Shatashloki 41: The death of King Dasharatha

Rājā daśaratha sswargaṃ jagāma vilapan sutam

Meaning- Unable to bear the pangs of separation from his son, Dasharatha died.

Dasharatha was grieving pitiably and Sumantra was consoling him all the time. The details provided by Sumantra about Rama’s departure into the forests only worsened Koushalya’s grief. She broke down and begged Sumantra to take her immediately to Rama. Sumantra tried to console her but failed to do so.

Suddenly, Koushalya who had been calm all along, got greatly annoyed with Dasharatha for all that he had done and she began to harshly admonish him for sending Rama away to the forest. She lamented that her son and daughter-in-law would face severe difficulties and hardships in the forest due to his decision. Her words further aggravated and worsened his grief. Never ever before had Koushalya ever spoken in this manner. The king found it hard to withstand the harsh words uttered by her. He felt he was sinking. He swooned for a little while. His own evil doings of the past that had brought this misery to him, came to his memory.

The king offered his namaskara to Koushalya and in a pitiable voice weakly pleaded with her not to rebuke him any further. Koushalya trembled upon seeing his pitiable situation. Understanding his situation, she instantly begged forgiveness, “O Lord, please forgive me. My uncontrollable grief at this separation from my son caused me to speak to you in this harsh and cruel manner. Kindly excuse my mistake”. She thus consoled him.

By then, it was past sunset time. Dasharatha was periodically losing consciousness. He was blabbering in his sleep. He was regaining consciousness only to lose it once again. This happened repeatedly. In between this, Dasharatha revealed to Koushalya a secret that he had never ever revealed to anyone before.

He said, “Koushalya, in my youthful days, long before I married you, I had committed a serious and grave mistake. One day I had gone hunting into the forests by the banks of River Sarayu. I was sitting under the shade of a tree eagerly trying to spot any wild animal. All of a sudden. I heard some gurgling sounds from the River Sarayu. It was evident that some animal was drinking water from the river. I directed my arrow towards the direction of the sound and then ran in that direction to catch the animal. To my utter shock, instead of an animal, there lay a young hermit-boy. The arrow had pierced his heart. I realized that I had committed an unforgivable sin. I had mistaken the boy for an animal. The boy who was on the verge of death told me about his aged and blind parents nearby who were thirsty. He begged me to quench their thirst. Within minutes, the boy died. I took the pitcher and carried the water to the parents. When I told them of my sin, their grief was uncontrollable. The boys father, in his grief cursed me, “you too will die due to pangs of separation from your son”. Then and there both his aged frail parents left their mortal bodies in that state of grief.

Koushalya, now I am going to die. My separation from Rama will bring to me my death. My eyes have failed. I am unable to see anything. In this hour of death I grieve that my dearest son Rama is not beside me. That curse has resulted in this happening. My senses (indriyas) are not functioning anymore.”

So saying, Dasharatha again slipped into sleep. In that state of sleep, he left his body, uttering the words, “Rama, Rama”. The next morning, the king did not awaken. A few servants went into his chambers to serve him and seeing his dead body, cried loudly.

With Dasharatha’s death, Ayodhya lost its sheen. It turned into a city of gloom. Every person was shedding tears profusely. The citizens felt orphaned and moaned loudly.

This news mysteriously reached Bharata, who was at his maternal grandfather’s place. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he strongly felt that he should return to Ayodhya. Around that time, the messengers sent from Ayodhya reached his place. Bharata asked them, “I seek to know about the welfare of my father and of my dear brothers Rama, Lakshmana. How are my mothers Koushalya and Sumitra and my arrogant mother Kaikeyi faring? Is everything well with them? Please answer me quickly.”

Without answering any of these questions, the messengers simply said, “The king seeks your immediate presence in Ayodhya. Please accompany us back to Ayodhya”. The messengers did not even give the slightest hint of the happenings in Ayodhya to date.


Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha.

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