Was Shatrughna’s act righteous?
Question: Apparently one version of Ramayana indicates Mantara being severely admonished or even beaten by Shatrughna when he found out from a Minister that she was behind the intrigue of Ram’s banishment. Bharata stopped this. Can you verify?
Answer by Romapada Swami: Yes, this is covered in Sarga 78 of Ayodhya Kanda in Valmiki Ramayana. The relevant section is given below:
As Bharata was thinking about taking a trip to see Rama, Shatrughna, said the following: “How strange that Rama, who is the shelter of all beings in distress and even of Myself, has been banished to the forest by a woman! What a pity that even Lakshmana, who is strong and valiant, did not save Rama by restraining Our father. In fact, considering what is just and unjust, the king, who had gone astray by coming under the control of a woman, should have been constrained even before this happened.”
While Shatrughna was speaking in this way, the hunchback Manthara appeared, wearing all kinds of jewelery, at the eastern entrance. Her limbs were smeared with sandalwood paste and she was wearing royal clothes; she was decorated with many different kinds of jewelery. Because of the girdle, belt and other fine ornaments, she looked like a female monkey bound with many ropes. When the door guard saw the hunchback who was responsible for this great sin, he grabbed her heartlessly and said to Shatrughna: “Here is the sinful wretch
responsible for the banishment of Rama and the death of Your father! Deal with her as You wish!”
Thinking about what the guard said, the morose Shatrughna said to those present in the palace chambers: “Let this hardhearted creature reap the fruit of her activity which caused extreme distress to My brothers and father.” All at once He forcefully seized the hunchback who was surrounded by her friends and made the chamber resound with her shrieks. Incensed with rage, Shatrughna, then dragged the wailing hunchback across the floor. While Manthara was being dragged about in this way, her beautiful ornaments were smashed to pieces on the floor. Strewn with those ornaments, the splendid royal palace shone even more, like the bright autumn night filled with stars. Strongly holding on to Manthara, he rebuked Kaikeyi, who had come to help Manthara, with harsh words. Greatly pained by His harsh and unpleasant words, Kaikeyi, out of fear of Shatrughna, ran to her son Bharata for protection.
Seeing Shatrughna so angry, Bharata said to Him: “Women should not be killed by anyone. Forgive her. I would have killed this sinful and evil-acting Kaikeyi Myself, if it were not for the fact that the righteous Rama would be angry with Me for killing My mother. If Rama knows that this hunchback has been killed, He will surely neither speak with You, nor with Me.”
After hearing Bharata’s advice, Shatrughna desisted from that crime and released the unconscious hunchback.
(In the painting Kaikeyi And Her Humpbacked Female Slave Manthara In Court)