Ayodhya Kanda is about the preparations for Ram’s coronation as a prince, coronation and his exile into the forest. In Ayodhya Kanda Raja Dasharath died due to grief.
Ram As Prince Regent In Ayodhya Kanda
King Dasharath who had grown old expressed his desire to install Ram, his eldest child the Yuvaraja (Prince regent) to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects expressed their support. He decided that the next day he would begin the ceremony for the installation of Ram as Prince regent. The demigods and mother earth became very concerned that Ram was becoming very settled in Ayodhya and something had to happen if Ram was to conquer the Ravan. They approached Goddess Saraswati for help.
Queen Kaikeyi’s Two Wishes From King Dasharath In Ayodhya Kanda
Saraswati decided to alter the mind state of one of Queen Kaikeyi’s maid servant named Manthara, doing what was necessary to ensure that Ram would come into conflict with Ravan. Manthara’s mind became twisted and began to talk to Queen Kaikeyi in harsh terms. (Manthara, a family servant of Kaikeyi, she lived with her from the time of her birth.) When she heard that King Dasharath was planning to make his eldest son, Ram prince regent, she fled into a rage and reported the news to Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi was initially pleased, Manthara convinced her that if Ram came to power, he would exile or kill Bharat in order to eliminate a possible threat to his power Slowly Queen Kaikeyi’s mind was poisoned. Manthara reminded Queen Kaikeyi of the two boons that the King had promised her. Kaikeyi entered the sulking chamber in the royal palace and awaited for King Dasharath. King Dasharath was greatly alarmed and concerned that Kaikeyi was in the sulking chamber as the entire population of Ayodhya was greatly happy and eagerly anticipating the coronation of Ram. Queen Kaikeyi spoke to King Dasharath which surprised the king. She reminded him of the two boons long ago he promised her and claimed two boons (This happened when King Dasharath was wounded in his chariot on the battlefield once, and Kaikeyi saved his life by taking over the reins and driving the chariot to safety.)
The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, Kaikeyi asked these boons from King Dasharath who acceded to Kaikeyi’s demands.
“All arrangements had been made for Ram’s coronation, instead let my son Bharat be crowned as Prince Regent on this occasion itself”.
“ Ram had to take refuge in the forest for fourteen years “.
The kings court assistant Sumantra sent Ram to His father.
Ram Accepted His Exile In The Forest For 14 Yrs In Ayodhya Kanda
Queen Kaikeyi spoke to Ram and explained the boons that she had asked of His father.
Ram accepted his father’s reluctant decree with absolute submission and his step mother’s request and decided to leave the kingdom as it served all purposes of his incarnation.
Ram was joined by Sita and Lakshman. Ram tried to convince Sita not to join him in a dangerous and certainly arduous existence in the jungle. Sita replied, “The forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me.” When Ram ordered her in his capacity as husband, Sita rejected it, asserting that it was an essential duty of a wife to be at her husband’s side come good or ill. Ram, Sita and Lakshman greet their mothers before finally going to Dashrath to take leave of him. Dashrath attempted in vain, to try to talk Sita out of joining Ram in the forest.
Shravan In Ayodhya Kanda
After Ram’s departure, King Dasharath narrated to Kausalya his earlier sin committed by him in his young age.
“When he was Prince Regent of Ayodhya, famous for who can shot heard (but unseen) at the sound of the movement of the object by an arrow. One day he went out for hunting in the forest along Sarayu River expecting wild animals coming there for drinking water in the night. He mistook the gurgling sound for trumpeting of an elephant released a sharp arrow in the direction where a hermit-boy was filling his pitcher with water by submerging it into Sarayu River. Arrow hit the boy that went deep into the body and after hearing his cry he reached that place. He discovered the fatal blunder and tendered his heart felt apologies to the hermit boy who had come there for fetching water for his old parents. Boy asked Dasharath to extract the arrow from his body and said:
” My name is Shravan. My parents are old and blind. I am taking them to pilgrimage . My parents are waiting at some distance for me. I was here to fetch water for them. I am their only support. Now I am worried that they may not survive after hearing the news of my death.”
The boy died soon after the arrow was drawn out from the body. Then King Dasharath went to the aged parents of the deceased boy and informed about the death of their son and its cause. He brought them to their son to the river where he was lying dead, Aged couple cursed the king that he too would die of agony caused by the separation from his son, the aged couple gave up their lives”. After narrating the story of his getting the curse long back and start loudly weeping.
Ram, Sita , Lakshman Reached Forest In Ayodhya Kanda
The residents of Ayodhya joined Ram, Sita, Lakshman in the bank of Tamasa river. Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Sumantra escaped from the citizens during the deep night and ventured further into the forest towards Sringaverapur where they met Guha, the Nishad king. They arrived at Prayag, Ram met with the Rishi Bharadvaj at his Ashram. Lord Ram then met Rishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan at Chitrakoot
Ram asked Sumantra to return to Ayodhya. On returning to Ayodhya, Dashrath asked Sumantra of the whereabouts of Ram. The pain of separation from Ram was too much for King Dasharath passed away crying Ram’s name.
Bharat and Shatrughan who were on a visit to their maternal uncle in Kekeya country unaware of what was happening in Ayodhya. Rishi Vasistha knew that Ram would not return back to the kingdom and so he immediately sent an envoy to call Bharat and Shatrughan back to Ayodhya. Bharat learnt of all that had happened and critised his mother, Queen Kaikeyi. He accused her of bringing ruin to the family. They approached Queen Kaushalya and Bharat begged her forgiveness. She asked him to carry out his duty and rule Ayodhya, but Bharat could not bear the thought of sitting on the throne with his father dead and his brothers in exile in the forest. The cremation of King Dashrath took place.
Bharat And Shatrughan Requested Ram To Return To Ayodhya In Ayodhya Kanda
Bharat and Shatrughan decided to go into the forest and request Ram to return to Ayodhya and take the throne. Prominent citizens as well as the royal family decided to go with Bharat and Shatrughan.
The Nishads saw the approaching royal party and became suspicious and informed Lakshman. Lakshman saw the huge army of people with Bharat and immediately began to critise Bharat. Ram countered this by praising the greatness of Bharat. Bharat arrived at Chitrakoot and met Ram there. All the brothers collectively mourn the passing of their father and perform his shradh along with Rishi Vasisth leading the ceremony.
Despite of Bharat’s convincing, Ram found it impossible that he could break the word of his dead father’s and step mother Kaikeyi.
Bharat Return Ayodhya With Ram Sandals In Ayodhya Kanda
Bharat gave up his efforts to take Ram back to Ayodhya before the fourteen year exile elapsed. Bharat returned to Ayodhya after receiving a promise from Ram that he would return promptly at the end of the fourteen years of exile and ascend the throne. He vowed to Ram that if Ram did not return immediately when the fourteen years elapses he would give his life up by immolation. Bharat agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler, but as Ram’s representative.
On giving his sandals to Bharat for custodial care of kingdom till his return after the period of exile, Bharat after touching Ram’s feet and taking sandals, he returned from Chitrakoot, and without ruling from Ayodhya, he carried on the kingdom from a village called Nandigram.
Ram, Sita and Lakshman wandered in the forest and came across the hermitage of Atri. Sita was embraced by Atri’s wife, Anasuya and told Sita at length about the duties of a devoted wife.
Dandaka Forest In Ayodhya Kanda
Ram, Sita and Lakshman entered the forest called Dandaka and encountered with demon Viradha. Viradha attempted to capture Sita but Ram eliminated the demon.
Ram after eliminating demon Viradha entered the hermitage of Rishi Sharabhanga, Rishi Sharabhanga, with his sixth sense came to know that Vishnu was coming this way and would become his dear guest. He received Ram in his hermitage.
After seeing Ram, Sita and Lakshman, and also showing next course of their journey, that Rishi entered the yogic fire and ascended to Brahma’s abode.
Ram, Sita and Lakshman arrived at the hermitage of Rishi Sutiksna. After spending night in the heritage of Rishi Sutiksna, the next day morning bidding farewell to them, Rishi Sutiksna expressed concern about the demonic activities in the Dandaka Aranya, by whom these forests had been turned stockyards for heaps of dead bodies, bones and skulls of the Rishis.
Continuing on their journey through the forest, Ram, Sita and Lakshman entered the hermitage of Rishi Agastya. Rishi Agastya was also waiting to receive Ram for a long time, and received them with all honours, perceiving Ram as Vishnu incarnate. Rishi Agastya gave a divine bow of Vishnu, two quivers with ever replenishing with arrows, and a golden sword to Ram, saying that with the very same armory Vishnu once eradicated evil on earth.
Ram requested Rishi Agastya to suggest a place in the forest to make a residence during the days of exile. Rishi Agastya foresaw the next course of Ramayan and oriented his conversation around womanhood and Sita. Then Rishi Agastya informed Ram to proceed to Panchavati where Sita would be delightful of its surroundings
Ram, Sita and Lakshman on their way to Panchavati came into contact with Jatayu, the mighty eagle informed Ram that he was a friend of King Dasharath and would like to help Ram in exile.
Valmiki Ramayana is divided in following Kanda’s :
• Bala Kanda – Childhood – Birth and training of the Princes and marriage of the Princes
• Ayodhya Kanda – Ayodhya – Preparations for Ram’s coronation as a prince, coronation and his exile into the forest. Raja Dasharath died due to grief.
• Aranya Kanda –Forest – Forest life of Ram, visit to the Rishis, Ram received celestial weapons from Rishi Agastya. Kidnapping of Sita by Ravan.
• Kishkindha Kanda –Kishkindha – Meeting of Hanuman with Ram, Sugriv killed Bali with the help of Ram. Sugriv was crowned as the king of Kishkindha search of Sita.
• Sundara Kanda – Auspiciousness – Hanuman’s journey to Lanka and his meeting with Sita, sets fire to Lanka.
• Yuddha Kanda – War – Battle between Ram and Ravan. Both used Astras charged with Mantra, Sita was rescued from Ravan. Sita’s honour was tested in the fire
• Uttara Kanda –Afterword – Ram’s life after returning to Ayodhya and Sita’s exile, the birth of Luv and Kusha to Sita, their coronation to the throne of Ayodhya,.