Attachment brings with it expectations. A son or a daughter might have the feeling that their love has not been reciprocated in full by the parent, whom they may perceive as being more attached to another child of theirs. And it often happens that the very people for whom we have worked and toiled all our lives, on whose happiness we have staked everything, may turn against us. At such times, it becomes very hard for us to digest the rejection.

We must always bear in mind that nothing is permanent, not even familial attachments. People we love may one day distance themselves from us. Sometimes, circumstances may be such that they may move away even when they may not want to. At such times, if we have been over attached to them, we will be unable to bear the sorrow of parting. That is what happened in the case of Dasaratha, said D. Gnanasundaram, in a discourse.

It is only natural that Dasaratha loves his son Rama. But he is overly attached to Rama, with the result that when the time comes to part from Him, Dasaratha is unable to bear the separation, and he dies.

Rama leaves as per the orders of Dasaratha, and travels a considerable distance. He crosses the three rivers of Vedashruti, Gomati and Syandika, along with Sumantra, Lakshmana and Sita. Rama comes to the banks of the Ganga, and tells Sumantra that they should spend the night there.

When Rama decides to cross the river, Sumantra requests Him to take him along, but Rama sends Sumantra back to Ayodhya. Sumantra narrates to Dasaratha all that has transpired. Dasaratha wails and faints, is rebuked by Kausalya, recounts an incident when he was cursed, and finally after all these dramatic events, he dies. This is how the story is narrated in Valmiki.

But Tamil poet Kamban, in his work, shows the dangers of over attachment more effectively. In Valmiki Ramayana, Dasaratha, though miserable, is alive for some days after Sumantra’s return. But in Kamban’s version, the moment he is told that Rama has remained in the forest, Dasaratha dies.