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Kaikeyi's Story

 

My next story is the story of Kaikeyi. She fascinates me greatly, and she is an interesting and intelligent woman. Although I never personally encountered her, I have heard stories that have been passed down from Sumantra, my husband's charioteer, and so I will share them with you. First off, Kaikeyi was a princess of the kingdom Kaikeya. Although I say princess, she was actually very strong-willed and brave- she was extremely unique for her age.  Kaikeyi had many brothers, and did not have much female influence in her childhood to balance the masculinity. I was told she did have a nanny or a nurse who was a woman, so this must have been one of her only female outlets and influences. Kaikeyi was a warrior from a young age. I suspect her spirit and warrior personality was because she had to keep up with all her brothers. Sumantra told me that one time, Kaikeyi and her brothers were playing out in this big field. They were all racing around and pretending to fight. All of a sudden, this giant animal, probably some sort of wildcat, appeared. All of her brothers were terrified, but not Kaikeyi. She decided she would try and fight the cat to protect her brothers. All of her brothers tried to stop her, but they could not. She ran away too fast and challenged the wildcat. I was told this beast was huge! He was angry and aggressive and mean. She was armed with only a knife, but she was quick and brave and managed to kill the cat in a few swift motions. From then on, her brothers respected her so much and trusted her with everything. Kaikeyi always used her strengths to her advantage, but in some cases, it harmed other people.

               Kaikeyi became the youngest wife of Dasaratha and was the mother of their son Bharata, a great man with excellent potential. I forgot to mention that when Kaikeyi was young, she fought in a battle like she fought the wildcat to save Dasaratha’s life. Although she was still just a child, I heard she had the heart of a grown warrior and performed better than most men could. I must admit that is very impressive and respectable, but it ended badly for my Rama. Kaikeyi tended to Dasaratha after the battle, and he promised Kaikeyi he would grant any two requests she made. So, later on, when Dasaratha appointed Rama as his successor, Kaikeyi again used
 again used her strengths to her advantage and thought of a way to get herself and her son ahead of everyone else- she requested that Rama be exiled, and that Bharata be promoted in his place. I am sure Bharata was perfectly capable, but it was a huge problem for Rama. Although I understand that everyone must look out for their family and for themselves first, I just wish it wasn’t at Rama’s expense.  I also cannot say I wouldn’t do the same thing if I had been her, presented with the opportunity. Kaikeyi was clever and cunning and although I did not enjoy the outcome, I cannot hate her either.

 

Author’s note: I wanted to include a diverse group of women for my storybook, and I thought Kaikeyi was extremely unique and different, especially because of her childhood events. I created the background story about Kaikeyi fighting the wildcat and impressing her brothers because I feel like that would help the reader develop a picture of what she was like even before she fought in a battle. Kaikeyi had many brothers and so I used that as a reason why she might be as brave and warrior-like as they were. She wanted to keep up with them, and so the fact that she was a young girl did not seem to affect her at all. This is unique because for the most part, little girls like to stick with dress-up and playing dolls, so having a warrior child in my storybook adds a neat twist. I feel like the story gives the reader a sense of Kaikeyi’s personality as a young girl, which helps to explain her adult actions later in life. I also talk about the battle where Kaikeyi fights bravely and saves Dasaratha’s life because although that too happens in her childhood, it helps explain why Kaikeyi was able to exile Rama in the first place. Because my narrator is Sita, I kept in mind that although she did not actually know Kaikeyi as a child,she did see that Kaikeyi sent Rama into exile and I am sure she is not thrilled with that. However, Sita must also acknowledge that what Kaikeyi did may not have been any different than what Sita would have done had she been in Kaikeyi’s place. I left out the character of Manthara because although she is a part of the story, I decided I would tell the story without her part in it and I could reach the same outcome by just focusing on Kaikeyi, Sita, and Rama for the most part. Overall, I think Kaikeyi is a complex and fascinating character that contributes greatly to the storybook as a whole and adds a fun and exciting childhood story to the mix.

 

 
 
Story: Sita
Author: Narayan
Book: Ramayana
Year Published: 1972
 
Image: Kaikeyi
Web Source: Yousigma
Subpages (1): Sita's Story
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