Dasharatha means one who can run ten chariots at a time. Your body is Dasharatha, the ten chariots, which include the five organs of senses and the five organs of action. These take the mind into ten different directions.
The three names of Dashratha’s queens are also very interesting. The first wife is Kaushalya, which means skill. The second wife is Sumitra, which means good friend. There could be many friends, but not all are good friends. Many times, friends drag you in the wrong direction. Sumitra is one who takes you in the right direction. The third wife is Kaikeyi, one who stands by your side, although she appears differently; but deep within, she does benevolence. It is like a doctor who gives you a bitter medicine, or a vaccination. As soon as the children see him, they start yelling and crying, but the vaccination does good to them. Similarly, Kaikeyi who apparently is not pleasant, but inwardly, does that which is good for you.
Dasratha did a yagya called Ashwamedha, after which he got four sons. Shwa means yesterday or tomorrow, Ashwa means today – not yesterday, nor tomorrow. It means it is eternal and the present moment. Medha means purification. Medha also means intellect. Ashwamedha means purifying the intellect by being in the present moment, purifying the spirit, the senses, the body-mind complex; going deep in the spirit.
When Dasharatha did the Ashwamedha yagya, Rama was born. This is the spiritual significance of Sri Rama’s birth. The words – ‘rays’, ‘radiance’, all these come from the Sanskrit root Ra, which means to shine, radiance, brilliance and light. Ma means within me, in my heart. ‘Rama’ means ‘the light in my heart’. When the mind in this body, with some skill gets into the present moment, it purifies the mind and the heart, and then Rama, the light in our heart, shines.
Four things come out of you when Ashwamedha is done. When your senses are purified, then what comes up is the Divine light in your heart (Rama), and awareness (Lakshmana). Then, you have no enemies (Shatrugnan), and all the talents (Bharat) come to you.