Shri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita reached the hermitage of Valmiki. The Sage welcomed them and they spent the night there. Rama requested Valmiki to suggest a place where they could spend their years in the forest.
Valmiki said, “Your ideal place is in the hearts of your devotees but from a worldly perspective, there is a place nearby, by the banks of River Mandakini, at Chitrakoot.” It is a very peaceful and picturesque place. Many sages spend their ascetic lives around there.
Bidding farewell to Valmiki, Rama reached Chitrakoot. The forest dwellers Bhils and tribals welcomed them with delicacies of forest produce of flowers and fruits. At Chitrakoot on the slope of Kamadgiri hill, Rama and Lakshmana built a small hut for their home. They lived there surrounded by ascetics and tribals.
When Sumantra returned to Ayodhya alone without Rama and told Dashratha that he could not persuade Rama to return, the king went into deep sorrow. He could not bear to be parted from his beloved Rama. He recalls the incident from his youth when he had gone hunting. Shravan Kumar was fetching water for his blind parents from the river Sarayu. It was a dark night. Young Dashratha heard the sound of the pot in the river. He thought it was an animal drinking water. He used a Shabd Bhedi Baan (an arrow aimed by the direction of sound) when he heard a human cry, he went to the riverbank and found that he had hit Shravan Kumar. While dying Shravan Kumar asked Dashratha to take water for his parents who were thirsty and to give them the news of his fatal wound. When Dashratha told Shravana’s blind parent, about the cause of their son’s death, they cursed him that he too would die of sorrow of being parted from his son. Dashratha uttered a mournful cry of ‘Rama’ and breathed his last.
In his grandparent’s house, Bharata saw a sad nightmare and told Shatrughna about it. Just then, some messengers arrived from Ayodhya to ask them to return home at once.
When the two princes reached Ayodhya, they found it in deep gloom and sorrow. When they learnt of their father’s untimely death and that the cause of it was the devious designs of Kaikeyi , they were stunned and shocked. They criticized Kaikeyi with harsh words.
Shatrughna caught hold of Manthara and dragged her by her plait in anger. As told by Guru Vashishtha, they performed the final rites of Dashratha and made oblation to ancestors with sampoorna pindodaka kriya (last rites).
Death of Dashratha, Ramayana – The Epic Story