Story: Kaikeyi the Good Queen

Kaikeyi was the youngest wife of King Dasharatha; she was not the fairest, but she was the most favored. In the midst of the rainy season, Kaikeyi and her two sister wives struggled to conceive heirs for the kingdom of Kosala, and the king’s favor for Kaikeyi declined. She and the other two queens wept in their chambers, much to the displeasure of the kingdom. They desired to hear their children laugh down the halls of the palace; they desired to bear strapping boys who would grow into men that would make the kingdom swoon at their looks and their talent. Alas, the rainy season passed into another, and there were no heirs for the kingdom once more, and so the queens wept with the sky above.

Kaikeyi was the daughter of Ashwapati, king of the Land of the Finest Horses, and he awarded Kaikeyi a fine golden steed on her wedding day. Now Kaikeyi’s father possessed the gift of telepathy with birds, and thus heard a great many things of love and wisdom from the creatures that soared high above the earth and witnessed many happenings. The conditions of his blessings, however, prohibited him from speaking to others of the nature of his gift, threatening to take his life if he did so. Kaikeyi never knew of her father’s blessing.

Kaikeyi and King Dasharatha had a beautiful marriage ceremony, attended even by the most prominent nobles of the neighboring kingdoms. There was dancing and song, and Queen Kaikeyi was overcome with joy at the beginning of her new life with Dasharatha and his first wife, Kaushalya. Despite the splendors of the evening, Kaikeyi found herself wrought with anxieties on her wedding night. As a child, she sought comfort in the royal stables, and thus ventured into the night to see her new steed. As she stood in the coarse hay, she stroked her horse’s fur and whispered her fears to him. The steed nuzzled against her, and Kaikeyi found herself overcome with emotion; her body was warmed like honey flowing, and there was golden music of violins that moved her to bittersweet tears. Her hands trembled as she petted the silken coat of her steed. She heard a voice in her head, speaking to her of the wonderful life that awaited her. He declared that he would be there to advise her in her toughest moments, as long as she could keep the nature of his magic a secret. Kaikeyi felt a sense of bravery, and after thanking her enchanted horse, departed back to the King’s bedchambers and was taken into his arms.

In the years following, Queen Kaikeyi’s struggle to conceive a son caused her to feel troubled. Again as before, Kaikeyi ventured out to the stables to visit her mystical steed and listen to his sage wisdom. Once again, she stroked his honeyed fur and her tears began to fall. Her horse advised her to perform a sacrifice in honor of the gods, and to use his enchanted body as the offering. He spoke to her of the great wisdom she would acquire from his freed spirit if she released him from his earthly body. She presented the instructions to her King, careful not to divulge the origin of the idea. Dasharatha proclaimed that the Ashwamedha would be held in offering to win the favor of the gods.

The next evening, Kaikeyi released her steed to wander, and the king’s warriors stalked him for a year, observing his majesty and protecting him from anyone who dared to challenge him. When the year passed, the stallion was led home to Ayodhya, and the chief queen Kaushalya slaughtered him. As the adhvaryu priest dismembered Kaikeyi’s stallion, the horse’s spirit was released and absorbed by the heart of Queen Kaiyeki. Overcome with joy and emotion once more, she felt a great wisdom enter her body. That night in their chambers, Kaikeyi told the King and her consorts that they would conceive a great many sons. This was pleasing to the King, and he rewarded Kaikeyi with two favors, which she held thenceforth close to her heart.

 

Author’s Note: I have altered a the details of the story of Kaikeyi and Dasharatha; in the original episode from the Ramayana, Dasharatha is moved to perform the horse sacrifice, the “Ashwamedha,” so that the gods will look in favor on him and grant him sons. The Ashwamedha was performed by releasing a stallion to wander for a year, while the priests perform certain sacred rituals and mantras. The ceremony is also very territorial, with the king’s warriors battling anyone that challenges the authority of the king as the horse wanders into neighboring territories. When the stallion was returned home a year after being released,  Kaushalya, the eldest and favorite queen, slew and dismembered the horse upon an altar, and the three queens sat beside its smoldering body for the night. There are other parts to the ritual, including the sacrificing of additional animals and the symbolizing of the birth of a new king, that you can read about here.  I changed the details of this episode, adding in Kaikeyi’s gift and relationship to her horse, in order to spotlight Kaikeyi, and to add some significance for her to the ceremony beyond that of the other two queens, raising the stakes for her as the protagonist of my story. I took the inspiration for this story from what I learned of Kaikeyi’s background upon further research. Her father had the gift of speaking to birds, and I wanted to see this gift manifest in Kaikeyi, using the horse in order to tie into the tradition of the sacrifice. I desired to see Kaikeyi portrayed as a strong heroine with a selfless nature. In the Ramayana, the two favors that Kaikeyi is rewarded at the end of my story were actually received years earlier and used to exile Rama after Kaikeyi’s nurse convinced her that her own son should be king. I wanted to use the favors as a reward for her helping the king through the suggestion of the ceremony and the sacrifice of her beloved horse because I thought Kaikeyi, as the most cunning queen, could also be kind, and would have shunned the words of her nurse.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Ramayana episode used:

Dasharatha’s Sons

 

Image information:

Queen Kaikeyi

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13 thoughts on “Story: Kaikeyi the Good Queen

  1. Hi Courtney! First thing I would like to say is that your description and ability to place an image in the reader’s head is very good. For me, a particularly good example of this is when you said “Now Kaikeyi’s father posessed the gift of telepathy with birds, and thus heard a great many things of love and wisdom from the creatures that soared high above the earth and witnessed many happenings.” Instantly I got a feel of how Kaikeyi’s father behaves and what kind of person he is. Keep up the good work!

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  2. You did a really good job! Focusing on the story of the wives instead of just Rama and Sita was very refreshing. I think the detail you added helped the reader really visualize what was happening in each scene. However, I think that the part of her wedding night could have better flowed if it was the introduction. Then mentioning how she could not get pregnant and grew depressed. Then remembering the night of her wedding and her horse. I think rearranging it a bit would make it flow better and help the readers understand and not get lost in the story. Also, maybe putting the part of her dad even before stating the wedding. I do like that you used the cunningness of the queen from the original to make her a kind and giving woman. The fact that she sacrificed her beloved horse just to have kids is crazy! Overall, really great job, and I also like the picture that you added.

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  3. Courtney, first thing I think it would be a little bit of an easier read if you added spaces between the paragraphs. It would help me from losing my place and it would help people really see the change in scene/story. One other small thing, I’m not sure if it’s my web browser or not, but I cannot see your image on this page. I saw it on the index but not in the story. I liked that you chose to write a story in the perspective of the wives and not the husbands/kings. Most of our stories that we have read have been about the men’s frustrations but not the wives’ sadness. I liked the idea of her mentor being an animal instead of the typical elderly, wise man (or similar things). I’m glad you changed the story to show that Kaikeyi was the strong and wise one that wanted to do the sacrifice instead of her husband. Overall great story!

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  4. I like how you really capitalized on the relationship between Kaikeyi and her horse. Th reader was able to see the importance of the gift and the connection that came along with it. The imagery in your writing illustrates how effective the horse is at calming Kaikeyi’s troubles. I like how you integrated a spirit into the horse, it was able to “talk to Kaikeyi.” I could feel the emotion of sadness and grief when the story talked about Kaikeyi’s sense of bravery and her resistance to sacrifice her horse. However, you did well leaving the story in a positive light. One aspect that I would suggest altering about the format of your story would be to alter the arrangement of your paragraphs. Initially, when I saw the story, I got a bit overwhelmed because it looked as though it was all running together without spacing. I am curious to know what two favors Kaikeyi requested from the King at the end of the story. This is something you could address in the revisions.

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  5. Courtney, I just wanted to start by saying that I love the layout of your blog. It looks very professional and what an actual blog would look like. For the portfolio review, I read “Kaikeyi the Good Queen.” I like how you focused on the King’s wives instead of Rama and Sita, which seems a lot of other people did. You did a great job on putting a spin on the actual story by adding the altered details that you mention in your Author’s Note. In your story, you mention the Ashwamedha, which was actually a very different sacrifice than what I was expecting it to be. I like how you added the link in your Author’s Note for the audience to go and be able to read more about it because it definitely is unique. I think you did a great job portraying Kaikeyi and really do not have any advice on how you can improve them. Overall, great job!

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  6. This story is so pure and sweet. I love the earnest nature of the writing, like the line “They desired to hear their children laugh down the halls of the palace,” and others like it. I also liked the lines about the birds and what they said to Kaikeyi’s father. You also have a lot of good metaphors that convey Kaikeyi’s emotions nicely, like when her body was warmed like flowing honey. That’s a great image.

    If you’re looking for suggestions for when you revise, you could consider restructuring the story a bit—it seems like the main conflict here is Kaikeyi and her sister wives’ struggle to have children, but it’s not as clear to me how the final action in the story—the ceremony—serves to solve that problem. I haven’t read the original, though. It also ends abruptly, which could be fixed by adding two or three sentences. Otherwise, I’m not sure if the problem is solved or not, or what the general outcome is.

    Great story! I hope you keep going.

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  7. Hi Courtney! This story was so powerful. “The steed nuzzled against her, and Kaikeyi found herself overcome with emotion; her body was warmed like honey flowing, and there was golden music of violins that moved her to bittersweet tears. Her hands trembled as she petted the silken coat of her steed.” I was just amazed at your detail and imagery and depth that you added, thought the whole story, and especially here in that passage. Your writing is beautiful flows nicely! I also love the way your blog is set up, it’s easy to navigate, clear, understandable, and looks cute and simple as well! You did such a great job on this story, I look forward to coming back to see what you do next!

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  8. Great imagery letting us know the heart’s desire. That hollow feeling they must have felt being childless. Especially in that culture at that time. It’s almost like she must have done something wrong for the Gods to be depriving her of a child. She is losing the favor of her husband due to the quiet halls of palace.
    He has a gift that he must never speak of. I love this kind of thing. So many ways to take that story. I like that you gifted her with similar abilities. Interestingly, neither of the two will ever know that the other could speak to animals. I think that is pretty cool.
    Great description about how she felt while talking with the horse. It made her feel the sense of bravery. I can relate to that. Some news or a person that we hang on to. Remembering that moment seems to give us power or bravery. That was a cool touch.
    I see what you did there. The two favors that were given to her is another part of the story. I like how you stopped it just short of using that favor against Rama. You did a great job and offered a unique take on the story.

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  9. Hi, Courtney!
    I think you did a great job in capturing Kaikeyi’s character and providing a detailed background knowledge for anyone who didn’t know before. I think her character was one of the most underrated ones in Ramayana although she was the main reason why Rama was sentenced into exile. My favorite part of your story was how you decided to end on how Kaikeyi was granted two boons from Dasharatha and left it at that because we all know what happened later but many of us don’t know why she got the boons in the first place.

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  10. This was an excellent story! There is so much detail and I can really tell that you put a lot of effort in this story! The details really allow the reader to focus on the important details and that is something really important in writing. You did a great job describing Kaikeyi throughout as well. This story was wonderful! Great job!

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  11. Hey Courtney! Wow, this story was awesome and it really showcases your skill as a writer. I love the detail you use throughout the story and how you showcased Kaikeyi in the story. Your description of their thoughts and feelings was great and I think it really grabs the reader’s attention. Overall, great job!

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