In the previous couple of episodes we witnessed that Rama was preparing himself to leave for the forest as his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana joins him in the hard pursuit for the next fourteen years. We saw in the previous episode how the people of Ayodhya and specially King Dasharata and Kaushalya (Rama’s mother) were simmering in anger for what had happened! As Kaushalya was fuming on Kaikeyi for her cunning tactics, it was Sumithra (King Dasharata’s third wife and Lakshmana’s mother) who consoles her and takes her away from that place.
It is at this time that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were about to start to the forest, while Sumithra stops Lakshmana and renders a very important advice.
“Tam mandamaanam rudathi maathaa soumithram abraveeth!
Srashtathvam vana vaasaaya sanurukthassurijjane!!”
Thus Valmiki Maharishi says through the above sloka that Sumithra stops Lakshmana as he proceeds with Rama to the forest. She says,
“Raamam dasharatham viddhi Maam viddhi janakaathmajaa!
Ayodhyaam matavim viddhi gacchathaatha yathaa sukham!!”
Thus Sumithra stops Lakshmana and says to him, “Oh Lakshmana! I’ve been waiting for this day for the past 25 years!” I’m sure that the readers would be aware by now about the split of the “Paayasam” when the children were born. You might remember that Sumithra was the person who had two portions of the “Paayasam” and she wished to have one child – Lakshmana who is a “Raama-Bhaktha” (Devotee of Lord Rama) and the other child – Shathrughna who should be a “Bhaktha-Bhakthaa” (Devotee of the Lord’s Devotee – Bharata).
Thus Sumithra was waiting for this day when Rama would leave for the forest and her son Lakshmana would get the opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama! Thus she continues, “Oh Lakshmana! My sole wish of having you as my son is to accompany Rama to the forest! Remember one thing Lakshmana – From today, this Ayodhya is no more a kingdom! It is doomed! Forget King Dasharata! Forget Kaushalya, Sumithra (myself)! From today, the forest would be the kingdom! See your brother Rama as King Dasharata! See Sita as myself! Treat her as your own mother! Treat Rama as your own father! The moment Ayodhya sacrificed Rama as its successor, Ayodhya lost it’s significance! Hence, Lakshmana! Go to the forest now! Serve Rama and Sita!”
Will any mother point to her own son and ask him to go on exile? Sumithra did this to Lakshmana! This is why Sumithra is considered to be special amongst the three wives of King Dasharata! Periyaalwaar brings out this specialty in his following “Paasuram”:
“Maatruthaai sendru vanam poge endru ida!
Eetruthaai pin thodarndhu embiraan endru azha!
Kootrutthaai solla kodiya vanam pona ena!
seetram ilaadhaanai paadippala! seetha manaalanai paadippala!!”
Here, Periyaalwaar refers to the three mothers of Lord Rama – Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra as “Eetruthaai, Maatruthaai and Kootruthaai” respectively. Basically, the word “Thaai” in Tamil refers to “Mother”. Subsequently, “Eetru-thaai” means the mother who actually gave birth to Rama, “Maatru-thaai” means, the mother who behaved like a true “step-mother” and acting against the interest of Rama! Finally, “Kootru-thaai” means the mother for whom the “Paaysam” was split into two! (“Kootru” in Tamil means, “to split”).
Thus, the “Maatru-thaai” (Kaikeyi) orders Rama’s exile, “Eetru-thaai” (Kaushalya) cries out of helplessness as her son departs and “Kootru-thaai” (Sumithra) encourages her son Lakshmana to be of service to Rama by accompanying him to the forest!
Thus, as Rama, Sita and Lakshmana come out of the palace, the citizens of Ayodhya came down and stop them from going away! Rama consoles them and appeals for their co-operation so as to keep up his promise to his mother and father! Where did Rama go next? What are the next series of events that unfolded? Let’s wait to find in the next episode!