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Kaikeyi sat alone on the bank of the river, scrawling in the sand. “Rama” , she wrote. It is said that one utterance of the name “Rama” is equivalent to a crore penances. Ahalya was turned back from stone to woman just by the touch of his foot.
“Rama. My dear eldest son. No stepson. The one I cruelly banished into the forest. With his gentle, innocent wife and loving brother. Rama, the son, without whom his father Dasaratha could not live. My husband Dasaratha whose death I unknowingly through Rama’s banishment. Rama, the favorite brother of my own son Bharatha. My Bharatha, who barely tolerates my presence for the sake of my darling Rama. Rama, who has forgiven me, who could not forgive herself. Rama who has forgiven Manthara, the crooked hunchback who poisoned my mind. My own dear nursemaid, Manthara, who kindled my avarice to be the queen mother. Manthara told me that Rama’s exile and Bharatha’s coronation would extend the privileges I enjoyed as the king’s favorite queen.”
“I never knew that someone who espoused my cause, whom I trusted from childhood, would give me advice that would bring about my downfall. I never knew that Bharatha, my own son, would despise me for banishing his brother and causing his father’s death. I have brought widowhood upon my own head and that of my co-wives for no fault of theirs. My fault. Could Manthara have poisoned my mind if there was no fault in me? No greed, no folly, no jealousy, no vanity? She merely churned my mind a little and all the poison in it came to the surface like butter from buttermilk. The villainy must have always been dormant in my heart.”
“Rama, the son of Kausalya whose grief is so hard to see. Kausalaya, my co-wife who lost her husband and son thanks to me. Who grieves, but does not blame, does not retaliate. Bharatha turns only to Kausalya for support, so much does he feel ashamed of me.”
“I am lonely. I too have lost my husband and sons. Rama I exiled, Lakshmana went with him to be of service to him. The two who remain live with their pain of separation. They haven’t ordered me dead, imprisoned or exiled. It is against their Dharma to ill-treat a woman, their mother. The Dharma that I forsook at the time I exiled my eldest son. When I caused them to lose their father. The Dharma that my sons will never forsake and will always fight to preserve”.
“Rama. Everyone misses you – but I suffer double – because it was MY FAULT”. This is how Kaikeyi felt.
Kaikeyi started to weep as if it would break her heart. And she went on writing Rama’s name in the sand. Her ornaments she had long donated. She lived as simply as a hermit. She served whom she could and practiced living unselfishly like her sons and co-wives. But the same words rang again and again in her head. “Oh Rama, My Fault., My Stupidity”.
Rama’s fourteen years of exile ended. He flew back to Ayodhya in the Puspaka Vimanam with Sita, Lakshmana and his victorious Vanara Army. There was a great welcome for him in Ayodhya. The city buzzed with stories of Sita’s abduction by Ravana, Rama’s search for Sita, his friendship with the Vanara king Sugriva, Hanuman’s discovery of Sita in Lanka, the bridge the Vanaras built across the sea to Lanka and Ravana’s death at Rama’s hands in battle. Ravana, that terrible ten headed Rakshasa, the violator of women and greatest burden to mother earth.
Kaikeyi gazed upon her son with pride. “My Rama. My son. My fault. But if it hadn’t been for me., mother earth would be still be burdened by that monster Ravana. Isn’t that so, dear sage?” She asked Vasishtha, the royal guru. Vasishtha replied,
“AHANKARA VIMUDHATMA KARTHAHAMITI MANYATE. He who is deluded by egoism, thinks that he is the kartha – ‘doer’.
Neither were you the cause of Rama’s exile, nor anyone’s suffering. Nor are you the cause of Ravana’s death and Rama’s victory. Our divine Sri Hari is the only cause, the only doer. We are only the instruments, the players.”
- Actually Sri Rama did not fly into Ayodhya in the Pushpaka Vimanam. That last part of the journey was by chariot.
- The stament Ahankara Vimudhatma is from the Bhagavad Gita and not from Valmiki Ramayanam, Vasistha is the author of Yoga Vasisthyam.
- Dasagriva, does not necessarily mean 10 headed. It is said that he had 10 crowns, one for each region.
- Kekeya (Kaikeyi’s birth place is in modern Pakisthan (See: Jijith’s map).
- Ahalya being turned back from stone to woman is popular folklore. Valmiki Ramayanam implies that her spirit was in the hermitage, not in a stone.
Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula