Reading Guide. Just as Rama obeyed his father's command to go with Vishvamitra to fight the rakshasas, you will see here that he obeys without question his father's command to go into exile.
Image: In this illustration (a detailed view from a larger painting), you see Rama bowing obediently to his father, the king.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [600 words]
Morning dawned. The city was decorated with streamers and flowers. A golden throne was set up for Rama; the tiger's skin was spread for his feet; the white umbrella waited for him. Elephants and chariot horses were harnessed. The preparations for the sacrifice were completed. The crowds began to gather in the streets waiting for the Maharajah and noble Rama, whom all the people loved.
Towards the palace went Sumantra, the chief counsellor. He entered the chamber in which Dasharatha had spent the night to awaken him and conduct him to the ceremony.
Kaikeyi met the counsellor and said, “Summon Rama hither, for the Maharajah must speak with him.”
Wondering greatly, Sumantra hastened to the prince's dwelling and spake the royal command. Said Rama, “I will go quickly. Tarry here, O Sita, and await my return.”
Sita followed Rama to the doorway and invoked the gods so that they might bless and protect him.
The multitudes of people hailed the prince as he was driven in his chariot towards the palace, and women threw flowers upon him from the housetops. He entered the gate, driving through the first three courts; he dismounted and walked across the two inner courts; he then bade his followers to remain without, and soon he stood before the Maharajah and made humble obeisance.
Rama beheld his father sitting beside Kaikeyi; his body was bent, his face was worn with grief. Tears fell from Dasharatha's eyes as his son kissed his feet and the feet of Kaikeyi also; he strove to speak while tears streamed from his eyes, but all he could utter was, “Oh, Rama!” The sorrow of Dasharatha rose and fell in his heart like to the waves of a stormy sea.
Said Rama, “Oh! Have I offended my sire? Speak, Mother, and tell. Wherefore do tears fall from his eyes? Why is his face clouded with grief? I would rather die than wound his heart by word or deed.”
Kaikeyi said, “The Maharajah is not angered, nor is he grief-stricken, but he fears to speak his purpose until thou dost promise to serve his will.”
Said Rama, “O speak and I will obey even if I am asked to quaff poison and die ere my time. My promise is given, and my lips have never lied.”
Kaikeyi said coldly, “The Maharajah vowed to grant two boons when I cured his wounds and saved his life, although he repents his promise now like to a man of low caste. I have asked him to fulfil his vow, and the boons I crave are that Bharata, whose star is bright, be installed as Yuvarajah, and thou shouldst be banished for twice seven years. If thou art ready to obey thy father's will and preserve his honor, thou wilt depart this day from the city and permit Bharata to govern the kingdom.”
Dasharatha's heart was pierced with agony at these words, but Rama heard them unmoved; they fell upon his ears like to sparks falling into the sea. Calmly he spake and said, “I will depart this day in fulfilment of my father's vow. Cheerfully will I obey his command. Let Bharata be summoned quickly from Girivrajah, and I will hasten to the jungle of Dandaka.”
Said Kaikeyi, “So be it. But tarry not, for thy sire will neither wash nor eat until thou hast departed hence.”
Rama bowed before his sire who was prostrated with sorrow; he bowed before Kaikeyi also. All the royal attendants wept, but Rama was unmoved as is the ocean when a pot of water is drawn from it or poured in.