Shatashloki 30: Kaikeya seeks her two boons

Yourājyena saṃyoktuṃ aicchatprītyā mahīpati

Tasyābhiṣeka-sambhārān dŗṣṭtvābhāryā tha Kaikekī.

Poorvaṃ dattavarā devī vara mena mayācata

Vivāsanaṃ ca rāmasya bharatasyābhiṣecanaṃ. 

Meaning- Kaikeyi, one of the wives of Dasharatha, noticed the arrangements for the coronation ceremony of Rama. She reminded Dasharatha of the two boons he had earlier promised her. She sought that Rama should be sent into exile and Bharata be crowned as the king.

After hearing the words of the assembled ministers, Dasharatha sought that the arrangements for the coronation ceremony should forthwith begin. Upon the request of the king, Maharishis Vashistha and Vamadeva asked the officers to arrange in the sacred fire-house, the floral garlands, golden pots, honey, ghee (clarified butter) and various other auspicious items essential for completing the coronation procedure. Suitable seating arrangements were being made for everyone who attended the function. The palace as well as the entire city was to be decorated in a befitting manner. The officers set off to duly complete all the tasks allotted to them for the coronation function that was to be held early next morning.

Dasharatha now called minister Sumantra and asked him to fetch Rama to the assembly, in a chariot. As directed by the king, Sumantra went and brought Rama. Upon arriving into the courtroom, Rama paid his respectful obeisances to all those assembled there. Dasharatha smilingly said, “Rama, the citizens cherish that you should be appointed as their crown-prince. You should from now on, understand their mind and rule accordingly in a righteous manner”.

This news was immediately carried to Mother Koushalya, who in uncontrollable delight, gifted cows, gold and other precious stones to all those who brought her this good news. The entire city of Ayodhya rejoiced.

The loud cheering of the people and the resonance created by the rejoicing people fell into the ears of Manthara, one of the maids of Queen Kaikeyi. She quickly went up to the terrace and witnessed the happenings. She understood the reason behind the merriment of the people. She was saddened. In uncontrollable grief, quickly she alighted the stairs and ran to Kaikeyi with this news.

She had not even completed the sentence, when in total happiness, Kaikeyi took off her jewel and placed it in Manthara’s hand. After all, Kaikeyi loved Rama dearly. She was so gladdened by this news. Kaikeyi said to Manthara, ‘Raame vaa bharate vaaham vishesham nopalakshaye’. Which means, “I do not see any difference between Bharata and Rama. That is why, I am very happy that Rama is being appointed as the crown prince”.

Manthara in great anger threw away the ornament that Kaikeyi had given her and in great distress spoke unholy words and poisoned the mind of Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi’s mind, fully poisoned, now yielded to the words of Manthara. Kaikeyi now began to worry about her future as well as for the future of her son Bharata. She feared that she would be reduced into an attendant for Queen Koushalya, whose son Rama would be the future king. Due to this fear, she now sought Manthara’s advice.

The cunning Manthara said, “Please recollect that long back the King had given you two boons. It is time to seek them. As the first boon, you ask for Rama to be exiled for 14 years.  The second boon should be that Bharata should be crowned as the king of this land”.

Kaikeyi, whose mind was now totally poisoned, loved both these ideas. Immediately she wore soiled clothes, threw away her jewellery and went into the shoka gruha (house of wrath/sorrow). She pretended to be in deep sorrow. Manthara was thrilled that her plans were about to succeed.

Dasharatha arrived at Kaikeyi’s palace to inform her of the auspicious developments. He was puzzled at not finding her in her chambers. When he heard that she was in the shoka gruha, he was shaken up and tormented.  He sat in the shoka gruha and wiped away her tears. In various ways he tried to console her- “What is bothering you, dear? Tell me. Who has disrespected you? Tell me what you desire. I promise to fulfill all that you seek. I take an oath on Rama, who is the most dear to me, that I shall fulfill your desire”.

At this, Kaikeyi said harshly, “O King, do you remember that earlier you have promised me two boons? Please recollect your promise and fulfill those two boons now. I seek that Rama should go into exile for 14 years. This is the first boon. Bharata should be crowned the king. This is the second boon. A few minutes earlier you have taken an oath that you would fulfill my wishes. To fulfill the promise is now your duty. After all, people of Ikshvaaku dynasty are known to abide by their promises. Only he who abides by his promise is entitled to the luxuries of this world and the next.”

Om Seeta ramabhyaam namaha.

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