21.gif (22870 bytes)   

Sumantra returned to Ayodhya and entered the palace. There he saw the King more dead than alive. In low tones, he spoke of Rama's message to the King who heard it in heart-broken silence.

Rama’s mother Kausalya was unable to bear her grief and spoke harsh words to Dasaratha: “You have honoured your word. You may be happy over that. But who is to share my sorrow with me? I have to bear it all.”

Then Dasaratha spoke to Kausalya and narrated an event because of which he had now to be separated from his son. “When I was young, I had the skill to use my bow against unseen targets aiming by sound only. When hunting at night using this skill, I once mistakenly killed an innocent man and committed a great sin. Listen, I shall relate to you that sad story.

One night I went out in my chariot to hunt in the forest on the banks of the Sarayu river . It had been raining heavily and, from the mountainsides, the streams were flowing and the birds were silent. I could take aim by the ear and shoot, without seeing, a tiger or bear or other wild beast that made gurgling sound while drinking water from the stream.  It was dense darkness and nothing could be seen. I waited for some wild animal to come.

"Then I heard a gurgling sound and guessed it was an elephant drinking water. At once I aimed an arrow in the direction from where the sound came. My arrow went fast and hit the object. But I was shocked to hear a human voice cry: “Alas! I am shot!”

"I heard a man cry again piteously, 'Never have I done any harm to anyone. Who then could want to kill me thus? I was only filling my pitcher with water for my old parents. What is to happen to them now, with no one to look after them? O misery!'

"I was shocked and approached the place from where the voice came. There I found a young man lying on the ground with my arrow in his chest and covered all over with blood and earth. By his side lay an upturned pitcher. When he saw me he cried, 'O Sinner who has killed me! Why did you aim your arrow at me when I was only taking water from the stream? My old, blind parents are thirsty and are waiting for me in the aashrama, thinking that I would return with my pitcher filled.' With these words, he died. Carrying him, I went to his blind, aged parents and told them what happened. Their grief was very great; they were also angry and cursed me: “Like us, you too shall die after suffering from separation from your sons.”

"It is this past crime of mine that is now pursuing me. Like the blind parents who lost their son because of me, I too have lost my son. I have to suffer now due to putra-shoka, 'grief for my son; this is my karma. I shall die soon."

In sorrow for Rama, the old King soon passed away.