This is Ayodhya,the unassailable city,the nerve centre of the Kosala empire.These days I wonder why anyone would care to assail this land; why would anyone want a dead horse. I see decay everywhere, stagnation, yes that would be the word – stagnation. I see fifty five dead kings of the Solar line with all their glory and I see my dying city bereft of all its vitality. I see Ayodhya as my father’s city, a civilization that he loves more than himself, everything in Ayodhya reminds me of him.
But Dasharatha is old and he is worn out after his constant struggles to meet dharma and ardha meet, to make philosophy and life meet. The administration is in the hands of caucuses and priests who quote the ancient texts and set rules for every single move. Vast tracts of the plain remain barren as the priests have threatened against channeling the abundant river water,they warn about the wrath of the river Gods. Most of the produce from the countryside is set in flames for pleasing the Gods by these same priests. The result is abject poverty and disease, and the priests breed on that – poverty is their stranglehold on this empire.
Not a leaf in the administration moves without consulting the soothsayers, in Ayodhya every sunrise has its horoscope. Father will not utter a word against all this, he is weak and relies entirely on the seers and soothsayers for the sustenance of the Solar line. The nerve centre of this great kingdom has ceased to perceive. At times I feel like cutting down this forest of old Banyan trees leading upto the Sarayu river with my mighty weapons, just to bring in a little more light into this dark palace, but then I remember my father’s face and I subside. I love my father more than anything in this world, more than Ayodhya, even more than Sita.
The caucuses descend upon Ayodha every new-moon day. It includes the warrior sages, farming nobility, the weapon makers and kings of adjacent territories. Ayodhya has become important to them after the seers from Himalayas gave their final solution to halt the decay of the Ganga plains. They concluded that a push to the south was inevitable and a prince of Ayodhya will deliver the rich and fertile lands of the south. Dasaratha, my father, took that up as his Dharma and waged wars against the southern kingdoms which the seers and priests had labelled evil. Father is no more the same person who lynched the Sambaras of the south, he has become weak. But when the caucuses decried that the ‘old fool has lost it’ I saw my father crying. He has been my strength all through my life and my heart broke. No son can watch his father cry.
Being the eldest son, I will inherit the throne of Raghuvamshis after my father. I will inherit all his beautiful land and his beautiful people. I will also inherit the caucuses, the army of priests and those vicious soothsayers – I dont want that. I dont want to ascend the throne with all my limbs tied down by this patriarchal inheritance, I want to win the throne, I want to cut down those old Banyan trees with no one stopping me, I want a new start for my beloved people, my father’s beloved people and for that I will have to win the south.
The south is rich and strong because the Kshatriyas there, the warrior class, do their duty and do not contest in vain with each other like my father and Janaka on who is more Brahmin. A Kshatriya’s duty is to be a warrior, despite its cruel hand. When a kshatriya tries to be something he is not, like being a brahmin, depravity and decay sets in. I will conquer the south as a Kshatriya, not for the caucuses but for myself, my father and my beloved people. Then I will be the King of kings, the Emperor. Father wants me to be the King of Kosala. He wants me to take charge tomorrow, he wants to let go. He will meet the caucuses to announce his decision.
It is a new moon day in Ayodhya, the caucuses have descended upon the city. It is the day of reckoning.