Lord Rama as we know has one wife and he is cited as an example of loyalty in marriage.
I read apiece by Ambedkar on Hinduism ,especially on Lord Rama and Krishna, where he has ridiculed and slung mud at Rama and Krishna.
In my research to answer him on some points, I came across information that the Valmiki Ramayana we are following now is not by Valmiki but the Ramacharita Manas by Tulsidas.
This Tulsidas Ramayana, we have been misquoting as Valmiki Ramayana.
Can some one clarify with references?
To my knowledge Rama had only one wife and he had been loyal to Sita.
This issue , in my opinion, is a classic case of taking things out of context.
This sloka is about what Manthara speaks about Rama to Kaikeyi just before Lord Rama’s Coronation, Pattabhisheka.
In her effort to poison Kaikeyi’s mind against Rama, Manthara says that if Rama was crowned as a King, Bharata’s position would wane:
Kaikeyi’s Daughter in-laws , wives of Bharata will be unhappy against Rama’s wives.
It may be noted that Bharata was married to Mandavi, daughter of Kusatdwaja(Brother of Janaka, Father of Sita)
Now the fact is that Rama married Sita and Bharata Mandavi.
Now if Manthara is speaking of facts she would have said as wife of Bharata and not as wives of Bharata.
Therefore the efforts of Manthara is to incite Kaikeyi with hyperbole, saying that the wives of Bharata, implying that Bharata might marry again, being a King.
In the same vein Manthara speaks about Lord Rama might have more wives.
Here Valmiki excels.
Though he knew the full Ramayana in advance from Narada before he started writing it, he never divulges the story in advance.
Valmiki writes in the Ayodhya Kanda,
hR^ishhTaaH khalu bhavishhyanti raamasya paramaaH striyaH |
aprahR^ishhTaa bhavishhyanti snushhaaste bharatakshaye || 2-8-12
12. raamasya= Rama’s; paramaastriyaH= great wives; bhavantikhalu= will become; hR^ishTaaH= delighted; te= your; snushhaaH= daughters-in-law; bhavishhyanti= will become; aprahR^isTaaH= unhappy; bharata kshhaye= of Bharata’s weak position.
“Rama’s wives will get delighted. Your daughters-in-law will be unhappy because of Bharata’s waning position.”
Comment: The words ‘Rama’s wives’ here do not indicate that Rama had multiple wives. Manathara refers to a possible future where Rama being a King would marry other women. It was a norm then for a king to have more than one wife).
(Ayodhya Kanda Chapter 8 Sloka 12)
After this Valmiki Ramayan there were several ramayan written by people afterwards. All these subsequent ramayan contained story of Valmiki ramayan but with plus and minus. It means that subsequent ramayana differed from the original ramayan in several ways. But there was only one Ramayan which was written after Valmiki Ramayan that became highly popular and that was Tulsidas. (He was contemporary to King Akbar) written RAMCHARITMANAS. So Ramcharitmanas was written around 2000 years after original ramayan was written. And to give you shock - hold your breath - the Ramayan that you know today is NOT the original Ramayan written by Valmiki ji rather it is Tulsidas written Ramcharitmanas.
. Shri Ram chandr Ji had several wives apart from seeta. Ayodha Kandam 8th Chapter, verse 12 - "Rama's wives will get delighted. Citation. http://www.valmikiramayan.net/ayodhya/sarga8/ayodhya_8_frame.htm https://archive.org/stream/DifferenceBetweenOriginalRamayanAndTheRamayanaYouKnow/DifferenceBetweenOriginalRamayanAndTheRamayanYouKnow_djvu.txt