Dasharatha (Sanskrit:, IAST Daśaratha) was, according to Ramayana, the king of Ayodya and a descendant of the Ikshvaku dynasty (also known as Suryavamsha or Raghuvaṃśa). His life story is narrated principally in the Hindu epic Ramayana. He was a descendant of Raghu and was the father of prince Rama, theprincipal character in the Ramayana, Bharata, and Laksmana. Dasharatha was the son of Aja and Indumati. He had Jhalli as mahamantri of his great kingdom. Sumanth was also a trusted minister of his kingdom. He had 360 wives. Out them, only three are his queen consorts. They are : Kaushalya - the eldest one , Sumitra - the most intelligent one and Kaikeyi - the youngest one. He loved Kausalya and Sumitra dearly but after marrying Kaikeyi, he stopped spending time with other queens for fear that Kaikeyi would get angry.
Yajna to beget Sons
Dashratha performed two yajnas with the help of Sage Rishyasringa on the advice of Vashistha. One was the Ashwamedha and other was the Putrakameshti. As the conclusion of the Yagna drew near Agni sprang out from the yagnakunda and handed Dashratha a pot of kheer advising him to distribute it among his queens. Kaushalya ate half the kheer, Sumitra ate a quarter of it. Kaikeyi ate some and passed the pot back to Sumitra who consumed the kheer a second time. Thus the princes were conceived after the consumption of the kheer. Since Kaushalya had consumed the largest portion she gave birth to Rama. Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharat.
Boons to Kaikeyi
A maid of Queen Kaikeyi named as Manthara convinced her that the throne of maharaja Dashratha belonged to her son Bharata, and that her step-son—crown-prince Rama (the hero of the Ramayana)—should be exiled from the kingdom. The ugly maid reminds Kaikeyi of the two boons Dashratha. Thus thenafter Dashratha is reminded by Kaikeyi about the two boons he has yet to fulfill for her. She talks of the time when she had saved him from the demons during a celestial battle against Sambarasura, an enemy of both Indra and Dasaratha. During a fierce battle between the two, the wheel of Daśaratha's chariot broke and Samhasura's arrow pierced the King's armor and lodged in his chest. Kaikeyi, who was acting as Dasaratha's charioteer, quickly repaired the broken wheel and then drove the chariot away from the battle field. She nursed the wounded King back to health. Touched by her courage and timely service, Daśaratha offered her two boons. However, Kaikeyī chose to ask those boons later. King Dashratha is obliged to fulfill those boons. Kaikeyi demands that Bharata be crowned the king and Rama should be sent to the forest for fourteen years. Hearing this Dashratha falls into a swoon and passes the night in a pitiable condition in Kaikeyi’s palace.
The killing of Shravan Kumara
After Rama’s departure to the forest, Dasharatha lies in his bed with a wailing Kaushalya. He suddenly remembers an incident which had occurred in the past. He narrates to Kaushalya about how, by accident, he had killed a young boy named Shravan mistaking him to be a deer. Dashratha who was then a crown prince had gone hunting on the banks of River Sarayu. He was an expert in hunting by determining the direction of sound and heard the gurgle of an animal drinking water. Mistaking it to be an Deer Dasharatha shot an arrow. He became mortified when he heard a human cry as the arrow found its target. Dasharatha hurried there to find a boy lying sprawled on the banks of the river with an arrow lodged in his chest. The boy rebukes Dashratha for his unrighteous act and demands that he pull the arrow out of his chest. He also tells him to take the pitcher of water to his blind parents who must be waiting for him. The boy dies. Dasharatha approaches the blind couple and tells them about his unfortunate death. The parents, grief-stricken curse the prince “Just as we are dying due the separation from our beloved son you too shall have the same fate.” Dasharatha concludes the chapter by saying that his end is near and the curse has taken effect. The place where Dasharatha killed Shravan is now known as Shravan kshetra . 
Following his narration of Sharavan Dasharatha passes away in the night due to pain and misery of his separation from Rama. His funeral rites are performed by Bharata and Shatrughna who were called back from Kekeya.
His tomb is in a village of Faizabad district (U.P.) about 15 km away named "Bilhar Ghat" beside bank of river Saryu where he was cremated. This place is very devotional for Hindus.
|2006||Raavan (TV series)||Zee TV||India||Gajendra Chauhan|
- Singaravelu Sachithanantham (2004), The Ramayana Tradition in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur: University Malaya Press, ISBN 983-100-234-2
- 印度两大史诗研究, ISBN 7-301-04897-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dasaratha.|
- Ramayana, translated in English by Griffith, from Project Gutenberg
- Ramayana by Valmiki
- Ramayana by Tulsidas