The daughter of the mighty Ashwapati, a long-term ally of Kosala, Kaikeyi married Dasaratha after the latter had promised her father that the son born of her womb would succeed him as King of Kosala. Dasaratha was able to make this promise as his first wife, Kausalya, was childless and not likely to produce a son of her own. Kaikeyi also remained barren for many years of marriage, as a result of which Dasaratha married Sumitra, the princess of Magadha, another kingdom with strong political ties to Kosala.
Kaikeyi’s personality is worth examining and provides a strong clue to her motivations which later led to her insisting on the exile of her stepson from Ayodhya. As a young girl and the only sister to seven brothers, Kaikeyi grew up without a maternal influence in her childhood home. Her father had banished her mother from Kekaya after realizing that his wife’s nature was not conducive to a happy family life. Amongst other things, due to a boon, Ashwapati was able to understand the language of the birds. However, this was accompanied by a caveat that if he ever revealed the content of bird speak to anyone, even his own mother, that he would forthwith lose his life. One day, the King and his Queen were strolling through the palace gardens when Ashwapati happened to overhear the conversation of a pair of mated swans. The conversation so amused him that he laughed heartily, instigating his wife’s curiosity. Despite being aware of the fact that he could not divulge the content of the conversation to her, without losing his life, Kaikeyi’s mother insisted on knowing the cause of the King’s mirth. When Ashwapati realized that his wife cared little for his life or well-being, he had her banished to her parents’ home.
Kaikeyi never saw her mother again. She was raised by her wet nurse, Manthara, who accompanied Kaikeyi to Ayodhya as a trusted maid upon her marriage to Dasaratha. Her father’s treatment of her mother and the latter’s subsequent exile led to Kaikeyi harboring a deep distrust of men in general and husbands in particular, and to considering their love as “fickle” and “passing” in nature. In addition, she was very insecure in her position as secondary consort to Dasaratha. She realized that Dasaratha deeply respected his Queen and Empress, Kausalya, and had only married her in order to produce the much-needed heir. To this end, Kaikeyi realized that her position in her husband’s affections and esteem relied heavily on her ability to produce that heir. When she remained barren, she became increasingly insecure and realized that she could never win in her struggle for supremacy over Kausalya, although Manthara proved to be a great help in this regard. The older woman schemed constantly to further her own position at the Court. And since her position depended on Kaikeyi’s status at Court, Manthara lost no opportunity to feed the young Kaikeyi’s insecurity and jealousy of Kausalya, despite Dasaratha’s obvious enchantment and love for all of his wives. It is important to point out that other sources state that Kaikeyi was not insecure, that she loved her other Queen sisters, and was the backbone of the group. She had saved King Dasaratha in battle and demonstrated her warrior courage.
Reason why Manthara was accompanied Kaikeyi to Ayodhya
As king Ashwapati was able to understand the language of the birds, he came to know that in near future there would be the dangerous of many evil kings, who could destroy the entire humanity and also about the avatar of lord Rama. King Dasaratha loved Rama so much that he won’t allow Rama to go to the dense jungle and kill rakshasas who are wrecking the tapasya and sacrifices of brahmins and other humans of entire India. So king Ashwapati told this and ordered the manthara to send the Rama in the jungles to save the lives of many innocents. Lord Rama was completely aware of the entire incidence. Therefore while returning back from Lanka, he first met and touched the feet of mata Kaikeyi.