The Death of Dasarath


The Death of King Dasarath (detail)

Apr 09, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — The departure of King Dasarath, summarized from Sri Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand.

Dasarath narrated the whole story of how he had killed Shravan Kumar by mistake. After the death of their son, Shravan Kumar's parents had been writhing in anguish. Before they died, they cursed Dasarath that just like them, he too would die of the sorrows caused by separation from his beloved son. In this way Dasarath gave up his life, unable to bear the sorrows of separation from Sri Rama. He pronounced Rama's name six times while dying. Upon his death, a deep sorrow gripped all the subjects of Ayodhya.

Bharat's Arrival

The news of Dasarath's death spread like a wildfire. People were cursing Kaikayee. Vashishta then decided to immediately summon Bharat, who was at that moment staying with his maternal grandparents. He instructed that the dead body of Dasarath be preserved until the arrival of Bharat. He also warned the charioteer against revealing the news of Dasarath's death to Bharat and Shatrughana.

The charioteer proceeded on his journey to bring back Bharat and Shatrughana. Right from that day, a shadow of misfortune descended over Ayodhya, and Bharat was amazed by the frequency of bad dreams he began having. He experienced various kinds of thoughts coming to his mind, and he worshipped Lord Shiva for the welfare of Ayodhya and the feeding of the Brahmins.

The Death of King Dasarath
Ramayana Illustration
Reign of Akbar, c. 1605 A.D.
NY Metropolitan Museum
[ Click for large version ]

Right then the charioteer arrived and intimated about the commands of Vashishta. Both Bharat and Shatrughana at once proceeded with him. The chariot was moving at a tremendous speed. As they were about to enter Ayodhya, Bharat was distressed by the various inauspicious signs that began to show up on the outskirts of Ayodhya, like cawing crows flying overhead, the braying of an ass, and the howling of the jackals. Bharat was very surprised to find the markets in Ayodhya closed. People were moving around silently, and even the animals and birds seemed reluctant to eat and drink.

Apprehending some serious tragedy, Bharat entered the palace. When Kaikayee came to know about his arrival she very happily welcomed him. She performed his arti and took him inside. Bharat sensed the gloomy atmosphere inside the palace, although Kaikayee was eager to know about her parent's home, and inquired after their wellbeing. Bharat narrated everything about his maternal grandparents, then he enquired about his father Dasarath, other mothers, Sri Rama, Laxmana and Sita.

Kaikayee then cunningly revealed the news of Dasarath's death. Bharat was filled with sorrow. He fell on the ground. After a while, when he had controlled himself, he enquired about the reason for his father's death. Kaikayee then narrated the whole story. When Bharat learned of Sri Rama's exile, he became quiet, considering himself responsible for it. Kaikayee tried her best to console Bharat, but all in vain.

Next, both Bharat and Shatrughana went to see Kaushalya. Kaushalya, who was looking very weak and frail, wanted to get up when she saw both of them coming, but she fell down. Bharat fell down at Kaushalya's feet and said in a wailing voice: "Mother! Where is father? Where are Sri Rama, Laxmana and Sita? Why was Kaikayee born in this world? Why did she give birth to her children? Our mother has disgraced us by her acts. Who is responsible for our father's death and our dear brother going into exile?"

Conversation between Bharat and Kaushalya

Hearing such words from Bharat, Kaushalya took him in her embrace and wiping the tears from his eyes she said, "Son, do not say these things". She embraced Shatraghun and felt as if she were embracing Rama and Laxmana.

Kaushalya said to Bharat, "O Son, shed the sorrows from your mind and heart, considering it just as a bad time. Neither curse yourself nor anybody else because nobody can understand the motion of time."

She further said, "Rama has gone into exile following his father's orders, without any sign of joy or sorrow on his face. Laxmana and Sita too have gone along with him. But I have remained alive to face all these tragedies.

Bharat said, "O mother, even if I have ever thought of an exile for Sri Rama, may I acquire all the sins unitedly that one acquires for killing one's parents, burning a cowshed, or poisoning the king!"

Seeing the guilty consciousness of Bharat, Kaushalya said, "Son, everybody knows about the love and affection you have towards Rama, and Rama's love towards you. The Moon can shower fire and the clouds can be devoid of water, but you can never go against Rama."

In this way, Bharat and Kaushalya passed the whole night, consoling each other. On the new dawn's arrival, Vashishta, Vamdeo and other sages arrived in the royal court and consoled Bharat, hoping to overcome his sorrows so that he could discharge his duties.

Last rites were then completed for the dead body of King Dasarath, with all due respects.


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