One among the Greatest Hindu epics – Ramayana is heard and told infinite number of times from its occurrence, till date. Each one of us, especially the Indian born have grown and brought up with the 2 epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The ancient epic classic of Ramayana provides various tales to affirm our faith in the victory of Good over evil. The entire epic remains memorable especially due to the wonderful, inspiring and role model characters such as Lord Rama, Ram Bhakt- Hanuman, the epitome of purity – Sita, fearless and passionately dedicated brother- Lakshmana and amazingly intelligent yet blindly lustful- Ravana.
Each of them mentioned characters in Ramayana have a importance of their own. Each one has played an equally important part and is marked in the Hindu Dharma as narrated by Valmiki. Though among these descriptions, one character has lost its importance and we know nothing about it. And that’s Lord Rama’s elder sister “Shanta”!!
The cause of this unawareness is only little about her is written in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana but there is no mention she is the eldest daughter of King Dasharatha.
Shrimad Bhagavatam’s 9th Skandha mentions that Shanta was the first born of King Dasharatha and queen Kaushalya. Kaushalya was the daughter of King Sukaushal and Queen Amritaprabha of the Magadha Kingdom – Kosala. Shanta was given in adoption to queen Kaushalya’s sister Varshini and her husband Romapada (Lomapada) – the erstwhile king of Angadesh.
Reason why Shanta was abandoned..
It had been a long time since King Dasharatha was married. Years passed by but Ayodhya never received a Son, to fulfill the awaited wish to see a prince.
The solution to this problem was performing Yajna by a Brahmin who possessed powers that came through eternal chastity. One such Brahmin was Rishyasringa, the son of Vibhandhak Rishi who was brought up in an complete isolation.
He had no clue about the existence of woman on earth. To bring him so that he performs Yajna, Shanta decided to set off. Rishyasringa was bewildered at vision f her beauty and intelligence. She gave up all luxuries and married him. At last, she succeeded in her task of bringing him and Yajnas were performed.
Soon after, King Dashratha asked Sage Rishyasringa to perform the Putrakameshti Yagya, after which all three Queens- Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi, were given Rishi Prasad. Consumption of which bore them sons, Kausalya-Rama, Sumitra-Laxman and Shatrughan, and Kaikeyi-Bharat.
According to legend, it was only Shanta, whose great sacrifice bore King Dashrath his sons..