When we think of Lord Rama we remember the exile he had to go for, but we never ask the question why was lord Rama ordered only 14 years of exile. Why not 15 or 20 years, We all know why Keykeyi sent Lord Rama to exile and how Manthara manipulated her.
These are slokas from valmiki ramayana which explains Manthara’s motive for asking 14 years of exile for Rama.
चतुदश ह वषाणरामेाजतेवनम् |
जाभावगतनेहः थरः पुो भवयत || ९-२-२१
“ If you send Rama to forest for fourteen years, your son Bharata will get intimate association in the hearts of the people and will get established in kingdom ”.
चतुदश ह वषाण रामेाजतेवम् |
ढ कृतमलू शेषंथायत तेसुतः || ९-२-३१
“ Rama having been sent to forest for fourteen years, your son will stand firmly, having laid his roots and will stay in power for the remaining period ”.
You can see that mainly she wanted a period of exile which is sufficient for Bharata to create his own identity as king and make people forget Rama. It could be based on some calculations or could be just a random number selected by her. Also I have read some where that 14 years is considered sufficient enough to change the character of a person if he follows a certain life style during that period.
See the below sloka :
नव पच च वषाण दडकारयमातः || २-११-२६
चीराजनजटाधारी रामो भवतुतापसः |
"Rama has to take refuge in the forest of Dandaka for fourteen years and let him become an ascetic wearing rags, deer skin and matted hair".
So she might have felt that even Rama returns after 14 years he would not be in a mental or physical state to become king again after living a ascetic life Incidentally our life imprisonment law also says that rigorous imprisonment cannot be less than 14 years for a criminal. Motive of life imprisonment is on the hope that criminal changes his behavior so number 14 plays an important role now also.
(Article contributed by Shri Ayush)