As Ayodhya was gearing up for Ram’s coronation the next day there was joy and celebration everywhere but one person–Manthara–was not happy. When she found out about the coronation she stormed into Kaikeyi’s chambers and exclaimed, “Get up you Fool! How can you lie on the bed like that when danger is all around you?”
Manthara had a special relationship with the queen, she was a maid, but also an elder companion from Kaikeyi’s father’s home, who had looked after her for many years. Hence, she had the liberties with language. She went on by saying, “Dashrath is going to appoint Rama as Yuvraj, Bharata and you will be left with nothing, your end is near.”
This was the first time Kaikeyi was hearing anything about this matter. The decision regarding the coronation had only been made a few hours earlier. She was delighted, her face lit up, and she said to Manthara, “I do not differentiate between Rama and Bharat, I am very happy that Rama will be made Yuvraj.” She gave Manthara a beautiful piece of jewelry as a gift for delivering such wonderful news. Such was Rama and Kaikeyi’s relationship till then. Kaikeyi herself said that Rama had all the qualities of a great ruler and was also the eldest among the brothers. Therefore he deserved to be the Yuvraj, for her, if Bharata was worthy Rama was even more so. “Sometimes Rama is even partial towards me and not Kausalya”, she added. Kaikeyi continued saying that, “Bharata has nothing to fear because if Rama gets the Kingdom it is as if Bharata himself has got it, because Rama regards his brothers as his own self.”
From that starting point, Manthara started her devious job of turning Kaikeyi’s mind against Ram. First, she created a difference where previously there was none. She spoke with the intent of creating a division with respect to Ram. She spoke of Kaikeyi’s paksha, or side; Rama was the other, that Bharata was Ram’s natural enemy. Next she warned Kaikeyi that the enemy would surely destroy her son once he ascended the throne. She said that Lakshman and Shatrughana were both young and therefore only Bharata could be a challenge for Ram. Thus, if Rama becomes the king he would preempt any potential challenge and will either banish or kill Bharata.
About Dasharatha, Manthara said that he was like a snake, he speaks very sweetly and righteously, but he is actually your enemy. She said, “See how deviously he is doing all this while Bharata is at his uncle’s place.” She further warned Kaikeyi that not only would her son perish but she herself would be left in a pitiful condition. “You have taken advantage of being the King’s favorite, you have not treated Kausalya kindly and now she will make you pay for that once her son becomes the King”, Manthara said to threaten her.
Again and again, Kaikeyi was struck by Manthara’s words, that were like arrows. Eventually, Kaikeyi’s mind was poisoned. She was trapped by her words,or as Kaikeyi perceived it, she saw the light. “ Oh Manthara, had it not been for you, I would have never seen through Dashrath’s nefarious plan, only you have my interest at heart. Now either Bharata will become the King or I will breathe my last here”, she announced. And then she asked, “ How to go about it Manthara?”.
Manthara reminded Kaikeyi that she had the old King wrapped around her little finger. He was infatuated with her, his young and beautiful queen. “He will never do anything to upset you,nor can he bear to see you cross, will even gladly give up his life in order to do your bidding”, said Manthara. She then advised Kaikeyi to recognize her power and told her to bind Dashrath once again to the two boons that he had granted her many years before for saving his life in a battle. She further advised her to then put forth her demands, which would be impossible to deny. The demands were to be: Bharata be made Yuvraj and not Rama and Rama be sent off into exile for fourteen years. “The second part was critical for Bharata to establish himself among the people”, Manthara added to further corrupt Kaikeyi’s mind.
To execute the plan, Kaikeyi entered the Krodhabahavan, of her palace. The Krodhabahavan was a room meant for venting anger. An interesting interior designing concept, perhaps it made the rest of the palace safe from tantrums. Inside the Krodhabahavan, Kaikeyi took off her pearl necklaces and other jewellery and threw them all on the floor. She lay waiting for Dashrath.
How could Kaikeyi fall for this? It is so obvious what Manthara was trying to do. Indeed, it is obvious for a third person but, alas, never so for the person getting influenced.
There are Manthara’s everywhere in our lives too. At the workplace, within friend circle, and even in the family. They are creating divisions, poisoning minds and there are enough Kaikeyis who fall for that and turn away from loved ones.
Think about it, are we also not behaving like Kaikeyi, when we sometimes, judge Rama without giving him a chance to tell his story. When we dismiss the Ramayana without reading it.