Valmiki Ramayan says that Dashrath was a childless King in Bala Kanda. They never mentioned Shanta anywhere, and even if Dashrath wanted sons through the yagna, he would not have been called childless had he had a daughter. The legends that have Shanta as Dashrath's daughter do not mention him as childless, and they say that Dashrath gave up his daughter because his friend Romapada was also childless, and he asked for Shanta when she was born. Dashrath was a great daan veer, so he gave up Shanta to his friend though he did love her. Romapada then gave her in marriage to Rishyashringa.
Hey this is interesting. I never knew about this controversy. I have read only the Valmiki Ramayana and I went back to it. According to it Dasharatha was childless. No mention of any daughter anywhere. I truly wonder when this was added and in which version of the Ramayana.
I am currently reading a text on Shri Krishna and it is throwing a lot of interesting insights to all the later addition about Lord Krisna and the time it was done. I wish I could get hold of the original book.
Does anyone here know of any book in any Indian language that demystifies Ramayana and the Mahabharatha?
I doubt Shanta exists as Ram's sister in the original Ramayan by Valmiki. I don't remember her being mentioned there. She's a latter addition by more recent writers. In Valmiki, Shanta is simply mentioned as Rishyashringa's wife and the daughter of Rishi Romapada. Later editions say that Dashrath had given Shanta up for adoption to Romapada, much like King Surasena had given Pritha/Kunti up to Kuntibhoja in Mahabharat. I don't know if this is true though.