THE four sons of Dasaratha became the joy of the city. Ayodhya was in love with them. The sound of the stuttering children was music to Dasarathas ears.
One day,the children began crying incessantly in their cradles, leaving their mothers worried. The three mothers tried to quieten them but in vain. Finally they called Vasistha for help.
Vasistha studied the scenario. He saw Rama lying in the first cradle, Bharata in the next, followed by Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Vasistha shuffled the cradles to place Ramas cradle near Lakshmanas and Bharatas near Shatrughnas. Immediately, the shrieks faded, however, the crying continued. Vasistha was baffled. He then lifted Lakshmana and placed him in the same cradle as Rama and he placed Shatrughna in Bharatas cradle.
The children looked at each other and smiled and there was no crying. For the family, this was nothing short of a miracle. Though born of different mothers, the kind of love these children had for each other was novel to human relationships.
As the children grew up, the pairs became inseparable. Rama could not eat or sleep without Lakshmana. Even if His mother offered Him the tastiest of sweets, He would not eat until He shared them with Lakshmana.
Once the children, about five years old, found an exciting little muddy patch when playing in the palace gardens. They began flinging mud balls at each other. Keikeyi and Kaushalya rushed to stop them, but the boys bombarded their mothers with the mud balls. Soon the mothers were as much covered in the slush as the children.
Just then Rama spotted the hunchbacked Manthara, one of Keikeyis assistants. He decided to have some fun at her expense. Rama attached a mud ball to the tip of an arrow, and when the mothers weren’t looking, he aimed at Mantharas hunchback.
The arrow hit its mark and the mud ball burst open, drenching Manthara in slush. Rama and His brothers began to laugh hysterically.
The slushed drenched mothers had seen what had happened, but took the incident lightly and laughed along.
Manthara had hated Rama and now her hatred deepened. She snarled at Rama , and the whole scene turned grave. Keikeyi intervened and pacified Manthara Manthara harbored memories of this incident for 20 long years before finally taking her revenge.