Many know of Queen Kaikei’s devilish wish of asking a boon in an opportune moment to King Dasaratha to send his step son Rama Chandra to the forest for fourteen long years. It is considered devilish mainly because many read her intention of seeing her son Bharata as the King of Ayodhya in the absence of Rama Chandra.
But there is another side to the tale, which is not as popular as the above one that vilifies Queen Kaikei as a selfish mother.
Queen Kaikei was an able charioteer to King Dasaratha on many of his expeditions. Many a time, she had been able to pull Dasaratha out of danger by showcasing her valor as a charioteer. On one such occasion, when the enemies injured the King and there was a dire need to flee from the place of fight momentarily, Kaikei courageously drove the chariot to a safer place in the far-off jungle where the King could rest the night, and the morning after, when he would recover, he might avenge the attack.
Queen Kaikei had the rare ability to listen to the conversations of birds and animals. As the King was taking rest and Queen was sitting by him, she could overhear the conversation between a parrot couple.
Parrot husband: You know, King Dasaratha who is taking rest here has his bad times coming.
Parrot wife: Alas! What’s going to happen?
Parrot husband: Not right now. But when he offers his Kingship to his eldest son, the first fourteen years would bring in all misfortunes for the Prince. The Prince has threat to his life too!
Parrot wife: That’s so unfortunate! Isn’t there a way to escape from this misfortune?
Parrot husband: There is a way!
Parrot wife: What’s that?
Parrot husband: If the Prince goes out on a sacred mission to far-off forests and leads a saintly life for those fourteen years, he will bring in lot of prosperity to the state of Ayodhya and will prove to be an efficient and adorable king.
The prophecy by the parrot couple was shocking to Queen Kaikei.
So when Rama Chandra’s coronation was about to take place, Kaikei, as she adored him deeply, had to ask for a boon from King Dasaratha that would keep Rama Chandra away from Ayodhya’s throne for the ominous fourteen years. She knew such action of hers would bring her all sorts of ill name and posterity might curse her as a selfish mother. But that was acceptable for her, as all that she wanted was the prosperity of her beloved step son Rama Chandra. Not only that, she knew that her own son Bharata might have to serve as the King if Rama Chandra would leave for the forest, and the prophecy might prove fatal for Bharata. But the munificent mother in Queen Kaikei was tolerant enough to see her son Bharata suffer than her step son Rama Chandra.
Of course, it was heartening to know that when Bharata acted as a pseudo-King of Ayodhya placing the shoes of Rama Chandra on the throne for those portentous fourteen years, the prophecy of the parrot couple was annulled.
Lesson learnt: When you are certain that your action would help avoid a crisis that has befallen others, by all means, act as planned, irrespective of whether you earn an ill name for that action. In other words, if you earn an ill name for your action that brought in larger good, you rather own it – that is perhaps one of the many instances of ‘difficulty of being good’.