Dasaratha in Hindu mythology is the king of Ayodhya and a descendant of Raghuvamsa. He is the father of Lord Rama, the heroic prince who is considered an avatar of Vishnu in the epic Ramayana.

The legend of Dasaratha is an eventful one. It is said that Dasaratha during one of his hunting expeditions, heard a noise resembling an elephant's roar from a nearby waterhole, and shot in the direction with an arrow. He was famous for his ability to shoot an arrow just by hearing the noise. Much to his chagrin, he finds that he has instead shot a young boy called Sravana kumar who was collecting water to quench the thirst of his blind parents. Sravana used to carry his parents everywhere on two pans of a balance supported on his shoulders. They were completely dependent on the boy and Sravana was inconsolable at the thought that they will be left without anybody to protect them. He requests the King to carry the water to his parents, as his dying wish. The old couple drink the water, not knowing that it is not being offered by their son. The king hesitantly, narrates the incident to them, who are mortally shocked. The old father curses the king in grief, that he would one day suffer Putrasoka (The grief of separation from one's progeny) just like they suffered at the moment. The old couple give up their lives at the same instant, not wanting to live after consuming water offered by their son's killer.

Years later, Dasaratha represents the Devas in a battle against the Asuras, with Kaikeyi, one of his queens as his charioteer. In the course of battle, the axle of his chariot-wheel gets loosened. Kaikeyi saves the king by using her hand as the axle. Touched by this, Dasaratha promises to grant Kaikeyi two boons when she wishes to avail of them.

These two incidents in Dasaratha's life play havoc in the future course of incidents. Kaikeyi demands the two boons from Dasaratha, just before he was going to crown his eldest son Rama as the king.

She demands

  • that her son Bharata be crowned king
  • that Rama leave Ayodhya and live in exile for 14 years.

The helpless king has to agree to her demands because as a Kshatriya by Dharma, he cannot go back on his words. Rama's story is vividly captured in the epic Ramayana.

The dejected king eventually dies, unable to withstand the anguish over separation from his son, thereby fulfilling the curse of Sravana's father.


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