Dashrath


The rising crescendo of pained cries could be heard all over the palace. Their agony and pain hinted at the storm that was brewing. Dashrath rushed toward Kaikeyi’s kop bhavan. He had much aged in the last few years but this day of joy was abruptly interrupted by summons to Kaikayi’s chambers. He had been in the midst of the coronation preparations of his son Ram. For a moment the thought of Ram made him forget about the incessant crying that was reverberating through this side of the palace. His handsome, dutiful, reverent, wise and stoic son – Ram. He was jolted to the present as he stood in front of the grey doors of Kaikayi’s grieving chamber. He was flummoxed at this sudden show of grief. He flung the doors open reluctantly and entered the chambers.

The Dashrath that exited from the chamber was visibly different from the one that had entered it. His shoulders stooped, his eyes dimmed, his hair ruffled, his clothes askew; he came out in a daze as if a bolt of lightning had struck him. He lumbered his way to his chambers, unseeingly and seemingly defeated. A happy Sumitra met him to show him the clothes that she had chosen for Ram and Sita – the future King and Queen to wear for the coronation. Beautiful silk with ornaments and jewels that would put Kubera to shame. He did not look at her or the clothes. He sat on the bed and his eyes brimmed with tears. Worried Sumitra asked him what the matter was. He looked at her unseeingly as though he had just seen her. A low torrent of words escaped his trembling lips as though he was in shock. He told her the story of the young boy Shravan whom he had killed with his arrow mistaking him for an elephant on the banks of River Sarayu. Shravan Kumar’s blind parents has cursed him to the same torment of loosing his child just like he had perpetrated in making them loose theirs.

Sumitra was confused and fearful. She couldn’t understand the King’s crazy mutterings on a day like today. She soothingly touched his back and handed him a glass of water. She patiently asked him what the matter was. He bent his eyes with guilt and told her the reason for his grief. Kaikayi was in a temper and had asked him to fulfil his boon that he had promised her when she had saved his life in battle. His lucid words began slipping into a rant. He didn’t know how something so innocently bestowed could turn into something so hurtful. He unseeingly looked at Sumitra and announced that Ram could not be king. Sumitra, aghast, sat down and looked at him with horror in her face. Dashrath told her that Kaikayi wanted Ram to be exiled for 14 years and Bharat to be made the king. Sumitra’s usually serene face slowly turned to horror and then to grief. She started crying and begging the King to do something. The King realised that he was guilty, yet had to fulfil his given boon and atone for his sins of putra hatya.

It is then that Ram walked in after hearing about the chaos in Maa Kaikayi’s room. He saw his father and mother in a state of bewilderment. He bowed to his father and asked them the reason for their gloom. Ram heard Dashrath out and like a dutiful son bowed in front of his father. His words left Sumitra aghast. Ram agreed that a father’s debt was to be carried out by the son. He unequivocally announced that he will fulfil his father’s boon to Kaikayi maa and go into exile for 14 years, for what his father promised, shall be given. The Marayada Purushottam realised that the son must carry forth his father’s debt in this world and so he began preparations for vanvaas.

Dashrath could not move. He realised that his moment of love and weakness had morphed into punishment for his sins – sins of loving and trusting someone who turned out to be his nemesis and putra hatya. His brain clouded over; he went into a state of just being. Dashrath had once lived in a state of emotion and was overtaken by his love and lust for his young wife Kaikayi. Dashrath had allowed his desire to overtake his intellect. His mind had been numbed then but now he was atoning for his sins. Not only himself but his beloved Ram too. Guilt in its negativity was washing over him in waves. Realization of the sin on the other hand gave him the power to separate desire from love. Desire for Kaikayi and love for Ram. His intellect cried out for his wrong doings.

| SHIVANI GIRI

Shivani Giri is a teaching professional, who likes to write, is a prolific reader of different genres of mythological texts. She is based out of Hyderabad.


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