Categories: Hindu Scripture

Ayodhya Kanda-Part Two Summary of the Ramayana

Ayodhya Kanda is Book 2 of the Valmiki Ramayana, with 119 parts, like chapters. This part of the Ramayana is really important because it tells the story of how they were about to make Lord Rama king, but then he had to go live in the forest for 14 years to honor his father’s wish.

Preparation for Rama’s Coronation

Sri Rama always received lots of compliments from the people in Ayodhya, including the wise ministers. Because of this, King Dasaratha, who was getting older, thought it was a good idea to make Rama the next king. The Kosala assembly and the people of Ayodhya agreed with this decision. King Dasaratha planned to start the ceremony to make Rama the new prince the next day, and they got everything ready for a big and amazing ceremony.

Manipulation of Queen Kaikeyi

When the gods saw that the crowning of Sri Rama wouldn’t help them achieve their goals (because Lord Vishnu had incarnated as Sri Rama to stop Ravana, who was causing problems for both humans and gods), they asked Goddess Saraswati for help in stopping Sri Rama from being crowned.

Saraswati, in her wisdom, decided to influence the mind of Queen Kaikeyi’s maid servant, Manthara, to ensure a conflict between Sri Rama and Ravana. Manthara, who had been with Kaikeyi since birth, became twisted in her thinking. She approached Kaikeyi, angered by the news that King Dasharatha intended to make Sri Rama the prince regent.

Manipulation of Queen Kaikeyi

Manthara convinced Kaikeyi that Sri Rama would exile or harm Bharata to secure his own power. Slowly, Kaikeyi’s mind was poisoned further as Manthara reminded her of two boons the king had promised her long ago. These promises were made when Kaikeyi had saved King Dasharatha’s life on the battlefield.

Heartbroken but bound by his word, King Dasharatha granted Kaikeyi’s requests. Instead of Rama’s coronation, he agreed to crown Bharata as the Prince Regent and send Rama into exile in the forest for fourteen years.

This unexpected turn of events shocked the people of Ayodhya, who had eagerly awaited Rama’s coronation. The king’s court assistant, Sumantra, conveyed the news to Rama, forever altering the course of their lives.

Sita’s Undying Love for Rama

Queen Kaikeyi asked King Dashratha for two boons, which ultimately led to Rama accepting his exile. Rama was accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Though Rama tried to dissuade Sita from joining him in the perilous forest, she insisted on being by his side. She believed that wherever Rama was, that place was her Ayodhya, and without him, Ayodhya itself became a hell for her. When Rama, as her husband, ordered her not to come, Sita firmly rejected it, emphasizing a wife’s duty to stand by her husband through thick and thin.

Before leaving for the forest, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana bid farewell to their mothers. Even Dashratha, their father, attempted unsuccessfully to convince Sita not to go. Despite his efforts, Sita remained resolute in her decision to accompany Rama, highlighting the strength of their bond and her unwavering commitment as a wife.

King Dasharatha’s Regretful Confession

After Rama had departed, King Dasharatha confided in Queen Kausalya about a regretful incident from his youth. As a young prince, he possessed remarkable archery skills and went hunting near the Sarayu River. One fateful day, he mistakenly shot an arrow towards a gurgling sound, unaware that it was a hermit-boy named Shravan filling a pitcher for his blind, elderly parents.

Realizing his grave error, Dasharatha rushed to the scene, apologizing profusely to Shravan. The boy revealed that he was fetching water for his parents, fearing that they wouldn’t survive the news of his death. Tragically, Shravan passed away after the arrow was removed from his body.

Overwhelmed with guilt, Dasharatha took the boy’s parents to their son by the river. The parents were devastated and, in their grief, uttered a curse on the king, predicting his own suffering over the loss of a son. In his narration of this heartbreaking story, Dasharatha couldn’t help but shed tears.

Rama’s Exile and Bharata’s Return

Rama went into exile for fourteen years

In their journey, after leaving Ayodhya, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Sumantra ventured deep into the forest and arrived at the banks of the Tamasa river, where the residents of Ayodhya had initially joined them. However, during the cover of the night, they discreetly departed from the citizens. Their path led them to Sringaverapur, where they encountered Guha, the Nishada king. Their journey continued, and they eventually reached Prayag, where Rama met the sage Bharadvaj at his Ashram. Further along their path, they encountered another revered sage, Rishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, at Chitrakoot. Meanwhile, the news of Rama’s departure deeply affected King Dasharatha back in Ayodhya, and his pain and separation led to his tragic passing.

On the other hand, Bharata and Shatrughana were away, visiting their maternal uncle in the Kekeya country, completely unaware of the unfolding events in Ayodhya. It was Rishi Vasistha who sensed that Rama would not return to the kingdom, prompting him to send an envoy to bring Bharata and Shatrughana back to Ayodhya. Upon their return, Bharata learned of the dire situation and expressed his disappointment in Queen Kaikeyi, whom he believed had caused great harm to the family. Seeking forgiveness from Queen Kaushalya, Bharata was torn between his duty to rule Ayodhya and the heartache of sitting on the throne with his father’s demise and his brothers in exile. During this tumultuous time, Ayodhya mourned the cremation of King Dasharatha.

Bharata’s Plea to Rama in the Forest

Bharata and Shatrughana, along with many important people from Ayodhya, embarked on a journey to the forest to persuade Rama to return and take the throne. When the Nishadas noticed this large royal gathering, they grew suspicious and alerted Lakshmana.

Bharata met Rama

Lakshmana, upon seeing the multitude with Bharata, expressed his disapproval, but Rama, in contrast, spoke highly of Bharata’s greatness. Finally, Bharata reached Chitrakoot, where he met Rama. The brothers united in grief over their father’s passing and performed his last rites under the guidance of Rishi Vasistha.

Despite Bharata’s compelling arguments, Rama felt bound by his late father’s word and the wishes of his stepmother, Kaikeyi, making it impossible for him to break his promise.

Bharata’s Promise

Bharata’s Promise

Bharata made a heartfelt promise to Rama that he would rule Ayodhya on his behalf during the fourteen-year exile. With unwavering determination, he even pledged to sacrifice his own life if Rama didn’t return promptly. Rama entrusted his sandals to Bharata as a symbol of his authority, and with a touch of reverence, Bharata carried out this duty from the village of Nandigram, waiting for Rama’s triumphant return. Meanwhile, in their wanderings, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana found solace in the hermitage of Atri, where Sita received valuable advice on being a devoted wife from Atri’s wife, Anasuya.

Rama’s Forest Adventures

In the dense Dandaka forest, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana faced the menacing demon Viradha, who sought to capture Sita. With unwavering courage, Rama defeated the demon, ensuring their safety.

Their journey continued, leading them to the hermitage of the wise Rishi Sharabhanga. Guided by his inner intuition, Rishi Sharabhanga welcomed Rama as the divine guest he had long awaited. After sharing his wisdom and guidance for their journey, the Rishi transcended into the yogic fire, ascending to Brahma’s abode.

Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana pressed on, arriving at the hermitage of Rishi Sutiksna. Here, they spent the night, and the next morning, as they bid farewell, the Rishi expressed concern about the demonic forces plaguing Dandaka Aranya, turning it into a graveyard of sages.

Their journey through the forest led them to the hermitage of the venerable Rishi Agastya, who had awaited Rama’s arrival. Recognizing Rama as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Rishi Agastya presented him with divine weaponry – a bow, quivers endlessly filled with arrows, and a golden sword, the very arms Vishnu once used to rid the earth of evil.

Seeking guidance, Rama asked Rishi Agastya for a suitable place to reside during their exile. The sage, with foresight, spoke of the importance of womanhood and Sita in their journey, directing them to the enchanting Panchavati, where Sita would find delight in her surroundings.

En route to Panchavati, they encountered Jatayu, a majestic eagle and a friend of King Dasharatha. Jatayu offered his help to Rama during their exile, forming a bond of friendship and protection on their challenging journey.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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