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The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga,Saraswati.

Exile of Lord Rama

Rama and Sita had been happily married forever twelve years. Then Dasharatha thought," I have grown old. I have reached ripe age and all my wishes have been fulfilled. The only wish is to see Rama as their new king. Rama had captivated each and every body's heart with his noble behavior, gentle and generous conduct and a high sense of duty and righteousness. Rama was not only the eldest but also the most capable prince.

Dasharatha took counsel with his adviser, ministers and elders and decided to make Rama their king, and sought their opinion in the matter, they all approved and acclaimed the proposal, cheered and cried in one voice,"Make Rama the king the very next morning."

Thus, unanimously Rama was declared king of Ayodhya.

Immediately guru Vishwamitra and other elders were given directions to prepare for the coronation ceremony. Dasharatha sent for Rama and told him that he would be crowned the next morning. The news cheered all in the palace. Rama went to his mother and gave the hoped for news. Kaushalya was in meditation and Sita and Lakshmana waited on her. Rama and Sita fasted, kept the night vigil and spent all time in prayer and meditations.

Kaikeyi too wad very glad to know of Rama's coming coronation. She loved Rama as she did her own son Bharata.She had a hunch-backed maid -servant named Manthara.She was wicked and spiteful. She came to Kaikeyi and poisoned her mind and roused deep feelings of jealousy against Rama and Kaushalya.Manthara said,"O unfortunate and thoughtless queen, Rama will be king tommorow and you a waiting maid with folded hands on Kaushalya as I am on you. And your beloved son Bharata will become Rama's errand boy."

Swept off her feet by Manthara's evil counsel, Kaikeyi said,"O maid, you are the best of my well-wishers, Now I can see through the king, my husband's evil designs and plans to dethrone me from my position of privilege."

Gradually Kaikeyi's doubts grew strong and then stronger. Completely misled by the hunch-backed Manthura, she forgot her love for Rama, she made up her mind to ask for two boons the king had granted her long ago. So resolved, she went to the wrath-chamber and lay down on the floor discarding all her adornments.

Blissfully unaware of this sudden turn of events, king Dasharatha came to Kaikeyi's palace to give the happy news of Rama's crowning to his most favourite queen. Told by the servants how she had gone to the chamber of anger, the king went there. He stroked her lovingly and asked the reason of her anger and displeasure,"O my goddess, who has slighted you? Tell me what is your wish and it would be fulfilled instantly swear by my dharma your pleasure will be done."

Feeling reassured by these by these words, she asked the king to give his word and to swear by Rama.Intent on evil, the lady then said,"Grant me my two boons you promised long ago, Consecrate and make my son Bharatha king of Ayodhya in place of Rama. And for the second boon, send Rama to the forest in exile for fourteen years. Let this very Rama depart for Dandaka Vana."

These cruel words stunned Dasharatha .At first he could not believe his ears. He Wondered if he were dreaming or were under delusion, or were it a nightmare? Then he becomes senseless. Regaining his consciousness, he heaved a deep sigh and again went into a swoon struck with grief, With great efforts he again came to his senses and pleaded with Kaikeyi with folded hands to spare Rama and his life, for Rama's departure to the forest would kill him. But the queen remained firm and unmoved. The king's sobs, tears, begging and prayers on the knees rather hardened her cruel heart more and more. Dasharatha repeated weeping, "Let's Bharata have the crown and kingdom, but don't exile Rama, the best among men, my only refuge. I shall die the moment I don't see him. Grant me only this prayer.

Kaikeyi remained silent to the king's supplications. The king, remembering his dreadful oath he had taken in the name of Rama and Kaikeyi's firm resolve to send Rama into exile, fell down again on the ground and lapsed into a swoon. Kaikeyi sent Rama.Rama came and saw his father struck with grief and his face parched. The king could not utter a word for his throat was choked with sobs and grief. Rama stood stunned at this miserable sight of his father and said," Tell me mother, please, why my father is so dejected? Have I displeased him? Has anybody else done something or said something improper? Or is he mentally disturbed? Asked in great anxiety, why is he in such a gloomy state I never saw him before?"

Kaikeyi said without any sense of shame, "The king is neither ill nor has anybody displeased him. But he dare not speak something, which is unpleasant to you whom he holds most dear. You should carry out what he has promised me. He granted me two boons, but now demurs to fulfil them. If you swear to fulfil these, I may tell you what they are."

"Tell me lady what has my father promised you? I will do that, I promise .You know, I never tell lie," said Rama.

Having got the desired assurance, the ignoble queen said, "The king has promised to concrete Bharata as king and to send you away into exile for fourteen years. Now keep your promise to enable your father to honour his word and depart to the forest this very day."

These brutal words did not pain the noble Rama at all. In a firm voice he replied, "I will redeem my father's pledge and your boons will be fulfilled. I leave for the Dandaka forest this very day dressed in bark and deer-skin."

Greatly delighted at these noble words of Rama, Kaikeyi was abundantly reassured. However, she urged Rama's early departure. The king had heard all that had passed there, but being unable to speak anything, he cried faintly, "Oh Rama! Oh miserable me."

Rama raised up his father and then took his leave respectfully. Rama, the heroic soul went straight to his mother followed by Lakshmana. There was no trace of sadness or anger; he wore a sweet smile as usual. Such was his fortitude and devotion to duty and Dharma.

Rama found his mother busy in performing a sacrifice. Seeing Rama come, she advanced towards him and then embraced and kissed him on the head. Rama gave her the dreadful news and she fell down senseless. Such was the impact of sudden shock. Rama raised her up, comforted her with many a word full of great wisdom, but she kept on wailing and weeping piteously.

Kaushalay's grief made Lakshmana all the more sore and angry. His anger burst out, "The king is old and foolish to send god-like Rama into exile. The king is to blame for his foolish indulgences and infatuation with Kaikeyi."

But Rama stopped Lakshmana from giving vent to his anger any more and said, "I know your great love for me, Lakshmana. But don't forget Dharma, doing one's duty is the highest good. It is my foremost duty to obey my father. I cannot disobey my father. Be wise brother, and have faith in Dharma."

Still Lakshmana was not pacified. Rama again and again stressed the supremacy of all-powerful destiny and to see the hand of god himself in his exile. But Lakshmana could not tolerate the idea of anyone but Rama being made the king. With Rama in exile, he had no use of Dharma. Tears welling up his eyes he said, "If you mustdepart, take me with you to the Dhandaka forest; without you life is meaningless.

Kaushalya too wanted to accompany Rama into exile. Rama urged her to remain behind in Ayodhya for her utmost duty was to look after husband, the king. Being a woman she must solely devote herself to her husband. Seeing Rama bent upon going into exile, Kaushalya took heart and invoked blessings for Rama, prayed fervently for him and gave her consent.

Taking leave of his mother, Rama came to his own apartments. Sita got up instantly to receive Rama. As soon as she saw Rama's face full of perspiration and devoid of usual effulgence, alarmed, she exclaimed with grief, "What gone wrong my lord! Why do you look so pale? How is it that on this auspicious day of your crowning, you so unhappy?"

"Dear wife, my husband father has exiled me for fourteen years. Bharata is to be made the king. The king owed two boons to Kaikeyi and she asked the promised boons. I have come to see you before I depart for the Dhandaka forest. Bear this all gladly. Never do anything displeasing to Bharata. He is kind and generous and would look after you."

Thus advised, Janaki said with her eyes dimmed with tears and tongue faltering, "O noble one, a woman's only refuge is her husband. I shall go with you, come what may I am determined."

And Rama replied, "My beloved, the forest is full of many dangers and the life there is so hard and uncomfortable. You are so tender and lovely and have no idea of troubles and worries, a forest life is full of. It is not a place for a princes like you."

"Dear Rama," said she, "do you think separated from you I shall remain alive? No harm can come me when you are with me. Long ago, in my childhood it was predicted that I would dwell in the forest, that prophecy must come true. I have been looking forward to it. My place is always in your feet. Please don't refuse me my rights and privileges."

Rama could not refute her arguments; her begging was too forceful to deny her request. Seeing Sita's resolve, Rama had to agree to take her to the forest. It mightly pleased Sita and she gave away gold, gems and other costly presents to the Brahmans and other who deserved. Lakshmana too could not be persuaded to remain behind in Ayodhya. He went to see his mother and seek her permission to go to the forest. Sumitra was so happy to allow him to go with Rama and Sita. She very cleverly hid grief and blessed Lakshmana.

Rama distributed all his wealth and valuables among the Brahmans, the poor and needy and his dependents. Lakshmana too gave away his personal possessions including gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, ornaments etc. The sad news of Rama's exile sorely grieved the people of Ayodhya. They cursed Kaikeyi, spoke ill of the king while others blamed the destiny. Many resolved to follow Rama with their wives and children.

Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana went to his father who lay sighing and lamenting in the gloom. The king rose and advanced to embrace Rama, but fell down into a swoon overcome with grief. Rama ran and collecting Dashratha in his arms placed him on the couch assisted by Lakshmana and Sita .All the royal women wept loud and long. Rama and Lakshmana put on the tree-bark and deerskins like the hermits. Sita too wore these over her silken ones.

As Rama departed, throngs of people followed him weeping and wailing and cursing Kaikeyi. They begged Rama again and again to return. But Rama, the steadfast in dharma, did not turn his chariot. Seeing the people old and elders, learned Brahmins and others, Rama came downfrom the chariot and walked on foot with Sita and Lakshmana.

They reached the banks of river Tamasa at evening and spend the night there. To savethe citizens the hardship of travel and forest life, Rama ordered the chariot to be yoked while his subjects lay just asleep. At early morning the people found themselves without Rama. They looked here and there and everywhere but without any clue as to Rama's whereabouts. Ultimately they returned to Ayodhya dejected and cursing their sleep.

Meanwhile, Rama reached the banks of the sacred Gangaguha, a hunter by caste ruled that part of the land. He was a great friend of Rama. He was gladdened beyond measure to receive Rama and brought many gifts of tasty food; fruits and drinks, but Rama did not accept any for he had vowed to lead a life of hermit. Rama thanked Guha profusely and spend the night under a tree with Sita. Lakshmana kept the vigil and Guha joined him.

At early daybreak, a boat was brought and they crossed the river in it staying goodbye to Guha. Before entering the boat Rama said to sumantra, "Return fast to Ayodhya and attend to the king. Tell my father and mothers that we all three make our prostration's to them. Having seen your returned Kaikeyi will be assured that I have kept my promise. When Bharatha is back, tell him I leave the father and mothers to his care."

Bidding goodbye to Guha and Sumantra, they quickly got into the boat and soon were on the opposite bank. Sumantra and Guha gazed at Rama's boat sailing away farther and farther till they could not gaze any more and Rama got out if sight.

Sumantra, taking leave of Guha, yoked the chariot and turned towards Ayodhya with a heavy heart. He went straight to the king's palace and told the king with folded hands what Rama had said. The king kept on wailing and weeping and sobbing inconsolably. He asked Sumantra to take him where his beloved Rama was. At last tormented with Rama's exile and its overwhelming grief, the king died.

Immediately Bharata was sent for fast messengers on horses were sent. Bharata came at once of apprehensions. He and Shatrughna traveled day and night. When they entered the city-gates ill omens and deep, dull silence greeted them everywhere. They were much frightened and scared. Bharatha rushed to his father, and not finding him there in his palace, he sped to his mother's apartments. Kaikeyi jumped out of her seat to greet her son. When Bharatha was told about his father's death and Rama's exile, he fell down on the earth overcome with sorrow. He was dazed and aghast on knowing how Rama was exiled so that he could have the throne, and that the king died of a broken heart because of the separation from Rama.

Bhratha raved and cursed his mother, "What use is this crown without father and father-like brother Rama. O wicked woman, you have destroyed the family. You have sinned greatly against Rama and me. You are really a demons in a guise of a woman." He continued crying out and wailing for a long tine and resolved not to accept the crown, and swore to bring Rama back.

Soon Bharatha set out for the forest at the head of a large army to bring Rama back to Ayodhya. The Nishad king Guha welcomed Bharatha solicited Guha's help in searching out Rama. Guha helped Bharatha and his army crossed the Ganga and then led him to Chitrakuta where Rama was.

Eager and anxious to meet Rama, Bharatha began to climb up the hill with quick steps and was soon before Rama's hut. He saw Rama's face shinning like the full moon framed in the doorway of the hut. Crying piteously, his face full of perspiration, Bharahta fell down before he could reach Rama. Raising him up, Rama embraced him warmly. Seeing Bharatha with matted locks and in tree-bark like a hermit surprised Rama. Bharatha had grown weak, thin and pale because of grief. Rama could recognize Bharatha with difficulty. Kissing him on the crown, Rama said, "How is father? How could father send you here dressed as a hermit? Is father not well?"

Having heard Rama speak thus, Bharatha broke down and said, "Our dear father, having banished you died in a great sorrow. He departed yearning to see you. Now, return Raghava to Ayodhya and ascend the throne."

Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were downed in the ocean of sorrow to hear of Dasharatha's death, and profuse tears rolled down their cheeks. Somehow they took heart on being solaced by others. Bharatha again pleaded Rama to return to Ayodhya, but Rama refusedto oblige Bharatha saying, "I must remain in the forest for fourteen years at our father's command, now in heaven. It is my utmost duty to follow my dharma by doing what father said. Be at rest may beloved brother and rule the kingdom."

Rama's firm resolve to remain in the forest made Bharatha to return to Ayodhya. He took Rama's sandals, out them on the throne and began to rule the kingdom on behalf of Rama till he reassured from the exile. Bharatha retired to the nearby village Nandigrama, and lived there like an ascetic clad in bark and matted locks. From there he ruled in Rama's name.

Meanwhile Rama left Chitrakuta and entered the Dhandaka forest, and then reached rishi Atri's hermitage and received his blessings.





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