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Most people are only familiar with Dasharatha's four sons - Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. But there is a common story that Dasharatha also had a daughter. The story as I understand it goes roughly as follows: before the birth of Rama or any of Dasharatha's other sons, Dasharatha and Kausalya had a daughter by the name of Shanta. Now Kausalya's sister Varshini was the wife of Romapada king of Anga, and the couple were unable to have children. So Varshini once asked Dasharatha, jokingly, whether he would give his daughter Shanta to her and her husband. But Dasharatha took the request seriously and agreed to give his daughter to Romapada. Romapada raised Shanta, and eventually married her off to Rishyasringa, the sage who carried out Dasharatha's Putrakameshti Yagna that produced Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.

But none of this is mentioned in the Ramayana. The (very entertaining) story of Rishyasringa and how he got married to Shanta is described in great detail, but Shanta is just described as Romapada's daughter; for instance it says "the king of Anga will beget a fortunate girl named Shanta" and when Dasharatha talks to Rompada he just says "your daughter princess Shanta". There's no mention that Shanta is actually the biological daughter of Dasharatha. The Vana Parva of the Mahabharata similarly says "And [R]omapada, the desire of his heart fulfilled, bestowed his daughter Santa on Rishyasringa in marriage."

So my question is, what scriptures, if any, mention the fact that Shanta is Dasharatha's daughter? There are many retellings of the Ramayana in the Puranas, so maybe one of them mentions it? Or is it a later folk legend with no basis in Hindu scripture?

  • To add to your question: Do any scriptures say that Shanta's biological mother was Kausalya? – sv. Feb 16 '16 at 0:58
  • @sv. Good question! This chapter from Ashok Chaterjee's book "Padma-Purana: A Study" discusses what different sources have to say about Shanta: gdurl.com/h8kz It doesn't mention any scriptures which say who Shanta's mother is. It does say that the Krittivasi Ramayana (the Bengali version) says that Shanta was the daughter of one of Dasharatha's minor wives. (Dasharatha had over 300 wives as I discuss here.) This wife is said to be a Bhargava, although that's strange since she would be a Brahmin and Brahmana women can't marry Kshatriya men. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 16 '16 at 3:35
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    @sv. So I'm not sure where the story of Kausalya being the mother and Kausalya's sister Varshini jokingly asking Dasharatha for Shanta comes from. By the way, I should mention that the thesis of Chaterjee's chapter is that the notion of Shanta being the daughter of Dasharatha is based on a misunderstanding due to the fact that Romapada's other name was Dasharatha, so people assumed that Rama's father Dasharatha had given his daughter to Romapada and then introduced interpolations stating that into a bunch of different scriptures. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 16 '16 at 3:39
  • Oh, interesting theories. Thanks for the info. – sv. Feb 16 '16 at 4:19
  • The story of Shanta's wedding (as Romapada's daughter) to Maharishi Rishayashringa finds mention in Sargas 9 to 11 of Baala Kanda of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. Please see my detailed answer: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/12516/… – Suresh Ramaswamy Jul 19 '18 at 3:29
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Shanta is described as Dasharatha's daughter in the Srimad Bhagavatam not in a retelling of the Ramayana as you might expect, but in a description of a line of lunar dynasty kings which includes Romapada:

From Diviratha came a son named Dharmaratha, and his son was Citraratha, who was celebrated as Romapāda. Romapāda, however, was without issue [i.e. without children], and therefore his friend Mahārāja Daśaratha gave him his own daughter, named Śāntā. Romapāda accepted her as his daughter, and thereafter she married Ṛṣyaśṛṅga.

So Dasharatha having a daughter does have a scriptural basis after all.

  • Nice find. There are many conflicting accounts between different purāṇas, between them and Vedic accounts, and between those and Rāmāyaṇa/Mahābhārata. So we should always say "source X says so..." rather than attempt to harmonize all the sources into a "true" account. – ShreevatsaR Jul 1 '14 at 3:44
  • @ShreevatsaR Well, I think there is much less contradiction in our scriptures than people think (and in some cases contradictions may be due to interpolations), but in any case here there are no contradictions. When those other accounts call Shanta Romapada's daughter, they just mean that she was his foster daughter, not biological daughter. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '14 at 3:49
  • There are different lists of kings, different lines of succession, different names... yes in this case the contradiction can be harmonized (as you have done), but this additional detail may not be a good addition to the story of the Rāmāyaṇa, for instance. – ShreevatsaR Jul 1 '14 at 4:24
  • @ShreevatsaR I guess we just view things differently. I don't view the Ramayana as a fictional work which is to be adjusted based on what makes for a good story. I view it as the truth, so the important thing is to find out whether Dasharatha really had a daughter or not. As to your broader point, different texts may seem to contradict each other at first glance, but that's often due to modern readers missing some subtleties, or due to interpolated passages and the like. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 1 '14 at 4:59
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    Also Valmiki Bhagavan has given a subtle hint. In Sarga 9, after describing Rshyashringa's story, Sumantra quotes Sanat Kumara: Rshyashringo tu Jamata Putran Tava Vidhasyati. – Surya Dec 3 '15 at 4:34
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Vishnu Purana mentions Shanta as Dashrath's daughter given to his friend, King Romapada of Anga kingdom.

This was mentioned by Sage Parashar while describing the Anu-Vansh in Chaturtha Ansha - Adhyaya 18 - Shloka 18 (Vishnu Purana by Gita Press).

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