|XVIII.||Home | Index | Previous | Next|
Gloom over Ayodhya
Meanwhile, the Ruler of the Nishadas who was returning to his kingdom after accompanying Rama for some distance into the forest, saw the Minister Sumanthra sitting in his chariot on the bank of the Ganga, the horses having been tied by their reins to a shady tree. Guha found Sumanthra weeping and wailing inconsolably, alone. Guha himself could not control any longer the anguish he had restrained so long. He cried out, 'Rama', and ran towards Sumanthra. He embraced the old man and both sobbed aloud in agony, unable to put their grief in words. They stood under the tree together, but fell on the ground as if they were themselves trees felled by an axe. They lamented the fate of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana and poured abuse on Kaikeyi, the cause of all calamities.
The horses stopped grazing, and desisted from drinking water. Tears rolled
from their eyes. Whenever they heard Sumanthra and Guha utter the name
of Sita or Rama or Lakshmana, they raised their heads aloft, and peered
into the distance, anxious to catch a glimpse of those whom they adored
and loved with as much zeal as the two men in the agony of separation.
Sumanthra noted the grief which was tormenting the animals and his anguish
became even greater.
Sumanthra realised that what Guha was insisting on was the correct step. Moved by a spurt of blind courage, the old man signed to the horses to move forward; his body lost strength as a result of the anguish of separation from Rama. Therefore, however much he tried he could not drive the chariot as of old. He rolled down inside the chariot and rose in his seat many times in a few minutes. And the horses? They too would not move. They were set on turning back and straining their necks to see the road behind.
Sumanthra cursed himself and his fate. "Fie on me", he said, "May this horrid life of mine be ended. This body has to be burnt into ash some day. Far better it were if, instead of dying through some disease or some worldly calamity, it dies as a result of unbearable agony at separation from Rama. That would have made my life worth while. That would have made my fame everlasting; earning that fame is enough compensation for all the ills of life." "No, Sumanthra," he said to himself. "Had you the good luck, you would have stuck to Rama; when bad luck haunts you, what else can you do than come away and be alive? Of what use is it now to pine and blame yourself?" Sumanthra chided himself most mercilessly, in this strain.
He started again the dialogue with himself. "With what face am I
to present myself in Ayodhya? When the citizens ask me where Rama is,
what can I answer? When they ask me, 'how could you come away leaving
Rama in the jungle' what can I tell them? Will I not be overwhelmed by
shame and sorrow? O, my heart has become stone. Else, why has it not split
into fragments at all that I have gone through?" Sumanthra was disgusted
at his own meanness, he wrung his hands in despair. He decided that he
should not enter the City during the hours of sunlight, when people would
be moving about. It would be less humiliating, he felt, to enter the City
at night, after every one had gone to bed and was fast asleep.
At last, he reached the bank of the Thamasa River. So, he decided to spend a few hours there, allowing the horses to graze a bit and himself preparing for the entry into the City after nightfall, when the people would not be about the streets, but would be safe in bed. Finally, the chariot rolled into the gate of the City and began to move through thoroughfares.
Sumanthra took extra care to ensure silence from wheel and hoof; the chariot moved at the pace of a snail. But, who could silence the agony of the horses? They recognised the streets through which they had taken Rama; they groaned aloud at their present fate, when their dear Rama was far, far away.
The populace of the City heard this pathetic neigh; their ears were set
to hear this piteous cry; they told each other that Sumanthra had returned
with an empty chariot; they ran into the streets and stood pathetically
on both sides to witness the sad spectacle.
From his behaviour, the maids inferred that Rama had rejected all importunities to return. They lamented, "O Minister! Have you left Sita in the terror-striking forest, and come back yourself, alone?" and broke into a sudden sharp wail.
One maid was more courageous than the rest. She told Sumanthra that Kausalya had ordered that he should come straight to the palace where she was.
There Sumanthra found the Emperor prostrate on the floor, exhausted without sleep or food, in dishevelled clothes. Sumanthra mastered the surge of sorrow within him, and uttering the words "Jai! Jai", which are traditionally to be pronounced first in the imperial presence, he stood by, shaking head to foot. Recognising that voice, Dasaratha sat up quick, and plaintively asked him, "Sumanthra! Where is my Rama?"
Sumanthra clasped the Emperor in his arms; the Emperor clung to him as a drowning man clings to a blade of grass. Seeing both of them weeping on account of immeasurable sorrow, Kausalya was submerged in grief; she could scarce breathe; she gasped and was pitifully suffocating with agony. The maids noticed this and, themselves loudly lamenting the misfortune that had overtaken all, they struggled to console the queen and restore her.
Meanwhile, Dasaratha pulled himself up a little; he made Sumanthra sit right in front of him; he asked him "Sumanthra! Tell me about my Sita and Rama. Tell me all about them. How is Lakshmana? Alas, tender Sita must indeed be very much tired. Where are they now? Tell me." Noting that Sumanthra was not eager to reply, he shook him by the shoulders and pleaded most piteously.
Sumanthra was too full of shame to look the Emperor in the face; he bent his looks towards the floor, and with eyes streaming with tears, he scarce could speak. Dasaratha continued his sobs. He said, "O Rama! My breath is still lingering on in this frame, even though a son like you left me. The world has no sinner equal to me in heinousness. Sumanthra! Where exactly are my Sita, Rama and Lakshmana, at present? Take me without delay to the place where they are. Do me this good turn. Fulfil this desire of mine. Without seeing them, I cannot live a second longer."
And, like a person infatuated and desperate, he shouted in pain, "Rama! O Rama! Let me see you at least once. Won't you give me the chance to see you?"
The maids standing outside the hall where he was lying could not sleep or take food, since they were sunk in sorrow at the Emperor's plight. Sumanthra replied, "Imperial Monarch! Rajadhiraja! You are extremely wise; you are made in heroic mould; your abilities are profound. Your lineage is divine. You have always served ascetics and saints. You know that as night follows day and day follows night wealth and want, happiness and misery, nearness and separation come one after the other, with a certain inevitability. Only fools are carried off their feet in joy when happiness comes and are dispirited, downhearted when misery comes. Learned men like you should not be affected by either; they should be full of equanimity, whatever might happen. I have no credentials to advise you to face this situation courageously for, you know the need for courage very much more. O Benefactor of the World! Heed my prayers. Give up this grief. I shall describe the details of my journey with them now. Please listen calmly." At this, Kausalya struggled to raise herself up, with the help of the maids; she leant on them and made herself ready to listen to what Sumanthra had to say.
Sumanthra began, "O Master! The first day we journeyed up to the bank of the Thamasa. Sita, Rama and Lakshmana bathed in the river and after drinking water, they rested under a spreading tree. The next day, we reached the Ganga River. Darkness was invading from all sides. I stopped the chariot according to the command of Rama. All three bathed and rested on a stretch of sand. When dawn broke Rama asked Lakshmana to bring him the juice of the banyan tree, and when he did so, Rama applied it on his hair and matted it, so that he could wear it on the crown of his head. Meanwhile, the ruler of the Nishada tribe, a friend of Rama, brought a boat; Sita was made to get in to the boat first; after her, Rama sat in it; later honouring the order of Rama, Lakshmana entered the boat, carrying the bow and arrows. Ere he sat in the boat, Lakshmana came to me and asked me to convey prostrations and homage to the parents, and his prayer for blessings. He also directed me to request you to put up with things boldly and wisely."
Sumanthra continued his account of what Rama had asked him to announce at Ayodhya. "Master", he told Dasaratha, "Rama said 'Communicate my homage to the Preceptor. Advise my father not to grieve over what has happened.' After this, Rama called me near him, and directed me thus, 'Call together the Ministers, the Citizens of Ayodhya, and the kinsmen of the Royal Family and tell them of this request specially made by me; only those among them who help to make my father's life happy are dear to me.' Rama said, 'On Bharatha's arrival, convey my blessings to him, and direct him to accept the burden of ruling over the empire, and to conserve and to promote justice and integrity, fostering the welfare of the people through means that are pure in thought, word and deed. Tell him that I desire him to serve the parents so well that they will forget their agony at separation from me.' "
"While Rama was engaged in commissioning me thus, Sita too approached and told me to inform you she was happily spending time with Rama with nothing wanting. She wanted me to offer her prostrations at the feet of her father-in-law and mother-in-law. She wanted me to tell them not to be anxious about her and to be assured that she was happy with her lord, and eagerly expecting them to bless her always. She requested me to tell them that she inquired often of their health and welfare."
"Meanwhile, the boatman realised that it was Rama's wish that he should not delay any longer; so he started to dip the oar in the river. Soon, Rama moved off. I was looking on at the receding boat, with my heart literally petrified; I must have spent a long time standing there on the river bank. I had to return perforce to this place to carry out the orders of Rama; else, I certainly would have drowned myself in the Ganga; I had become so desperate. I had to continue my life, just for this purpose - to convey to you the message from Rama. This Ayodhya which has no Rama in it appears to me forlorn and fearful as a forest."
Listening to the words of Sumanthra and the soft sweet messages from Rama and Sita, Dasaratha could not restrain his anguish; he could not forget all that had happened; he fell in a faint.
The Emperor's breath was suffocated, like a fish which struggles to wriggle out of the dense slush into which it has fallen. Seeing his plight, the queens burst into heart-rending wails. Words cannot describe that moment of desperate distress. Seeing their sorrow, even sorrow could not restrain its own sorrow. The agony of the queens, the agony of the Emperor, the agony of the maids of the palace, spread confusion and consternation over the entire City. The residents of the Capital scattered in terror, just like birds of the forest, frightened at midnight by a sudden thunderbolt.
Like a lotus stalk which, plucked and thrown out of the water, fades fast, the Emperor was fast leaving the body. Words could not emerge from the throat, the tongue became dry. The senses turned dull and ineffective. Kausalya watched the Emperor and she noted that the Sun of the Solar Dynasty was setting.
She mustered courage and stepping near, she placed the head of her lord on her lap and tried to make him listen to a few words of consolation and comfort. She said, "Lord! Sita, Rama and Lakshmana will be arriving soon and seeing you. Hear my words; take courage; strengthen yourself." When she so compassionately prayed into his ear, Dasaratha opened his eyes, and muttered audibly, "Kausalya! Where is my Rama? Show me, show me, where is he? Take me to him. Alas! My sweet and tender daughter-in-law is not here now. And, Lakshmana, where is he that I don't see him here."
Dasaratha bent his head, unable to hold it up any more. The burden of grief was so heavy. A few minutes later, the Emperor remembered the curse that was pronounced on him by the blind hermit, the father of Sravana. He sat up with a struggle, and began telling Kausalya in feeble accents, the story of that curse.
"Kausalya! On one occasion, I had gone into the forest on a hunting expedition. A large number of soldiers and huntsmen followed me thither. We could not meet any wild animal the whole day; but, I felt that I should not return to the Capital with empty hands, with nothing bagged. We entered the forest in the night, and waited and watched for some luck. The dawn was about to break into the darkness around us on the brink of a vast lake, when something moved on the edge of the water. I could also hear the sound of the movement."
"I inferred that it was a big beast of the jungle, and since I could shoot the arrow straight at the sound and effect a kill, I drew my bow and let go the sharp, sure arrow. It flew fast and furious and hit that animal already on the move. Suddenly, I heard the cry of pain, 'Ah', emanating from the place where it fell. I ran forward with the soldiers and lo, I found it was not a beast I had killed; it was the young son of a hermit! I bent by his side and prayed that he should pardon me, for the tragic error. The son of the hermit told me; 'Emperor! Do not grieve. Fulfil this request of mine, the request I shall presently tell you; that will be enough requital for the sin you have perpetrated. My name is Sravana. My father and mother are both blind. I was spending the days of my life serving them both; that service was granting me all the happiness I needed. I was blessed with even the highest knowledge, the Realisation of the Reality. They are now suffering from excruciating thirst. I came here to this lake to take some water to them. You shot at me imagining me to be an animal of the forest. Who can avoid the decrees of destiny? My present condition is such that I can no longer walk with this water to my parents. Therefore, take this vessel of water with you to them; go in the northerly direction, until you come to a lonely thatched hut, and, after they have slaked their thirst, describe what has happened to me here. Don't tell them anything about me before they slake their thirst." Saying this, he placed the vessel in my hands, and passed away."
"Kausalya! O, how pathetically anxious he was for his parents! He
never worried about his life which was fast ebbing away; he did not speak
a harsh word to me; those soft sweet loving words he uttered are still
echoing in my ears. With his last breath, he repeated the sacred Pranava,
Om, Om, Om, clearly, three times. Seeing him and his calm courageous death,
I decided that I should make amends for my sin by fulfilling his last
desire. I hurried to the hut he had mentioned, and gave the vessel into
their hands, without uttering a single word. But, those parents started
asking many questions; they inquired, 'Son! Why did you take so much time?
Why this delay?' They moved their hands forward and waved them about,
so that they may touch him, and feel his presence before them. I stepped
back a little; meanwhile, the aged couple, wailed, 'Son! Why is it that
today you are not speaking to us? We shall not drink the water that you
have brought unless you talk to us and answer our queries!' "
"At that time, I had no son; I wondered how their curse would affect me. How could their word come true, I thought within myself. But I also thought, that being the words of an aged sage, they cannot but become true. That meant I must have sons, so that I may be separated from them. You know how sad we were, for we had no sons then. I felt that the curse might prove a blessing; I prayed it may come true, so that, even though I may have to be separated from them, I might have sons. I could not tell you this secret till now. Now, I understand that the words of that holy hermit represented genuine truth. The agony of separation from Rama is bringing about my end. I have recalled to memory the tragedy of Sravana. My courage is spent. I cannot muster it any more."
Dasaratha was lost in the contemplation of the incidents of the past. "Rama! Rama! Rama!", he cried thrice, and leaned back on Kausalya. Kausalya noticed the change that had come over him, and screamed. The attendants and maids gathered around. They found that the Emperor had drawn his last breath. The city was turned into a vale of tears, a seething pool of grief. Crowds surged into the palace. The streets became fast-moving torrents of weeping humanity. People cast curses on Kaikeyi, for, they felt that the City had lost its Eyes, as a result of her machinations.
Vasishta, the Royal Preceptor, arrived at the Hall, where the body of
the Emperor lay. He spoke appropriate counsel and tried to assuage the
sorrow of the queens. He consoled Kausalya and Sumitra, telling them about
the deceased forefathers and how they too could not escape death, in spite
of their might and majesty. Since there was no one present who could officiate
during the obsequies, the body was, according to the instructions given
by Vasishta, kept immersed in oil so that it might not disintegrate. Vasishta
beckoned a courier, and told him, "Here! Go quickly to Bharatha;
do not tell him a word about the death of the Emperor; but tell him only
this - the Preceptor wants that you and your brother should return immediately
to the Capital City." The courier fell at the feet of the Preceptor,
and took leave of the Minister, before he started on the long journey
in a fleet chariot.
And what did he see there! Kausalya was rolling on the floor, in her
dust-ridden clothes, lamenting aloud, "O Lord! Lord. Rama, Rama!"
Her maids themselves sunk in sorrow, were nursing her into some sort of
courage. Bharatha could not restrain himself. Crying out "Mother!
Mother!" he collapsed on the floor at her feet. Queen Sumitra too
was there, with Kausalya. Both of them recognised Bharatha and Satrughna,
and, they suddenly fainted away. Recovering, they clasped each other in
a fit of agony and wept aloud; it was a scene that would have melted the
hardest stone. The brothers could not bear the weight of sorrow; they
fell on the floor.
Bharatha and Satrughna, who were unaware of these tragic developments at the Capital now being described by their Preceptor, were overwhelmed with anger, as well as sorrow and a sense of shame. They bent their heads; their hearts were filled with contrition. Streams of tears flowed down their cheeks. The persons assembled before them could scarce lift their eyes towards them. Even Vasishta wiped his eyes which were fast filling with tears. The hall was saturated with gloom; a silence fell over the assembly; all men sat like stone images.
Bharatha and Satrughna could not any more listen to what Vasishta was narrating; they were too full of anger at Kaikeyi for her nefarious conduct. Bharatha cursed himself that he was born of such a mother; he was so ashamed at this consequence of his own evil deeds in past lives that he could not lift his head or look any one in the face. They were anxious to leave the hall and get away.
Vasishta knew what their feelings were; he went near them with comforting counsel. "Son", he said "there is no use lamenting over the past. What has happened has happened. Now, we must think and resolve upon what has to be done. Your father, I must say, was fortunate in all respects. Why grieve over him? Listen to me; bow your head to his command. He has granted you the authority to rule over this Empire. It is right that you accept his grant and honour his order. Your father agreed to be separated from Rama, since he could not bring himself to breaking his own plighted word. He gave up his life, since he had immense love and affection towards Rama. He died in order to redeem his promise; there is no doubt about that. He knew that honouring a promise once made is more valuable than life itself. That is why he was ready to face death itself rather than go back on his word. And, consider, Rama too went into exile in the forest with his wife in order to honour his word!"
"It is the glory of the Ikshvaku royal line that every one belonging to it would sacrifice anything for the sake of keeping the word once given. That is the splendour which you share. You too must now act according to your father's word and accept the responsibility of administering the kingdom. May you attain all auspiciousness in the task. May success and prosperity attend on all your undertakings. I have ventured to advise you thus, only because of the affection and compassion I have towards you; or else, I would not have laid on your shoulder this heavy responsibility. I know you can maintain the fair name of your father; you have the administrative ability, the skill, and the courage needed for taking up this burden. Do not hesitate or doubt. Accept the charge."
Vasishta patted Bharatha on his back and blessed him. Bharatha took his loving advice and when the Preceptor finished, he rose quickly from his seat, and fell prostrate at his feet. He struggled to speak, for he was in inconsolable grief; his lips were quivering; his throat was unclear. Words could hardly shape themselves on his tongue. He said, "Master! Are these words of yours really an indication of your love and compassion? No, in fact, you have no love, no compassion towards me. For, if you had, you would have never agreed to place all this burden on me. You are sentencing me to this punishment without the least compassion. This Empire that drove the holiest and purest person into the jungles, this Empire that plunged the entire population into years of incessant tears, this Empire that has lost its most righteous ruler, this Empire that has brought eternal infamy to its ruling dynasty, the Ikshvaku Line, this Empire that has brought about the pathetic state of widowhood on mothers Kausalya, Sumitra and the rest, this Empire that has degraded itself in so many ways - you are now entrusting to me!"
"Alas, this is the consequence of the sins I have committed, the consequence of this unfortunate fellow being born from the womb of that embodiment of cruelty and hatred, Kaikeyi. Instead of inflicting this punishment on me, please earn some spiritual merit by sending me to where Rama is. I can make my life worthwhile and save myself, by engaging in the task of sweeping the paths ahead of them, to make them soft for his feet. I cannot remain in this place a moment longer."
Bharatha fell at Vasishta's feet and prayed for permission to leave for the forest. At this, the Ministers of the State rose with folded hands and said, "Lord! It is not proper to continue this state of affairs long; we are having no ruler now. You cannot escape the responsibility which the Preceptor is imposing on you. After Rama returns, you can act in the way you prefer, but now, please accept our prayers. Protect the realm and promote the prosperity of the people. Take up the reins."
Bharatha did not reply to their importunities. He wanted instead leave to go to mother Kausalya and see her for a while. Vasishta readily agreed. Bharatha and Satrughna moved out of the Assembly, and made their way straight to the palace of Kausalya. They fell at her feet and Bharatha told her, "Mother! Pray pardon this unlucky Bharatha who has been the cause of all this calamity, having been born from the womb of that wicked woman, Kaikeyi. This cursed fellow is the source of miseries of the realm. Give me permission to leave for the forest. I cannot walk or move about even a moment in this city of Ayodhya with head erect, after my master and lord, Rama has left it on account of me. This Empire belongs as of right to the eldest son; this insignificant fellow has no right over it. I do not need this burden, I shall not bear it. Bless me, so that I can leave immediately." Bharatha stood waiting, filled with grief.
Kausalya mustered courage and started to comfort Bharatha. She said, "Bharatha! Consider the circumstances and give up your grief. This is no time for wavering. Rama is out there in the midst of the forest region. Your father is in Heaven. Your mothers, kith and kin, your friends and well-wishers, and the subjects are sunk in deep sorrow. All are now looking forward to you as their sole refuge and resort. Realise that all this has happened because the times were not propitious and so deeds of men became crooked and shocking; take courage and decide. Obey the directions of your father. Bow your head to the command of the Guru, Vasishta. Honour the petitions of the people. Act as the ministers are praying you should."
Kausalya was holding his hands fondly in hers, while she was trying to persuade him to accept the authority of the monarch of the realm. Her words touched him with a strange softness, as if they were cool sandal paste over a burning heart. They were sweet to the ear, and very appealing to hear. For, Kausalya had no word of condemnation for his mother who had caused this string of disasters; she entertained not even the least doubt regarding his loyalty; Bharatha felt immensely happy and relieved when he listened to her words. He was delighted beyond measure when he noted how broad her heart was and how sincere her affection towards him. He had not calculated even in his wildest dream that Kausalya would treat him like this, when her own son was an exile for fourteen years in the forest, and also pour out such plentiful affection on him, who was the son of another wife of her husband! What a difference, he wondered, between his own mother, Kaikeyi, and Kausalya. He could not gauge it by any unit of measurement. He found in Kausalya the completion and fulfilment of the love that should fill the heart.
He folded his palms and importuned, "Mother! Your words filled with tenderness and love are like a shower of cool rosewater on my lacerated heart. Perhaps, you mistook me for Rama! But, alas, I am not that pure-hearted Rama. Bharatha, born of Kaikeyi; I have a crooked nature, inherited from her. I am mean, with no sense of shame. I am the enemy of Rama. You have taken me to be Rama and spoken so kindly, so affectionately. Your heart is so set upon Rama that you address every one as you address Rama himself. I am speaking the truth, mother! Listen to me, and pay heed to my prayer."
"Mother! Only those who are established in righteousness deserve to rule. When persons of devious intelligence and shady skills like me rule the realm, the earth will degenerate into an image of the nether regions. Selfish pushers, narrow-minded adventurers, greedy vultures, pomp-loving personalities, self-centred individuals, persons suffering from chronic envy, these do not deserve the right to rule. They harm the interests of the people whom they rule over; they undermine the foundations of righteousness. The kingdom will be ruined by them. Only those who tread the path of virtue and righteous conduct deserve to rule over others. I can discover only one such, and he is Rama. I do not know of any other. Therefore, I shall leave this very instant, and clasping the feet of Rama, pray to him. I shall bring him back with me to Ayodhya. Grant me the permission; bless me without further delay." Bharatha prostrated before Kausalya and waited for the answer.
Bharatha's words soothed the heart of Kausalya to a large extent. She
said, "Son! In you I find surging forth the selfsame feelings my
Rama has. Looking upon you, I can bear a little the agony of separation
from him. So, if you too proceed to the forest, what is to happen to us?
If you declare that your going is inevitable, then, take me too. For whom
have I to spend my days with in this Ayodhya? Having lost the husband,
and having become distant from the son, the wife has not yet dissolved
herself in the agony of the loss. Go, secure the permission of the Guru,
Vasishta; we shall enter the forest, and spend at least some time with
Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. I can then end this life of mine." When
she spoke thus, Bharatha derived some consolation and peace of mind.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Bharatha let himself go, with uncontrolled indignation. He shouted at her, "Fie upon you, blackest sinner! You placed faith in this wicked woman's words and committed despicable sin. How was it that your heart did not break in twain when this woman's disastrous counsel entered it? How could your tongue pronounce those baneful boons? Did it not turn into ashes, when it uttered those abominable desires? With what face can you dare reside in this palace? Aren't you ashamed to move within its precincts? Alas! How did the Emperor place his faith in the words of a person so evil as you are? Blinded by lust, he agreed to barter away the son, in order to win the wife; the conspiracy you hatched was mean and fraught with misery. You polluted the pure heart of the Emperor; you set the Kingdom on fire; you have destroyed the dynasty and its glory; you have brought eternal disgrace on the Royal Line of Raghu; your crooked, poisonous heart has achieved all this ruin. To declare you as my mother is a dire sin. How could you decide that, when you harm another, your son will attain good fortune? Are not the children of others as dear to them as yours are to you? Women who plan ill for other's children are only accomplishing evil for their own children. How did you miss this great truth? It must be due to the sins you have committed in previous lives. No. All this is due to me. Or else, why should the pure, the steadfast, the undefiled Rama, my loved brother, and the crown of chastity and goodness, Mother Sita, wander about in the fearsome forest? O, what a cruelty! How dreadful! Fie on you. That I have to speak to such a foul-hearted sinner is itself the result of sins I must have committed in my past lives. O, I wonder what dreadful sin I have committed to deserve this punishment, this disgrace, of being born of your womb. Sinners get only sinners as sharers and companions; how can they be associated with good men, men engaged in meritorious activity?"
"This Solar dynasty is as holy, as pure, as the Celestial Swan, with no trace of blemish. But really speaking, you are like your mother; she had her husband killed, in order to fulfil her ambition. You too have killed your husband, in order to realise your selfish wish. Can the younger son ever rule over the Empire, overstepping the eldest son contrary to the established practice of the Royal Line?"
"You did not get this fatal idea now; it was there, latent, as a seed, since the very beginning, or else, it would not have manifested as a giant tree all of a sudden. Endowed with such a wicked nature, you could have smothered me dead as soon as I was born and saved me and this Empire from all this misery. Of what avail is it now to bewail what is past? Alas! Your intelligence directed you to hew down the trunk and water the branches, your reasoning faculty instructed you to promote the lives of fish by bailing out the water from the tank. I am unable to decide whether I have to laugh or weep at your banal stupidity."
"Instead of fouling these minutes conversing with you, I would rather proceed to the presence of Rama, and pray to him to come back to Ayodhya so that I can return with him. In case, he declines to return, I am determined to stay with him as Lakshmana has done, and be happy serving him. I shall not look on your face again."
Saying this, Bharatha turned his back on her, and started with his brother. Kaikeyi ruminated on her erroneous action; she lamented at the turn her plot had taken; she felt that wicked plans by whosoever entertained might grant only temporary happiness. But they are certain to pave the way to ultimate downfall; she found no means of escape; she could not find words to express her remorse and sorrow; so, she stood petrified and dumb.
Kaikeyi got disgusted with Manthara. She realised the truth. She felt delighted at the righteous stand taken by Rama. And she hung her head in shame at the recognition of her own sin.