by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “the hunchback, manthara, incurs prince shatrughna’s displeasure” and represents Chapter 78 of the Ayodhya-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Ayodhya-kanda].
As Bharata, still grieving, was considering how he should approach Shri Rama in the forest, Prince Shatrughna spoke: “O Brother, how is it that Shri Rama, the support of all beings in distress and who is powerful, has been banished to the forest with his consort? -Even if Shri Rama were bewildered, why did the mighty and courageous Lakshmana not defend him and restrain his father? The king, falling under the sway of desire, forsook the precepts of justice, Prince Lakshmana who was acquainted with what was right, should have restrained the king from this sinful act.”
While Prince Shatrughna was conversing thus with Bharata, the hunchback Manthara, attired in costly garments, adorned with precious gems, appeared at the east door. Painted thickly with sandalwood paste, wearing a robe and ornaments befitting a queen, bestowed on her by Kaikeyi, her waist encircled by a jewelled girdle, her whole body covered with precious stones, she resembled a captive monkey. The guards seeing that wicked and deformed slave, seized her and said to Prince Shatrughna: “This is the sinful wretch who has caused the exile of Shri Rama and the death of the king; deal with her according to your pleasure.”
On hearing the words of the guards, the prince smarting with indignation, reflected on his duty and said to those in the palace: “Let this woman, the cause of the grief of my brothers and the death of my father, suffer the consequence of her acts.”
Shatrughna then seized Manthara from amidst her companions with such violence that her shrieks filled the palace! The women, perceiving Shatrughna so enraged, dealing thus with the hunchback, ran away in all directions. They reflected among themselves, saying: “The enraged prince will surely put an end to us all, let us therefore take refuge with the compassionate, liberal and illustrious Queen Kaushalya, she alone will protect us.”
Prince Shatrughna, the conqueror of his foes, his eyes red with anger threw Manthara on the ground and forcibly dragged her hither and thither, while all her ornaments were scattered, causing the palace to look like the autumn sky, studded with stars! Dragging Manthara in anger before Queen Kaikeyi, who sought to deliver her, the prince reproached his mother with bitter words. Pained by the harsh speech of Prince Shatrughna, the terrified Kaikeyi fled to Prince Bharata for protection.
Perceiving Shatrughna overcome by anger, Bharata addressed him saying: “O Brother, women are not to be slain by any living being, therefore pardon her and set her free! If women were subject to the law of retribution, and were it not that Rama would forsake me as a matricide, I would have slain this sinful woman long since! If Shri Rama became acquainted with our treatment of this deformed woman, he would never converse more with us.”
Thus instructed by Prince Bharata, Shatrughna restrained his wrath and released Manthara, who fell at the feet of Queen Kaikeyi, panting and lamenting. Perceiving Manthara full of fear under Shatrughna’s displeasure and trembling like an imprisoned krauncha bird, Kaikeyi gradually calmed her.