Following the wedding everyone returned to Ayodhya. All in the city cheered their arrival. Rama and Sita continued to serve their parents and delight the holy ones and gods. Sita and Rama were the perfect husband and wife. They were exceedingly devoted to each other. Rama's parents watched him mature into a young prince. Rama was a perfectly perfect young man. He had all the noble qualities. He was patient with others' wrongs, but would not do wrong himself. He enjoyed the company of elders and wise men. He was very intelligent and courageous. He was righteous and kind. He was the perfect warrior. He knew when to use violence and when not to. He was healthy, strong and handsome. He was highly learned in the scriptures. Rama was a sat-purusa, the ideal man.
Life In Ayodhya
Now the king was growing older. He noticed omens suggesting his end was near. "I have lived long enough," he thought. "I must be sure my throne goes to Rama, the most worthy of my sons. What a great blessing it would be to see him as king before I go to heaven. "Then it will be done," Dasaratha concluded, "I shall step down and Rama shall be made king."
The king told everyone about his decision. He informed the priests to begin the sacred rites that would allow Rama to assume the throne of Ayodhya. Kaikeyi, the last and youngest of the king's three wives, had heard of the decision to make Rama king while Dasaratha was still living. This decision pleased her. But Manthara, a maid-servant, did not want Rama to be king. If she could somehow convince Kaikeyi to change the king's mind, her position at the palace would be secure.
That evening, she spoke to Kaikeyi in secret. "If Rama takes the throne, you would lose all your control over the king. If Rama is crowned, his mother will control of the kingdom Your rule will come to an end. Awake. Act now. You must convince Dasaratha that it is your son who should be king. "Kaikeyi believed Manthara. She decided to see Dasaratha. She tried everything to convince Dasaratha to listen to her. "Dasaratha," Kaikeyi began, "Do you remember that fateful day I saved your life in battle? Do you remember how I stopped your runaway chariot. " "Yes," replied the king. "And do you remember what you said after I saved your life?" Without waiting for an answer, she said, " Oh my powerful king and beloved husband you promised me two boons. Hear my boons now so that they may be granted." The king reluctantly listened to his wife's requests.
"First," she began. "I wish to have my son, Bharata, placed upon the throne of Ayodhya. Second, I want Rama banished from the kingdom for a period of no less than fourteen years." The king fell to his knees and begged his young wife not to hold him to these dreadful wishes. As a righteous and honest man, he knew he could not go back on his word. Yet, he couldn't bear to ask Rama to forsake the throne and go away for fourteen years. He turned pale and speechless.
Kaikeyi told Rama the terrible news. Rather than argue, Rama comforted his father. "Father, your word is law. I shall do whatever you bid. It is the sacred duty of a son to respect his father." Then, he turned to his own mother Kausalya, and requested "Please be sure that father installs Bharata as crown prince." Rama knelt and touched the feet of his parents respectfully. He stood, turned and left the palace. Lakshmana declared, "I shall destroy anyone who opposes your right to the throne.."
Rama responded, "No, Lakshmana. You know it is my sacred duty, my dharma, to fulfill these wishes." "My brother, if you must leave Ayodhya, then I shall follow you," Lakshmana said. Rama tried to convince Sita to remain, but she said sobbing, "And, it is my duty, my dharma, as a wife to be at your side. How can I live without you? I must join you."Rama tried hard to convince them to stay but they were insistent. "Then, Sita, come with me," Rama said.
Rama also gave his brother permission to join them. As the three left the palace, they cast away their royal robes and put on the clothes of hermits. The people of Ayodhya wept as Rama, Sita and Lakshmana passed from the city. As the chariot went from sight, Dasaratha cried, "Rama! Rama! Do not leave me." In time, Dasaratha lost the will to live. His heart simply gave out. Ayodhya mourned the loss of their king. In a few days, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita crossed the river Ganges searching for a land undisturbed and isolated from everyone. Soon they reached Chitrakoot, a beautiful place with many trees and streams. It was paradise. They built a small hut near a stream.
Several days had passed. Lakshmana, while hunting in the forest, heard the pounding of a thousand hooves. He climbed a tree to see whose army was approaching. To his amazement, he saw the lead horseman carrying the flag of Ayodhya. Bharata had found his brothers. Lakshmana was sure that his brother had come to kill them. Lakshmana called to Rama: "A great army is approaching led by our brother, Bharata. I will kill him with my own hands." "Don't be a fool," Rama said. "He is our brother and he is the king. We must welcome him."