Dasharatha (also known as Dasrath, Dasharath, or Dashrath) was the king of Ayodhya of the Ikshvaku dynasty whose tale is narrated mainly in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
He was a descendant of Raghu and was the father of Lord Rama, the heroic prince of the Ramyana and an Avatar of the god Vishnu based on Hindu tradition.
Dashrath had three wives namely, Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Ram was the son of Kaushalya, Lakshman and Shatrughna were the sons of Sumitra, and Bharata was the son of Kaikeyi.
Dasharatha had a daughter, Shanta, from his wife Kaushalya. She was the eldest of his children and was married to Rishi Shreengi.
Upon hearing the truly impressive king Dasaratha story, Lanka king Ravana – whose desire was to rule the three worlds – became jealous and sent messengers to the court of Dasharatha asking the king to pay for homage and tribute to Ravana or face war.
Dashrath shot off arrows and told the messengers that, when they got back, they’d discover the gates of Ravan’s capital Lanka shut by the arrows.
Dasrath was well-known for his ability to hunt blind (direction of sound). In the course of one of his hunting expeditions, he noticed a noise similar to an animal drinking water and shot an arrow in that direction.
He became mortified when he found that he’d instead shot the young boy Shravan Kumar.
In grief, the boy’s mother cursed King Dashrath that he too would one day experience putrasoka the same as she and her husband were suffering from.
The parents of Shravan Kumar then gave up their lives, unwilling to live after taking water offered by their son’s killer.
When Dasaratha was young, he joined the side of the gods in a war against the Asuras.
He was bleeding terribly, and his chariot was damaged to a great extent. Kaikeyi who was his charioteer in the war came to his rescue. She quickly fixed the broken wheel and then drove the chariot from the battlefield.
Upon seeing that she had saved his life, he promised Kaikeyi two boons, to which she replied, “My joy is great enough that you are still alive.” However, Kaikeyi chose to ask those boons later.
Just before Rama was crowned, Kaikeyi asked Dashrath to make good the old promise.
She asked for the first boon that her son Bharata be crowned king rather than Rama, and for the second that Rama leave Ayodhya and live in exile for Fourteen years.
The helpless king Dasaratha was forced to agree to her demands. He passed away in the night due to the pain and misery of his separation from Rama.
His funeral rites were performed by Bharata and Shatrughna who were called back from Kekeya. This also fulfilled the curse of Shravan Kumar’s mother.