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Rama's Banishment


Kaikayee demands that Rama be banished for fourteen years and Bharat be crowned King.


Many years ago, when Dashrath was on the battlefield, Kaikayee had saved his life. As a result, Dashrath had granted her two boons, and Kaikayee had stated that she would ask that the boons be granted when the time arose. Manthara reminded Kaikayee of the boons that she was to ask of Dashrath, and told her that the time to demand that Dashrath fulfill his promise had arrived. She counseled Kaikayee to ask that Bharat be crowned King, and that Rama be banished from the kingdom for a period no less than fourteen years.

Kaikayee then removed all her jewellery, lay down on the floor in her bedroom, and called for her husband. When Dashrath heard that Kaikayee was in a bad temper, he went to console her and inquire what the matter was. Seeing Kaikayee in this state greatly disturbed him and he rushed by her side to find out what he can do for her. Kaikayee then asked him if he remembered the two boons he had granted her, and would he be willing to fulfill them. The unsuspecting King answered that he certainly would. Kaikayee then asked for Bharat's coronation, and demanded that Rama be exiled to the forest in the guise of a hermit.

Hearing this, King Dashrath almost passed out with pain. He then begged Kaikayee to ask for anything else, but not to be so harsh as to send his beloved son away to the forest for fourteen years! Dashrath even offered to give up his life instead, but to spare Rama. He said he loved all his sons equally, and the only reason he was crowing Rama king was because he was the eldest. But if it meant so much to Kaikayee, he would happily crown Bharat king. Rama had no greed for the throne, and he would not care if he was not made king! He thus pleaded with Kaikayee not to demand that Rama be sent into exile. However, Kaikayee was unperturbed, and stated that if Rama was not banished before dawn, Dashrath would have to face up to the fact that he had broken his promise, and Kaikayee would take her life.

King Dashrath was a man of his word, and he had to keep his promise even if it was tearing him apart. He then summoned Rama to Kaikayee's chambers. When Rama arrived, he saw his father lying down on the floor, passed out. When he asked Kaikayee what the matter was, Kaikayee told Rama about the two boons, and the demands she had made. Rama stated that nothing would give him more joy than to pass the chance to be King to Bharat, and added that he would willingly go into exile and uphold his father's promise.

Rama then broke the news to his mother Kaushalya, who was heartbroken, and to Sita, who insisted on accompanying him. Rama tried to dissuade her, but she refused to change her mind, saying that a wife's place is by her husband. Lakshman too insisted on accompanying his elder brother. So, early next morning, before the break of dawn, Rama, Lakshman and Sita left Ayodhya after a tearful and shocked farewell.


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