We know Lord Rama was exiled for 14 years by obeying his father's command in the Ramayana.

Why was Lord Rama exiled for exactly 14 years? Why not more or less than 14 years?

Same as in Mahabharata, the Pandavas were exiled for 13 years. 12 years of Aranyawas and 1 year of Agnyatwas.

What is significance of respective years of exile in both case?

  • 2
    I believe it has something to do with yuga dharma. In each yuga separation for a certain number of years results in automatic forfeiture of ownership and claim. In kali yuga, it is 12 years. I have no idea on the basis or reason behind the stipulation.
    – user1195
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 13:03
  • @moonstar2001 Where did you hear about this rule? Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 14:19
  • @moonstar2001 And by the way, it wouldn't make sense in the case of the Mahabharata if it was about automatic forfeiture of ownership, because as discussed in my answer, the stakes of the bet explicitly specified that "[o]n the expiry of the thirteenth year, each is to have his kingdom surrendered by the other." In other words, after the period of exile, the losing side gets to reclaim their kingdom from the winning side. Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 14:40
  • If the exile were of 16, then also it would be asked why 16 years why not 14 or 15 years. 14 years need not necessarily be some specific number.
    – user9392
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


In the case of the Ramayana, the exile was 14 years so that Bharata would have enough time to grow close to the people, since previously Rama was beloved by the people and Bharata had been living away from Ayodhya with his maternal uncle; here is what Manthara tells Kaikeyii in the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana:

Hence, you have to stop, by force, the arrangements being made for Rama's coronation. You ask your husband as two boons, anointing Bharata for princely kingdom and sending Rama to exile for fourteen years. If you send Rama to forest for fourteen years, your son Bharata will get intimate association in the hearts of the people and will get stabilised in kingdom.

Now as far as the Mahabharata goes, Shakuni provides no justification for why he chooses this particular stakes 12 years plus 1 year incognito for the game of dice; this is all he says about the stakes in the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata:

But, O bull of the Bharata race, listen to me, there is a stake of great value. Either defeated by ye at dice, dressed in deer skins we shall enter the great forest and live there for twelve years passing the whole of the thirteenth year in some inhabited region, unrecognised, and if recognised return to an exile of another twelve years; or vanquished by us, dressed in deer skins ye shall, with Krishna, live for twelve years in the woods passing the whole of the thirteenth year unrecognised, in some inhabited region. If recognised, an exile of another twelve years is to be the consequence. On the expiry of the thirteenth year, each is to have his kingdom surrendered by the other. O Yudhishthira, with this resolution, play with us, O Bharata, casting the dice.

So the winning side would either enjoy the kingdom for 13 or 25 years depending on whether the losers are recognized while in their year of hiding. Like I said Shakuni doesn't say why he chose these numbers, but we can surmise that just as in the case of the Ramayana, they were chosen so that the winning side would have quite a long time to become close to the people.

  • +1 for the mantras... But its PartII ..Could you please share link for partI describing the Ayodhya kand in mantras. Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 9:59
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    @Sushil Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by part I and part II. What I linked to was chapter 9 of the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana. Do you want chapter 8? Here it is: valmikiramayan.net/utf8/ayodhya/sarga8/ayodhya_8_frame.htm And here is the whole Ayodhya Kanda: valmikiramayan.net/utf8/ayodhya/ayodhya_contents.htm By the way, the Ramayana and Mahabharata are made up of shlokas, not mantras. Mantras refer to things like the verses of the Vedas. Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 10:56
  • Ohh ..thanks for correcting me about mantras and shaloks. and Yes, I was asking for the full book.Thanks for sharing.. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 5:23
  • @Sushil OK, for the whole Ramayana just go to valmikiramayan.net Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 5:26
  • Can I get the same for Mahabharata ? Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 5:28

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