Bharata was the second son of king Dasaratha of Ayodhya and his third wife kaikeyi. His mother was the daughter of Kekaya kingdom. During the naming ceremony, the spiritual guru Vasistha said, “the second son will sustain and support the universe and his name shall be Bharata” (Bhalla 38). Bharata is also considered to be one quarter of manifest Visnu. He was the husband of Mandavi, daughter of king Janaka’s brother kusadhvaja. They had two sons, Taksa and puskala(Poddar 2001).
When king Dasaratha decides to crown his elder son Rama, Kaikeyi asks for the two boons he owed her, fourteen-year exile for Rama and throne for Bharata. Bharata was away from Ayodhya when Rama went into exile. Bharata was at Kekaya, the kingdom of his maternal uncle and was unaware of the incident. Rama fulfills the promise and leaves Ayodhya accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Laksmana. The helpless king Dasaratha could not bear the separation from Rama and passes away. Bharata is called back to Ayodhya, but the cause is not revealed to him. He hurries to Ayodhya, ignorant of all that had taken place and enters the town. While coming back he felt the city very lifeless. “The brilliant gardens, where we heard the wild note of each rapturous bird, where men and women loved to meet, in pleasant shades, for past times sweets- These to my eyes this day appear joyless, and desolate and drear”(Griffith 179).
As soon as he reaches Ayodhya, he goes to the king’s palace to meet his father, but the king is not seen anywhere. He meets his mother Kaikeyi and asks about the whereabouts of his father. Kaikeyi, without realizing the misfortune that had fallen on her, explains to him in detail about what happened in his absence that led to the death of the king. With shock, Bharata gazes at her but does not utter a word. Kaikeyi tries to console him but it only adds fuel to fire and he burst out in anger. He even forgets that she is his mother and abuses her as a sinner, destroyer of the clan, one who waters the leaves after it has fell from the tree. ‘Flee, cruel, wicked, sinner, let not this kingdom harbor thee, thou who hast thrown all right aside, weep thou for me when I have died”(Griffith 182). He cried with anguish at the thought of his brother Rama, having to suffer so much on his account. Bharata, after performing his father’s funeral, declares his intention of bringing Rama back from the forest. Bharata reaches Chitrakuta and gives the unpleasant news of their father’s demise to Rama and Laksmana, and pleads with Rama to return to Ayodhya as emperor (Bhalla 104). However Rama declines on the grounds that such a deal would be unrighteous. Rama says, “here shall I live in all delight, make my ancestral fame brighter, tread in their path who walk a right, and to my oath adhere” (Griffith 203). Though heavily disappointed, Bharata comes back to Ayodhya and agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler but as Rama’s representative. The folks supports Bharata, as he became the king of Kosala and Ayodhya, but he himself placed Rama’s sandals at the foot of the royal throne. He neither sat upon the throne or crowned himself. Bharata’s reign was righteous and the kingdom was safe and prosperous, but he continuously longed for Rama’s return. During this period, he failed to forgive his mother Kaikeyi and faithfully served Kaushalya, Rama’s mother and Sumitra, laksmana’s mother.
After 14 years of exile when Rama returns to Ayodhya, he intended to crown Laksmana the yuvraja (crown prince), but laksmana remarked that Bharata’s excellent virtues and years of expertise, qualified him as the yuvraja. Therefore he was right away made Yuvaraja by Rama (Bhalla 2008) and Rama establish Ramrajya. When Rama decided to retire, both Bharata and Shatughana joined him. When Rama walked into the river Saryu, he transformed into his eternal and original Visnu form, Bharata and Shatrughana walked into the river also and united with him ( Griffith 522). Bharata total devotion to Rama and his unquestioned adoration are held as role models and shine like a beacon of ideal character, illuminating the path for those who follow.
Bhalla, Prem P (2009) The story of Shri Rama. Delhi: Peacock books.
Griffith, Ralph Thomas H (2008) Ramayana, translated in English. Canada: Project Gluenberg.
Poddar, H (2001) Balkand in Ramayana. Gorakhpur: Geeta press.
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Article written by : Shambhavi kala(March 2017) who is solely responsible for its content.