Saturday, 12 May 2018

Was Rama A Good Son?

Since Mother's Day is approaching  very soon (as a matter in fact, it is tomorrow), I have decided to make a mini-post on the mother-son relationship theme, in the Valmiki Ramayana.

Rama is usually praised for being a good son, who left his kingdom because of the wishes of his step-mother Kayekai and his father Dasharatha. He has been represented as an ideal son for this reason, throughout a variety of media, ranging from articles on the internet to TV serials, such as Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana. These TV serial makers would have us believe that Rama left his status of royalty just because of the wishes of his parents, and had no bitter feelings towards these parents, all throughout his life. Such cardboard cutout characters, however, only appear in TV serials, and not in real life, nor in Valmiki's great epic, as I will show in this post. However, prior to examining this, I would like to address the following question:

Did Rama really leave the kingdom due to the wishes of his parents? What was the actual motivation that led Rama to decide to go to exile?
I see Rama's decision to leave his kingdom as more political in nature, as opposed to a purely duty/dharma-based decision. Let me elaborate on this point... Had Rama revolted against his parents, and sought to seize the throne of Kosala by force, he would have earned a bad repute among the Kosalan masses, and hence would have never been accepted as a king, in the truest sense, by the people of of Kosala. He would not have been loved as much by the Kosalans, and that would have sowed the seeds for a future coup that would lead to his dethronement from the position of the king of Kosala; what is worse is that the bad repute he would have gained from forcefully seizing the throne of Kosala (from Dasharatha) may have resulted in segments of the Kosalan masses actively going against Rama, and supporting the seizers of imperial power, in this coup. 

By going to exile, without any question, Rama had effectively eliminated all possibility of dissatisfaction towards him, in the minds of the masses. Instead, as we know from passages in Ayodhya Kanda, the masses held him in even higher esteem than before, and were begging that he stay back in Ayodhya. Hence, this behavior of Rama made him even popular and loved among the masses, thereby ensuring that these masses would exert pressure on Bharatha to leave his throne and coronate him (Rama) as king when he returns from exile, 14 years later. Rama was only 17 years old when he went to exile. Hence, he would only be 31 years old when he would return back to Kosala, and could comfortably rule for 40-50 years prior to his death, with immense public support. Hence, the "transient sacrifice" Rama made of his kingdom would be more beneficial for him in the long run, as opposed to revolting against his father. Furthermore, if Rama revolted against his father Dasharatha and somehow became king, he would still be left to deal with the problem of the Rakshasas, that were increasing their power under their charismatic leader, Ravana. As a king, it would be highly difficult to defeat these Rakshsas in war, as Rama would be forced to only send armies to the South to deal with them. Due to the administrative duties of the vast Kosalan empire, that controlled large parts of Northern India, it is highly unlikely that Rama himself would have had time to lead the war against the Rakshasas. Without Rama's prowess and leadership, would the Kosalan army have stood a chance against Ravana, who had many accomplishments under his belt?

Highly Doubtful...

Hence, Rama decided to go to exile (or to be specific, the Dandaka Forest in Southern India), and himself eliminate these Rakshasas and subdue their territories, so that he would not only ensure that the Rakshasa threat is effectively neutralized, but also ensure that he would rule a larger, peaceful, prosperous, Rakshasa revolt-free empire when he returns to Kosala as her king, 14 years later. This perspective has already been discussed by myself in a previous post...

Rama's decision to go to exile was a political masterstroke because it worked to direct the hatred/anger of the civilians, upon losing their dear prince (Rama), to the parents that orchestrated this prince's exile (Kakeyai and Dasharatha) and their dear son, Bharatha, whom they sought the throne of Kosala for, despite the fact that Bharatha was never really greedy for the throne of Kosala. Poor Bharatha was sandwiched in the political tactics of Rama and Kayekai, leading to him (Bharatha) never being fully accepted by the civilians of Kosala as a king, in the truest sense. Kayekai's sexuality politics directly tried to ruin Rama's chances of becoming king, but Rama retorted by targeting Kayekai's beloved son Bharatha, the instrument she aspired to use to fulfill her political ambitions, such that Bharatha never received full acceptance as a king by the masses  of Kosala, thereby directing Kayekai's long nurtured dreams into the trashcan of history... 

As I said, this was a political masterstroke by Rama. This political motivation behind going to exile was revealed by Rama, to Lakshmana, when the two (along with Seetha) had crossed the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. He tells Lakshmana (Valmiki Ramayana, Critical Edition, 2.47, translation by Pollock):
In my rage, Lakshmana, all by myself I could overpower Ayodhya or the whole world with my arrows. But truly force is useless. I fear the danger of unrighteousness, blameless Lakshmana, and I fear what other people might say. That is why I do not have myself consecrated at once.”
Such speech by Rama makes his political angle behind going to exile very clear. Rama was scared of what the people would say if he had revolted against his father, so he followed his father's wishes and went to exile, just as a dharmic son would do. In other words, his decision to go to exile, was a political gimmick, motivated by his sense of public consciousness, and his ever-lasting desire to be in the "good books" of his subjects. As I earlier mentioned, being in the "good books" of the subjects is very important to maintaining power in a monarchy setup. If a king does not have the goodwill and support of his subjects, these subjects may not support him wholeheartedly in the case of an invasion on the king's capital, or worse, the subjects may contrive to remove the king from his position of power. In this sense, Rama was a very similar character to Yuddhistira and Dhritarashtra, as these two were also great politicians, and very conscious of their public image. I might dedicate a separate article to elaborate on this, if necessary...

I have explained my rationale why I feel that Rama's decision to go to exile was a political move.  We have evidence throughout the Valmiki Ramayana that Rama did not go to exile purely because of "respect" for his parents. Rama's bitterness towards his father is very evident in his exile period, when he calls his father a fool/illiterate (avidvan) for his act of exiling him, in an emotional outburst, in front of Lakshmana (Valmiki Ramayana, Critical Edition, 2.47, translation by Pollock):
Reflecting on this calamity and how the king so utterly changed his mind, I have come to the conclusion that the urgings of desire far outweigh both statecraft and righteousness. For what man, even a fool, would forsake his own son—a son who ever bowed to his will—on account of a woman, as father forsook me, Lakshmana?
His bitterness towards Kayekai is very evident in the Viradha incident, when the aforementioned Rakshasa manages to grab the poor thing, places her on his lap, and has sex with her. Upon seeing his dear wife Seetha in such a state, Rama laments in the following manner:
पश्य सौम्य नरेन्द्रस्य जनकस्यात्मसम्भवाम्।मम भार्यां शुभाचारां विराधाङ्के प्रवेशिताम्।।3.2.17।।अत्यन्तसुखसंमव़ृद्धां राजपुत्रीं यशस्विनीम्।
Gentle Lakshmana, see the illustrious daughter of Janaka, a lady of good conduct, brought up in utmost comfort caught in the lap of Viradha
यदभिप्रेतमस्मासु प्रियं वरवृतं च यत्।।3.2.18।।कैकेय्यास्तु सुसंवृत्तं क्षिप्रमद्यैव लक्ष्मण।
O Lakshmana whatever Kaikeyi desired through her boons has now come true so soon.
या न तुष्यति राज्येन पुत्रार्थे दीर्घदर्शिनी।।3.2.19।।ययाहं सर्वभूतानां प्रियः प्रस्थापितो वनम्।अद्येदानीं सकामा सा या माता मध्यमा मम।।3.2.20।।
Kaikeyi, my middle mother is farsighted indeed Not content with the kingdom alone see sent me, beloved of all beings, away to the forest. Let her cherished desire be fulfilled.
Rama's bitterness towards his step-mother Kayekai is very evident in this speech. His bitterness leads him to reason that this kidnap and rape of Seetha by Viradha, was planned and orchestrated by Kayekai, who (in Rama's words) was "not content with the kingdom alone". It is amply evident from Rama's above speech that he had deep-rooted contempt for this step-mother and her actions that drove him to exile. Hence, it should be very clear that Rama and Kayekai did not share the pleasant mother-son relationship that is so often seen in TV serials, and that the former's decision to go to exile can scarcely be said to have arisen from respect and love for the latter.

In short, Rama did not go to exile due to respect for Dasharatha and Kayekai. Rather, his decision of going to exile was a political move! But that is just the tip of the iceburg. My analysis of whether or not Rama was a good son is based on his treatment towards his own mother, Kaushalya. As I will show in the following paragraphs, it was Rama's treatment towards Kaushalya that makes him a bad son in my view, yet this same treatment towards her makes him Valmiki's patriarchal role model...

To explain this in more detail, let us examine Rama's behavior towards Kaushalya. When Rama tells Kaushalya that he has to go to exile, instead of being coronated as crown prince, she is completely shattered and falls on the ground due to extreme shock. Here, we have a mother who lived a very pitiable life prior to this point in time, as she was severely mistreated by her own husband Dasharatha, and his favorite wife Kayekai. She was hoping that this mistreatment would end once her dear son, Rama, becomes king, and was so desperate for the coronation of her son, that she resorted to superstition such as performing a yajna for the gods, the night before the coronation, so that the gods would give her son the blessings and goodwill needed to ensure that he gets coronated as crown prince. Rama's decision to go to exile came as a very unpleasant shock to Kaushalya, causing her to collapse...

Rama then lifts her up, and tries to console her. The way he lifts her up with his hands, rubs the dust off her person, and comforts her, sheds some light on the intimacy in the mother-son relationship between Rama and Kaushalya, that extended beyond the usual mother-son relationship. Rama had a more intimate relationship with his mother than most would have, because of Dasharatha's indifference towards Rama and Kaushalya... Rama satisfied the husband-role, which was missing in Kaushalya's life, and Kaushalya satisfied the father-role, which was missing in Rama's life, due to Dasharatha's indifference towards the two (but more on this in a later post that I will dedicate to analyzing Rama and Kaushalya's relationship):
सा निकृत्तेव सालस्य यष्टिः परशुना वने।पपात सहसा देवी देवतेव दिवश्च्युता।।2.20.32।।

All on a sudden Kausalya fell down on the ground like the branch of a sal tree in the forest severed by an axe, like a goddess dropped from heaven.

तामदुःखोचितां दृष्ट्वा पतितां कदलीमिव।रामस्तूत्थापयामास मातरं गतचेतसम्।।2.20.33।।

Seeing his mother who had done nothing to deserve (this) suffering and who had fallen down like a plantain tree, deprived of her senses, Rama raised her up (from the ground).

उपावृत्त्योत्थितां दीनां बडबामिव वाहिताम्।पांसुकुण्ठितसर्वाङ्गीं विममर्श च पाणिना।।2.20.34।।

Rama gently wiped away the dust that had covered her body as Kausalya stood miserable, like a mare who stands up after having rolled on the ground while pulling the load.
After Rama comforts her with such intimacy, Kaushalya opens up and laments about the pain she is in, thereby shedding some light on how she was severely mistreated by Dasharatha, Kayekai, and her co-wives, and reduced to the position of a mere servant by the aforementioned (i.e. domestic abuse). She says:
न दृष्टपूर्वं कल्याणं सुखं वा पतिपौरुषे।अपि पुत्रे ऽपि पश्येयमिति रामाऽस्थितं मया।।2.20.38।।
I did not have the fortune, O Rama, to enjoy any auspicious moment or pleasure earlier when my husband was in authority. I exist with the hope that I will have it when my son assumes authority.
सा बहून्यमनोज्ञानि वाक्यानि हृदयच्छिदाम्।अहं श्रोष्ये सपत्नीनामवराणां वरा सती।।2.20.39।।
I, being the eldest (of the queens) will have to listen to many heartbreaking and unpleasant words from my fellow-wives who are younger to me.
अतो दुःखतरं किं नु प्रमदानां भविष्यति।मम शोको विलापश्च यादृशोऽयमनन्तकः।।2.20.40।।
There cannot be greater distress for any woman than such unending grief and lamentation (which I am now experiencing).
त्वयि सन्निहितेऽप्येवमहमासं निराकृता।किं पुनः प्रोषिते तात ध्रुवं मरणमेव मे।।2.20.41।।
O child even when you are nearby I am neglected like this. What to say when you are banished. Death is certain to me.
अत्यन्तनिगृहीतास्मि भर्तुर्नित्यमतन्त्रिता।परिवारेण कैकेय्या स्समा वाप्यथवाऽवरा।।2.20.42।।
Treating me as an equal or inferior to the attendants of Kaikeyi and making me always dependent, my husband has greatly suppressed me.
योऽहि मां सेवते कश्चिदथवाप्यनुवर्तते।कैकेय्याः पुत्रमन्वीक्ष्य स्वश्चि जनो नाभिभाषते।।2.20.43।।
Any one who serves me or follows me will not talk to me after seeing Bharata (installed as heirapparent).
नित्यक्रोधतया तस्याः कथं नु खरवादितत्।कैकेय्या वदनं द्रष्टुं पुत्र शक्ष्यामि दुर्गता।।2.20.44।।
Fallen into an unfortunate state how can I look at Kaikeyi's face who is always harsh and in temper?
दश सप्त च वर्षाणि जातस्य तव राघवअतितानि प्रकाङ्क्षन्त्या मया दुःखपरिक्षयम्।।2.20.45।।
O Rama, I have spent the last seventeen years after your birth with the expectation that my sorrows would come to an end.
तदक्षयं महद्दुःखं नोत्सहे सहितुं चिरम्।विप्रकारं सपत्नीनामेवं जीर्णाऽपि राघव।।2.20.46।।
Therefore, O Rama, I cannot at this old age endure this great, endless sorrow and the insults from cowives for long.
अपश्यन्ती तव मुखं परिपूर्णशशिप्रभम्।कृपणा वर्तयिष्यामि कथं कृपणजीविकाम्।।2.20.47।।
Without beholding your face that is as bright as the full Moon, how can this wretched woman live this pitiable life?
उपवासैश्च योगैश्च बहुभिश्च परिश्रमैः।दुःखं संवर्धितो मोघं त्वं हि दुर्गतया मया।।2.20.48।।
Through meditation, through fasts and with a great deal of efforts you have been brought up by this luckless (mother). But alas this is all in vain.
स्थिरं तु हृदयं मन्ये ममेदं यन्न दीर्यते।प्रावृषीव महानद्या स्पृष्टं कूलं नवाम्भसा।।2.20.49।।
I think my heart must be very firm (hard) like the bark of a great river which, touched by (a flood of) fresh water in the rainy season does not disintegrate.
ममैव नूनं मरणं न विद्यतेन चावकाऽशोस्ति यमक्षयेऽमम।यदन्तकोऽद्यैव न मां जिहीर्षति।प्रसह्य सिंहो रुदतीं मृगीमिव।।2.20.50।।
There is no room for me in the abode of Yama (the god of death). If he does not carry me off forcibly like a lion carrying away a crying female deer, certainly there is no death for me.
स्थिरं हि नूनं हृदयं ममायसंन भिद्यते यद्भुवि नावदीर्यते।अनेन दुःखेन च देहमर्पितं
ध्रुवं ह्यकाले मरणं न विद्यते।।2.20.51।।
Surely my still (hard) heart is made of iron. It neither bursts nor breaks down on the ground. Pervaded by grief, there is no untimely death for this my body, too.
इदं हि दुःखं यदनर्थकानि मेव्रतानि दानानि च संयमाश्च हि।तपश्च तप्तं यदपत्यकारणात्सुनिष्फलं बीजमिवोप्तमूषरे।।2.20.52।।
My regret is that all my mortifications, gifts of charity and penances are of no avail. Even the asceticism which I practiced for the sake of progeny was fruitless like a seed sown in a barren land.
यदि ह्यकाले मरणं स्वयेच्छयालभेत कश्चिद्गुरुदुःखकर्शितः।गताहमद्यैव परेतसंसदंविना त्वया धेनुरिवात्मजेन वै।।2.20.53।।
If any one, tormented with great sorrow, could willingly commit suicide I would have gone the way to the assembly of Yama (the lord of death) right away as without you I will be now like a cow without a calf.
अथापि किं जीवितमद्य मे वृथा
त्वया विना चन्द्रनिभाननप्रभ।अनुव्रजिष्यामि वनं त्वयैव गौस्सुदुर्बला वत्समिवानुकाङ्क्षया।।2.20.54।।
What is the use of this life now? What is life without you whose countenance glows like the full Moon? Like a cow emaciated by its search for the calf, I will follow you into the forest.
What is very evident from this long lamentation of Kaushalya is that she was severely mistreated by her co-wives and husband, and treated like a servant by them. Kayekai was quite a vile, selfish woman, but I will save the discussion about her to a later article. This article will deal with how Dasharatha was treating Kaushalya. We know that Kaushalya was not lying about mistreatment by her husband, because her husband himself corroborates her speech, by telling Kayekai (when she asked Dasharatha to send Rama to exile) that he has always mistreated Kaushalya, under her (Kayekai) influence, reducing Kaushalya to the status of a maid-servant.
यदा यदा ही कौसल्या दासीवच्च सखीव च || २-१२-६८भार्यावद्भगिनीवच्च मातृवच्चोपतिष्ठति |सततम् प्रियकामा मे प्रियपुत्रा प्रियम्वदा || २-१२-६९न मया सत्कृता देवि सत्कारार्हा कृते तव | 
"Oh, Kaikeyi! Whatever Kausalya, who was always desirous of showing kindness to me, who was blessed with a pet son, who speaks kind words and who deserves to be kindly treated, was waiting on me like a maid-servant, like a friend, like a wife, like a sister and like a mother. But, for your sake, she was never treated kindly by me."
That being said, one can not help but feel pity on Kaushalya's miserable state. She was mistreated by her husband, such that she was treated like a mere servant, despite being his eldest and legally wedded wife. Under such a situation, her only refuge was her son, with whom she had an intimate relationship. As mentioned in the above verses, she therefore begged this son of her's to take her along with him to exile. She further reinforces this plea to her son by saying that she would not be able to live in the presence of her abusive husband and co-wives if her own son, so dear to herself, abandons her:
न चाधर्म्यं वच श्रुत्वा सपत्न्या मम भाषितम्।विहाय शोकसन्तप्तां गन्तुमर्हसि मामितः।।2.21.21।।
By heeding the unrighteous words of my cowife (Kaikeyi) it does not behove you to leave me grief-stricken and go away from here.
धर्मज्ञ यदि धर्मिष्ठो धर्मं चरितुमिच्छसि।शुश्रूष मामिहस्थस्त्वं चर धर्ममनुत्तमम्।।2.21.22।।
You are righteous. You know your duty. If you wish to follow the path of righteousness, stay here, serve me and follow the best of dharma.
शुश्रूषुर्जननीं पुत्र स्वगृहे नियतो वसन्।परेण तपसा युक्तः काश्यपस्त्रिदिवं गतः।।2.21.23।।
O son Kasyapa who led a life of self discipline and served his mother at home, attained heaven credited with (the merit of) the highest penance.
यथैव राजा पूज्यस्ते गौरवेण तथाऽस्म्यहम्।त्वां नाहमनुजानामि न गन्तव्यमितो वनम्।।2.21.24।।
Just as the king is worthy of your respectful homage, so am I. I will not permit you to go from here to the forest.
त्वद्वियोगान्न मे कार्यं जीवितेन सुखेन वा।त्वया सह मम श्रेयस्तृणानामपि भक्षणम्।।2.21.25।।
Separated from you, I have no use of this life or happiness. I prefer to live with you even if it means eating grass.
यदि त्वं यास्यसि वनं त्यक्त्वा मां शोकलालसाम्।अहं प्रायमिहासिष्ये न हि शक्ष्यामि जीवितुम्।।2.21.26।।
If you depart for the forest leaving me grief-stricken I cannot live. Here I shall seek death by fasting.
When Rama later went on to reason that his father is his preceptor and that it is his duty to obey his father, his mother reasoned that she is also his preceptor and that he should not disobey her wishes/order, in such a manner that would leave her distressed:
यथैव ते पुत्र पिता तथाऽहं
गुरु स्स्वधर्मेण सुहृत्तया च।न त्वाऽनुजानामि न मां विहायसुदुःखितामर्हसि गन्तुमेवम्।।2.21.51।।
By virtue of my own duty and affection towards you, O my son I am as much your preceptor as your father is. I will not grant you permission. You should not go, leaving me deeply distressed.
I think any son, even one with the least amount of respect for his mother, would be moved by such speech and would agree to take her with him, in order to provide her relief from her abusive domestic relationships, and her never-ending miseries. At least, I would have done so.

But not Rama...

Instead of comforting Kaushalya and deciding to take her to exile, he tells her that she should not abandon her husband like "a widow", and that she should still adhere to her husband and follow his wishes, inspite of the way he had been treating her, as he is her "dharma and refuge" and is "treading the righteous path":

नास्ति शक्तिः पितुर्वाक्यं समतिक्रमितुं मम।प्रसादये त्वां शिरसा गन्तुमिच्छाम्यहं वनम्।।2.21.29।।
I do not have the power to transgress the orders of my father. Bowing my head I beseech you, allow me to go to the forest.
शोकस्सन्धार्यतां मात र्हृदये साधु मा शुचः।वनवासादिहैष्यामि पुनः कृत्वा पितुर्वचः।।2.21.47।।
Do not grieve, O mother Be prudent enough to subdue your sorrow in your heart. Having fulfilled father's words, I shall come back from my sojourn in the forest.
त्वया मया च वैदेह्या लक्ष्मणेन सुमित्रया।पितुर्नियोगे स्थातव्यमेष धर्मस्सनातनः।।2.21.48।।
You, Sita, Lakshmana, Sumitra and I -- all of us shall abide by the words of my father. This indeed is eternal law.
अम्ब संहृत्य सम्भारान् दुःखं हृदि निगृह्य च।वनवासकृता बुद्धिर्मम धर्म्याऽनु वर्त्यताम्।।2.21.49।।
O mother in withdrawing the articles (for consecration) and also in subduing the sorrow in your heart approve of my plan to dwell in the forest.
गुरुश्च राजा च पिता च वृद्धःक्रोधात्प्रहर्षाद्यदि वाऽपि कामात्।यद्व्यादिशेत्कार्यमवेक्ष्य धर्मंकस्तन्न कुर्यादनृशंसवृत्तिः।2.21.58।।
Whatever a preceptor, an old man, a king and a father commands whether it is out of anger or pleasure or passion must be carried out as dharma. Who will not do it unless he is heartless?
स वै न शक्नोमि पितुः प्रतिज्ञामिमामकर्तुं सकलां यथावत्।स ह्यावयोस्तात गुरुर्नियोगेदेव्याश्च भर्ता स गति स्सधर्मः।।2.21.59।।
It is impossible for me not to execute the promise completely, O my dear, he (Dasaratha) is our preceptor and, therefore, fit to command us. Even for mother Kausalya, he is her husband, her refuge and her dharma.
तस्मिन्पुनर्जीवति धर्मराजे
विशेषतस्स्वे पथि वर्तमाने।देवी मया सार्धमितोऽपगच्छेत्कथं स्विदन्या विधवेव नारी।।2.21.60।।
While the righteous king is living, more importantly treading the righteous path, how can mother Kausalya, like an ordinary widow, accompany me leaving this city?
Not once does Rama rebuke Dasharatha for his behavior towards Kaushalya. Rather, he treats Dasharatha like a god, and forces his mother to swallow her grief and still adhere to her husband, inspite of all the domestic abuse/emotional torture she was receiving from him. In Rama's words, notwithstanding the way his mother was treated by Dasharatha, "he (Dasharatha) is her husband, her refuge and her dharma" and while this husband is living, she cannot possibly abandon him "like an ordinary widow", and accompany her son to exile. Rama does not show compassion upon looking at the pain his mother was experiencing, but rather mocks this pain by saying "the righteous king (Dasharatha) is treading the righteous path", and instead only concerns himself with the patriarchal belief that a woman must adhere to her husband at all costs, regardless of how this husband may be treating her...

This type of behavior is very distasteful to a stranger, and even more so to one's own mother. Rama essentially tells his mother that since her husband is her "dharma and refuge", she should still live with her husband, and drop all thoughts of abandoning him, even though her husband may be mistreating her. This is the type of thinking that breeds, fosters, and facilitates domestic violence/abuse against women, and in my opinion, it should not be tolerated at any cost. For this reason, I don't think that Rama was a good son. Not only did he encourage domestic violence/mistreatment against women in general (his own mother included), but he also showed no compassion towards his biological mother's state, who looked upon him as her only refuge in the miserable phase that her husband had thrusted her into.

For this reason, Rama was not a good son, in my opinion. I believe we must look beyond Rama's actions to see how parents should be treated by their offspring. With that, I wish all my readers a Happy Mother's Day!
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  1. Do you think Ram not taking Kaushalya with him to the forest had something to do with his attachment for Sita? In the forest, there is no privacy. While in Ayodhya, even though Sita may have known about Ram and Kaushalya, the latter two's intimacy was done in privacy.

    Yuddhishthir took both Draupadi and Kunti to the forest, twice I believe. He wasn't as attached to Draupadi as Ram was to Sita.

    Why was there dust on Kaushalya's body? Was she living in such impoverished situation?

    1. Rama was much more attached to Seetha, than Yuddhistira was to Draupadi. But I don't think Rama refused to take Kaushalya to exile for "privacy" reasons, because at the time he was speaking to Kaushalya, he had mentally decided that he would set out to exile alone, leaving Seetha back in Ayodhya. Right after departing from Kaushalya's palace, he then went to Seetha and asked her to stay back in Ayodhya with his parents...

    2. That is a very good point, you are right, Ram was thinking of going to the forest alone when talking to Kaushalya.

  2. I have been doing some reading on the chapters regarding Kausalya and Ram, in Ayodhya Kand.

    I will translate verse 2.20.34 as follows -

    In the previous verse, Ram brought Kausalya back to consciousness. In this verse - Ram raises her from the ground (she gets up like a young mare burdened by a heavy load) and holds her in a firm and close/complete embrace; he then wipes off the kumkum powder scattered over her limbs/body with his hands. Kausalya must have been holding the auspicious powder in a dish, which then scattered all over her body as she fell to the ground.

    Later on, and I don't remember the chapter/verse, as Ram is about to leave her palace to go to Sita's chamber, Kausalya circumbulates Ram (strange, Ram should circumbulate her) and pressses him and embraces him repeatedly. She considered Ram to be her husband is showing sexual affection and worship for him here.

    It is also mentioned that Ram then presses Kausalya's feet repeatedly before leaving her palace. The pressing of the feet (charan) is mentioned a few times more before Ram departs for the forest.

    I did some reading on the word charan/feet. It means motion or root. In Hinduism, Maya is attributed as having set the universe in motion, Maya is the root of the all objects in the universe. Any human being's root is the female genitals.

    Charan is generally translated as feet/foot. If you put your two feet together, it can seem like the 2 lips of the female genitals.

    This word has been sanctified over the last few centuries, but I think it originally means female vagina.

    Ram pressed Kausalya's genitals repeatedly as he left her antah pur to go to Sita's chamber.

    Kausalya was wearing a single white transparent silken garment when Ram came to her. My guess is, she was wearing it much the same way as Sita during the kidnapping. You can refer to the Mahabharat on how it was worn (Urvashi was covering her rear end with a thin garment while her vagina/temple of love was clearly visible to Ved Vyas). Kausalya must have wore it much the same way.

    You can also wear that garment in such a way as to cover the vagina, but Kausalya's maids announced to her that Ram is here, so she must have loosened the garment to display her vagina to Ram as she entered to meet him. She was fully nude from the front.

    1. Rohit,

      Yup, that Kaushalya circumambulating Rama incident was quite odd. I also noticed that, and was planning to talk about it in a later article on Rama and Kaushalya's relationship. Their relationship is quite interesting, in my opinion... Circumambulation is usually done by an inferior to a superior. For example, in Udyoga Parva, when Krishna meets Kunti, he circumambulates her as she is his aunt and therefore his superior. Kaushalya circumambulating Rama suggests that he is the superior in their relationship. In Kaushalya's lament to Rama, she acts more like an inferior to Rama, than a mother (who would be in a position superior to the son)... It seems more like an (immature) wife's lament, as opposed to a (more mature) mother's lament. Kaushalya, the wife in their relationship, looks upon Rama as her protector-pati like figure.

      Your comment on charan is very fascinating, and deserves more attention. I never thought of it from that perspective...

      [BTW, the Kaushalya circumambulating Rama verses are from Ayodhya Kanda Section 25]

    2. I agree with you, Kaushalya's rant appears very immature and selfish. It seems she wishes for Ram to become king, so that, she can feel superior amongst Dashrath's other wives. It is also somewhat odd that after Ram leaves and after Sumitra offers consolation to Kaushalya, it is written that Kaushalya's grief quickly disappeared like winter clouds. This is not to say that she didn't love Ram or wasn't sexually attracted to Ram, but there is a heavy tinge of selfishness here.

      It is generally well-known that disciples eat the charan-raj (foot dust) of revered ones. Why would anybody want to eat dust? It is described as such in many puranas stories (Narad eating gopis' foot dust). In my opinion, the foot dust may refer to female cum. I had read in some article a while back that in the olden days when deva dasis would dance for the Lord, they would cum in excitement. The general public would then roll in the dust where cum fell, because the cum fell for God.

      Charanamrit - even in today's India, cow is regarded as a mother and people do drink cow's urine. It may refer to mother's urine that people in ancient India used to drink.

      Charan kamal - the lotus flower is universally recognized, even today, as a symbol of female genitals.

      Happy mother's day :))

      But, seriously, it is very nice to know that it is not wrong or immoral to give vent to sensual urges. Revered figures in Hindu history did that.

    3. Check out chapter 2.40.

      When Ram, Sita, Lakshman touch the feet of Dashrath before leaving for the forest, the word charan is not used. When the people of Ayodhya are following Ram on foot, the word charan is not used.

      In this same chapter, when Lakshman says goodbye to his mother Sumitra, he touches her "feet", the word charan is used.

      I will also say this - when a person drinks the urine of a woman or fluid of a woman, the woman is superior in the relationship, at least during that time frame in their relationship.