Kaikeyi demands that Dasharatha banish Rama from Ayodhya
Maharaja of Kosala
Ayodhya, Kosala
DiedAyodhya, Kosala

Dasharatha (Sanskrit: दशरथ, IAST: Daśaratha; born Nemi) was the king of Kosala, with its capital at Ayodhyā, in the Hindu epic Ramayana. Dasharatha married Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. He was the father of Rama, the protagonist of the epic, Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna. Dasharatha also finds mention in the Vishnu Purana.[1]


Early life and marriage

King Dasharatha was believed to be an incarnation of Svayambhuva Manu, the son of the Hindu creator god, Brahma.

Dasharatha was born as the son of King Aja of Kosala and Indumati of Vidarbha.[2] He was originally named Nemi, but he acquired the moniker Dasharatha ('ten chariots') as his chariot could move in all ten directions, fly, and return to earth, and he could fight with ease in all of these directions.[3]

Dasharatha became the ruler of Kosala after the death of his father. He was a great warrior who subjugated many of the neighbouring kingdoms with his prowess and slew many asuras in battle.[4][5]

According to the Ayodhyā Kāṇḍa of the Ramayana (in chapter 34, verses 10–13), King Dasharatha had around 350 wives, three of whom were his favourite queens: Kausalya was his chief queen, Sumitra was his second queen Kaikeyi was his third queen. Kausalya hailed from the kingdom of Dakshina Kosala, Sumitra from Kashi, and Kaikeyi from the Kekeya Kingdom.[6][7][8]

Yajñas to beget sons

Dasharatha gives payasa to his wives

Dasharatha ruled over Ayodhyā, but he lacked a son to carry on his dynasty. He decided to perform an Ashvamedha in order to beget a son. His counsellor and charioteer, Sumantra, told him of a prophecy that by bringing the sage Rishyasringa to Ayodhyā, he would beget sons.[9] To fulfil the prophecy, Dasharatha traveled to Anga, where king Romapada's daughter Shanta was married to Rishyasringa. Bringing Rishyasringa to Kosala, he instructed the Brahmins to perform the asvamedha. After the asvamedha was properly performed, a Putrīyā Iṣṭi was performed for the attainment of sons.[10]

Dasharatha with his four sons

During its performance, a figure emerged from the fire carrying a vessel of celestial porridge. Dasharatha offers half of this divine food to Kausalya, a quarter to Sumitra (i.e., literally 'half of that which remained'), an eighth to Kaikeyi (i.e., again, 'half of that which remained'), and then, upon reflection, gives the final eighth to Sumitra again. Kausalya gives birth to the prince Rama and Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra became the mother of twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna.[11][12]

Kaikeyi's boons and Rama's exile

In a battle between the devas and the asuras, Dasharatha rode to Devaloka, accompanied by Kaikeyi, to help Indra fight against the asuras. The devas were at a disadvantage due to the sorcery employed by Shambara and his army of asuras. Dasharatha, riding a chariot, faced the asuras in ten directions at the same time. In this battle, his chariot had to be turned to every direction in a swift manner. During the battle, the bolt of one of the wheels slipped out, and the wheel was about to disengage when Kaikeyi inserted her thumb in the hole of the bolt, and kept the chariot steady. When the king learnt of this, he was pleased, and offered her two boons. The queen said that she would ask for those two boons in the future, as she wished for nothing right then and there.[13]

Manthara, Kaikeyi's maid, feared that Kaikeyi would lose her status as chief queen at court if Rama ascended the throne, as Kausalya would thus become queen mother. Manthara later convinced Kaikeyi to demand two boons granted to her years earlier by Dasharatha. King Dasharatha will be obliged to fulfill them. As her two boons, Kaikeyi demanded that Bharata be crowned king, and Rama be sent to the forest for a period of fourteen years.[14]

Killing of Shravana Kumara and death

Dasharatha kills Shravana Kumara

After Rama's departure to the forest, Dasharatha lay in his bed with a wailing Kaushalya. He suddenly remembered an incident which had occurred in his past. He narrated to Kausalya and Sumitra about how, by accident, he had killed a young man named Shravana, mistaking him to be a deer.[15]

Dasharatha, who was then the crown prince, had gone hunting on the banks of River Sarayu. He was an expert in hunting by determining the direction of sound and heard the gurgle of an animal drinking water. Mistaking it to be deer, Dasharatha shot an arrow. He became mortified when he heard a human cry as the arrow found its target. Dasharatha hurried there to find a boy lying sprawled on the banks of the river with an arrow lodged in his chest. Dasharatha was aghast and profusely apologised to the young Shravana trying to revive and help him. The boy forgave Dasharatha for his unintentional, unrighteous act, and demanded that Dasharatha pull the arrow out of his chest. He also told him to take the pitcher of water to his blind parents, who must be waiting for him since they were thirsty because of all the travel. The boy died from his injury. Dasharatha approached the blind couple and told them about their son's unfortunate death. The parents, grief-stricken, cursed Prince Dasharatha: "Just as we are suffering and dying due to the separation from our beloved son, you too shall have the same fate."[16]

Dasharatha concluded the chapter by saying that his end was near and the curse of Shravana's parents had taken effect.[17]

In popular culture



See also


  1. ^ "Valmiki Ramayana - Ayodhya Kanda - Sarga 34".
  2. ^ "Schistosomiasis: Schistosoma mansoni Tf/aja Alnassir and Charles H. King", Medical Parasitology, CRC Press, pp. 140–150, 23 November 2009, doi:10.1201/9781498713672-28, ISBN 9780429089657, retrieved 13 January 2022
  3. ^ Kalidasa (10 April 2012). The Dynasty of Raghu. ISBN 978-1-4751-7250-8.
  4. ^ Arya, Samarendra Narayań (1990). "Historicity of Ayodhya". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 51: 44–48. ISSN 2249-1937.
  5. ^ Baal Kaand — Valmiki Ramayana
  6. ^ Publication, Tjprc (31 October 2013). "Images of Mother in Ramayana and Sundiata. A Comparative Critique". International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL).
  7. ^ "Sumitra is calm and composed", The Hindu, 8 June 2023, retrieved 21 September 2023
  8. ^ Patel, Vaishnavi (26 April 2022). Kaikeyi. Orbit. ISBN 9780759557314.
  9. ^ The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume II: Ayodhyakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. 1986.
  10. ^ Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland (2018). "Women at the Margins: Gender and Religious Anxieties in Vālmīki's Rāmāyaṇa". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 138 (1): 45–72. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.138.1.0045. ISSN 0003-0279.
  11. ^ Goldman, Robert P. (1984). The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Vol. I: Bālakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. pp. 136–161.
  12. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 1: Chapter 15".
  13. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 2: Chapter 39".
  14. ^ Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: A Comprehensive Dictionary With Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 0-8426-0822-2.
  15. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (21 September 2020). "The king recalls a former evil deed [Chapter 63]". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  16. ^ An unfinished ancient tale. IndiaToday.in. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2012-09-14.
  17. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (21 September 2020). "Overborne by grief the king yields up his life [Chapter 64]". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Ramayanam Reviews". Archived from the original on 13 February 1998.
  19. ^ Nagpaul D'souza, Dipti (17 September 2010). "Epic Effort". Indian Express. The Indian Express Limited. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  20. ^ Dalrymple, William (23 August 2008). "All Indian life is here". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  21. ^ "StarPlus' Siya Ke Ram: Everything you should know about the show". The Times of India. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush". PINKVILLA. Archived from the original on 3 December 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Ramyug first impression: Kunal Kohli's retelling of Lord Ram's story misses the mark". The Indian Express. 6 May 2021. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  24. ^ "Shrimad Ramayan Review, Episodes 1 and 2: A cinematic visual spectacle on small screen". Pinkvilla. Retrieved 4 January 2024.

Further reading