“Being under the control of passion and lust, Rama’s father, Maharaja Dasharatha, wanted to fulfill Kaikeyi’s cherished desire, thus he did not go through with Rama’s installation ceremony.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.12)
कामार्तस्तु महातेजाः पिता दशरथस्स्वयम्।।
कैकेय्याः प्रियकामार्थं तं रामं नाभ्यषेचयत्।
kāmārtastu mahātejāḥ pitā daśarathassvayam।।
kaikeyyāḥ priyakāmārthaṃ taṃ rāmaṃ nābhyaṣecayat।
Friend1: One of the early tragic events from the Ramayana story, which is actually a recounting of history, is the passing of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya.
Friend2: Due to separation from Shri Rama, his beloved eldest son, the person the king had been waiting forever for, in the same way that the devoted saintly person eagerly anticipates union with the Almighty and the chance to serve eternally.
Friend1: Which is actually superior to the achievement of liberation. Not that I am striving for placement in heaven in the afterlife, that I make a simple acknowledgment and expect someone else to save me.
Friend2: They would rather serve the Supreme Lord, who is a person. Emulating the attitude of Shri Hanuman, who is one of the main characters from the Ramayana. Hanuman is not related to Rama through family.
Friend1: To be clear, Rama is an avatara of Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rama is Vishnu. He is the same Krishna. He is kind enough to descend to this world every now and then. The devotees then celebrate those occasions, such as Rama Navami:
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Friend2: If you live within a culture of spirituality that denies or ignores the saguna aspect, where the Divine has distinguishable features and characteristics, you are really missing out.
Friend1: Getting back to Dasharatha, he certainly did not miss out. He appreciated every moment spent with Rama. The poor guy had to die in separation due to the wicked ways of one of his wives, Kaikeyi.
Friend2: As the saying goes, caught between a rock and a hard place. Uphold the honor and integrity of the Raghu dynasty, in which he appeared, or show favoritism to the son and be known as untruthful.
Friend1: From what I have read, he could not get the words out. Dasharatha never actually told Rama to leave.
Friend2: For where?
Friend1: Oh, sorry. A little background. Dasharatha is ready to install Rama on the throne. This is what everyone wants. This is in line with protocol. At the last minute, Kaikeyi cashes in boons that were previously promised to her. She wants her son, Bharata, to be the next king instead.
Friend2: Dasharatha would have gone along with that.
Friend1: No problem, at all, except for her second wish she wants Rama out of the kingdom.
Friend2: For how long?
Friend1: Fourteen years. She really dug the knife into her husband. My question relates to the boons themselves. I know that Dasharatha had promised her those years prior. Why would he make such a grave mistake?
Friend2: She had saved him on the battlefield one time. Dasharatha was not simply an administrator who sat behind a desk and directed other people to fight. He could defend against chariots attacking in ten directions simultaneously. He was well-appreciated by the demigod class, the suras.
Friend1: Yes, and so he was pleased with Kaikeyi for her help, but why did he have to promise her anything she wanted?
Friend2: This is in the nature of saintly people. They remember every good deed done in their favor. I am so upset with my wife today for the harsh words she spoke to me. I am ready to leave the house for good, but I forget everything positive that she has done for me and my family. That is the way the miser thinks, the kripana.
Friend1: That is well and good, but just see what Dasharatha’s saintly nature got him.
Friend2: Life can be cruel in that way. Sita Devi, Rama’s wife, later remarked that Dasharatha was under the control of lust and passion. In essence, in a moment of weakness he agreed to Kaikeyi’s requests.
Friend1: I guess that is what I am getting at. How could he be so weak?
Friend2: That is just part of being a devotee sometimes. Look at Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. He wanted to forgive the Kauravas and walk away. Sita Devi was trusting at first to the Rakshasa in-disguise named Ravana. Draupadi forgave Ashvatthama, who deserved the harshest punishment.
Friend1: Would someone like Kaikeyi suffer for what she did?
Friend2: She was married in all dharma to her husband, who ascended to the higher realm while conscious of his beloved son. No one can ask for a better death, and death is guaranteed for every person. The wives share in the meritorious credits accumulated by the husband. What we view as tragic actually is not so. The Ramayana story has many such events, and Shri Hanuman delights in reliving them every day.
How Dasharatha so weak,
When suras his help to seek?
And battling against directions ten,
But made unthinkable promise then.
To Kaikeyi his wife,
One costing his life.
Because in nature of saintly people so,
Tragic but really auspicious to know.