Rāmāyaṇa - Ayodhyā-kāṇḍa - Part 1 - Preparations for Rāma's Coronation and Mantharā's Evil Counsel

Upon the behest of the king of Kekaya, his maternal grandfather, Bharata went with his uncle Yudhājit to his kingdom. Śatrughna went along with Bharata and King Aśvapati took care of them like his own sons. Back in Ayodhyā, Daśaratha constantly thought about his sons who were away.

Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa treated their parents with immense care and reverence, and carried out their wishes. Rāma was a person who never lost his poise, initiated the conversations, and uttered words that were always pleasing. He always remembered a favour received and never took to heart even a hundred ignoble deeds done unto him. He constantly cared for his people and never lost confidence in himself. Rāma was skilled in worldly affairs and intimately conversant with popular customs. He was the favourite of his people.

Seeing that his son was endowed with exemplary qualities, Daśaratha, now very old, wished to see Rāma coronated. He invited his ministers and the lords of different provinces for a discussion and expressed his wish. Listening to Daśaratha’s words, the assembled men approved his idea with great delight, just as peacocks welcome rain-bearing clouds. The ministers and the subordinate kings knew well the impeccable qualities of Rāma. A delighted Daśaratha asked his purohitas Vasiṣṭha and Vāmadeva to make arrangements for the coronation immediately, as the month of Caitra – the flowering season, was particularly auspicious. He then instructed Sumantra to call for Rāma. As the handsome young Rāma arrived at his father’s court, Daśaratha couldn’t take his eyes off his charming son. Rāma told his own name, touched his father’s feet, and stood with folded hands. The king took Rāma’s folded hands into his own, embraced his son, and got him seated on a magnificent chair.  Daśaratha conveyed his decision to Rāma and counselled him about the nature of a good king. He asked him to cultivate modesty even more assiduously and constantly control his senses; he told Rāma to conduct himself well in public and private to win the hearts of his people. Listening to this conversation, a few of Rāma’s friends hurried to Kausalyā and conveyed to her the exciting news. Rāma too reverentially bowed to his father in agreement and left the palace. The citizens too felt as if they had personally realized a long-cherished dream, went home, and worshipped the devas out of immense joy.

Once the people left, Daśaratha decided that the very next day, when the Puṣya-nakṣatra shone would be the most auspicious for Rāma’s coronation. He once again called for Rāma and conveyed his decision. He instructed Rāma about the vrata he was to follow – “Your wife and you should perform upavāsa and sleep on the ground covered with darbhā grass.” He added, “Bharata is away from the kingdom and I deem this the best time to make you the crown-prince. Though Bharata is dhārmic, I deem the minds of men to be inconstant.”

Rāma rushed to his mother Kausalyā’s antaḥpura to inform her of the good tidings, and found her praying with her eyes closed. Sumitrā, Sītā, and Lakṣmaṇa, who had already heard the exciting news were waiting upon her. Upon hearing that Rāma was going to be crowned the very next day, Kausalyā whose cherished desire was being fulfilled, blessed him, and asked him to take good care of her people as well as Sumitrā’s. Rāma told Lakṣmaṇa, who was seated with folded hands, “You are like my second-self and must rule the kingdom with me!”

Vasiṣṭha went to Rāma’s mansion, instructed him in the vrata, and on his way back, observed the entire city of Ayodhyā rejoicing. There were cries of joy heard all over the royal streets, which were well-watered and swept. Waves and waves of excited people, including women and children, who were decked in the best of their clothes, could be spotted all over. In his mansion, Rāma, along with his wife Sītā, performed pūjā to Nārāyaṇa. Early next morning too, there was great celebration in the city. Dancers and actors beautified the city with their art; children too, who played at the threshold of their houses, only spoke of Rāma’s coronation. People from the countryside, who had heard the news rushed to the city from all directions.


Mantharā, a dāsī of Kaikeyī happened to climb up to the top of the tall mansion and saw the city of Ayodhyā decked with colourful banners, its streets sprinkled with sandal-scented water, and excited people moving around. She asked a dhātrī, who stood nearby, “Why are people so happy and why is Rāma’s mother offering so many donations?” The dhātrī, with immense joy, told the hump-backed woman about Rāma’s coronation. Burning with anger, Mantharā quickly climbed down and went to Kaikeyī, who was lying down. Mantharā told her, “Get up, foolish woman! How can you lie down when a dreadful peril threatens you?” Looking at Kaikeyī confused, Mantharā, with an intention to instigate her against Rāma, said, “Daśaratha is going to crown Rāma as the heir-apparent! I am consumed by grief and fear for you! You are born to a royal race and are the Queen – how can you be so ignorant about the ruthlessness of statecraft? You are pure-hearted and don’t see the cruelty in your husband’s heart. Kaikeyi! Act swift – save yourself and your son!”

Kaikeyī, upon hearing Mantharā’s words, got up from her bed with excitement, gifted her a beautiful jewel, and said, “You have told me the most delightful news. I see no difference between my son Bharata and Rāma. Ask for whatever you wish!”

Mantharā sharply reproached her. “Your joy is unwarranted, silly woman! You will soon become a dāsī of Kausalyā.” Kaikeyī, who couldn’t make sense of Mantharā’s words, highly praised Rāma’s noble qualities. She said, “Rāma will be the best ruler, and after he has ruled for a hundred years, Bharata too will get to rule the kingdom.” With a heavy sigh laden with grief, Mantharā said, “You don’t understand your own interests and are plunging into an ocean of sorrow. Once Rāma’s reign as the king comes to an end, his son will succeed him and Bharata will forever be excluded from the royal lineage. I have come here in your interest and you don’t seem to wake up to the reality! Once Rāma comes to power, he will throw Bharata into a foreign land or he may despatch him to the other world! Rāma’s mother has looked down upon you in the past and will naturally wreak vengeance upon you, once her son comes to power! Therefore, think of a way your son may get the kingdom and the other be exiled!”

Hearing Mantharā’s words, Kaikeyī, with her face flaming, declared – “I’ll send Rāma away to the forest this very day and get Bharata installed as the crown-prince. Tell me, Mantharā, how do I achieve this?”

Mantharā said, “Don’t you remember? Long ago in the war between the devas and asuras, your husband, who went to help Indra, took you along with him. Going South towards Daṇḍakāraṇya, you reached Vaijayanta, the city of Śambarāsura. Though Daśaratha fought bravely, he was badly wounded and lost consciousness. You rode him away from the battle-field and saved his life. Pleased, Daśaratha had offered you two boons, which you had said you will seek when the need arises. You had told me about this incident in the past! Seek the two boons now – the first, ask for Bharata’s coronation and the second, ask for Rāma to be exiled for fourteen years. Go to the chamber of anger, lay down on the bare floor with all your clothes soiled. When Daśaratha comes to you, don’t look at him or speak with him, just weep! The king might offer you precious gems and gold, but don’t get tempted by them! Remind him of the two boons he had promised and get up from the floor only when he raises you up! Once he pledges to offer the boons, ask for Rāma’s exile for fourteen years and Bharata’s immediate coronation.”

Thrilled at listening to Mantharā’s advice, Kaikeyī said, “You are the best of all hump-backs on earth! You are as lovely as a lotus bent down by the wind. As you walk ahead of me, you look like a rāja-haṃsa! Your beautiful hump is filled with foresight, wisdom, and magical power. I will now place this gold chain around it. Once Bharata is crowned, I’ll have your hump coated with gold and mark a tilaka on your forehead. I will make all your hump-backs your dāsīs!”

With these words, Kaikeyī went to the chamber of anger, flung her jewellery around, and fell down on the bare floor.


To be continued...
[The critically constituted text and the critical edition published by the Oriental Institute, Vadodara is the primary source. In addition, the Kannada rendering of the epic by Mahāmahopādhyāya Sri. N. Ranganatha Sharma and the English translation by Sri. N. Raghunathan have been referred.]




Visionary sage and the author of the fifth Veda, the Rāmāyaṇa



Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

Prekshaa Publications

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...