Kaikeyi, the daughter of King Ashwapati, was one of the three wives of King Dasharatha and the Queen of Ayodhya in the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
The only sister to seven brothers, Kaikeyi grew up without a maternal influence as her father banished her mother when she was very young.
Kaikeyi married Dasharatha as his second wife and gave birth to Bharata after several years of marriage.
Manthara, who was the wet nurse of Kaikeyi, accompanied her as a trusted maid to Dasharatha’s house. Kaikeyi trusted her completely and always used to take her advice before doing anything.
Once, King Dasharatha had to go for a military campaign against Sambarasura. Manthara managed to convince him to take Kaikeyi along with him as a charioteer.
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During a ferocious battle between the two, Sambarasura’s arrow pierced Dashratha’s armor and lodged in his chest. He got seriously injured. Kaikeyi quickly came into action and drove away the chariot from the combat zone. Touched by her courage and quick response, the King offered two boons to her.
Several years passed but Kaikeyi didn’t demand the two boons granted to her. At the time when Kausalya’s (Dashratha’s first wife) son Rama selected to be crowned as the King of Ayodhya, Manthara became anxious that Kaikeyi would lose her status.
Manthara then insisted Kaikeyi to demand the boons granted to her. Later, she managed to convince her and Kaikeyi asked Dashratha that her son Bharatha to be crowned as King and Rama to be sent to forest for 14 years. After so many discussions, the King fulfilled the two boons but with a broken heart.
However, Dashratha died six days after Rama was sent to the forest. Everyone blamed Kaikeyi for this and Bharatha also refused to be crowned as the King of Ayodhya. He also refused to call Kaikeyi as his mother.
Time passed and when Rama came to Ayodhya after serving 14 years in the forest, Kaikeyi apologised to him for her deeds.