what a pity! How much misery!" and was overwhelmed with sorrow, fainted and fell down on the couch.  Rama lifted up the king and made him lie comfortably and then turned to Kaikeyi and told her "Oh queen! I am not concerned with wealth.  However, I am eager to receive the world hospitably.  Know me as equal to a sage, abiding in righteousness alone.  If I have to do whatever action is dear to my revered father, that action will just be done in all respects even, if need be, by renouncing life.  There is not indeed anything of greater performance of duty than doing service to one's father or doing what he commands.  Even though my reverent father does not tell me directly, I shall certainly go immediately and reside in the forest, devoid of people, for fourteen years as per your word.  In the matter of coronation of Bharata, you told Dad and not to me, even though you had every authority and right to tell me directly.  By this, it is now clear that you have not seen any merit in me.  It is certain!  Today itself, I shall go to the forest of Dandaka after bidding farewell to my mother and also after consoling Seetha.  While ruling the kingdom, see that Bharata serves our father well.  It is indeed an age-old practice."
      Dasharatha on hearing Rama's words became more hurt. As his heart became very heavy with grief, he was unable to talk.  He, the mighty King Dasharatha wept loudly!
       Rama made salutation to his father as well as to Kaikeyi and coming out of that palace, saw his friends waiting for him at the gate.
      Lakshmana felt very angry and with his eyes filled with tears followed Rama without saying any word.  Rama moved clockwise around the auspicious materials collected for the coronation and having fixed his attention respectfully on them, moved away slowly.
       Rama was a pleasing personality and he was loved by all the people.  The loss of kingdom could not diminish such a great splendour of Rama as a night cannot diminish the splendour of the moon.  In that, Rama, who was denouncing the kingdom after having decided to go to the forest, there was no perturbation of mind in him like in an ascetic who is beyond worldly pain and pleasure.  Rama, the man of great courage, declined fans and umbrella, sent away his friends, chariot and citizens, kept back sorrow in his mind, subdued his senses and entered his mother's house to inform the unpleasant news.
      The people adjacent to Rama could not visualise any change in the face of Rama who was dignified and truthful in his words.  Rama did not lose his natural joy, as an autumnal moon with lofty rays does not lose its natural splendour.  Rama with his courageous spirit and of great fame, paying his respects to the people with his sweet words, went nearer to his mother.  Lakshmana, whose virtues equaled to that of Rama, and who was having great heroic valour, kept the grief and anger within himself and went along with Rama.
      When Rama entered, Kausalya's palace was filled with great joy.  At that time, Rama did not show any indication of the mishap occurred in reality.  He behaved like that because of the possible shock to his dear ones and even of fear to their lives, if he showed any perturbation.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

45. Whatever will be will be, que Sera Sera.

       Sumantra noticed that the brahmans highly proficient in Vedas stayed there all the night.  At a nearby place he spotted the royal priest, Vashishta.   Ministers, army chiefs and prominent leaders of the city were assembled there, too, welcoming  and in anticipation of Rama's coronation.  Everyone was agog with joy.
       Sumantra with a placid mind, went on happily, seeing the royal roads adorned with flags and banners.   He heard the words pertaining to Rama and Rama's coronation spoken together by all the people there.  Then, he saw Rama's palace which was lovely, shining like the top of a mountain and radiant like Indra's palace.
      Sumantra entered there, passed over many of Rama's friends and other well wishers and approached Rama's inner apartment.
      There, Sumantra heard people talking delightfully about Rama's coronation and the rites to be performed for Rama's prosperity.
      Sumantra reached the secluded inner apartment.  There some youths , wearing darts and bows, were on security duty with utmost vigilance and attention.  They were all greatly devoted to the king and were wearing polished ear-rings.  There he saw the aged palace-supervisors wearing orange coloured clothes, adorning themselves pretty well, having canes in their hands, well composed and being posted at door-ways.  All of them, the well-wishers of Rama, saw Sumantra and raised from their seats hurriedly at once in reverence.  Sumantra told them "Tell Rama that I want to see him immediately."  They did so without any question.
     Knowing the intimacy of Sumantra with his father, Rama invited him inside his apartment.
      Sumantra told Rama "Oh Rama! Your father and the Queen Kaikeyi want to see you.  Please go there immediately." 
      Rama nodded and smiled and told his wife "Oh Seetha!  The king and the queen together want me, obviously for something relating to the coronation.  That black-eyed mother of mine, Kaikeyi who is dexterous and very friendly disposed, has perceived the king's opinion and is pressing him on my behalf.  Kaikeyi, my mother is following up the king's intentions with great pleasure, desirous of my benefit and prosperity.  It is certainly our luck that king and the queen have sent Sumantra, who fulfills my desires and wishes, as a messenger.  A worthy messenger has come who is truly representing the assembly there.  It is certain that today itself the king will anoint me for the right of succession to the kingdom.   I shall go immediately.  You stay here happily with your circle of friends and enjoy yourself."
      The dark-eyed Seetha, treated with respect by her husband, followed Rama up to the door, waved 'ta-ta' to him and started day-dreaming like "King Dasaratha will give you the kingdom, being served by brahmanas, which will invest you with eligibility to perform the great sacrifice at the coronation ceremony like Brahma to Devendra.   I shall be delighted to see you, initiated for the perfect religious act of austerity, wearing excellent antelope-hide, being pure and bearing a deer-horn in hand.   May Indra, the god of rain in the east, Yama the god of death in the south, Varuna the regent of the ocean in the west and Kubera the god of riches and treasure in the north, protect you". 
      Rama started  along with Sumantra.  He saw Lakshmana standing at the door.  He also saw his friends in the middle chamber.  He greeted them all and mounted his chariot. Lakshmana, Rama's younger brother mounted the chariot in the rear-side and protected Rama from the sun with an umbrella and chamara fan.  That splendid chariot, sounding like rain-cloud in the sky, came out of the house like moon coming out of a mighty cloud.   Then, the crowds started dispersing from all sides generating tumultuous hallowing sound.  Thereupon, hundreds and thousands of important people mounted on excellent horses and soldiers mounted on elephants, followed Rama.  Valiant persons, dressed in armour adorned with sandal and aloe perfumes, wearing swords and bows, declaring the arrival of Rama, went in front of Rama to receive him.   At that time, sounds of musical instruments, sounds of praising hymns of panegyrics and lion-like roars of valiant persons were heard on the way.  While Rama was going, well-adorned women standing in porticoes of palaces, sprinkled flowers on him from all sides.  Women of exquisite beauty standing in palaces and on the ground were offering salutations to Rama like "Oh, Rama, who creates happiness to mother!  Have a successful journey!  Your mother Kausalya will certainly be delighted to see you obtaining the paternal kingdom."  Those women thought that Seetha, who is dear to Rama's heart, was a better woman than any other woman, not only in this world but in all the worlds also;  Seetha having obtained Rama as husband must have certainly performed a great penance in former times.   While going through the royal road, Rama heard pleasant words of the women standing in turrets.
       Passing over all the gates of the royal palace, Rama politely sent all the people back and entered the palace, followed by his brother Lakshmana.
      When Rama went nearer to his father, all the people waiting for him there  as the ocean waits for the rising of the moon, were delighted.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

44. The relentless Kaikeyi.

         That wicked queen of shrews was relentlessly tormenting the King, who was by the anguish for his son, lying and not fully conscious and tossing about on the floor.  She glared at him and said  "What is this?  After hearing the promise given to me, you are lying on the floor dejected as though you had committed a great sin.  You ought to keep yourself within the bounds of ethics.  People who know what is right, indeed speak of truthfulness as highest virtue.  Having made a promise to a hawk and offering his body to the bird, king Saibya, the ruler of  the world obtained the greatest destiny.  In that manner, Alarka the glorious man plucking his own eyes, indeed gave remorselessly, to a brahmana skilled in the Veda, when asked for them.  Following compassion, the ocean, the lord of rivers even at the time of high tide, does not transgress even to a small extent its boundary because of its compliance to truth.  Truth is one word and that is Brahma.  On truth is righteousness established.  Truth indeed is the knowledge imperishable.  By truth alone, the supreme being is obtained.  Firmly adhere to the truth, if your mind is fixed on piety.  Since you are acclaimed as a bestower of boons, let my aforesaid prayer be granted pronto.  In order to attain the covetous fruit of righteousness and to concede to my request, send Rama, your son to exile.  I am telling it to you again and again.  If you do not implement our agreement, it means you have abandoned me.   Hence I will give up my life here at this very moment in front of you".
      Thus compelled by Kaikeyi, who had no compunction,  king Dasharatha could not untie the cord of plighted words that fettered him, any more than Bali could unloose the noose placed (round his body) by Indra(through his younger brother Vamana in order to deprive him of his sovereignty of the three worlds).  Like a bullock throbbing between yoke and the wheel, Dasharatha got agitated in heart and became pale in his face.  King Dasharatha, with bedimmed eyes, was unable, as it were, to see.  But with difficulty, he controlled himself  by recourse to firmness and spoke to Kaikeyi  "Oh, wicked woman! I abandon your hand, which was clasped by me in the presence of nuptial fire, when it was consecrated by sacred recitations as also your son along with yourself.  The night has almost gone, with the return of rising sun.  Elderly people will certainly quicken me for installation of  Rama with the sacred materials procured for the purpose.  If you obstruct Rama's installation, you and your son cannot offer me water(to my departed spirit).  Rama will be made to do the offering of water to me, after my death.  Having seen people with that joy before, I cannot see them with their happiness ended, without any merriment and having their faces turned downward in grief".
      While the king and Kaykeyi were staring belligerently at each other and thinking hard as to how to change the mind of the other, the night endowed with moon and stars began to become clear into a dawn.
      The adamancy of the king made Kaikeyi more angry.   She almost shouted "You better stop this balderdash.  Be sensible and summon your son Rama here without any delay.  You will not be doing any favour to me but only be discharging your duty, by installing my son to this kingdom and by making Rama to wander in the woods and rid me of enemies."
      Impelled again and again by Kaikeyi, like an excellent horse being severely thrashed with a whip, that king weakly said "I am bound by the ties of morality.  I lost my judgement.  I wish to see the pious Rama, my beloved eldest son."
      At last with the rising of the sun the next day started.  While the auspicious moment was approaching, the sage Vashishta surrounded by his disciples entered the capital city of Ayodhya briskly, having procured the requisite materials for Rama's coronation.  Passing through that city, whose streets were swept and watered and decorated with excellent flags, overspread with colourfull flowers, made brilliant with various types of garlands, thronged with joyous people, with shops and markets in abundance, marked with lot of festivities, anxiously waiting for Rama, fumigated on all sides with perfumes of sandalwood, also resembling Amaravathi city(capital of Indra);  the sage Vashishta beheld the excellent gynaecium graced with many a number of brahmanas, crowded with citizens and countrymen, and fully packed with servants carrying  a staff and excellent horses richly adorned. Then Vashishta saw Sumantra and told him "Go to the king immediately and tell him that I have come.  Also tell him that everything is ready for the coronation of Rama "
       Sumantra entered the palace. The doormen did not obstruct Sumantra, as he was a senior official and was highly esteemed by the king.
      Standing besides the king and ignorant of that situation, Sumantra addressed the king Dasharatha "Your majesty! The holy night has gone by.  All the requirements for Rama's coronation are procured and kept ready.  His holiness the venerable Vashishta himself stands waiting at the gate along with brahmanas, being saluted with joined palms by citizens, village folks and merchants.  Sir! Give orders quickly for Rama's coronation ceremony.  A kingdom without a king is like cattle without a herdsman, army without a commander, night without the moon and cows without a bull."
      Dasharatha did not say anything, but was staring at nowhere!  He could not say any thing himself  because of depression. Then, Kaikeyi told Sumantra "Oh Sumantra! The king, being smitten by emotional joy in relation to Rama, was tired as he did sleep last night.  He is therefore, resting.  Please do not disturb him.  Quickly go and bring the glorious prince Rama here.  Pronto!"
      He was thinking of that auspicious occasion in heart and rejoiced.  With pleasure, he set out, by the orders of the king.  Instigated by her, Sumantra thought that the righteous Rama would come there certainly for coronation.  Sumantra thus thinking and dwelling in a great joy, set out with a desire to see the long armed Rama.
      Sumantra on coming out saw the gate being crowded with throngs of people.  Afterwards, proceeding further on, he saw near the gate some kings stationed there and very rich citizens having arrived.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

43. The longest night.

       I entirely agree with you that Dasharatha did not deserve such a treatment (from Kaikeyi) nor was he used to such a predicament   He was lying down on the floor, moaning.  Kaikeyi now proved her worthlessness and accomplished her desire; almost.  She was fearlessly exhibiting her fearful form, demanded for those boons again in a loud voice from Dasharatha, who was in such a bad, pitiable and  deplorable situation "Oh, king! You always boast yourself, saying 'I speak truth. I am persistent in my promise.'  Now, why are you withholding my boons standing in my credit?"
      On hearing those abominable, dirty and deplorable words from Kaikeyi, Dasharatha became terribly, awfully and mightily angry.  Due to that he  turned out delirious for a moment.  After regaining his control he replied "Oh, You vulgar one! You, my enemy! You want to be happy after your desire is fulfilled when Rama leaves for the forest and when I die thereafter..." 
      Dasharatha wass lamenting thus with his disturbed mind until dusk.  To Dasharatha, who was thus lamenting painfully, the dusk seemed to be evil dark even though it was adorned with charming circular moon.  The aged Dasharatha was lamenting painfully as though afflicted with a disease, with hot and hard breaths, having his eyes fixed on the sky cried  "Oh, auspicious night, decorated with stars!  Do not wish to break into a dawn.  Have mercy on me.  I pray with folded hands.  Otherwise, Oh, Night! Leave away quickly.  I do not want to see Kaikeyi, who is shameless, cruel and for whose reason this great calamity occurred"
      The king spoke like this and beseeched Kaikeyi with folded hands.  He again addressed Kaikeyi "Oh, auspicious queen! I am a well conducted man.  I am dejected and seeking refuge in you.  I am an old man and especially a king.  Be kind to me. Oh, well-hipped one!  I hope that whatever I told, has not merged in the sky.  Oh! young woman, be kind to me.  You are tenderhearted,  Oh, queen with dark outer corner of eyes!  Be kind.  You yourself give my kingdom to Rama.  Thus, you will obtain a great fame.  Oh, broad hipped, with beautiful face and eyes!  Do this.  It will be pleasing to me, to Rama, to the world, to  the priests and to Bharata, too."
      Hearing the king was pitifully lamenting strangely with red eyes filled with tears, that bad tempered cruel woman did not care to listen to his words.  Seeing his discontented wife was bent on sending Rama to forest, the king became highly distressed, fainted again and fell down unconscious on the floor.
      While the distressed and harrowed king was sighing terribly in this way, that night came to an end.  In the dawn, bards and singers started to awaken him.  But the king sent them away by the wave of his hand.

Monday, 8 April 2013

42. Kaikeyi stuck to her guns.

       King Dasharatha became absolutely dazed on hearing those cruel words from the mouth of his angel.  He just could not believe that it was his most beloved queen Kaikeyi who was uttering those venomous words.  He was thinking "Is it a day-dream or a confusion or concussion of my mind?  Or could it be an eclipse of my experience or a disease of the mind?" 
      Overcoming his confusion he said weakly "My Darling!  What kind of a joke is this?  Please don't utter such words again, even in your wildest dreams."
      "This is NOT a joke, my dear chap.  These are the boons I want NOW" spat out Kaikeyi.  
      The king could not make out what it was.  Then, when his brain slowly cleared and he became conscious of the meaning of the words of Kaikeyi, he was staring at Kaikeyi as a deer at the sight of a lioness.  Murmuring "what a pity!" the angry king  whose mind was infatuated with grief, became highly nervous and fainted.   Regaining consciousness after a long, long time and feeling inexorably distressed and angry,  the King looked at his beautiful angel turned vicious serpent  and cried hoarsely with a trembling voice "Oh cruel woman of wicked conduct!  What wrong has been done to you by Rama or by me?  When Rama is treating you in the same way as his mother, why are you bent upon harming him?  When all living beings extol the virtues of Rama, for what offence am I to forego my beloved son?   Supreme delight comes to me on seeing my eldest son.  The world may exist without the sun and a crop without water.  But life cannot continue in my body without Rama.  If you so desire, I will even touch your feet with my head.  Be gracious to me....."
     In this manner the king pleaded with Kaikeyi.  Then he appealed to her "Oh, Kaikeyi! You ought to bestow mercy to me, an old and miserable man who has almost reached his end and is coaxing painfully to you.  Whatever can be attained on earth, which has the sea as an end, all that I can give you.  Let not anger take possession of you, Oh, Kaikeyi!  I fold my hands in salutation to you.  I am even touching your feet.  Be a protector of Rama.  Let unrighteousness not get a hold on me in this matter."
       Kaikeyi was not inclined to relent and barked "Oh, Valiant king!  If you try to revoke again and again after having given boons, how can you proclaim piety on this earth?  Oh, you boast and claim and proclaim that you know what is right, always and abide by it!  When you meet many royal saints in an assembly and converse with them, what will be your say?  Can you boast that a wrong was done by you to Kaikeyi, who protected you earlier from death and on whose grace you are living now?  Oh, King! You having granted boons indeed today, now talk in another way, creating blemish on other kings.  When there was a dispute between a hawk and a pigeon (who were no other than Indra the ruler of gods, and the god of fire respectively), the ruler of Sibis gave away his own flesh to the bird and king Alarka** by parting with his eyes, attained to the highest destiny.

      **Alarka: The royal sage Alarka parted with his own eyes in order to implement a boon granted by him to a blind Brahman who asked for the king's eyes in order to have his own eyesight restored. 
      "The ocean, having given a promise, never crosses its limits.  Therefore, bearing in mind the precedence set by many illustrious kings long ago, do not violate the pledge given by you to me.  Do you want to enjoy life with Kausalya forever by giving up righteousness and installing Rama in the kingdom?
      "What do you want it to be?  Unrighteous or righteous, real or hoax?  There should be no change in whatever is promised by you for me.  If Rama is crowned, I shall die now itself before your very eyes by drinking abundant poison.   If I have to see Kausalya, the mother of Rama receiving salutations even for a single day, death is indeed better for me.  Oh, King! I swear to you an oath by Bharata and by myself that I will not be pleased with anything other than sending Rama to exile."
      Kaikeyi did not respond to the further wailings and pleadings of Dasharatha.
      Seeing that Kaikeyi was not receptive, king Dasaratha became more perturbed.  He kept gazing with wide open eyes at his beloved queen Kaikeyi, who became so harsh now. 
      Reflecting over Kaikeyi's resolve and her terrible swearing, Dasharatha heaved a sigh, uttered "Rama"  and fell like a tree which was cut off.