Two Timeless Defects In Human Society Illustrated By Kaikeyi

[Manthara and Kaikeyi]“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)

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कामार्तस्तु महातेजाः पिता दशरथस्स्वयम्।।
कैकेय्याः प्रियकामार्थं तं रामं नाभ्यषेचयत्।

kāmārtastu mahātejāḥ pitā daśarathassvayam।।
kaikeyyāḥ priyakāmārthaṃ taṃ rāmaṃ nābhyaṣecayat।

We are advancing. Progress. Moving away from the backwards way of life imposed by our ancestors. Correcting the wrongs from the past. Destroying symbols of hate. Removing honors for people who weren’t so great, who set in place systems of discrimination and hatred.

A new style of relationship. Equal rights; supposedly. Progressive thought and values. Moving towards perfection in human society. Perhaps in the future the complete eradication of disease, allowing for an extended span of life.

In truth, nothing changes. Pick any spot in the vast timeline of creation and the issues are the same. The defects in the human being cannot be removed as much as the reliance on the sun cannot be eliminated, along with the different seasons created by its positioning.

In a specific area like interpersonal dealings, we get evidence from the incident with Kaikeyi described in the Ramayana. This is a Sanskrit poem of timeless wisdom, but in comparison with the modern day the characters and setting are ancient. But the lessons are timeless.

1. Spouse turning their back on you

Family is the backbone of society. Husband and wife, living together and starting a family. Bringing new people into this world, who will hopefully be of good character and at least maintain society in the future.

The question is how the two will come together. It is an intimidating thought, having to live with someone for the rest of your life. No way out, except maybe in the modern-day divorce procedure, which has its own pains and headaches.

Whether in the old tradition of arranged marriages or the newer versions featuring trial periods of cohabitation, the potential for one spouse turning on the other is always there. This is rooted in desire itself, which is known as kama in Sanskrit.

With Kaikeyi, she was one wife of three to the king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dasharatha. She was likely the favorite to the king, as she was the youngest and considered the most beautiful. She had also directly offered vital assistance one time, while the king was wounded on the battlefield. Saintly people tend to be grateful; they never forget a single kind gesture done in their favor.

[Manthara and Kaikeyi]Kaikeyi did indeed turn on her husband. There was an instigator, the humpbacked servant named Manthara. She planted poisonous seeds in the mind of the queen, to the point that Kaikeyi soon abandoned sober and rational thought in favor of anger and jealousy.

2. Family members not happy with what they have

We see this commonly play out in the modern day. A family lives in a large home, one that the husband and wife took years to save money to purchase. The children each have their own room and plenty of space to roam around. Central air conditioning for the high temperatures of summer and limitless heat to deal with the cold of winter.

A fast internet connection and hundreds of channels to watch on the television. Yet this abundance does not prevent infighting. The children chastise the father daily, calling him miserly. They are unhappy with the size of the room that they have, and they continue to ask for more and more.

Kaikeyi was in a similar situation. She had everything going for her. The king had four beautiful sons, each ready to protect and defend the citizens. The eldest, Shri Rama, was so beloved that everyone considered Him to be part of their family.

Though He was born to the womb of Queen Kausalya, Kaikeyi considered Rama to be like her own son. There was not a hint of envy. News spread that Rama was to be the successor, that Dasharatha had made the decision after careful consideration with his trusted advisors.

Yet Manthara’s words turned Kaikeyi the other way. Extreme jealousy. How unfair? Why wasn’t her own son, Bharata, going to be made king? Even if Dasharatha would agree to that, it wouldn’t be enough. Rama would have to abandon the royal life, so as not to interfere with her son’s reign as king.

This was a terrible miscalculation, as Bharata was mortified to later hear the news. When Kaikeyi’s wishes were granted, Rama and family left Ayodhya. Dasharatha soon followed by leaving this world altogether. Kaikeyi was renounced by her son, and she was essentially all alone because of the turmoil she caused.

[King Dasharatha]That was certainly not the first case of human defects turning a peaceful situation upside down, and it certainly will not be the last. No matter how much a person has, they will not be satisfied. Their mind can be easily turned in another direction.

The people of Ayodhya were able to survive because of the constant link in consciousness to Dasharatha’s eldest son, who happens to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The same remedy is available in any time period, whether in prosperity or penance, in health or in sickness, in rapid progression or moving backwards. Man and his dealings may be riddled with defects, but a relationship with the Supreme will always prevail.

In Closing:

Elsewhere fighting the way,
But this relationship to stay.

Since not on desires depending,
Where against envy defending.

That this home not big enough,
Wanting more and more stuff.

Through Shri Rama anything to endure,
Our future wellbeing to ensure.

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