Ashwapati was the king of Kekaya kingdom. He was childless. On the advice of his father, he consults the royal priests and they advise him to serve the sages who were in the forests of Aryavartha. Pleased with his services, one of the Rishi prays to Surya Bhagwan and asks him to bless Ashwapati with children. The Sun God blesses Ashwapati with twins, a son and a daughter. The son is named Yadhajit and the daughter is named Kaikeyi.
Ashwapati was a close ally of the Ayodhya king Maharaj Dasarath. The latter had married Kaushalya and Sumitra by that time, and yet was childless. He married Kaikeyi as he drew an inclination towards her and she became his dearest wife. Even after marriage, Kaikeyi continued to maintain strong relations with her maternal kingdom. Although Kaikeyi was Dasarath’s favourite wife, her mood was very unpredictable. But, due to the calm going nature of his first two wives, all was well in the family. The only thing which bothered them all was being childless.
As Kakeyi was adept in riding the chariot, she accompanied Maharaj Dasarath to many a war. During a war between the demons and devatas, Kaikeyi saves Dasarath’s life. Pleased with this, Maharaj Dasarath grants her two boons. But at that time, she does not bother to ask and they are forgotten.
After the Putrakameshti Yagn, Bharat was born to Kaikeyi. But Kaikeyi loved Kaushlaya’s son Shri Ram very dearly. Shri Ram too loved her very dearly and spent most of his childhood time with Kaikeyi.
Kaikeyi was very clear and simple on the rights of the succession of the throne by Shri Ram. She is quite happy about his coronation and shows her pure love for Shri Ram. But, she gets influenced by Manthara her maid who poisons her mind that Maharaj Dasarath, Kaushalya and Shri Ram may neglect her position in future. This thought makes her vulnerable and she succumbs to Manthara’s greedy thoughts. Hence it is said to be away from people who think in a negative and a greedy way, or even the good ones get affected by their thoughts.
Manthara gives her the idea that she could ask the boons given by Maharaj Dasarath and crown Bharat as king. She suggests Shri Ram’s exile because, after 14 years away from the kingdom, a prince would lose the inheritance to the kingdom. Kaikeyi follows Manthara’s advice and imposes the king to send Shri Ram to the exile, thus changing the lives of all the family due to her actions.
Kaikeyi is surprised when Shri Ram immediately agrees to her wish and sets out to the forest. She receives the first blow when Maharaj Dasarath dies in separation of his son. The greatest shock comes from Bharat who rejects her greedy thoughts and starts hating her. That is when she realises her mistake, but it is too late and she suffers extremely for it. She feels even remorse when she sees that in spite of everything Shri Ram’s loves her and respects her as earlier.
Kaikeyi’s life teaches a lesson that a mother is the most responsible member of the family. The first teacher of a child is the mother and hence the duty of a mother would not to be selfish so that the children learn the right way of life. Although Kaikeyi was right in bringing up her children, one mistake cost her the whole life and till date one remembers her life as an example of what not to do in life.