When Lakshmana proposed a Coup

Despite the deadly blow dealt by Kaikeyi, Rama was unmoved. His life had turned upside down but without a single lament he went about doing what had to be done to depart for the forest. He first went to meet his mother Kausalya. Kausalya of course had no inkling of this calamity that had befallen and so she was all ready for the coronation. Upon seeing Rama, she hugged him dearly and said, “Son, may you live long and may you always follow the path of righteousness” and then offering a seat, she asked him to eat something. Rama declined and told her what had happened with Kaikeyi and Dashrath.

When Kausalya heard the news, she collapsed on the ground and was paralysed with shock, agony, and grief. After mustering the strength She asked Rama to take her along and started sobbing inconsolably. Lakshmana, who was present by Rama’s side, then spoke.

His emotions are summed up by this explosive monologue: “I don’t think that Rama should give up the Kingdom. The king has become old and he is now overpowered by passions and has developed a perverse nature. Infatuated with Kaikeyi, he can speak anything. Why should Rama go into exile? He has done no wrong. It is grossly unfair to him. Even his adversaries cannot find fault with him, then how can his own father abandon him? How can a son accept the words of such a father who has become immature and childish in old age? O Rama, before this news gets out take control of this empire! I will help you. Who would dare challenge you? And if they do I will kill them, I will kill them all. Even if it means that there is not a single person left in Ayodhya. And as for Dashratha we ought not to hold back because he is our father. Even a Guru, if he strays from the path of righteousness must be punished. If our father stands against us, he too ought to be imprisoned, even killed.”

Lakshmana had stated his intention of taking over the empire by force and killing their own father if it came to that. “You heard what your brother said, now do what you think is appropriate,” said Kausalya to Rama. “Just as you must abide by your father’s wishes, likewise, you must abide by my wishes too and I forbid you from going into the forest. What Kaikeyi has said is against Dharma. Your Dharma is to stay here and if you still go away, I will stop eating and give up my life. My death will be on you.”

Rama tried to explain his thinking to a mother wallowing in sorrow and to a bother boiling with rage. Rama gave many precedents to argue that abiding by one’s father’s wishes is the highest Dharma and in his case, Dashratha was his Guru, King, and father.

Interestingly we know that it was not actually Dashratha’s wish that Rama be sent off. In fact, the very thought that Rama would go away was killing Dasharatha, but he was helpless. Rama had to go not because Dasharatha wanted so, but because of his promise to Kaikeyi. For Rama, breaking the king’s promise was not an option. So he said, “It is not possible for me to do anything but execute the promise in every way and it is not within my powers to transgress the words of my father.”



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