The Tragic Scenes At The Gynaeceum

King Dasaratha deployed his ministers to oversee the arrangements for Sri Rama's coronation. He then arrived at the palace of Kaikeyi, his favourite queen to share the happy news with her. But Kaikeyi had entered her sulking chamber (Krodhagara).

Removing her jewels and flowers, she had thrown them on the ground to indicate her anger. The aged King saw his young wife (Valmiki R/2/10/23). He judged her mood and made all kinds of promises to appease her. Trapping him in his own assurances, Kaikeyi put forth her exigent demands of enthroning Bharata and exiling Sri Rama for fourteen years.

Her demands shocked Dasaratha who was totally unprepared for such a turn of events, more so, as Sri Rama had been Kaikeyi's darling all along. Dasaratha fell down unconscious, got up, abused Kaikeyi, and accused her of gross misconduct and adharmic behaviour. Sri Rama's virtues and his respect for Kaikeyi deserved better treatment, pleaded Dasaratha.

Kaikeyi blamed Dasaratha for going back on his word, reinforced by assurances given just a while ago. Long exchanges of accusations, abuses and arguments between Dasaratha and Kaikeyi ensued. Dasaratha came round to accept Bharata's coronation but not to Sri Rama's exile. Kaikeyi had gained ground. To press home her demands and to clinch the issue, she threatened to commit suicide, making the King responsible for her extreme step.

Dasaratha shuddered at the thought of going back on his declaration made in the court of kings and the elite; that he would be breaking the Ikshvaku tradition of crowning the eldest son. How would he face Kausalya and Sumitra? Shame, dishonour, shock and agony unnerved the King.

All music and festivities of the palace stopped forthwith. Dasaratha was woe-begone. Prodded by Kaikeyi, he sent for Sri Rama through Sumantra, his trusted minister.

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