Kausalya
Queen of Kosala
Kausalya gives birth to Rama
SpouseDasharatha
IssueRama
HouseAyodhya
DynastyRaghuvamsha-Suryavamsha (by marriage)
ReligionHindu

Kausalya (Sanskrit: कौसल्या, IAST: Kausalyā) is a queen of Kosala in the Hindu epic Ramayana. She is the first queen consort of Dasaratha, who ruled Kosala from its capital Ayodhya. She is the mother of Rama, the male protagonist of the epic.[1] She is a secondary character in the Ramayana, so only aspects of her life are described in detail.[2]

Legend

Birth

Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, does not mention the names of Kausalya's parents, but in the chapter titled, Ayodhyakanda[3] she is described as Kosalendraduhitā (i.e., daughter of the king of Kosala). Kosala was a region of ancient India, which had Ayodhya as its capital. The Padma Purana also explains that Kausalya was the daughter of a Kosalan prince.[4]

Later texts name her as the daughter of the King Sukaushala and Queen Amritaprabha of Dakshina Kosala.[5] At her traditionally ascribed birthplace, there exists a temple dedicated to her called the Mata Kaushalya Temple, which is perhaps among the few temples dedicated to her.

Marriage and Rama's birth

In the Balakanda chapter of the Ramayana, Kausalya first appears. She performs the asvamedha yagna alongside Dasharatha and his two other wives in hopes of blessings for children.[6] At this sacrifice led by Rishyasringa, a divine being presents Dasharatha with a golden bowl filled with a payasam (a milk delicacy) prepared by the gods. 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.[7] Consequently, Kausalya gives birth to the prince Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra to royal twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. Rama is well known in Hinduism as an avatar of Vishnu and is the central character of the Ramayana.

In the Ayodhyakanda chapter of the Ramayana, Kausalya is described as “the best of women” due to her pious nature.[8]

Rama's exile and return

Rama meets his mother Kausalya while she performs pooja

Kaikeyi’s plan to have Rama exiled is instigated by her belief that Kausalya would become the Queen Mother if Rama is made the Crown Prince, which would make Kausalya a more powerful queen than her and remove Bharata’s lineage from the throne. Such beliefs are planted in her mind by her servant, Manthara, who had raised her.[9] Kaikeyi then manipulates Dasharatha into exiling Rama for fourteen years and crowning Bharata as the Crown Prince.

On the day Rama was to be made Crown Prince, Rama himself is the one who informs Kausalya that Dasharatha has instead exiled him to the forest. Kausalya with Lakshmana both attempt to convince Rama not to go to the forest.[10] When her efforts are void, Kausalya pleas to Rama to take her with him to the forest, but Rama reminds her of her duty to her family and kingdom at the palace, while his duty is in following the orders of his father.[6] When Rama sets forth to begin his exile from Ayodhya, Dasharatha, and Kausalya hurry after his chariot until Rama, unable to bear the sight, tells his charioteer, Sumantra, to quicken his pace so that they would be left behind.

After Rama’s departure, both Dasharatha and Kausalya are left to grieve and reflect on how their past led to the loss of their son, until soon after, Dasharatha passes away.[2] Kausalya accuses her husband Dashratha of having destroyed Rama when banishing him to exile. By Kausalya’s harsh criticism, Dasharatha is reminded of an incident in his youth where he was cursed.[11] The curse foreshadowed Rama’s exile. Kausalya also reflects and explains that in a prior life, she disallowed calves to drink from their mothers’ udders, assumingly leading to her separation with Rama in this life (Ayodhyakanda 38.16-17).[12]

Fourteen years later, upon her son's accession to the throne, Kausalya becomes widely honoured as the queen mother. Queen Kausalya is considered to be the incarnation of Dhara (Brahmani), wife of Dronavasu. She received a boon from Vishnu, who promised her that he would be born as her son in the Treta Yuga.[13]

Daughter Shanta

In some later textual accounts, Shanta is described as Kausalya's daughter, and the eldest child, of Dasharatha. However, in the Balakanda of the Ramayana, Valmiki writes of Shanta only as the daughter of Romapada, the king of Anga, who was a friend of Dasharatha.[14] At no point is Shanta's mother named.[15]

Assessment

Kausalya’s character, like many others in the Ramayana, depicts the tale of human emotion and self-recognition. She struggles with the tragedies she faces with her husband remarrying, her son sent to exile and her husband dying, but she is well described in the scripture for her religious austerity despite this.[2] This concept of characteristic development contrasts with characters such as Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, and Bharata who are depicted as moral epitomes without internal struggles. Robert P. Goldman believes these characters were written as “monovalent paradigms of conduct” by the poet, displaying unnatural superiority.[2]

Kausalya is seen throughout the entire Ramayana as a symbol for religious devotion and piety.[6] Kausalya also plays a role in the Ramayana as an example of faithfulness in marriage.[6]

Worship

The Mata Kaushalya Temple is located in Chandkhuri in the Raipur District of Chhattisgarh. The temple has been revived and inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel, and other dignitaries, under the 'Ram Van Gaman Path' project in October 2021.[16]

In popular culture

Films

Television

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 1: Chapter 5".
  2. ^ a b c d The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume II: Ayodhyakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. 1986.
  3. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 2: Chapter 59".
  4. ^ Arya, Samarendra Narayań (1990). "Historicity of Ayodhya". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 51: 44–48. ISSN 2249-1937.
  5. ^ Sukhdev Singh Chib (1977). Punjab. Light & Life. p. 2. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d 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.
  7. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 1: Chapter 15".
  8. ^ The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume II: Ayodhyakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. 1986.
  9. ^ Publication, Tjprc (31 October 2013). "Images of Mother in Ramayana and Sundiata. A Comparative Critique". International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL).
  10. ^ Damani, Gaurang (2021). Essence of the Fifth Veda. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House. pp. 2, 9. ISBN 978-9391430139.
  11. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (10 November 2019). "Ramayana: Chapter I". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  12. ^ Raychaudhuri, Hemchandra (1953). Political History of Ancient India: From the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of Gupta Dynasty. University of Calcutta.
  13. ^ "Ramayana | Summary, Characters, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  14. ^ "The Ramayana in Sanskrit: Book 1: Chapter 8".
  15. ^ Goldman, Robert P. (1984). The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Vol. I: Bālakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. p. 75. The northern recensions of the epic, and much of later Indian literature, regard Śāntā as actually a daughter of Daśaratha given in adoption to his friend and ally Lomapāda (Romapāda). On the basis of careful textual analysis, Asoke Chatterjee has shown this tradition to be a later invention of the northern redactors, owing its existence to their confusion of the Añga monarch, Daśaratha or Lomapāda, mentioned in several purānic genealogies, with the Kosalan Daśaratha.
  16. ^ "Chhattisgarh CM inaugurates renovated Chandkhuri Mata Kaushalya temple". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Ramayanam Reviews". Archived from the original on 13 February 1998.
  18. ^ "Lav Kush (1997)". Bollywood Hungama. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Telugu Review: 'Sri Rama Rajyam' is a must watch". CNN-IBN. Archived from the original on 22 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  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.

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