Kaikeyi’s woman companion and confidential servant is a
hunchback by the name of Manthara. When the entire
Ayodhya rejoices at the announcement of Yuva Raja
Pattabhishekam for Rama, Manthara alone has a diferent
view and she is able to turn the course of the events most
eiciently. Kaikeyi’s pure love for Rama gets corrupted
unbelievably by Manthara’s evil counsel, spoken in the vein
of a well-wisher’s sane advice. It may be that Manthara
believes implicitly in all her arguments that she puts forth to Kaikeyi, pointed out Velukkudi Sri Krishnan in a discourse.
She first tells Kaikeyi that once Rama is crowned,
Kausalya’s status would be such that her own would be no
better than that of a servant. Likewise, Bharata’s fame would also be eclipsed by Rama’s popularity. Why did Dasaratha arrange for all this in Bharata’s absence?
But sadly enough, Kaikeyi fails to analyse if her arguments
are based on truth. She blindly yields to Manthara’s specious warnings and chooses her line of protest in a well-planned manner. What is Manthara’s grouse against Rama who is loved immensely by all the people of Ayodhya, one may wonder. Why did she work against Rama? It is held that the young five-year-old Rama was amused by Manthara’s
appearance and aimed mud balls at her hunch, hoping it
would be pushed inside. Manthara did not forget this
incident and brooding over the mud balls that Rama had
aimed at her many years ago had her revenge when she got
an opportunity. Perhaps Rama also remembers this incident
only too well. When Bharata meets Him in Chitrakuta, Rama
asks him a volley of questions pertaining to kingly duties.
He asks Bharata if the servants in his kingdom are treated with due respect and their wages are paid promptly.