13 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Kevaṭa Ke Bhāgya

Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa

(The Mānasa lake containing the exploits of Śrī Rāma)

Descent Two


May He in whose lap shines forth the Daughter of the mountain-king, who carries the celestial stream on His head, on whose brow rests the crescent moon, whose throat holds poison and whose breast is the support of a huge serpent, and who is adorned by the ashes on His body, may that Chief of gods, the Lord of all, the Destroyer of the universe, the omnipresent Śiva, the moon-like Śaṅkara, ever protect me. (1)

May the splendour of Śrī Rāma’s lotus-like face, which neither grew brighter at the prospect of His being installed on the throne of Ayodhyā nor was dimmed by the painful experience of exile in the woods, ever bring sweet felicity to me. (2)

I adore Śrī Rāma, the Lord of Raghu’s race, whose limbs are as dark and soft as a blue lotus, who has Sītā enthroned on His left side and who holds in His hands a mighty arrow and a graceful bow. (3)

Cleansing the mirror of my mind with the dust from the lotus feet of the revered Guru, I sing Śrī Rāma’s untarnished glory that bestows the four rewards of human life.

From the day Śrī Rāma returned home duly married, there was new festivity and jubilant music every day. The fourteen spheres were like huge mountains on which clouds in the shape of meritorious deeds poured showers of joy. The water thus discharged formed into gorgeous rivers of affluence, success and prosperity that rose in spate and flowed into the ocean of Ayodhyā. The men and women of the city were like jewels of a fine quality, bright, priceless and charming in every way. The splendour of the capital was beyond description; it seemed as if the Creator’s workmanship had been exhausted there. Gazing on the moon-like face of Śrī Rāmacandra the citizens were all happy in every way. All the mothers with their companions and maids were delighted to see the creeper of their heart’s desire bear fruit. The king was particularly enraptured when he saw or heard of Śrī Rāma’s beauty, goodness, amiability and genial disposition. (1 - 4)

All cherished in their heart a common desire and said in their prayer to the great Lord Śiva, “Would that the king in his own life-time appointed Śrī Rāma as his regent.” (1)

One day the Chief of Raghus sat with all his court in the state assembly hall. Himself the embodiment of all virtues, the king was overjoyed to hear of Śrī Rāma’s fair renown. Every monarch solicited his favour, and the very guardians of the world cultivated his friendship while respecting his wishes. In all the three spheres of the universe and in all time - past, present or future - none could be found so abundantly blessed as Daśaratha. Of him who had for his son Rāma, the root of all bliss, whatever might be said, would fall short of the truth. The king casually took a mirror in his hand and looking at his face in the mirror, set his crown straight. The hair beside his ears had turned grey; it seemed as if old age were whispering into his ears, “O king, make Rāma your regent and thereby realize the object of your life and birth in this world.” (1 - 4)

Entertaining this idea in his mind and finding an auspicious day and a suitable opportunity the king communicated it to his Guru (Vasiṣṭha) with his body thrilling over with emotion and his mind filled with rapture. (2)

Said the king, “Listen, O chief of sages: Rāma is now accomplished in every way. Servants and ministers, nay, all the people of the city and others who are either my enemies or friends or neutrals, hold Rāma as dear as I do. It seems your benediction itself has incarnated in his lovely form. What more, my lord, all the Brāhmaṇas and their families cherish the same love for him as you do. Those who place on their head the dust from the Guru’s feet acquire mastery as it were, over all fortune. No one has realized it as I have done; I have obtained everything by adoring the holy dust from your feet. Now there remains only one longing in my heart and that too will be realized by your grace, my lord.” The sage was delighted to perceive his artless devotion and said, “O king, give me your commands.” (1 - 4)

“O king, your very name and glory grant all one’s desires. The object of your heart’s desire, O jewel of monarchs, is accomplished even before you entertain the desire.” (3)

When the king was assured in his heart of the Guru being so favourably disposed in every way, he cheerfully said in gentle tones, “My lord, let Rāma be invested with regal powers; pray, command me so that necessary preparations may be set on foot. Let this happy event take place during my life-time so that all people may attain the reward of their eyesight. By the Lord’s blessing Śiva has allowed everything to pass smoothly; this is the only longing that I have in my mind. Then I will not mind whether this body survives or not, so that I may not have to repent afterwards.” The sage was pleased to hear these agreeable words of Daśaratha, which were the very fountain of felicity and joy. He said, “Listen, O king: aversion to Śrī Rāma makes one repent, while His adoration is the only means of soothing the agony of one’s heart; nay, He follows like a shadow where there is unadulterated love; the same Lord Śrī Rāma has been born as a son to you.” (1 - 4)

“O king, let there be no delay, and make every preparation quickly. That day itself is auspicious and full of blessings, when Rāma it proclaimed regent.” (4)

The king returned rejoicing to his palace and summoned his servants and counsellors including Sumantra. They bowed their heads saying, “Victory to you may you live long;” and the king placed before them the most auspicious proposal. “If this proposal finds favour with you all, install Śrī Rāma on the throne with a cheerful heart.” The counsellors were glad to hear these agreeable words, which fell like a shower on the young plant of their desire. The ministers prayed with joined palms: “May you continue to live for millions of years, O sovereign of the world. You have thought out a good plan which is a source of happiness to the whole world; therefore, lord, make haste and lose no time.” The king was pleased to hear the encouraging words of the ministers; it looked as if a growing creeper had obtained the support of a strong bough. (1 - 4)

Said the king, “Whatever orders the great sage Vasiṣṭha may be pleased to give in connection with Śrī Rāma’s coronation should be promptly carried out.” (5)

The great sage Vasiṣṭha gladly said in soft accents, “Fetch water from all principal sacred places.” And then he enumerated by name a number of auspicious objects such as herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, leaves, chowries, deerskins, and draperies of various kinds including countless varieties of woollen and silken textiles, jewels and numerous other articles of good omen which were considered useful in this world for the coronation of a king. Detailing all the procedure laid down in the Vedas he said, “Erect canopies of all sorts in the city and transplant in the streets on all sides trees of the mango, arecanut and plantain with fruits. Paint beautiful designs on the floors filling them with costly jewels and tell the people to decorate the bazar promptly. Worship Lord Gaṇeśa and your preceptor as well as the tutelary deity and render service in every form to the Brāhmaṇas, the very gods on earth.” (1 - 4)

“Prepare flags and banners, festal arches and vases as well as horses, chariots and elephants.” Bowing to these orders of the great sage (Vasiṣṭha) all concerned applied themselves to their own work.” (6)

With whatever duty the great sage charged any man, the latter accomplished it so promptly as if it had been done by him beforehand. The king adored Brāhmaṇas, holy men and gods, and performed auspicious rites for the sake of Śrī Rāma’s welfare. As soon as the delightful news of Śrī Rāma’s installation reached the ears of the people, the whole of Ayodhyā resounded with festal music. Good omens manifested themselves in the person of Śrī Rāma and Sītā; Their graceful lucky limbs began to throb. Experiencing a thrill of joy they lovingly said to one another, “The omens prognosticate Bharata’s return. Many days have passed and our heart longs to meet him. Auspicious omens assure us of our meeting with a beloved friend, and in this world there is no one so dear as Bharata; the good omens can thus have but one meaning.” Śrī Rāma anxiously remembered His half-brother (Bharata) day and night, even as a turtle has its heart fixed on its eggs. (1 - 4)

That very time the ladies of the palace were delighted to hear this most auspicious news, even as the waves of the ocean commence their lovely sport on perceiving the waxing moon. (7)

Those who broke the news first were richly rewarded with ornaments and costumes. With their body thrilling over with emotion and heart full of rapture all the queens started preparing festal vases. Queen Sumitrā painted with coloured meal lovely diagrams in various charming designs and filled them with jewels. Overwhelmed with delight Śrī Rāma’s mother (Kauśalyā) sent for the Brāhmaṇas and gave them gifts profusely. She worshipped female deities of the village and other gods and Nāgas and vowing them further offerings said to them, “In your mercy grant me a boon which may ensure Śrī Rāma’s welfare.” Moon-faced and fawn-eyed ladies sang festal strains in a voice as sweet as the notes of a cuckoo. (1 - 4)

Men and women rejoiced in their heart to hear of Śrī Rāma’s installation on the throne; and thinking God to be favourably disposed towards them all began to make preparations. (8)

The king then called Vasiṣṭha and sent him to Śrī Rāma’s apartments for tendering opportune advice. The moment the Lord of Raghus, Śrī Rāma, heard of the Guru’s arrival, He repaired to the door and, bowed His head at his feet. Reverently offering him water to wash his hands with He ushered the sage and paid him honour by worshipping him in the sixteen prescribed modes. Then clasping his feet with Sītā, Śrī Rāma spoke with His lotus palms joined, “A master’s visit to his servant’s house is the root of all blessings and a panacea for all evils; yet it would have been more fitting, my lord, for the master to have lovingly sent for the servant and charged him with a duty; for such is the right course. Since, however, my lord has laid aside his authority and showed his affection to me (by calling on me) my house has been hallowed today. I am ready to do what I am bid, holy sir; for a servant is benefited only by serving his master.” (1 - 4)

On hearing these words, steeped in affection as they were, the sage applauded the Chief of Raghus, Śrī Rāma, and said, “It is but meet, O Rāma that you should say so, the ornament of the solar race that you are.” (9)

Extolling Śrī Rāma’s goodness, amiability and noble disposition, the lord of sages, Vasiṣṭha, said, thrilling over with emotion, “The king has made preparations for the installation ceremony; he would invest You with regal powers. Rāma, You should observe religious austerity today so that God may bring this affair to a happy conclusion.” Having admonished Him in this way the Guru returned to the king; while Śrī Rāma felt uneasy in His heart and said to Himself, “My brothers and myself were all born together and together have we dined, slept and played in our childhood; the piercing of our ear-lobes, (one of the sixteen sacraments incumbent on a Hindu), our investiture with the sacred thread, wedding and all other ceremonies have been gone through together. The only unseemly practice in this spotless line is that the eldest should be installed on the throne to the exclusion of his younger brothers.” May this loving and graceful expression of regret on the part of the Lord drive away all crookedness from the mind of His devotees. (1 - 4)

On that very occasion came Lakṣmaṇa steeped in love and rapture; Śrī Rāma, who delighted Raghu’s race even as the moon delights a lily flower, greeted him with endearing words. (10)

There was a sound of music of various kinds, and the rejoicing in the city was beyond words. All prayed for Bharata’s return (from his maternal uncle’s) and said to one another, “Would that Bharata came with expedition and obtained the reward of his eyes.” In every bazar, street, house, lane and place of resort men and women talked to one another, “When will that blessed hour start tomorrow; during which God will fulfil our desire, when with Sītā beside Him Śrī Rāma will take His seat on the throne of gold and when the object of our desire will be accomplished?” They all said, “When will the morrow come?” While the wicked gods prayed that some trouble might brew in the meantime. The rejoicing that was going on in Ayodhyā did not please them even as a moonlit night is not liked by a thief. Invoking Śāradā the gods supplicated her and laying hold of her feet fell at them again and again. (1 - 4)

“Perceiving our grave calamity, O Mother, manipulate things in such a way today that Śrī Rāma may retire into the forest, relinquishing His throne, and the object of us immortals may be wholly accomplished.” (11)

Hearing this prayer of the divinities goddess Śāradā stood still and was grieved at the thought that she was going to play the same role with reference to the people of Ayodhyā as a wintry night does with respect to a bed of lotuses. Seeing her downcast the gods spoke again in a suppliant tone, “Mother, not the least blame will attach to you; for the Lord of Raghus is above sorrow and joy alike. You are fully acquainted with Śrī Rāma’s glory. As for the people, every embodied soul is subject to pleasure and pain according to its fate. Therefore, you should go to Ayodhyā for the good of the celestials.”

Clasping her feet again and again they exerted great pressure on her till she yielded and set out, considering the gods as mean-minded. She said to herself, “Though their abode is on high, their doings are mean; they cannot see others prosperity.” Again, reflecting on the role she was destined to perform in the days to come, when worthy poets would seek her favour, she came with a cheerful heart to the capital of Daśaratha like the intolerably evil influence of a planet. (1 - 4)

Now Kaikeyī (Bharata’s mother) had a dull-witted servant-maid, Mantharā by name; having perverted her reason and making her a receptacle of ill-repute, the goddess of speech returned to her abode. (12)

Mantharā saw the city decorated and festal music melodiously playing; she, therefore, asked the people, “What is all this rejoicing about?” When she heard of Śrī Rāma’s coming installation, she felt distressed in her heart. That evil-minded and low- born woman pondered how mischief might be created overnight, even as a wily Bhīla woman who has seen a honeycomb hanging from a tree schemes how to get hold of the honey. Pulling a long face she approached Bharata’s mother. “What makes you look so grave?” the queen smilingly asked. She made no answer, but only heaved deep sigh, and adopting the way of women shed crocodile tears. Said the queen laughing, “You are a most saucy girl; what I suspect, therefore, is that Lakṣmaṇa has taught you a lesson.” Even then the most wicked servant-maid would not speak and merely hissed like a black cobra. (1 - 4)

Apprehensive of misfortune as she was, the queen said to her, “How is it that you do not speak? I hope Rāma and his royal father, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata and Ripudamana (Śatrughna) are all well?” The hump backed woman (Mantharā) was pained at heart to hear these words. (13)

“Why should anyone, O mother, give me a lesson? And on whose strength shall I be cheeky? Who is happy today, except Rāma, whom the king is going to invest with regal powers? Providence has turned most favourable to Kauśalyā; seeing this she cannot contain the pride of her bosom. Why not go and see for yourself all the splendour, the sight of which has agitated my mind? Your son is away; while you are complacent under the notion that your lord is under your thumb. You are excessively fond of sleeping on a cushioned bed and are unable to detect the deceitful cunning of the king.” Hearing these affectionate words, yet knowing her malicious mind the queen angrily said, “Keep quiet now. If you ever speak thus again, expert as you are in sowing seeds of discord in a family, I will have your tongue pulled out.” (1 - 4)

“The one-eyed, the lame and the hump-backed, know these to be perverse and wicked, more so if they come of women folk and particularly those belonging to the menial class!” said Bharata’s mother and smiled. (14)

“O sweet-tongued one, I have said all this to you by way of advice; otherwise I cannot even dream of being angry with you. That day alone will be auspicious and a bestower of good fortune, when your words will come to be true. The eldest brother should be the lord and the younger ones his servants: such is the blessed custom prevailing in the solar race. If Śrī Rāma’s coronation is really taking place tomorrow, ask of me, my friend, what pleases your mind and I will grant it. By his innate disposition Rāma loves all his mothers as dearly as Kauśalyā. He is particularly fond of me; I have had occasions to test his love. Should God in His mercy vouchsafe to me a human birth again, may Rāma and Sītā be my son and daughter-in-law respectively. Rāma is dearer to me than life; how is it that you have got perturbed at the news of his coronation?” (1 - 4)

“I adjure you in Bharata’s name to tell me the truth putting away all deceit and reservation. Let me know the reason why you should grieve on an occasion of rejoicing.” (15)

“I have had all my ambitions fulfilled as a result of my speaking only once; I shall now speak again with another tongue. My wretched head surely deserves to be smashed since you get offended even at my well-meaning words. Those alone who speak unctuous words, minding not what is true and what is false, are your favourites, while I am disagreeable to you. From this day onward I too will utter only that which is palatable to my mistress, or else will keep mum all the twenty-four hours. God has given me a misshapen body and made me dependent on others; one must reap as one has sown and must get what one has given. Whoever may be the ruler, I lose nothing thereby; for shall I cease to be a servant and become a queen now? Damnable is my nature in that I cannot bear to see harm come to you. That is why I just broached the topic. But it was a great blunder on my part; therefore, pardon me, O venerable lady.” (1 - 4)

Hearing these pregnant and agreeable deceitful words, the queen, who was a woman with an unstable mind and was dominated by the celestial Māyā, reposed her faith in an enemy mistaking her for a friend. (16)

Again and again the queen politely questioned Mantharā, hypnotised as she was by the latter’s guileful words like a doe fascinated by the music of a Bhīla woman. Her mind was changed according to the decree of fate and the servant-maid was pleased to find her plan to succeed. She replied, “While you persist in questioning me, I am afraid to open my lips, since you have given me the name of a feud creator in the family.” Thus working up the queen’s faith and manipulating her according to her own liking in every way, Mantharā, who spelt disaster for Ayodhyā like the evil influence exerted by the planet Saturn for a period of seven and a half years (according to Indian Astrology), then spoke, “You said just now, O queen, that Sītā and Rāma were dear to you and that you had endeared yourself to Rāma; this assertion of yours is true. This is, however, a thing of the past; those days have now gone by. When the tide turns even friends become foes. The sun fosters the family of lotuses; but in the absence of water it burns them to ashes. Your co-wife (Kauśalyā) would strike at your very root; protect it by means of a good fence in the form of a remedy. (1 - 4)

“You are free from anxiety on the strength of your husband’s love and know him to be under your sway. The king, however, is malicious of mind, though sweet of tongue; while you possess a guileless nature.” (17)

“Rāma’s mother (Kauśalyā) is clever and deep; finding a suitable opportunity she has turned it to account. You must know it is at the suggestion of Rāma’s mother that the king has sent away Bharata to his maternal grandfather’s. She says to herself, “All my other co-wives serve me well, only Bharata’s mother (yourself) is proud, because of her influence with her lord. It is therefore, O mother, that you rankle in Kauśalya’s heart; but she is too crafty to disclose her mind. The king is particularly fond of you; but due to the jealousy to which a co-wife is naturally subject, Kauśalyā cannot tolerate it. That is why by resorting to machination and winning over the king she has prevailed on him to fix a date for Rāma’s installation on the throne. The coronation of Rāma is in accord with the traditions of the family; it is liked by all and is quite to my taste. I, however, shudder to think of the consequences; may heaven so ordain that the mischief may recoil on her own head.” (1 - 4)

Inventing and injecting many a mischievous formula Mantharā put the queen of the scent and told her a hundred and one stories of co-wives so as to foment her jealousy. (18)

As fate would have it, the queen felt assured in her heart of Mantharā’s fidelity; adjuring her by her own life she questioned Mantharā once more, “What is it that you inquire about? It is strange that you should not understand things even now! Even a quadruped knows what is good or bad for it. Preparations have been going on for the last fortnight; while you have got the news from me today. I get food and clothing under your tutelage; hence I cannot be blamed for speaking the truth. If I tell a lie giving it the colour of truth, God will punish me for the same. Should Rāma’s coronation take place tomorrow, God will have sown the seed of adversity for you. I swear and tell you most emphatically, O lady, that you have been discarded now as a fly from a cup of milk. If you and your son accept the role of servants, then alone you will be allowed to stay in the house; and in no other circumstance.” (1 - 4)

“Kadrū (the progenitress of the serpent race) persecuted her co-wife Vinatā coronation; so will Kauśalyā tyrannize over you. Bharata will rot in prison, while Lakṣmaṇa will be Rāma’s lieutenant.” (19)

Hearing these unpleasant remarks, Kekaya’s daughter (Kaikeyī) shrivelled with fear and could not utter a word. Her body was wet with perspiration and shook like a plantain stalk. The humpback then bit her tongue (for fear lest the gloomy picture drawn by her might break Kaikeyī’s heart). Telling her one after another many a story of wiles Mantharā comforted the queen and asked her to be of good cheer. At last the tide turned and Kaikeyī conceived a fondness for mischief; she applauded a heron mistaking it for a swan. “Listen, O Mantharā; what you say is quite true. My right eye ever throbs and I have an evil dream every night; but in my folly I did not tell you. I cannot help it, my friend; I am so guileless by nature. I cannot distinguish a friend from a foe.” (1 - 4)

“Never to this day have I done an evil turn to anybody during my ascendancy. I wonder for what offence Providence has subjected me to such terrible suffering all at once.” (20)

“I would fain go and spend the rest of my life at my father’s but would on no account serve a co-wife so long as there is life in me. For him whom heaven allows so survive as a dependant of an enemy, death is preferable to life.” The queen uttered many such words of despondency; at this the humpback resorted to the wily ways of a woman. “Why should you speak in this strain, don’t lose heart? Your happiness and good-luck will be ever on the increase. Whoever has contemplated such gross mischief to you shall eventually reap its fruit. Ever since I heard of this plot, my lady, I have felt no appetite during the day and have had no wink of sleep at night. I consulted the astrologers and they declared in positive terms: “Bharata shall be the king; this much is certain.” If you act up to it, O good lady, I will offer a suggestion to you; the king is under an obligation to you.” (1 - 4)

“At your suggestion I would throw myself down a well and can even forsake my son and husband. When you tell me to do something in view of my dire distress, why should I not comply with it in my own interest?” (21)

When she made Kaikeyī and treating her as an offering accepted for sacrifice the humpback whetted the knife of trickery on the stone of her heart. The queen, however, like a sacrificial beast who nibbled the green turf, did not foresee the impending calamity. Agreeable to hear, yet painful in consequence, were the words she spoke; it seemed as if she was administering honey mixed with poison. Said the maid-servant, “Do you, or do you not, remember the incident you once told me, my lady? You have in reserve with the king a couple of boons that he once promised you. Ask for them today and soothe your heart. Bestow sovereignty on your son and an abode in the forest on Rāma and rob your co-wives of all their joy. When the king swears by Rāma, ask the boons only then, so that the former may not go back upon his word. The scheme will fail if this night is allowed to pass; cherish my words as dearer than life.” (1 - 4)

Having thus hatched her very cruel design against the queen the wretch said, “Betake yourself to the sulking-room. Manage the whole affair discreetly and be not too ready to believe.” (22)

Holding the humpback dear as life the queen applauded her uncommon shrewdness again and again. “I have no such friend as you in the whole world,” she said. “You have served as a prop to one who was drifting along a stream. If God fulfils my heart’s desire tomorrow, I will cherish you, my dear, as the apple of my eye.” Thus lavishing every term of endearment on her maid-servant, Kaikeyī retired to the sulking-room. Discord was the seed and the servant-girl (Mantharā) the rainy season; while the evil mind of Kaikeyī served as the soil. Fed by the water of wiliness the seed took root and sprouted with the two boons as its leaves and will eventually bear the fruit of adversity. Gathering about her every token of resentment, Kaikeyī lay down on the floor in the sulking-room; while enjoying sovereignty, she was betrayed by her wicked mind. There was a great flutter in the gynaecium as well as in the city; nobody had any inkling of this evil design. (1 - 4)

In their ecstasy of joy all the citizens, both men and women, busied themselves with festive preparations and the entrance to the royal palace was flooded with a continuous stream of people going in and coming out. (23)

Delighted at the news a few of Śrī Rāma’s boy-companions called on Him in a body; and sensible of their affection the Lord received them kindly, and politely enquired after their health and welfare. After receiving the permission of their beloved friend they returned home speaking highly of Him to one another. “Is there anyone in this world so amiable and constant in his affection as Rāma? In whichever species we may be born from time to time as a result of our actions, may God grant us that Sītā’s spouse may be our lord and we his servants, and that this relation between us may continue till the end.” Everyone in the city cherished the same desire; but there was intense agony in Kaikeyī’s heart. Who is not ruined by evil company? Man loses his wit by following the counsel of vile men. (1 - 4)

At eventide the king joyously visited Kaikeyī’s palace; it looked as if love incarnate had called on harshness personified. (24)

The king was taken aback when he heard of the sulking-room. His feet refused to advance on account of fear. He under whose powerful arm the lord of celestials dwelt secure and whose goodwill was even sought by all king was stunned at the news of his wife’s anger: look at the mighty power of sexual love. Even those who have endured the blows of a spear, thunderbolt or sword, have been overcome with the flower shafts of Rati’s lord (the god of Love). The king timidly approached his beloved queen and was terribly distressed to perceive her condition. She was lying on the floor in old and coarse attire having cast away all the ornaments of her person. Her wretched garb so eminently befitted her, prognosticating as it were, her impending widowhood. Drawing close to her the king asked in soft accents, “Why are you angry, my soul’s delight?” (1 - 4)

As the king touched her with his hand saying “Why are you angry, my queen?” Kaikeyī threw it aside and flashed upon him a furious glance like an enraged serpent with the two (above-mentioned) cravings of her heart for its bifurcated tongue and the boons (that had been promised to her by the king) for its fangs, spying out a vital part. As fate would have it, says Tulasī, the king took it all as an amorous sport.

Said the king again and again, “Tell me the cause of your anger, O fair-faced, bright-eyed dame with a voice melodious as the notes of a cuckoo and a gait resembling that of an elephant.” (25)

“Who is it, my dear that has harmed you? Who is there with a head to spare and who is it that is courted by death? Tell me what pauper I should exalt to the position of a king and what monarch I should banish from his kingdom? I could slay even an immortal, were he your enemy; of what account, then, are men and women, who are mere worms as it were? You know my disposition, O beautiful lady; my mind is enamoured of your face as the Chakora bird is of the moon. O my beloved, my people and my family and all that I possess, my sons, nay, my life itself are all at your disposal. If I tell you anything insincerely, O good lady, I should be guilty of falsely swearing by Rāma a hundred times. Ask with a cheerful countenance whatever pleases your mind and adorn your charming limbs with jewels. Distinguish within yourself between an opportune and inopportune hour and give up, my darling, this unbecoming attire at once.” (1 - 4)

On hearing this and considering the great oath the dull-witted Kaikeyī smilingly arose and began to put on her ornaments; it seemed as if a huntress was laying the trap at the sight of a deer. (26)

Thinking her reconciled, the king spoke again in soft and winning accents his whole frame thrilling over with emotion, “Your heart’s desire, O good lady, is accomplished; every house in the city is a picture of joy and felicity. Tomorrow, I am installing Rāma as the prince-regent; therefore, O bright-eyed dame, put on a festive garb.” The queen’s heart, hard though it was, cracked at these words; it seemed as if abscess quite ripe, had unwarily touched had been unwarily touched. Even such (heart-rending) agony was disguised by her under the cloak of a smile. Just as a thief’s wife does not openly weep (on seeing her husband suffer punishment lest she should be made to share his lot). The king was unable to detect her wily designs, tutored as she was by a teacher (Mantharā) who ranked foremost among millions of villains. Although the king was skilled in statesmanship, the ways of a woman are like an unfathomable ocean. Again, with a greater show of false affection she smilingly said with a graceful movement of her face and eyes: (1 - 4)

“You do repeat the word “Ask, ask”, but never actually give anything. You promised me a couple of boons; but I am yet doubtful about their implementation.” (27)

“I have now understood the whole mystery,” said the king with a smile; “You are extremely fond of being angry. You kept the boons in reserve and never asked for them; as for myself, I forgot all about them, being oblivious by nature. Pray do not level a false charge against me; you might as well ask four boons instead of two. It has always been the rule with the race of Raghus that one’s plighted word must be redeemed even at the cost of one’s life. Even a multitude of sins cannot be matched with a lie. Can millions of tiny Guñjā seeds ever stand comparison with a mountain? Veracity is the root of all noble virtues, as is well-known in the Vedas and Purāṇas and has been declared by Manu (the first law-giver of the world, the author of Manu smriti). Over and above this I have unwittingly sworn by Rāma, the Lord of Raghus, who is the very perfection of virtue and the highest embodiment of affection.” Having thus bound him to his word the evil-minded queen smilingly said, removing as it were the cap from the eyes of her hawk-like plot. (1 - 4)

The king’s desire (to see Rāma installed as the prince-regent of Ayodhyā) represented a lovely grove and the joy (that prevailed everywhere) stood for a host of charming birds. Queen Kaikeyī, who resembled a Bhīla woman, sought to release a fierce falcon in the form of her piercing words. (28)