Shatashloki 31: Dasharatha’s agony and Kaikeyi’s adamancy

Sa satya vachanāccaiva dharmapāśena saṃyata

Vivāsayāmāsa sutaṃ rāmam daśarathaḥ priyam.


Meaning- With the intent that truthfulness should rule, King Dasharatha was tied down by the noose called dharma (righteousness). With a heavy heart he sent his dearest son Rama into exile.

Dasharatha, who was aghast on hearing these cruel words from Kaikeyi’s mouth, trembled profusely and lost consciousness. There were no words to describe his agony. He regained his consciousness a little while later and wept piteously, “O cruel woman of wicked conduct. Do you seek to annihilate my family? What harm has Rama done to you? Rama has always loved you more than his own mother. Yet you are being unjust to him. O demoness! he always serves you first and only then attends to his own mother. You too cannot live even for a moment without him. You would always leave your own son and choose to carry Rama when he was little. Now why are you behaving in this manner? Who has taught you all this? Who has fed you all this? What a fool am I! I brought a poisonous snake and was lovingly feeding it all these years and now I have brought about my own self-destruction”.

After this outburst, Dasharatha pleaded with her in many more ways. He said, “I beg of you, my dearest wife. Choose any other boon apart from this. I plead you. I will grant you any other desire apart from this one. If you persist, Bharata will be made the king of this land. But please do not abandon Rama. I cannot imagine sending him away to the forest for so long. I cannot even live for a moment without seeing him”.

Dasharatha thus begged of her. He even touched her feet and prayed. The more he pleaded, the more defiant Kaikeyi was. She kicked him with her feet. Fiercely and ruthlessly she said, “O valiant king. Earlier, you had given me the choice of boons and had promised to fulfill them when I sought.  Now, a little while earlier, you have taken an oath as well. Having done so, now you seek to go back on your promise. You are grieving now because you have to fulfill your promise. How can you be called truthful? You are a disgrace to the clan of Ikshvaaku. What dharma is it to break one’s promise?

Let me warn you- if you go against your promise and appoint Rama as the king, then I shall consume poison then and there in your presence. How can I bear to see Koushalya being called Raaja-maata (queen mother)? If not now, then when else will I get that title? O king, I had pinned great hopes on Bharata. I want to see Rama leaving for the forest. Only that will give me peace. I will not accept any other boon in its place”.

Dasharatha felt as if he was struck by a thunderbolt. In great agony, he lay weeping. Such was his pain that he could not even move his lips or open his eyes. After a while, with great difficulty, he said, “Kaikeyi, I cannot live without Rama. Lakshmana cannot remain separated from Rama even for a little while. Rama and Lakshmana are one soul in two bodies.

Lakshmana loves Rama more dearly than either you or I do. If Lakshmana is pained, then naturally Sumitra, his mother, will grieve. Through this desire of yours, you are causing grief to each and every one of us. Please re-think. The entire kingdom will be rendered sorrowful. They will say that for the sake of a woman the king has deserted his own son and sent him away to the forests. What do you know of Rama? The moment he hears that he has to leave for the forests, he will do so. He will not even wait to find the reason behind this decision. How I wish Rama would go against my decision”.

‘Kaikeyi, you are hell-bent upon tormenting me. Do you know that the entire kingdom will become chaotic with Rama’s absence? Whom will Bharata rule? Kaikeyi, you are a goddess. Kindly shower your blessings upon me. Grant my wish. Let Rama remain here itself. I will once again hold your feet.” Dasharatha tried to hold on to her feet, but then before he could reach her feet, he sank and fell down like an ailing man.

The whole night Kaikeyi adamantly continued to torment and pierce him with harsh words. She preached about adherence to truthfulness. She continued, “O King! All of you from the Ikshvaaku dynasty are said to be eternally truthful. You take great pride in this. You are all extremely righteous. How can you now go against it?’

Dasharatha wriggled in pain upon hearing these words. The rope called dharma and the vow called truthfulness bound him tightly. In anguish he lay down, agitated, helpless and pale. He choked. People despair when they fail to have a darshan of Rama. Then what would be the feelings of a father who was being forced to send away his son into the forests?


Om Seeta Ramabhayaam namaha.

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