A gist of the epic Ramayana-Part III
After the grand marriage, King Dasaratha along with his retinue returned to Ayodhya along with the newly wed princess. Here I have to add that the marriages of other three princes too were solemnized in the same venue. Hurried consultations with the parents of appropriate matches to the younger princes, resulted in the marriage of all four princes and they were scheduled one by one with appropriate rituals.
Everybody were enjoying the Divine marriage ceremonies. The people of Ayodhya caught hold of the glad news and they decorated the entire Kingdom with colorful festoons and flags and adored the route with garlands of beautiful flowers on the sides and with some holy mango leaves too.All the queens enjoyed the company of their daughter in laws and gifted them with pearls and diamonds to show their affection. Thus the Kingdom enjoyed the fortunate tidings for a long time. One fine morning King Dasaratha found that there is a slight shiver in his fingers and some of his hair have turned white due to age. He hurriedly summoned his Minister Sumanta and the preceptor Vashista! Dasarada confided with them, the urgency to anoint Rama as the King since he is aging. All hailed the proposal and immediately the city Ayodhya was ready for the second major festival of anointing Rama as the King! All the queens were happy since he is the eldest son. All his brothers were floating in heavenly joy! They were ready to assist Rama in his duties as the King.
But destiny has other plans. Rama took ceremonial bath before anointment and he went straight to the chamber of his mother Kausalya and sought her benign blessings. He prostrated before her and sought her permission and blessings. Mother Kausalya embraced her son Rama and poured sanctified rice on his head with the blessings "Let righteousness prevail during your reign! But some evil minded maid in the chamber of Kaikeyi got the news and she shivered to hear the news. She was all along nursing a hope that Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi would be anointed as the King as promised during the marriage of Kaikeyi. She felt that she would raise her status if Baratha succeeded the throne! She started poisoning the innocent mind of Kaikeyi thus, "Oh foolish queen, don't you know that a great catastrophe is going to fall on you? But Kaikeyi was a good queen and she had maternal affection towards Rama. She never considered Rama as the son of elder queen. She treated Rama as her own son and she scolded her maid "Mantra" about her inauspicious warnings when the coronation of Rama was to take place. But the maid again pleaded with Kaikeyi to prevail upon the King to anoint her son Baratha as promised previously. Even then Kaikeyi never yielded but the strong words of her maid started entering into her mind. It created ripples in her conscious. Both conceived a plan to thwart the impending coronation. They knew that the King would visit Kaikeyi to inform about the agenda and to get her ready for the event.
To his consternation, King Dasaratha found that Kaikeyi was lying on the floor, removing the jewels from her neck and hands and spread her hair unkempt. As soon as he entered he was led to the place where Kaikeyi was lying. He was very fond of the young queen. He lifted her head and placed it on his lap and lovingly enquired the reason for her anger! She told him in point blank ways that he should grant her two boons which he has promised long ago. Without being aware of the stratagems, he said, Kaikeyi, Tomorrow morning our dear Rama is to be anointed as the King. Hence ask any thing. I am ready to give you. But she pronounced the deadly words as counselled by her maid. Oh King! Make my son Baratha as the King, Ask Rama to proceed to the forest for fourteen years! These words were like the bolts from the blue for the King. He asked her, "Are you joking without knowing the implications of what you demand? She never relented and that resulted in doom! King Dasaratha fainted and fell on the floor. The clever Kaikeyi summoned for Rama. He came there and found Dasaratha lying on the floor moaning as Rama, Rama. She told him of her plans in the disguise as the command of the King. She said, unable to face you, the king is moaning. Do not delay. Proceed to the forest as commanded by the King! Rama was an embodiment of virtue. He never questioned her intentions. He prepared to leave to the forest as commanded by the King. Rest in part IV.