The Vasistha Ramayana, which is written by Valmiki, reveals only ancestry of Dasharatha, his birth and how he became king of Ayodhya. It doesn’t say anything about Shanta an elder sister of Lord Rama. But Ved Vyasa reveals unknown story about Dasharatha’s daughter. This story highlights that Shanta was first female child of Dasharatha and elder sister of Rama.
Birth of Shanta
Dasharatha at the age of 18, he became the powerful ruler of Ayodhya. He was the gallant king of South Kosala who could drive a chariot in ten directions (hence his name)He wanted to marry Kausalya, daughter of northern kosala king, Maharaj Sukausha. Sukausha agreed to the marriage without knowing that he and Dasharatha were closely related coming from the same clan.
After the marriage Kausalya gave birth to a female child, Shanta. Unfortunately she was born with handicap in her leg. Once he consulted Sage Vashistha. He said that handicap was due to the marriage between close cousins and suggested that she would become normal if she given in adoption to some others.
Dasaratha and Kausalya gave the child in adoption to the childless couple Vershini (Kausalya’s sister) and King Lompad of Angadesh. Later Shanta became normal and her beauty was unmatched. As Shanta grew, the legends of her beauty, valour and intelligence spread far and wide in the land, and many came to ask for her hand in marriage, but she had resolved to only marry a learned and pure man
After Shanta was given in adoption, Dashratha wasn’t blessed with any child. He wanted to perform “Putra Kameshthi Yaga” to compel the Gods to give him a child. Shanta’s husband, Rishyasringa helps Dashratha in performing a Putra Kameshthi Yajna. As a result of this Yajna, Rama, Bharata, and the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born. So, this is quite evident that Rama and his brothers were born after the marriage of his elder sister Shanta.
Many few know that there are two temples where Lord Rama’s elder sister Shanta is worshiped. One is in Kullu (Himachal Pradesh) and the other one is at Sringeri in Karnataka.
In South India, especially in Karnataka and some areas of Kerala, Lord Ram’s sister is recognized. There is a similar belief in some other areas including Chhattisgarh that before the birth of Lord Rama, there was a child of Dasharatha and Kaushalya.