Ramayan Stories – Bharata
What was the reaction of Kaikeyi and others when Bharata returned to Ayodhya? What happened to king Dasharatha after Rama left for the forest?
As we know the minister Sumanta accompanied Rama and company for some time. The idea was to persuade Rama to return back to Ayodhya; the argument was that Kaikeyi would repent her hastiness and accept her mistake. She would not mind Rama coming back and stay at Ayodhya, even if Bharata be the king!
But, no. Rama flatly refused to return back. He said to his minister,
“O honorable one, I can understand your concern and love for me, but do not expect me to follow the course of action that has even minimum indication of cleverness, ambiguity, or suspicion. I have given my word to my father and people of Ayodhya to lead forest life of simplicity and renunciation for fourteen years, and I cannot think or act otherwise. It is not a question of comfort or privilege, it a matter of principle, truth, which one must even die to uphold. Don’t I know that Sita who is so tender and inexperienced is suffering? But once decided let us do our duty.”
Bharata Returns to Ayodhya
Thus Sumanta, without success, had returned to Ayodhya. Meanwhile, news of these dramatic happenings was sent to Bharata who was far away from Ayodhya. He was told that king Dasharatha sought his urgent meeting. He was not told about the banishment of Rama, role of his mother, and critical condition of his father.
But when he entered the boundaries of the kingdom, he was aware that something was amiss. “Why the birds are not at their usual happy chirping? Why these cattle is dried up and thinned out? Why all people are so silent, instead of their usual fun and play; their eyes swollen as if with constant crying? Why the usual sweet music and singing at the palace not audible to his ears?”
He could guess of impending tragedy, but was not sure as to what exactly might have happened. He straight way went to the chamber of his mother and was pained to see his father lying semiconscious on the floor. He was angry as well as confused. With a firm voice he inquired of her mother,
“O mother, what is all this? Can anyone tell me what has happened to my father, who has brought this disgrace to him, and why is Rama not to be seen?” A series of rapid fire question, but no immediate answer! Who would describe this sudden catastrophe where villain was of his mother Kaikeyi only! Ultimately through the intervention of the ministers gradually Bharata came to know all the details of the happenings. He was flabbergasted that her mother would be so mean to take life of her own husband! How can she not feel the pain of separation from her son Rama! Then with language that was sharper than the razor’s edge, Bharata takes her mother to the task.
Says he, “O mother, to call you mother is an insult to motherhood. Indian tradition does not allow to kill one’s mother and hence I am desisted from doing so, otherwise any one other you would have not remained alive for more than a minute after doing this to my father and brother Rama. Let the world know that from today you cease to remain my mother, I will not speak to you for fourteen years. From today onwards my mother’s place is taken by Kausalya and Sumitra.”
Bending low down, he then lifted the head of his father in his lap and said, “O father, what should I do to pacify you? On one side there is that noble Rama and here I am so unlucky and useless to become the king at the cost of my father and brother. Why have I lived to see this unfortunate day! please tell me father what is your command for me.”
Dasharatha Dies Separated From Son Rama
Thus full of remorse Bharata did not know exactly as to what he should do. In a weak voice then, Dasharatha said, “O my son, my end is near, I cannot live where Rama is not. The life force here draws its sustenance from Rama alone. But my request to you is to go and fetch Rama-Laxmana-Sita from wherever they may be. After my departure from this earthly bond, I do not want the people of Ayodhya and all of you to suffer the agony of separation from Rama.”
All eyes were wet. Bharata vowed to seek the forest-dwelling of Rama and to bring him back and offer him his legitimate right to throne. On hearing these words the heart of Dasharatha was pacified to some extent, and he breathed his last with repetition of ‘He Rama, He Rama, He Rama.
Rishis Praise Rama
Soon the trio reached the holy Ashrama of the sage Bharadwaja. The sadhu received them with dignity and poise. The sage was already aware of the true nature of Rama and his mission:
“Whenever there is threat to righteousness, whenever vices prevail, whenever the saints and sadhus (spiritual aspirants) are threatened with unrighteousness, Brahman, with the help of His Maya-Shakti (Power) incarnates as Rama (or Krishna, etc.) on the earth.”
“To show the right path to the devotees and to remove the obstacles in their way by subduing the wicked.”
After accepting the hospitality of tribal -low caste- people and thereby establishing a new and revolutionary precedence, Rama-Laxmana-Sita proceeded ahead. They reached the bank of mighty and holy river Ganges. The boatman, Kewat, washed the holy feet of the trio and made arrangements for taking them to the other shore. When Rama offers him the fare, the devotee Kewat, eyes full of tears, describes the glory of Lord in a touching song. Says he,
“Sri Rama, the Almighty Redeemer, who ferries millions of souls across this ocean of worldliness seeks himself to be ferried across the river today! Lord seeks help from his Bhakta! I must have done some good work in my past birth to get this opportunity to serve Rama. O Compassionate One, to deem my fare, I will wait for fourteen years on this bank of river till your return.”
Seeking tearful leave from the boatman, Rama and company reached the holiest confluence of three rivers in India – Triveni Sangam of the rivers Ganga – Yamuna – Saraswati at Prayag, North India. The confluence of Bhakti – devotion, Jnana – knowledge, and Karma – action.