Illustrated Ramayana – Part 5

Dasaratha had reigned over Ayodhya for a very long time. He now felt it was time to retire and hand over the rule of the kingdom to his eldest son, Rama, as was the custom among the Kshatriyas. 

Sri Rama had already earned the love and esteem of the people.
One day, Emperor Dasaratha called Rama to his presence and said he would like the young prince to be crowned king. Rama received the news with humility, which sat on him like an ornament.

Thereupon, Dasaratha sent for the wise men and rishis and took counsel with them. He ordered that brisk preparations be made for the coronation.

The news that Rama was to be crowned thrilled the whole of Ayodhya. Everyone was happy—all except an old hunchbacked woman named Manthara.

Manthara, who was an attendant on Kaikeyi, was not pleased. She wanted that Bharata, Dasaratha’s son through Kaikeyi, should become Emperor. She poisoned the mind of Kaikeyi and made her press Dasaratha to redeem some old promises made to her.

Acting on evil counsel, Kaikeyi demanded that her son, Bharata, be crowned instead of Rama. She also insisted that Rama be exiled to the forest for fourteen long years.

Heartbroken, Dasaratha pleaded with Kaikeyi. He said he would agree to Bharata becoming Emperor if she would not press for Rama’s exile. He could not bear the thought of separation from his beloved Rama. But Kaikeyi was adamant and would not yield.