Saturday, 17 August 2013

69. Bharata showed his mettle.

              Not finding his father there in his father's place, Bharata went to his mother's apartment (where Bharata thought, his dad would most likely to be found). Kaikeyi was absolutely delighted to see her long-lost son. After the usual formalities Bharata sat near his mom. She affectionately asked him "How many days passed since you have left your maternal grand father's house? Is there no travel fatigue to you, who has come speedily in a chariot? Oh,son! Is your grand father doing well? Is Yudhajit, your maternal uncle doing well? Were you happy in being absent from home? Be good enough to tell me all?"
           Bharata replied "It is seventh day for me today since I left the grand father's house. Your father as well as my maternal uncle are doing well. Carrying the gifts and jewels, given to me by the king, my followers became tired on the way and as such they required some rest. I, though tired, continued the journey and arrived ahead of them. I rushed because of the very enigmatic message that was communicated by the royal messengers to me. Will you please tell me why I was asked to come back so immediately.
         "I notice many unusual things here. For starters this couch of yours, which is fit for rest and decorated with gold, is empty. Then the men and women of Ikshvaku race do not appear to be cheerful. King Dasharatha mostly used to be here in this house. Now, I do not see him. I came here desirous of seeing him. Where can I find him?  Is he in the house of Kausalya, the senior most of my mothers?"
         Kaikeyi nonchalantly told Bharata the demise of the king. 
         Bharata, not an iota less righteous than his dear brother Rama, was totally aghast at hearing that news and immediately fell down on the ground, being exceedingly tormented by the grief for his father. Bharata, shocked, grievous and depressed cried loudly "Oh! My God!". He then started lamenting "These beautiful couch of my father earlier used to enhance its charm with his splendor, as the moon irradiates the stainless sky in the night at the end of a rainy season. Being unoccupied by my virtuous father, the same couch is now bereft of its glory, like the sky without the moon or like the sea with its water dried up."
         Covering his face with a raiment, Bharata, with a profound distress in his mind shed tears in lamentation. Kaikeyi tried to lift him up from the floor saying "Oh, my dear silly boy get up! Why are you lying down? Gentlemen, like you, respected in the assembly of men, do not and should not grieve."
        He lamented saying "I was sure that I was called back so urgently because the king was either going to anoint Rama as a prince regent or to perform a sacrifice. I, therefore, cheerfully commenced the journey. Alas! It turned to be otherwise. By not beholding my father, who was always interested in my wishes and welfare, my heart is broken to pieces. Oh, mother! On what ailment did the king die, when I was not here? Rama and others who performed the last rites by themselves for our father are indeed fortunate. Where is the caressing hand of my dear father which used to wipe away the dust with which I was covered? Immediately inform about my arrival to Rama, my wise brother, like my father, my friend and to whom I am a most obedient and faithful servant.  An elder brother indeed becomes a father for a faithful man who knows righteousness. I will grasp his feet in obeisance. He is indeed the refuge for me now. What did my father say before he died?  I want to hear exactly the last message of my father."
         Kaikeyi  mischeivously but truthfully told Bharata "His last words were 'Oh, Rama, Oh, Seetha, Oh, Lakshmana!' "
         Hearing this second unpleasant news, Bharata became more dejected. With a gloomy face, he once again asked his mother "Where did Rama go now along with my brother Lakshmana and with Seetha?"
        Asked pointedly by Bharata in this manner, his mother told him what had happened, as though they were very pleasant words "Oh, son! Rama, wearing a long narrow pieces of bark, went to the great forest of Dandaka, followed by Lakshmana and Seetha."
         Bharata was too flabbergasted to speak. He could not believe. A prince will be sent on exile only for his unrighteous act(s); but he knew that his dear brother Rama was absolutely incapable of doing anything unrighteous.  He, therefore, asked his mother "I do not understand! Rama could not have done anything warranting his exile. Please tell me why did he go to the forest."
        Thereafter his mother told him exactly what happened that lead Rama going to the forest. Kaikeyi, thinking that Bharata will be highly pleased said "On hearing about the coronation ceremony of Rama, I asked your father to bestow the kingdom to you and for the banishment of Rama to the forest. Submitting to his own decree, King Dasharatha, your father has done all that was requested by me. Rama along with Lakshmana and Seetha was sent into exile. That beloved son having not been seen, the very celebrated monarch was made miserable by the grief for his son and embraced death. The kingdom may be taken over by you now. All this was indeed done for your sake in this manner by me. Oh, son! Do not dwell in grief and anguish. Dwell in courage. This city along with the salubrious kingdom indeed is subservient to you. Hence, meet the chiefs of Brahmanas like Vasishta who know the rituals, perform soon the sacred rites to the king and get crowned as a king yourself to this illustrious kingdom."
       Bharata was highly distressed to hear that two of his dear brothers had gone away to the forest and his dear father was dead. He told his mother "My dear father and my brothers Rama and Lakshmana are very dear and most important to me. Bereft of my father as well as my brothers Rama and Lakshmana, I just don't give a damn to the kingdom. Making Dasharatha to die and turning Rama to be an ascetic, you brought one calamity after another like sprinkling salt on a wound.  You came for the destruction of our race, like the night of destruction at the end of the world. My father could not have been aware of his embracing a vicious serpent to his bosom. Oh, the malevolent woman! You caused the death of my father. Oh, the one who made our race unchaste! In this race, happiness is deserted through your cupidity. My father, the king Dasharatha, who was true to his promise and immensely famous, tormented as he was with bitter grief, because of you is now dead. Why did you kill my father the monarch, who was intent on righteousness? Why did you send Rama on exile to the forest?  It is impossible that Kausalya and Sumitra, who are afflicted with grief for their sons, will live in fellowship with you, my mother. You know very well that Rama my elder brother, a pious man who knows how to behave with elders, used to act with the best behavior in your case, exactly the same way he was behaving with his own mother.  In the same manner, Kausalya, my elder mother with foresight and established in piety, indeed used to behave with you as your sister. Are you not ashamed for sending Rama, the disciplined Kausalya's son, clothed in a bark dress, to live in a forest? Oh, sinful one! You indeed sent into exile, clad in a bark dress, Rama, a virtuous, a valiant, a self controlled and an illustrious prince. I think it is not known to you, a greedy woman, about my devotion to Rama. It is exactly so. You have brought in this great calamity for the sake of a kingdom. By which source of strength will I be able to protect the kingdom, without those lions among men, Rama and Lakshmana in proximity to me? Dasharatha the monarch, having great strength and a pious mind always indeed used to take refuge in that strong man Rama as the Meru mountain takes refuge in the forests surrounding the mountain. By what stamina, can I sustain this burden of kingship any more than a young bullock that is yet to be tamed, would stand the strain on getting a load, that was used to be lifted up with ease by a giant bullock. Or even if a strength can be brought into existence in me by following certain suitable methods or by strength of intelligence, I will not allow you, who is greedy in fetching the kingdom for your son, to fulfill your desire. No aversion would be felt by me even to desert you, a woman of evil designs, had Rama not treated you like his own mother at all times.
        "Oh, malevolent woman with your good conduct disappeared! How this idea forbidden by our ancestors, has arisen in your mind at all? The eldest of all in this race should be indeed anointed as a king. The rest of his brothers are to behave reverently towards their elder brother. Oh, cruel woman! I feel that you do not seem to know even a glimpse of the rules relating to kings or not even aware of the standard procedure prevailing in the administration of kings. According to the administration of kings the eldest son always indeed gets inaugurated into the kingdom. This procedure is same to all kings; especially so in the case of Ikshvaku kings. The pride of reputation of those belonging to Ikshvaku race, who protect righteousness alone and who possessed good family conduct, is wrecked by you. Even kings belonging to your ancestral race were great people. How has this contemptible stupidity of mind born in you? Oh, woman with evil designs! I for one will not fulfill your desire. A criminal act, which may cause even an end to my life, has been undertaken by you. Now itself I will go and bring back from the forest, my brother, who is a faultless man and a beloved man of his people. Bringing back Rama with a very firm mind, I will become a servant to him, who is radiant with glory."
           Not satisfied with the rebuke, Bharata continued  "Oh, Kaikeyi! The cruel and evil-mannered woman! Get lost from this kingdom. You having shed down righteousness, remain lamenting about me, who will be dead soon. What harm king Dasharatha or the highly righteous Rama has done to you so harshly that Dasharatha's death and Rama's exile have occurred about the same time because of you? Oh, Kaikeyi! Go to hell. Do not get the residence in the same heaven as your husband. You have done this horrendous act and committed such a great sin. By forsaking the persons beloved by all, an alarm has been created in me also. My father died and Rama is dwelling in a forest, because of you. You got me ill fame. Though in appearance you are my mother, you are inimical to me. You are a cruel woman, greedy of kingdom. With evil conduct, you killed your husband. I should never speak to you, again. Kausalya, Sumitra and my other mothers are engrossed in a great misfortune, by falling victim to you, who brought disgrace to our family. The righteous Rama, who is forever devoted to truth, was sent to the forest. Due to the grief for his son, my father went to heaven. You do not seem to be the daughter of Aswapati, the pious and sensible king. You were born there as a demoness  to destroy the house of my father. The aforesaid sin you have committed has made me fatherless. Besides, I have been abandoned by my brothers and all the people dislike me now. Oh, woman having evil desires, moving towards hell! Which world will you attain now, after making Kausalya  deprived of her son? Don't you know that Rama, the son of Kausalya is a subdued man, who is devoted to his relatives and as the eldest brother, equal to a father? A son is the most beloved to his mother as he is born from the primary and secondary limbs of her body and also from her heart. The other relatives are only like friends. Once upon a time the divine cow of Vashista viz. Kamadhenu who knew righteousness and was worshipped by celestials, is said to have seen a couple of her sons drawing a heavy burden on earth and became unconscious. Seeing her sons (a pair of bullocks) fatigued, after toiling for half a part of their day on earth, Kamadhenu the divine cow cried silently with her eyes full of tears in grief for the fate of her sons. Small and sweet smelling tear drops of that cow fell on the limbs of Indra the lord of celestials, who was traveling below in a lower region. Seeing and feeling those sweet  smelling tears on his limbs, Indra, the Lord of the celestials recognized them as the tears of the great Kamadhenu. Looking up at the sky, Indra saw that Kamadhenu standing there with anguish and pitiably weeping with great grief.
         "Indra, seeing that beautiful Kamadhenu tormented with grief, asked her gently with joined palms 'Oh, cow the well wisher of all! I hope there is no great panic from any quarter to us. What is the reason for your sorrow?' Hearing the words of Indra, Kamadhenu replied 'Seeing these pair of bullocks, my sons, who are in hardship, being scorched by sun's rays, becoming weak, being troubled by the man who ploughs the land and being immersed in grief, I am pitiably weeping Oh, Indra!  By seeing them who are afflicted with the burden and aggrieved, I am greatly anguished. They are indeed born of my body. There is no dearest one equal to a son indeed!'
          "Seeing the weeping of such a sacred cow, whose thousands of sons pervaded the entire world, Indra reckoned that none whosoever is more dear than a son to a mother. 
          "Even Kamadhenu, the sacred cow, having unequaled behavior, and to whom there are thousands of sons, was lamenting, how much more indeed Kausalya will drag her existence, without Rama?  She, who is a holy woman, has only one son, has now been made without a child by you. Thereafter, you will obtain grief forever after your death or even here while living. I for my part, shall toil for the complete reinstatement of my brother and complete the obsequial rites due to my father. There is no doubt Rama, the son of Kausalya, will be brought back to Ayodhya and I, myself will go to the forest inhabited by the sages. Oh, wretched and evil minded woman! By seeing the sorrow stricken citizens, I am indeed not able to bear the inequity done by you. As for you, enter the fire or you yourself go to the forest of Dandaka or fasten a rope around your neck and hang yourself. There is no other recourse for you. Only after Rama obtains his native land, I will become an accomplished man, with my sins duly washed away."
         As an elephant in a forest pricked with a javelin and a goad and as a hissing serpent, Bharata was enraged. His eyes inflamed, his clothes in disarray, and his all ornaments discarded, Bharata lay on the earth.

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