Life’s mix of joy and sorrow revolves round the hub of human relationships. When friendship is established, or when children are born, or when marriages happen, the bonds simultaneously grow; but eventually, there is a point of time when separation becomes inevitable. The anguish this causes is unbearable, as in the case of Dasaratha, who breaks down when Rama is sent to the forest. No one could have cherished the birth, childhood and marriage of Rama as did Dasaratha; and he never failed to count his great fortune in being Rama’s father.
Kulasekhara Azhwar captures the pathos of Dasaratha’s plight in 10 verses when he enters his consciousness and experiences the sorrow of separation with all intensity, pointed out Kalyanapuram Sri R. Aravamudhachariar in a lecture. It is impossible for anyone to remain distant from the physical, psychological and philosophical strains which the separation engenders in Dasaratha. It was a peculiar situation for him to send Rama into exile to uphold his promise to Kaikeyi. Helpless to avert the sentence, he remains a mute witness to his son’s commitment to dharma.
Rama had agreed to the coronation; and equally to the exile. He readily renounced the royal luxuries to accept the hardships of forest life. The very thought of this transition brought waves of sorrow to the doting father. Would not the tender feet of Rama bleed when He walked on the harsh terrain in the forest?
Dasaratha’s eyes follow Rama’s departing chariot amid the blinding dust as far as possible. He tells Kausalya that he is not able to see since his eyes are already with Rama and that they prefer to stay with Him. Having attained God, would anyone wish to relinquish that bliss? He chooses to stay in Kausalya’s palace, wishing to derive some solace from the touch of Rama’s mother. Dasaratha also recalls his past karma that had caused putra soka to a blind rishi couple, and realises that this was taking its toll now as he faces his end in solitude (none of his four sons or wives are beside him when he dies).
But Dasaratha’s entire consciousness is fixed in Rama, and this is symbolic of the soul’s final journey which seeks the Supreme Lord.