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Valmiki Ramayana - Ayodhya Kanda in Prose

Sarga 8

Manthara with her wicked thoughts tries to convince Kaikeyi of the possible misfortune that could occur to Kaikeyi and her family if Sri Rama becomes the King. Although Kaikeyi's initial reaction is to praise Rama's qualities; her mind is slowly but surely poisoned by Manathara's sinful words.



Manthara, becoming indignant with Kaikeyi, threw down the ornament given to her and with anger and distress spoke the following words: "O, foolish one! Not knowing that you are in the midst of an ocean of trouble, what is it that you are so delighted about, in a matter to be grieved? Though stricken with grief, I mentally laugh at you in that you are rejoicing at the time when a great calamity is befalling you."

"I am lamenting over your foolish mind. Does any intelligent woman feel happy over the prosperity of a stepson who is considered an enemy? Does it not amount to praising a befalling death? Rama has a fear about Bharata because Bharata has equal rights over the kingdom. In thinking about this matter, I am getting anguished. Do we not get disasters from those who are afraid of us?"

"Lakshmana, wielding a great bow, joined Rama with all his heart. Shatrughna is as faithful to Bharata as Lakshmana to Rama.  yi! In line with even the proximity of birth; the claim to the throne of Bharata alone can be pressed, that of Lakshmana and Satrughna who are younger is out of question."

"Rama is a learned man and a political statesman. His actions are timely and appropriate. When thinking of your son's calamity to be resulted from Rama, I get shaken with fear. Kausalya is very fortunate. Brahmans are going to anoint her son for the great princely kingdom tomorrow on the day of Pushyami star".

"With folded arms, as a maid-servant, you have to serve that Kausalya who having reached great prosperity, in the height of joy, will dispose of her adversaries (in the person of Bharata and yourself). Thus, if you become Kausalya's servant-maid along with us, your son Bharata will be Rama's attendant. Rama's wives will get delighted. Your daughters-in-law will be unhappy because of Bharata's waning position."

Comment: The words 'Rama's wives' here do not indicate that Rama had multiple wives. Manathara refers to a possible future where Rama being a King would marry other women. It was a norm then for a king to have more than one wife.

Hearing Manthara speak thus in many distasteful words, Kaikeyi began to extol Rama's virtues, saying:  "Rama knows all righteousness. Elders trained him. He has a proper gratitude. He speaks truth. He has a clean conduct. He is the eldest son of king Dasaratha and hence eligible for the kingdom. The long living Rama will protect his brothers and servants like a father. O, the hunch backed one! Why are you so pained on hearing about Rama's coronation?"

"After Rama's rule for one hundred years, Bharata the best among men will certainly replace Rama on his father's throne, which is that of his ancestors. Oh, Manthara! When we got an occasion for rejoicing as at present and when a festive occasion is to come off in future (too in the form of Bharata's installation, no matter even if it comes after a hundred years), why do you feel agonized like this as though burning (with jealousy)?"

"For me, Rama is as lovable as Bharata and even more. Is he not doing more service to me than to Kausalya? If Rama has kingdom then Bharata has it as well. Rama esteems his brothers just as his own self."

Manthara, after hearing Kaikeyi's words, felt very sad and after a long and hot sigh, spoke to her the following words: "On one side, you are getting immersed in an ocean of sorrow filled with misery and danger. But due to stupidity, you are not able to perceive the truth and you fail to assess your real position."

"O, Kaikeyi! If Rama becomes the king, his son will become the king after him in succession. Thus, Bharata's name itself will be removed from the royal clan. O, Kaikeyi! All the sons of a king will not be crowned for a kingdom. If all are installed, there will be a great lawlessness. Therefore, kings, O, Kaikeyi of faultless limbs, install their eldest son, eventhough others may be full of virtues, as their successor to the throne."

"Oh, Kaikeyi the affectionate one! Your son will be completely distant from comforts and even from the royal clan; like an orphan. I came here in your interests. But you have not understood me. You think it fit to give me a present when your step-wife is getting prospered."

"Rama, ascending the throne without hindrance, will either send away Bharata to some other country or have him put to death. This is certain. You sent Bharata to his maternal uncle's house even in his childhood. By being nearer, love is born even on inanimate objects. By sending Bharata to a distant place, you made Dasaratha to have no affection towards him. Shatrughna was drawn towards Bharata and went along with him. Just as Lakshmana joined Rama, Shatrughna joined Bharata." 

Comment: Sage Valmiki might be implying here that if Shatrughna were to be present then at Ayodhya, he would have tried for the prosperity of Bharata.

"We hear that a tree marked down for felling by foresters, when covered by thorny Ishhiika grass, is saved from this great danger of cutting. So also, Dasaratha might have supported Bharata if he was staying near to him in Ayodhya. Lakshmana protects Rama. Rama protects Lakshmana. Their brotherly love is as famous as that of Aswini celestials. Hence, Rama will not do a sinful act of killing Lakshmana. However there is no doubt that he will do so in the case of Bharata."

"Hence, I feel that it is better for your son to go to forest directly from his uncle's house. This is good for you too. If Bharata gets his father's kingdom as per law, it will be beneficial to you and your side of relatives. Your youthful son, habituated to comforts, is a natural enemy to Rama. How can Bharata who failed to achieve his purpose live under control of Rama; whose flourishing object has been realised?"

"Rama is chasing and bringing down Bharata as a lion chases an elephant-king in forest. You ought to protect Bharata. Previously, you treated Kausalya with disrespect due to arrogance that you were fortunate. Will not such Kausalya, your rival wife, revenge for that animosity? O, Kaikeyi! The day Rama becomes lord of this earth with its great oceans, mountains and towns; that day you and your Bharata will get a bad and pitiable position of ignominy."

"When Rama gets power of the kingdom Bharata will certainly get ruined. Hence, think of a solution to get your son Bharata the kingdom and to send Rama, your enemy, to exile."


Thus completes 8th Chapter of Ayodhya Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

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1999, K. M. K. Murthy[Revised: May 05]