INDIA’S PROUD HERITAGE. BHARATA, AN EPITOME OF BROTHERLY LOYALTY. PART 2
INDIA’S PROUD HERITAGE.
BHARATA, AN EPITOME OF BROTHERLY LOYALTY.
BHARATA TRIES TO BRING SRI RAMA BACK.
As we know, Dasaratha, the King of Ayodhya was shell-shocked on hearing his beloved wife, Kaikeyi’s demands. He never could have dreamt that she would misuse the boons granted by him in such a horrible manner.
He pleaded with her to withdraw the two demands… To make Bharata the heir to Ayodhya’s throne, and worse, to banish Sri Rama to the forest for fourteen long years.
When she refused to reconsider, the hapless king agreed reluctantly to Bharata’s ascension but begged of her not to ask Rama to be exiled. But Kaikeyi, her sense of good and bad blurred by her blind love for her son, refused haughtily. She further taunted him saying that the great descendants of the Raghuvamsam( Raghu or Sun Dynasty) were supposed to have a high degree of integrity and keep their word at any cost.
Finally, it so transpired that Sri Rama himself, coming to know about these developments, was firm that his beloved dad’s words had to be honored. Hence he prepared for his own exile by discarding the rich palace garments and donning a monk like dress.
Sitadevi, the doyen of Indian womanhood, promptly prepared to accompany her lord and husband, Sri Rama. She had no hesitation in suddenly transforming from a Queen apparent to a commoner’s wife! Such was her loyalty!
When the couple were preparing to leave, Lakshmana, arguably the most devoted among Rama’s half brothers, declared he too would accompany the brother he worshipped like a God!
It was heart-break time for Ayodhya folks in general and for king Dasaratha and Rajmata (queen mother) Kausalya in particular as the three of them walked out from the palace to a long life of exile in the forest.
Almost overnight, celebration time had become a time of unbearable grief to those who loved Sri Rama with all their heart.
It is said that a grief-stricken Dasaratha lived only for a few days after that and died heartbroken. It is also said that the Bharata scolded his mother severely for this terrible deed and that another half brother Shatrugnan assaulted the wicked Manthara, the evil nurse who was behind all this scheming. It was Bharata who had to do the last rites for the unfortunate king.
Kaikeyi herself went into a depression, blaming herself for the death of Dasaratha and for earning the ill will of even her own son whom she wanted to favour!
Bharatha, the half-brother on whom greatness was thrust without his knowledge or consent, refused to accept the changed situation. Though he might be judged by many ordinary mortals as a fool who threw away a great opportunity, the noble Bharata wouldn’t stray from the path of Dharma and betray his beloved Sri Rama.
He decided to go to the forest and bring his brother Rama back!
Hence, with the help and counsel of sage Vasishta, he soon assembled his choice elders including the three mothers and started for the forest. He was accompanied by a Royal retinue and led by the sage Vasisht himself.
Guided by a sage named Bharadwaja, Bharata was able to locate Sri Rama, Sitadevi and Sri Lakshman in a hut on the Chitrakoot hill in a forest. The river Mandakini was flowing nearby, making it a picturesque and serene place.
Lakshmana, who saw Bharata approaching with a reinue was initially furious as he suspected the latter to be coming to attack and finish off Sri Rama. However, Sri Rama, on hearing Lakshmana’s outburst, chided him gently for harboring such thoughts about the noble Bharata and immediately Lakshmana understood his folly and sought his brother’s pardon.
Leaving his retiue behind and accompanied only by the sage Vasisht and the three mothers, Bharata fell at Rama’s feet and wept inconsolably. When Sri Rama heard about his beloved father’s demise, it was his turn along with Sita and Lakshmana to sob in great grief at their loss.
Later, Bharata hugged his elder brother and begged of him to return and occupy the throne. But all his pleas were to no avail as Sri Rama was firm on honoring his father’s words.
Seeing a crestfallen Bharata, the compassionate sage Vasisht advised the former not to compel Sri Rama. Instead, he suggested in his great wisdom, that Bharata should rule Ayodhya on behalf of the true heir Sri Rama, till his return.
On hearing this , Bharata bowed to Sri Rama and said, “Brother, please give me your sandals. I will place them in my court in reverence and rule on your behalf till your return.
Sri Rama then gave his sandals to Bharata and blessed him. Bharata and his retinue then bid a tearful farewell to their beloved SitaRam and returned to Ayodhya.
Jai Sri Ram! Jai Sita Ram! Jai Sri Lakshman! Jai Sri Bharata! Jai Sri Shatrugnan!