“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।
“I hate to keep coming back to the Kaikeyi affair from the Ramayana. It probably looks as if I am stuck, that I can’t move past and accept things for how they occurred, but there are lingering emotions, complexities, and frustrations.
“For starters, I can totally understand why Lakshmana and Sita harbored resentment. They were not so quick to forgive and forget. While Shri Rama may be the most renounced person in the world, full of vairagya, devotees tend to not tolerate insults hurled at people they love and respect.
“Lakshmana wanted to mount a coup. Take over the kingdom by force, if necessary. Anything to correct the wrong inflicted on his beloved elder brother. Sita Devi subtly blamed Rama’s father, King Dasharatha. After all, it was the king who fulfilled the cherished desire of Kaikeyi, who was the youngest queen.
“Today, I am remembering a story I read during my school-age years. I think it was called ‘Gift of the Magi.’ I don’t recall the exact details, but the general impression left from the story was that two people loved each other so much that they ended up going to a level of sacrifice that was not needed.
“If only they had been open with each other, consulting beforehand, then the misunderstanding would have been avoided. I think that lesson entirely applies to the Kaikeyi affair. Yes, she received two boons of her choosing from her husband at a previous time. Dasharatha was indeed fond of her.
“The thing is, Kaikeyi could have asked around first. She would have quickly learned that no one would impede the succession as she wanted it. If Bharata were made the next king instead of Rama, there would not be a big uprising. People would be happy. Bharata might strongly decline the honor, not wanting to insult Rama. That is a different story.
“We know how things turned out. Kaikeyi demanded her two boons. She wanted Bharata, her son, as the next king, and Rama away from the kingdom for fourteen years. That was the real tragedy. Rama didn’t need to go anywhere. There were not going to be any problems.
“I am not exactly sure what to ask here, but it seems like there are so many instances in life of bad things happening because people crossed a line. They did something that was not necessary, driven by greed, lust, anger, ignorance, or what have you. Then everyone else suffers in the process.”
This is indeed the story of material life. If only we had paid more attention to diet and exercise when we were younger, we wouldn’t be suffering right now. If only our boss had given a modest raise, with the slightest sign of appreciation, we would have remained loyal to that company forever.
If only my spouse didn’t get violent on occasion, we would still be together. I tolerated everything else, from the screaming and yelling to the lack of initiative to maintain family and home. But to handle all of the responsibilities and still face the threat of physical harm, unprovoked, was too much to bear.
If only my friend heeded my warnings about drugs and alcohol, they wouldn’t be in so much trouble. They would have continued to enjoy life, without the many problems they are suffering from at the moment.
If to err is human, then there will be many such seemingly insignificant blemishes leading to much larger problems. If there is imperfection in assessment, discernment, and perception, then there will be associated imperfection in desired consequences.
More important to take away from the Kaikeyi affair is the response of Shri Rama. It was as if nothing had happened. He behaved as if the installation ceremony were still to proceed on track. An outside observer could not detect a change in demeanor.
This is one way to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the same in gain and loss. He is in the transcendental position, whether up or down. Whether sitting on the throne in Ayodhya or walking through bushes and grass in an unknown forest area, Rama is the same in outlook and attention to duty.
मैत्रः करुण एव च
सन्तुष्टः सततं योगी
यो मद्-भक्तः स मे प्रियः
maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca
santuṣṭaḥ satataṁ yogī
yo mad-bhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ
“One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me – he is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.13-14)
As the world is driven by kama, conflicts of a similar nature will continue. Unnecessary rivalries, jealousy without proper understanding, and intense desire to inflict harm upon the innocent. Those who are connected to Rama, however, inherit some of His vairagya. They become steady through the temporary changes of the temporary world, and in the process they stay dear to Him.
What if this or that?
Then not outcome exact.
Where that instance to regret,
Someone stubbornly set.
But thus far the way gone,
Better to accept and move on.
Like Rama not flinching at all,
When exile fate to befall.