“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।
“It is one of the important events in the early portion of the Ramayana poem of Maharishi Valmiki. If translated to modern terms, it would be something like the act break. It is the point at which the show would go to commercial, if airing on television.
“A change of scene. Something for the audience to ponder. They are otherwise shocked. Everything was going so smoothly. Everyone was happy. There was a celebration on the horizon. Dasharatha’s eldest son was to be the new king.
“This son had been long sought after. Dasharatha was without an heir to the throne. His hard work and dedication to dharma were appreciated by the citizens, but what good would that do if the next generation simply spoiled everything?
“The king had the chance meeting with Rishya-shringa, and a yajna took place for the purpose of bringing a son. Dasharatha was blessed with four, in fact, with Rama the eldest. This was a direct expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. The other brothers were partial expansions.
“Yet everything became ruined through the envy of Kaikeyi, the youngest queen. Convinced by her dastardly servant named Manthara, Kaikeyi was suddenly ready to cash in on two favors her husband had previously promised her.
“She sure went big. These boons would not be wasted. She demanded that her son, Bharata, be made the next king and that Rama remain in exile for fourteen years. This was like a knife in the back to Dasharatha. He couldn’t believe it.
“It makes for a compelling story, but I’m wondering why the king simply didn’t refuse her. By going along with the promises, he made himself look to be a subject of kama, lust. He was under the control of a woman, which shouldn’t be the case for a responsible head of state.”
The explanation is that a pious king never values emotion over duty. He was attached to Rama, so much so that he couldn’t bear the separation. Dasharatha would quit his body soon after Rama leaving for the forest. Kaikeyi’s requests essentially killed him.
Yet this was not the first instance of Dasharatha casting aside his personal preferences for dharma. When Rama was a youth, the venerable Vishvamitra Muni paid a visit to the kingdom. He asked for Rama as a bodyguard in the forest, to protect against wicked characters who were harassing the sages.
One can only imagine what Dasharatha felt. Why couldn’t the king go? Why not some adult royal guards? Why did Vishvamitra insist on Rama? Yet the king did not deny the request of a brahmana. He acquiesced, although reluctantly.
He did the same with Kaikeyi. In a later incarnation, the father named Vasudeva immediately parted ways with Vishnu as his child. Shri Krishna asked to be transported to the nearby town of Gokula shortly after appearing from the womb of Devaki. Vasudeva had to essentially give up his child to another family, but he did not hesitate.
There are parallels to modern day life. We may prefer to always remain in the temple, staring at the beautiful, merciful incarnation of the Divine known as the archa-vigraha. Seeing His smiling face brings a level of peace not experienced anywhere else.
Yet there are daily responsibilities which must be met. This means that physical separation is inevitable. Just as Rukmini Devi dreaded the onset of morning, knowing that her husband Krishna would have to arise and leave her side for the day, so the devoted souls are in anguish over having to place interest elsewhere, albeit temporarily.
The same Supreme Lord is always close by, accessible whenever we want to turn His way. Simply saying His names brings Him to the vicinity: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Dasharatha in tough position found,
Attachment but also to duty bound.
That soon Rama exile to start,
And king for next life to depart.
To refuse Kaikeyi easy to say,
But dharma leader a different way.
From work similar dilemma we face,
But from names Lord rushing to place.