Manthara (Sanskrit: मंथरा; lit: "humpbacked") in the Hindu epic Ramayana, is the maid who convinced Queen Kaikeyi that the throne of Ayodhya belonged to her son Bharata and that her step-son crown-prince Rama (the hero of the Ramayana) should be exiled from the kingdom.
Manthara is said to be hunch-backed and ugly in appearance. Manthara, it appears, is an expert talker and a cunning woman who can manipulate her way to get what she wanted.
Poisoning Kaikeyi's Mind
As family servant of Kaikeyi, she lived with her from the time of her birth. When she hears that King Dasaratha is planning to make his eldest son, Rama prince regent (rather than Bharata, his child by Kaikeyi), she flies into a rage and reports the news to Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi is initially pleased and hands Manthara a pearl necklace. Manthara convinces her that is Rama comes into power, he will have Bharata exiled or killed in order to eliminate a possible threat to his power.
Manthara reminds Kaikeyi of the two boons Dashratha had given her when she had once saved his life in a celestial battle. Kaikeyi had kept these boons for later and Manthara declares that this is the right time to ask for them. She advises Kaikeyi to lie in her room wearing soiled clothes and no ornaments. She should weep and cry pretending anger. When Dashratha would come there to console her she should immediately ask for the boons. The first boon would be that Bharata would be made the king. The second boon would be that Rama should be sent into the forest for exile for fourteen years. Manthara reckons that the fourteen-year banishment would be long enough for Bharata to consolidate his position in the Empire and weave his way into people's hearts.
Rebuked by Shatrughna
Manthara appears only once in the Ramayan after Rama's banishment. Having been rewarded by Kaikeyi with costly clothing and jewels, she is walking in the palace gardens when Bharata and his half-brother Shatrughna come upon her. Seeing her, Shatrughna flies into a violent rage over Rama's banishment, and assaults her murderously. Kaikeyi begs Bharata to save her, which he does, telling Shatrughna that it is a sin to kill a woman, and that Rama would be furious with them both if he does such a thing. He relents and the brothers leave, while Kaikeyi attempts to comfort Manthara.
Portrayal in film and television