(Last Updated on : 01-04-2010)
Ramayana contains seven kandas or episodes. The first episode is the Bala Kanda
which concludes with the marriage of Lord Rama
and his three brothers with the princesses of Mithila. Ayodhya Kanda, the second book of Ramayana, begins with an account of Bharata and Shatrughna. Both the princes are at Bharata's grandfather's place. The monarch, King Ashvapati, loved the brave princes. In Ayodhya, on the other hand, King Dasaratha had aged. After reigning the kingdom successfully for several years, he was now growing weary and was looking forward to Rama, his first born, as the heir apparent. In accordance to the law of primogeniture, Lord Rama was the idle choice for the king but besides this the eldest prince of Ayodhya was bestowed with several virtues. His righteousness, wisdom, prowess, temper, nobility and sense of justice ensured that he will be a just king for the kingdom of Ayodhya
With this view in mind, King Dasaratha summoned a council of his vassals, counsellors and neighbouring kings and princes and announced Lord Rama as the heir apparent of Ayodhya. The Brahmins, army-leaders, citizens and countrymen all agreed to the monarch's decision stating that they themselves were eager to see Rama as the next king, riding the elephant of state and seated beneath the umbrella of dominion. Finally the day came when Rama would be ascending the throne. The city was decorated too in the best possible ways. In the royal palace, too, people were celebrating the day. But the only person who was lamenting during the festivities was Manthara, the faithful old humpbacked maid of queen Kaikeyi
. Learning of Rama's ascension to the throne, she ran to Kaikeyi and said that if Rama is made the king, Bharata
will be reduced to a servant. She instigated Kaikeyi against the eldest prince and reminded of the two boons that the King Dasaratha had granted her. It was time she asked of her husband of those two boons. Kaikeyi fell to Manthara's schemes and asked the king for her two boons. According to the first, Bharata will be declared the king and secondly, Rama will be sent to the forests for fourteen years.
The king was completely heartbroken on hearing these. No amount of persuasion could alter Kaikeyi from her decision. Finally, it was the young prince, Rama, who took it upon himself to fulfil his father's promise. Putting Dasaratha
out of his dilemma, Rama set out for the forest. Despite his refusal both Sita
followed him to the forest. As far as Ayodhya was concerned, it was mourning the exile of their favourite prince. Inside the palace, the king is reproached by queen Kaushalya
, Rama's mother. On hearing her, the king was reminded of his killing of Shravan Kumar and the nemesis which said that he would also suffer the pangs of separation from his son. The grief, the regret suffered by the old king finally led to his death.
On the other hand, prince Bharata and Shatrughna were back from their maternal uncle's place. On hearing from his mother the past events, Bharata burnt with grief. He reproaches his mother and Shatrughna
lambasted the evil Manthara. He was keen on killing the maid but Bharata refrained him from the act telling the youngest prince that Rama would never approve of killing a woman of their mother's age. On the fourteenth day, the ministers asked Bharata to take over the throne. But, being the dutiful brother, he plainly refused and ordered to prepare an expedition to go in search of Rama. On meeting his elder brother, Bharata wept inconsolably and requested him to come back to Ayodhya. But Rama refused stating that he had to fulfil his father's wish as it was duty. Bharata, on the other hand, refused to ascend the throne and decided he would carry back Rama's pair of sandals and put it on the throne of Ayodhya whilst he will be ruling as Rama's regent.
Ayodhya Kanda concludes with an account of the forest and the life led by Rama, Sita and Lakshmana there. This book of Ramayana provides an insight into the bonding of the brothers. Besides this, virtues like duty are given prime importance as well.