Ramayan Stories – Bharata Persuades Rama to Return
Rama, Laxmana and Sita proceed further and the Holy Trio reached the mountain top at Chitrakoot. Here they decided to stay for sometime and took last salutes from all accompanying friends and Rishis. They now wanted to remain within themselves and lead the hard and simple forest life as directed by mother Kaikeyi. The poor forest people came with fruits and other food. They saluted the trio for their benevolence.
They were ever vigilant lest the leopards and other jungle animals should hurt these royal guests. Rama also loved these neglected tribal people. He understood their plight and hardships to earn their living and food. He was highly impressed with their knowledge of the plants and herbs, and equally for their concern and care to preserve the forest – eco-friendly nature!
Bharata meanwhile was persuaded to take the reigns of Ayodhya in his hands, as it was thought unwise and improper that the throne of Ayodhya should remain vacant without legitimate king. Bharata did not agree to this. He said that only after meeting Rama this whole affair can be sorted out and settled.
Kaikeyi, Kausalya, Sumitra, Gurudev Vashistha, many officers of the royal army and a huge population of Ayodhya accompanied Bharata on his ‘pilgrimage’ to meet Rama. Bharata also adored simple dress of sanyasin and started on foot as directed by the minister, Guhaka, and sages Bharadwaja and Valmiki. Thus the party reached the base of Chitrakoot mountain.
The tribal eager to protect their respected Rama-Laxmana-Sita obstructed their path thinking them to be the invaders or enemy. But finding Bharata without bow and arrow and seeing tears in every eye, they desisted from attacking them. Some of the tribesmen rushed to the mountain top and explained the scene below. It took no time for Rama to know that his brother Bharata had come to meet him.
Bharata and his associates were escorted in the presence of Rama with due respect and poise. Seeing Rama-Laxmana-Sita in a simple dress without ornaments and royal paraphernalia, Bharata’s heart was filled with intense grief. His eyes gave vent to flood of uncontrollable tears. Rama too could not check his emotions, and rushed to hug his beloved brother Bharata. No one spoke for a long time that appeared as eternity. Continuos flow of tears calmed their hearts and mind after a while.
Bowing down at the feet of Rama and taking the holy dust from them, Bharata politely said,
“O brother, why did you not wait for my return? Did you also think that I would be pleased to get the throne of Ayodhya? How did you forget that without you Ayodhya, or for that matter whole of kingdom of universe, is like a mud puddle for me! Did you not know that mother Kaikeyi had committed a grave mistake which I was sure to rectify? Now I invite you to return to Ayodhya and take the reigns in your hand. O brother, our father could not bear the separation from you and has left for heavenly abode. We have all become orphans now; your return is the only saving grace now. Otherwise everything is like food without salt.”
Everyone was watching with dismay and respect the meeting of these two brothers. Nowhere on the earth such brotherly love was ever witnessed nor would be seen in future, they thought. Rama lifted the bent down Bharata, took him to his breast again and consolingly said,
“My dear brother, why do you also behave like common folk? Where has your bravery, discrimination, and self confidence vanished! Why do you think this to be hour of crisis? No my dear, this is not any crisis. The destiny should never be mistaken for tragedy. First of all you must never utter a single word against mother Kaikeyi. She is a lady of great honour and judgment. She has not committed any crime, he is not a sinner as you mistakenly believe. She has done a great favour to Ayodhya and mankind which will be revealed to you and others during these fourteen years.
Yes, these fourteen years are offered to me by her to spread my kingdom of peace, equality and social justice. Even though ordinary folks may rebuke her foe her actions, the wise and learned would bow down to her in reverence for the unparalleled opportunity she opened up for me establishes the rule of Dharma! hence do not grieve. Go back to Ayodhya and rule as a noble, wise, and kind king for the welfare of all irrespective of caste and social status. See that injustice is firmly handled with a blend of kindness. Ensure that aspirations of all are fulfilled.”
Gradually Bharata could see reason. The rule of heart shifted to rule of intellect. He took a vow in front of Rama and others, saying, “O Rama, I agree with what you said. but remember, I will take care of Ayodhya on your behalf from my ashrama in a nearby village. The throne will be decorated with the wooden sandals of your feet which I beg you to give to me. I refuse to enter Ayodhya till your return after fourteen years. If you fail to show up after fourteen years I will immolate myself on the burning pyre.”
When it was found that the resolve of Bharata was final, Rama agreed to his conditions and gave away his wooden shoes to Bharata who carried them on his head to Ayodhya.’