~ 25. The Devas Answer Dasharatha's Prayer ~

As Rishyashringa completed the sacrifice, a celestial being appeared, bearing in his hands a bowl of kheer.
King Dasharatha gave the bowl to Kaushalya, chief among his three wives.
"We must share it," she said.
So Kaushalya ate half, and gave the bowl to Sumitra.
Sumitra ate half, and gave the bowl to Kaikeyi, Dasharatha's favorite.
Kaikeyi ate half, and then gave the bowl back to Sumitra, who ate what was left.
And so Kaushalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra had two sons: Lakshmana, who was devoted to Rama, and Shatrughna, who was devoted to Bharata.

Inspired by: Valmiki's Ramayana (Bala Kanda).
Notes: Kheer is called by different names in different parts of India: kheer, payasam, firni, etc. Find out more at Wikipedia. It was my idea to have Kaushalya decide to share the kheer among the wives. As Devdutt Pattanaik notes in his book Sita (p. 16), the Ananda Ramayana reports that a portion of Kaushalya's kheer is taken by a crow and falls into Anjana's mouth, and she gives birth to Hanuman. In another version of the story, a crow takes part of Kaushalya's portion to Kaikesi, and she gives birth to Vibhishana. Just who ate how much kheer and in what order varies from version to version. In this version, Rama is born from half of the kheer, Lakshmana from one fourth, and both Bharata and Shatrughna from one eighth each.

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