Everybody knows about Kaushalya, Shri Rama's mother. She was the eldest of the three queens of the king Dashrath. She had an ideal and liberal character.
In ancient times, Manushataroopa had pleased Lord Vishnu with her penance and sought a boon from Him to take birth as her son. The same Manushataroopa was Kaushalya and the mother of Lord Rama.
In Ramayana, the characterization of Kaushalya begins with Ayodhyakaand. While preparations were on for the coronation ceremony of Shri Rama and while people of Ayodhya were celebrating, Kaushalya's joy knew no bounds and she was busy performing many kinds of rites, worship of the deities and was observing a fast. She was sure that it was only a matter of time after which Shri Rama would be crowned as the King.
But destiny was about to take an altogether different turn. Long ago, the king Dashrath had made a promise to Kaikayee to grant her two boons. Kaikayee had utilized the occasion of getting her boons granted. So, she had demanded from Dashrath to send Rama into exile for fourteen years and crown her son Bharat as the king.
RELIQUISHING THE THRONE FOR THE CAUSE OF VIRTUOUSNESS: - In the early morning, Shri Rama took permission from Kaikayee and Dashrath and went to Kaushalya's palace to take her permission to go to the forest. Unaware of all these developments, Kaushalya was busy performing Hawan (offering oblations to the sacred fire) with the help of the Brahmins and all the while she was thinking about Shri Rama. Right then Shri Rama entered with a smile on his lips as usual. As soon a Kaushalya saw Shri Rama coming, she was flooded with the emotions for her son. Tears started to roll out from her eyes as it became impossible for her to control her joy. Both of them remained silent for some time. She then started to distribute clothes, ornaments after propitiating them over Shri Rama's head.
When Shri Rama told Kaushalya about His decision to renounce the crown and also that the purpose of coming there was to seek her blessings and permission to go to the forest happily. He also said to her that it was only a matter of fourteen years after which He would again be at the service of her feet.
Rama's words struck the heart of Kaushalya like lightning. Unable to bear the shock, Kaushalya fell down unconscious.
After some time, when she came around, she was in deep contemplation.
She said to Rama:
JAOUN KEVAL PITU AAYASU TATA
TAOU JANI JAAHU JAANI BADI MAATAA
TAOUN PITU MAATU KAHEOON BAN JAANA
TAOU KAANAN SAT AWADHA SAMAANAA
which meant: If only your father had ordered you to go into exile, do not go then. But if you have been ordered both by your mother and your father then you must obey them and for you the forest itself will be like Ayodhya."
Shri Rama replied that He had received the order both from Mother Kaikayee and father Dashrath. Now, Kaushalya had no choice but to give the permission with a heavy hear. She said: "Son, if the order is from both of them and if you too consider it according to the texts of religiousness, then by stopping you from going, I don't want to create hurdles in your path of religiousness. But then, never forget this mother."
Although, Kaushalya permitted Shri Rama to go to the forest but overwhelmed by the thought of separation, she asked Rama to take her along with him too.
Considering the moment appropriate, Shri Rama gave an excellent sermon on the duties of a chaste woman and fidelity towards her husband. He said: "It is very cruel for a woman to abandon her husband, even a thought like this must not come in your mind. You must be at the service of your husband till he is alive. The husband is like God for a woman. Mother, after my departure you ought to act in such a way that my father does not take his own life because of unbearable sorrow".
Kaushalya herself was very faithful to Dashrath. For a few moments, because of the love for her son, she became weak but Shri Rama's sermon regarding the faithfulness of a chaste woman, made her realize her mistake and she decided to be present beside her husband at that time of crises.
Sita's decision to follow Shri Rama in the forest impressed Kaushalya immensely. Embracing her, she said: "Daughter, those women, who even after receiving all the respect, honour and comfort from their husbands do not serve them during the time of crisis are non-virtuous and infidel. My son Rama has been forced to abandon Ayodhya by the cruel turn of destiny, whether he is rich or poor it does not matter. You have to follow your husband in every situation and never neglect Him".
Respecting her mother-in-law's, Sita replied: "Mother, I will follow your advice. I know the duties of a woman towards her husband as I have received education on this at my father's house. Just as the shine of the Moon cannot be separated from it, just as the strings are needed in Veena to produce sounds, just as a chariot without wheels cannot move, in the same way, a woman cannot live happily without her husband even though she might have hundred sons. The happiness which a woman gets from her father, mother, brothers or sons has limit but the joy a woman gets from her husband is similar to that of liberation. So, who would like to be such a cruel woman by not doing service to her husband".
When Shri Rama had left for the forest and when Dashrath came to Kaushalya to meet her, she spoke rudely to him because of the anger. Dashrath understood her pain so he begged her pardon for being helpless.
But then, Kaushalya realized her mistake and tears rolled down from her eyes. She regretted her action. She begged for pardon. After Rama's departure, Dashrath was stricken with grief, he stopped even eating, drinking and talking. He literally became lifeless. A panic spread among the subjects of Ayodhya seeing him in that condition. In this situation, Kaushalya forgot her own pains, consoled Dashrath in the following way:
NAATHA SAMUJHI MUN KARIA BICHARU |
RAAM VIYOGA PAYODHI APAARU |
KARANDHAARA TUMHA ABADHA JAHAA JOO |
CHADHEU SAKALA PRIYAPATHIKA SAMAAJU |
DHEERAJU DHARIA TA PAAIA PAARU |
NAAHIN TA BUDIHIN SABU PARIVAARU |
JON JIYAN DHARIA BINAYA PRIYA MOREE |
RAAMULAKHANU SIYA MILAHIN BAHOREE ||
Comparing the sorrow of Rama's separation with a ship and Dashrath with the master of that ship, Kaushalya requests him to have control on his sorrows as being the master of the ship he has great responsibilities on his shoulders of saving the lives of his subjects. She also says that if he shows little bit of patience, one day he will certainly see Rama, Lakshmana and Sita.
KAUSHALYA'S IMPARTIAL LOVE FOR RAM AND BHARAT
Kaushalya never discriminated between Shri Rama and Bharat. When Bharat returned from his maternal grandparent's palace and learnt that Shri Rama had been sent into exile, his heart filled with sorrow.
But Kaushalya consoled him and felt as if Rama had returned from exile. She told him not to feel guilty because it was because of the Kaala (time) that Rama had to abandon Ayodhya. She also told people would never believe that he (Bharat) and Rama had ever been against each other. And those who would believe that Rama went into exile because of you would never prosper and meet a sad end.
After Dashrath's death, when Bharat refused to accept the throne despite the insistence of sage Vashishta, Kaushalya asked him to follow the instructions of his Guru as Rama's exile was caused by destiny and also that for the sake of welfare of the people of Ayodhya, he shoould accept the throne.
This shows Kaushalya's love for the people of Ayodhya. Her love for them is also known when she said that while Rama was preparing for exile, "I am not as much pained by the news of Rama's departure but what pains me so much is the thought of Bharat's suffering and the suffering of the people of Ayodhya".
Inspite of Kaushalya's exceptionally ideal character, it was also a fact that after all she was a mother. So, when Rama returned home after fourteen years of exile, she ran towards Him, just like a cow runs towards her calf. Kaushalya who had controlled her emotions for all these foourteen years, could not control it when she saw Shri Rama.
After Rama's return to Ayodhya, Kaushalya lived a peaceful life and received all the benefits of her virtues and duties. Her soul was liberated after the divine knowledge, Shri Rama had imparted into her.