Monday, 8 April 2013

42. Kaikeyi stuck to her guns.

       King Dasharatha became absolutely dazed on hearing those cruel words from the mouth of his angel.  He just could not believe that it was his most beloved queen Kaikeyi who was uttering those venomous words.  He was thinking "Is it a day-dream or a confusion or concussion of my mind?  Or could it be an eclipse of my experience or a disease of the mind?" 
      Overcoming his confusion he said weakly "My Darling!  What kind of a joke is this?  Please don't utter such words again, even in your wildest dreams."
      "This is NOT a joke, my dear chap.  These are the boons I want NOW" spat out Kaikeyi.  
      The king could not make out what it was.  Then, when his brain slowly cleared and he became conscious of the meaning of the words of Kaikeyi, he was staring at Kaikeyi as a deer at the sight of a lioness.  Murmuring "what a pity!" the angry king  whose mind was infatuated with grief, became highly nervous and fainted.   Regaining consciousness after a long, long time and feeling inexorably distressed and angry,  the King looked at his beautiful angel turned vicious serpent  and cried hoarsely with a trembling voice "Oh cruel woman of wicked conduct!  What wrong has been done to you by Rama or by me?  When Rama is treating you in the same way as his mother, why are you bent upon harming him?  When all living beings extol the virtues of Rama, for what offence am I to forego my beloved son?   Supreme delight comes to me on seeing my eldest son.  The world may exist without the sun and a crop without water.  But life cannot continue in my body without Rama.  If you so desire, I will even touch your feet with my head.  Be gracious to me....."
     In this manner the king pleaded with Kaikeyi.  Then he appealed to her "Oh, Kaikeyi! You ought to bestow mercy to me, an old and miserable man who has almost reached his end and is coaxing painfully to you.  Whatever can be attained on earth, which has the sea as an end, all that I can give you.  Let not anger take possession of you, Oh, Kaikeyi!  I fold my hands in salutation to you.  I am even touching your feet.  Be a protector of Rama.  Let unrighteousness not get a hold on me in this matter."
       Kaikeyi was not inclined to relent and barked "Oh, Valiant king!  If you try to revoke again and again after having given boons, how can you proclaim piety on this earth?  Oh, you boast and claim and proclaim that you know what is right, always and abide by it!  When you meet many royal saints in an assembly and converse with them, what will be your say?  Can you boast that a wrong was done by you to Kaikeyi, who protected you earlier from death and on whose grace you are living now?  Oh, King! You having granted boons indeed today, now talk in another way, creating blemish on other kings.  When there was a dispute between a hawk and a pigeon (who were no other than Indra the ruler of gods, and the god of fire respectively), the ruler of Sibis gave away his own flesh to the bird and king Alarka** by parting with his eyes, attained to the highest destiny.

      **Alarka: The royal sage Alarka parted with his own eyes in order to implement a boon granted by him to a blind Brahman who asked for the king's eyes in order to have his own eyesight restored. 
      "The ocean, having given a promise, never crosses its limits.  Therefore, bearing in mind the precedence set by many illustrious kings long ago, do not violate the pledge given by you to me.  Do you want to enjoy life with Kausalya forever by giving up righteousness and installing Rama in the kingdom?
      "What do you want it to be?  Unrighteous or righteous, real or hoax?  There should be no change in whatever is promised by you for me.  If Rama is crowned, I shall die now itself before your very eyes by drinking abundant poison.   If I have to see Kausalya, the mother of Rama receiving salutations even for a single day, death is indeed better for me.  Oh, King! I swear to you an oath by Bharata and by myself that I will not be pleased with anything other than sending Rama to exile."
      Kaikeyi did not respond to the further wailings and pleadings of Dasharatha.
      Seeing that Kaikeyi was not receptive, king Dasaratha became more perturbed.  He kept gazing with wide open eyes at his beloved queen Kaikeyi, who became so harsh now. 
      Reflecting over Kaikeyi's resolve and her terrible swearing, Dasharatha heaved a sigh, uttered "Rama"  and fell like a tree which was cut off.

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