– By Acharya Ratnananda
“Oh! My sweet son Ramachandra, please pardon me for my cruelty in banishing you to the forest,” pleaded Queen Kaikeyi, with tears in her eyes when she met him alone in his hermitage in the forest of Chitrakoota.
Prince Bharata had come to the forest with his entire retinue to persuade Sri Rama to return to Ayodhya and resume Kingship. Bharata’s mother Kaikeyi also followed him to explain to Sri Rama, the real reasons for her seemingly sinful actions.
“Dear Queen mother Kaikeyi”, said Sri Rama, “I know that you love me more than your own son, and so there is no need for you to seek forgiveness from me.”
“Oh my son! I definitely did not want you to go to the forest. But it was the Divine mother Sharada, who appeared before me and appealed to me to grant her the boon to help in sending you to the jungle. To my surprise the Divinity explained the real purpose of your birth and who you are. Then I could not deny her request.”
“I am aware of it mother”, said the smiling prince. “Devi Sharada came to you as per my wish. You had the rare privilege as a human being to grant a boon to a divine being. It has never happened anywhere and at any other time.”
“But why was I chosen for this painful assignment and worse still, why was I prevented from sharing the real reasons behind my demands by Divine mother Sharada,” wept the mother of Bharata.
“My dear mother, you were chosen only because King Dasharatha had granted you two boons and he was bound to honor them. He could not refuse when you asked for the fulfillment of your wishes. He would never have agreed to send me to the forest, if the request had come from any other person. Secondly, your revealing the real reasons, either to my father, or to your son, would have completely messed up the whole plan! Hence, Devi Sharada obtained your consent for silence,” explained Sri Rama.
“By ensuring my silence, the Divine Mother made me a scapegoat and forced me to face the hatred of the entire community. Is this fair and proper?” wept the noble lady.
“I realize your pain. But you are also aware that according to our scriptures, an individual, if necessary, has to sacrifice his or her well-being for the welfare of the community at large. Besides, you have also helped the demon king Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna”, replied Sri Rama.
“But how can it benefit the Demon king, whom you are going to kill anyway. Besides, is it not wrong to help and benefit an evil person?” queried the confused Kaikeyi.
“You are right in a way. But you are not aware that Ravana and his brother are not essentially evil, but are under a curse. In fact, they are my dear devotees, Jaya and Vijaya. I have taken this birth, not only to rid the world of the evildoers, but also to relieve them of their curse and reclaim them to my fold. Hence, please go back to Ayodhya in peace, and think of me. I shall be with you soon”, consoled the man of God who walked the Earth.
This beautiful and rare incident is detailed in “Veda Vyasa Ramayana”, and is not found in any other story of Sri Rama.
In fact, “Veda Vyasa Ramayan” is almost an autobiography of Sri Rama, as it was said to be narrated by Lord Narayana himself, to his beloved sister Devi Parvathi, and later documented by Maharishi Vyasa.