Venom of Manthara

There are times when people wonder why they have been handed out a raw deal in life by the very people they are closely associated with.

People could be shortchanged or made to feel the hurtful brunt for inexplicable reasons. Yet logic, science and the Karma theory claim that each and every event in our lives can be put down to a cause. Hence, if the so-called unexpected or unimaginable occurrence is analysed syllogistically, it will be easy to fathom the reason.

Often, seemingly inconsequential acts or remarks, loose talk, friendly gossip and misunderstandings on our part can prove to be the stumbling blocks which can change the course of our lives entirely.
An incident from the Ramayana stands testimony to this trait of human behaviour.

When Rama was a very young boy, he used to enjoy practising archery on odd targets. The hunchback of queen Kaikeyi’s governess Manthara fascinated him no end. He used to aim at her humped back and shoot little balls of mud, whenever he found an opportunity.
The little prince’s achievement would be applauded by those around.
Though everyone found Rama’s activity to be amusing, Manthara felt extremely slighted. Perhaps her inferiority complex got the better of her as she registered her dislike for the crown prince. Later on, it was her unconditional love for Kaikeyi and her deep resentment towards Rama which prompted her to instigate the queen against her favourite child.

The handmaiden of the favourite queen of Dasharatha, reminded Kaikeyi of the long-forgotten boons promised to her by her husband when she had saved his life in the battlefield. Initially, Kaikeyi was totally against the bizarre idea.

Nevertheless Manthara highlighted the fact that the queen was being sidelined by the king of Ayodhya while he chose Rama to be his successor.

Manthara eventually succeeded in convincing Kaikeyi that she had been wronged and made her throw a self-righteous tantrum. It alarmed the king enough to promise Kaikeyi that her son Bharatha would be crowned as the next king of Ayodhya and also made him banish Rama to the forest albeit unwillingly.

At the outset, it appears as if Manthara was working purely in the interests of her queen. That aspect was primary and certainly cannot be negated.

Yet the fact remains that the loathing that she had nurtured for Rama was also a potent factor. She could not forget the Ikshavaku prince who had insulted her in his innocence.
It underlined her aggressive approach and advice to the queen which changed the course of events against the best laid plans.

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