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Manthara's Poisonous Tongue

After the wedding ceremony, Dashrath decides that he will hand over the throne to Rama. Hearing this, Manthara poison's Kaikaiyee's mind.

After Rama had been chosen as the groom, King Janak sent a messenger to Ayodhya to invite Dashrath for the marriage ceremony. Dashrath was overjoyed with the news, and instructed Bharat to make arrangements for the departure of the procession. Horses, elephants and chariots were decorated and the Sage Vashishta also joined the procession, which set off for Janakpuri. The roads leading to Janakpuri were repaired, bridges were built and motels were constructed along the way, to ensure the smooth journey of the 'baraat'.

When they reached Janakpur they were welcomed very warmly. King Janak had made elabourate arrangements for their reception, and everything went off smoothly. Then Rama and Lakshman came forth to greet their father and embrace their brothers Bharat and Shatrughan. The days leading to the marriage ceremony were joyous and festive.

Brides for the brothers had also been chosen under the guidance of Sage Vashisht, and so all four brothers we wed together. Rama wed Sita, Lakshman wed Urmila, Bharat wed Mandavi and Shatrughan wed Shrutikeerti. After the ceremony and the wedding feast, red betel leaves and nuts were served to the guests, and this tradition of serving paan after dinner is still upheld in India.

Next morning the wedding procession departed after teary goodbyes and blessings were bestowed on the couples. Meanwhile, back in Ayodhya, excitement was in the air and preparations were being made for the reception of the newly-weds. The people of Ayodhya decorated their houses and there was dancing, singing and rejoicing when the King returned with the princes and their brides. The people of Ayodhya now had just one wish in their hearts - that King Dashrath passes the thrown over to Rama. Then one morning when Dashrath looked at the mirror and saw his first grey hair appear, he was struck by the realization that he was growing old. He decided that it was time to hand over the thrown to his firstborn, and announced his decision to his subjects and his children. Rama was skeptical, as he felt he was no more deserving of the crown than were his brothers, but everyone else was overjoyed at the prospect of him becoming King. Everyone else, except for one old maid: Manthara.

Manthara was Kaikaiyee's maid, and was jealous that Kaushalya's son was becoming King instead of Kaikaiyee's son. She conveyed her feelings to Kaikaiyee, who was at first upset to hear anything said against Rama. "I love Rama more than I do my own son," said Kaikaiyee, and reprimanded Manthara for daring to speak against her soon-to-be King. Manthara very cunningly praised Kaikaiyee for her innocence. She subtly continued to poison Kaikaiyee's mind against Rama and Kaushalya, and said that King Dashrath had chosen to coronate Rama at the time when Bharat was out of the kingdom. No thought was given to Bharat's presence at this important time, and when Rama is King, even less thought would be given to Bharat or to Kaikaiyee. She went on to say that Kaikaiyee would have to do Kaushalya's bidding and serve her.

Manthara's words shook Kaikaiyee to the core, and she asked Manthara what she should do.

Next: Manthara's scheme

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