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Rama leaving for exile
Her baser instincts being aroused, Kaikeyi decided to defeat Dasharatha's plan of declaring Rama as the next king of Ayodhya. She remembered the old days when king Dasharatha, infatuated by his wife's charms and feeling grateful on account of her one time courage in saving the king's life, had given the word to grant her two boons. She remonstrated with her husband and reminded him of his word of honor given earlier. She asked him to declare Bharata as the next king of Ayodhya and also to send away Rama for fourteen years in exile away from Ayodhya.After many arguments and with utmost reluctance the king yielded to the pressure and agreed to send Rama into exile for fourteen years and to install Bharata on the throne of Ayodhya in his place.

Rama, as an obedient son, bade good-bye to his parents and the people of Ayodhya and with his wife Sita moved towards the south. He was accompanied by his younger brother, Lakshmana, the son of Sumitra. All the three settled at Chitrakuta in the Dandak forest between the river Yamuna and Godavari. King Dasharatha could not bear this shock and departed from the world. His other son Bharata was called from the place of his maternal uncle, where he had gone with Shatrughana. On his return Bharata was asked to ascend the throne, which he refused stating that the rightful heir to the throne was the eldest brother, Rama. Bharata together with numerous courtiers and enthusiastic people of Ayodhya set out for the forest. Both the brothers met and a long discussion ensued. Rama declined to return to the kingdom without completing the exile term of fourteen years, while Bharata did not agree to sit on the throne. It was finally agreed that Bharata should return and act for the time being till Rama returned as the latter's vicegerent. Bharata to Ayodhya as a sign of regard and obeisance to the elder brother carried Rama's footwear's. The pair of shoes was to be placed always at the foot of the throne in recognition of Rama's supremacy.

Rama, sita and lakshmana in panchavati
Lakshmana chopping soorpanakas nose
For a period of ten years Rama together with his wife and brother moved in the forests from one hermitage to another. Then he met near Vindhyachal mountains sage Agastya, who advised Rama to set up his abode at Panchavati near the banks of the river Godavari. Rama with Sita and Lakshmana accordingly settled at Panchvati.

Panchvati was adjacent to the regions inhabited by Rakshasas (demoniac tribes) and had been attracting periodical visits by them. Once Soorpanakha, a sister of the mighty demon king of Lanka, Ravana, visited the place and was enchanted by the physical beauty of Rama.

When she made advances, Rama rebuked her. On her scurrilous remarks against Sita, Lakshmana could not control his rage and chopped off the nose of Soorpanakha. To avenge this insult she returned accompanied by her two other brothers, Khar and Dushan, who also brought a big army with them. In the battle both the brothers of Soorpanakha were defeated and their army routed.

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