a) Where can I read in detail about Dashrath's wife Kaekayi, her background, and the battles she fought alongside him. b) There is also a legend that she already knew about Ram's purpose so and was persuaded to play her part by Agastya Rishi and Vishwamitra. What is the source of this?

2 Answers 2


Kaikeyi had earned her 2 boons by saving King Dashratha's life while he was fighting against the Asura and Rakshasa in the Dandaka forest [Valmiki Ramayana 2.9].

Kaikeyi was initially very happy to hear that God Rama would become the king of Ayodhya, till her mind was poisoned by Manthara [Valmiki Ramayana 2.7-8]. So, it seems that she did not know about God Rama's purpose.

After God Rama left Ayodhya on exile, Rishi Vasishtha send envoys to get Bharata and Shatrughna back from Kaikeya, the kingdom of Kaikeyi's father King Ashwapati. Their journey to the west of Ayodhya is described as passing through Hastinapura, Kurujangala and Bahlika to reach Kaikeya. Their speedy return travel journey to Ayodhya lasted 7 nights [Valmiki Ramayana 2.69-71]. Kaikeya was present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan.

Bharata most severely rebuked Kaikeyi when he learnt about what had happened [Valmiki Ramayana 2.73].

Kaikeyi's brother was Yudhajit [Valmiki Ramayana 2.72; Ramayana 7.113]. Later during the reign of God Rama, Yudhajit asked for His help to battle the Gandharvas. God Rama send Bharata and his 2 sons Taksha and Pushkala. After the victorious battle, Bharata founded 2 cities then named Takshashila and Pushkalavati, present-day Taxila and Charsadda near Peshawar in Pakistan [Ref: Brahmanda Purana; Ramayana 7.114].

Source: 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani, pages 2, 8-10, 67.


While Kaikeyi does not seem to know of Rama's mission Dasaratha seemingly does. He goes on a tangent about Rama before Kaikeyi even brings him up, which is much more likely if he knows what she is going to say.

Kaikeyi is actually not very evil though, because she never specifies Dasaratha cannot be with his son. She actually specifies Bharata to rule, which allows Dasaratha to be with his son. Since Dasaratha is supposed to be powerful enough to battle Asuras, Rama would surely be okay if he was with him. Thus, the exile of Rama is not very evil, bearing in mind Dasarathe can just go with him.

It is stuff like this that makes me question the first human, who Dasaratha is an incarnation of (although in that life specifically, I think it makes more sense for him to be a shapeshifting Deva). He seems nice, until you really think about what he does (e.g. not go with his son) in detail. He is also prone to speaking excessively vaguely. This is the reason I don't fully trust the Manu Smriti (although there are a lot of things in the Manu Smriti Manu has no incentive to lie/obfuscate about)

The resplendent monarch, agitated by desire, raising the head of the queen from the ground took her in his arms and answered smilingly: “O Fortunate One, dost you not know that none is dearer to me than you, saving that lion among men, Shri Ramacandra. I swear by the invincible Rama, who is even dearer to me than you, that I will fulfil your ambition. O Kaikeyi, I swear by Rama, without seeing whom I cannot live one hour, that I will execute your desire. O Dear One, by my oath I have demonstrated to you the intensity of my love, now tell me what you desirest. Knowing the great love I bear for you, have no fear; by my meritorious deeds I declare to you, I will grant you what you asks.”

Following the instructions of Manthara, knowing the fulfilment of her ambition to be at hand and concerned with the advancement of Bharata, Kaikeyi spoke harshly. Satisfied with the attitude of the king, she, resembling the dreadful god of death, addressed him: “O Great King, formerly you didst promise me two boons to which the thirty-three gods were witness. O King, moon, sun, ether, the planets, day and night, the cardinal points, the universe and those who inhabit it, the earth, the gandharvas, the asuras, the spirits and other beings are witness to that promise given to me by you. O You Gods, listen with attention to the boons which the king, a lover of truth, highly resplendent and acquainted with the law of duty, grants me.”

The Queen Kaikeyi, praising the king, who was overcome by desire and ready to grant any boon, said: “O King, recollect how in the war between the gods and asuras, you didst fall wounded like one dead, and I rescued you by applying the appropriate means? On your recovery, you didst promise me two boons. O Truthful Monarch, I now earnestly desire these two boons which are in your power to grant. Should you, despite your promises given, not fulfil these desires, then I will relinquish my life, dishonoured by you.”

The queen, holding the king’s mind subject by her sweet words, resembled a hunter who, intending to slay a deer, lays a snare for it. Then addressing the king infatuated with passion and willing to grant any boon, she said:—

“O Deva, hear me, I now claim these two boons. Employing the preparations made for Rama’s installation, let my son Bharata be proclaimed regent, this is the first boon. The second pledge granted me on the battlefield is now also due to be fulfilled. Let Ramacandra be exiled to the forest for fourteen years, wearing a dress of bark, with matted locks like a hermit, while my son, Prince Bharata, rules without hindrance. This is my earnest desire. Let me, this day, behold the exile of Rama. O King, Protector of Truth, preserve your integrity and the traditions of your birth. The rishis declare that the observance of truth is the most excellent means of attaining heaven.”

https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/compilation/puranic-encyclopaedia/d/doc241661.html https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-ramayana-of-valmiki/d/doc423958.html

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