Scene Where Kaikeyi S Servant Manthara Convinces Her to Ask Dasaratha for Her Two Wishes

Scene Where Kaikeyi S Servant Manthara Convinces Her to Ask Dasaratha for Her Two Wishes

Ok, for my presentation I did the literal translation of the Ramayana. I’m guessing a lot of people skimmed this one ;-) There is nothing new in it, but it embellishes on a few scenes which might better reflect the following themes than the other version

  • dharma/duty,
  • masculine/feminine,
  • chaos/order and free
  • free will/predestination.
  • there is mention of the Ramayana being a text which is intended to teach and Rama’s father is once referred to as his “guru”.
  • Rama also mentions the afterlife and how no earthly kingship on earth should make you give up your afterlife.
  • There is a nice scene describing sacrifice and ritual (similar to Upanisads).
  • Elaborate descriptions of the Suffering of Rama’s father and mother in the Exile Scene 90-125,
  • Rama’s father rolls around on the floor in agony and his real mother is very upset when Rama goes to say good bye to her

If you want more details I referenced all of these themes within the summaries and also included some of my notes at the bottom


Pgs 121-126 Begining

Sarga 1-2

This is a very general description of the whole plot of the Ramyana.

Starts about by asking whether or not there is a truly virtuous man in this world and then describes Rama, mainly discussing him as a picture of perfect manhood, and describing his perfect physical traits, this could go into the theme of the masculine and the feminine in terms of physical beauty.

At the end it states that
”whoever reads this history of Rama, which is purifying, destructive of sin, holy, and the equal of the Vedas is freed from all sins” pg 126 This implies that the text was meant to teach certain values and not just as entertainment.

Pgs 248-262 Rama Bends Bow

Rama breaks Dasartha’s unbendable bow in two and therefore wins Sita’s hand in marriage. Then there is an elaborate wedding scene with (double wedding Sita marries Rama and Urmila marries Laksmana). There are lot of details of the ritual, what the gifts are who performs the rights etc. The whole thing is pretty formal, there isn’t a lot of love imagery.

Pgs 90-125 Exile Scene

Sarga 5

Rama is at the palace, this is right before he is (voluntarily) banished. A sage tells him that tomorrow he will become prince regent. Everyone celebrates when they find out and there is a lot of pretty flower, bird and ocean imagery.

Sarga 6 pg 92

description of a ritual sacrifice (lots of good images, very similar to the ritual descriptions on the Upanisads):

“When the family priest had gone Rama bathed and then, restraining his desire, he worshiped Narayana in the company of his large-eyed wife. With a bowed head he held out the oblation vessel, Then, in accordance with the ritual precepts, he offered the clarified butter in a blazing fire to the great divinity. He consumed the remains of the oblation and earnestly made his wish. Meditating on the god Narayana, maintaining silence and restraining his desire, the prince lay down to sleep with Vaidehi on a thick-spread bed of kusa grass in the majestic sanctuary of Visnu”

The townspeople continue to be excited about Rama becoming king. Rama is described as wise and righteous and able to tell good people from bad.

Sarga 7-11 pgs 94-105

In this scene Kaikeyi’s servant Manthara (Kaikeyi is one of Rama’s father’s wives and the mother of Bharata) becomes enraged when she discovers that Rama and not Bharata will become king and convinces Kaikeyi that she cannot allow this and that she has to fight back. She tells Kaikeyi that she has to act swiftly to save her son, herself and her beauty (I think she is implying here that her beauty will soon lose its power over the king). Kaikeyi however is not bothered by this and claims that she is equally happy whether Rama or Bharata is king. Manthara keeps egging Kaikeyi on, telling her that Kausalya (Rama’s mom) will knock her off once Rama is king. Finally, Kaikeyi is convinced and says that she will have Rama banished to the forest. Manthara then tells her the entire plan, reminding her that she saved the King’s life in a battle when he was knocked unconscious and wounded and in his gratitude he gave her two wishes. She tells her that she must redeem these two wishes now

1) consecration of Bharata

2) banishment of Rama for 14 years

So, Kaikeyi freaks out in front of the king and he asks her what she desires. When she asks for the two boons, he has to say yes but it breaks his heart and he collapses on the floor and starts to cry. He is torn over the decision for a long time, and struggles with it a lot more than in the other version of the Ramayana. Finally he grants her the boon and falls unconscious on the floor.

Sarga 12 pg 106

Kaikeyi describes her vision of Dharma to the king. She basically gives a lot of examples of people who must give up what is most dear to them in order to do what is right. It is especially interesting because it is coming from a woman and from an “evil character”

Examples of righteousness

1) a lord who promises his body to a hawk

2) Alarka who plucks out his own eyes and gives them to a Brahman

3) The ocean that does not transgress its shore

Sarga 13-19 pg 108-125

There are a lot of descriptions of the messangers going to get Rama thinking that he is about to be made king. The king is very upset and Rama can see that immediately. He tells him that he is banished.

Rama responds :

"Enjoined by my father, my benefactor, guru, and king, a man who knows what is right to do, what would I hesitate to do in order to please him?” Pg 116

Rama states (to Kaikeyi):

“My lady, it is not in the hopes of gain that I suffer living in this world, I have but one concern and that is righteousness. For there is no greater act of righteousness than this: obedience to one’s father and doing as he bids. Even unbidden by this honored man, at your (Kaikeyi’s) bidding alone I shall live for fourteen years in the desolate forest” Pg 117

Later, Rama states:

“Righteousness is paramount in the world and on righteousness is truth founded” pg 123

  • These quotes shows his duty to his father as his elder. Rama is completely unperturbed by the whole idea. His idea of Dharma/Destiny is basically to do what he perceives to be his duty. While it helps that his father is the one who asked him to leave, Rama also states that he would have done it even if Kaikeyi had directly asked him. This seems to show that he follows a perceived world order which is unrelated to his relationships to people. Finally, he feels that following your dharma is the ultimate truth

At the end Rama also states that for the sake of mere kingship he wouldn’t “turn his back on glory whose reward is great” pg 123

  • This relates to the theme of the afterlife in which the reward is far greater than any power one could have on earth.

Finally, in Sarga 19 Rama explains to his brother Saumitri that what is happening must be destiny and that Kaikeyi wouldn’t do what she was doing only out of evil intent. This furthers the idea that each of the characters is following his/her dharma or destiny but it is somewhat problematic that some have evil dharma while others do not.

Role of Women/Masculine and Feminine (from my notes)

  • It is repeatedly stated that Sita’s only bride price was strength pg 251 Sarga 66 (in the poetry version she was not allowed to give her consent to the marriage). What does this say about Sita’s role as a female character?
  • The only character that does not obey a direct command is the hunchback Manthara pg 100 Sarga 9. Is she following her Dharma or is her character more symbolic of a force of nature/destiny? She could also be considered the “chaotic” element in a very ordered text. Is she predestined or does she have “free will”?
  • Characterization of Kaikeyi
  • “woman who knew no bounds”pg 105 Sarga 10
  • “The woman was unafraid, for all the fear she awoke. She was misfortune incarnate and had yet to secure her fortunes” pg 105 Sargo 10
  • “evil woman” pg 106 Sarga 12
  • If she is only following her Dharma why is she characterized as such while on pg 117 Sarga 16 Meanwhile Rama is characterized as “righteous” themes of masculine vs. feminine and destiny