“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: If you look at the history of the world, there is constant war. Doesn’t matter the country. Doesn’t matter the time period. Doesn’t matter the language spoken or the religion followed. It is perpetual conflict.
Friend2: The ongoing struggle between good and evil. In terms of shastra, the conflict between the suras and the asuras. The good guys against the bad guys.
Friend1: These wars sort of muddy the waters.
Friend2: In what sense?
Friend1: Well, you have bad guys against bad guys, in many cases. One ruling party stepping too far in their drive towards totalitarianism. Another party, which is equally as corrupt, attempts an insurrection. Just look at the French Revolution. Amazing to see what happened. I don’t think you could say either side necessarily had the moral high ground.
Friend2: Those are valid points. But there is always some fight against good. Evil will not leave well enough alone. Many historical incidents bear this out. Hiranyakashipu in the Daitya kingdom. Ravana, when leading the Rakshasas in Lanka.
Friend1: They are instigators of war, in a sense. They invite total destruction.
Friend2: That is how Sita Devi warned Ravana. She said that when a person is on the verge of death, they actually take to irrational behavior in a manner that brings about the end. It was foreshadowing in that case, as Hanuman first burned Lanka to the ground and then afterwards Shri Rama was journey bound. He put an end to Ravana’s reign of terror.
Friend1: Which leads to my question today. When we look at King Dasharatha’s decision to honor Kaikeyi’s wish, as described in the Ramayana, why did not that lead to conflict?
Friend2: From who? Who would mount the opposition?
Friend1: Anyone. The citizens. The sons.
Friend2: Well, if you remember, Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana proposed that very thing. He even presented a wonderful question at the end of his case. He asked Rama who should be killed first. Lakshmana viewed Dasharatha’s decision as a coup attempt, to subvert the will of the people and precedent in protocol.
Friend1: Since Rama was the eldest son of the king and the decision was already made to hand over control to Him. Dasharatha changed plans because Kaikeyi, his youngest wife, boxed him into a corner by bringing up boons previously offered to her.
Friend2: Any two of her choosing.
Friend1: Okay, so Lakshmana didn’t mount the coup, but why didn’t the people do anything?
Friend2: Because Rama accepted the decision. Sita Devi was upset about it for a long time. She couldn’t believe people would treat her husband that way. She later remarked that Dasharatha was a victim to kama, which is material desire. The king wanted to fulfill the cherished wishes of Kaikeyi.
Friend1: Should people accept injustice, though?
Friend2: That is another constant throughout history. Look at what happened to the Pandava brothers. See how Prahlada Maharaja was treated. Poor Vasudeva and Devaki, victimized by King Kamsa in Mathura. Every day you will find horrible things happening to innocent people and animals.
Friend1: What can be done? What is our option?
Friend2: Shri Rama allowed events to play out. Each person in the narrative fulfilled their obligations based on occupation. Try to follow dharma as best as you can. Ultimately, we are not the doer, as Shri Krishna explains.
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
Friend1: Just sit back and pray that things work themselves out? That doesn’t seem like a smart way to go.
Friend2: The sinner’s fruit arrives at the appropriate time. Just because things look bad at the moment doesn’t mean they won’t be corrected in the future. Better to focus on the more important task at hand: liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Escape from the illusion of maya, which competes for my interest and attention. I know better, that I should always be on the side of the Divine: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Task of correcting to do,
Why not in Ayodhya a coup?
When Dasharatha overstepping bounds,
And Rama the forest dwelling found.
Because eventually delivered by time,
Appropriate reactions to find.
Better with dharma to stay,
Moving distractions out of the way.