Saturday, 28 September 2013

82. Bharata perseveres.

                  On hearing the polite rejection very adroitly and cleverly by Rama, Bharata appealed to him by "Who in this world, my dear brother, is endowed with such qualities like you. Neither does sorrow disturb you nor does joy enrapture you. You are highly honoured by elders. 
         "You are as strong as any celestial. You are true to your promise, all-knowing, all-viewing and endowed with clear understanding. The sinful deed, committed by my mean mother for my sake during my absence, was not to my liking. Hence be gracious to me.
          "I am bound by the chains of morality. For that reason, I do not impose any  punishment on my mother who was of perverse conduct and deserves retribution. 
         "The King Dasharatha was was not only my father but my preceptor, too. Hence, I cannot reproach him. Rama! How can anyone who knows the principles of righteousness, commit such an improper act, bereft of one's interest and duty, in order just to please a woman? There is an ancient saying that at the time of death, beings lose their judgment. The king, acting as he did, has made this saying indeed true in the eyes of the world. This transgression of righteousness was done by our father for fear of the anger of Kaikeyi or through infatuation and over-haste. Please keep in view a noble purpose and reverse that transgression.
            "A son who honours only good and just deviations from righteousness of a father is accepted as a real son in this world. He who acts otherwise than this would be facing a quite reverse situation. You be that real son. Do not lend yourself to the infamous act, committed by our father, which in this world, wise men totally forbid and condemn. Save Kaikeyi and me, our father, our friends, our relatives, all the urbanites and the villagers as well as the entire kingdom. Where is the forest and where is the princely dignity? Where is the matted hair and where is the protection of a kingdom? You ought not to do such contradictory acts.
           "O, my hero! The first duty of a Kshatriya is indeed to get crowned, so that he may then protect his subjects. Which Kshatriya would set aside his manifest duty and practise a virtue that gives doubtful result, that does not promise happiness,has a mental restraint and is uncertain? If you desire to pursue a virtue alone, then take pains while protecting the four castes as per tradition, by recourse to righteousness.
          "I am of course younger to you in the point of learning, situation and by birth. As such how could I rule the earth, while you are living? And I cannot even live without you.
          "Rule this entire kingdom belonging to your father, without distraction, without hindrance and as per the conduct prescribed for you along with your relatives. Let all the king's ministers along with Vasishta and other priests well-versed in sacred formulas, crown you, the knower of sacred texts, here itself. You, having been crowned thus, may proceed to Ayodhya along with us to rule it, like Indra the Lord of celestials, having conquered all the worlds with his might, proceeds to his kingdom along with celestials. You shall discharge the three obligations viz. subdue all the enemies, gratify the wishes of all your friends and you alone rule the kingdom.
            "Please wipe off my mother's ignominy today and protect our venerable father from his sin. I request you by bowing my head before you. Show compassion on me and on all our relatives as Lord Shiva, the Supreme Deity on all beings. Else, if you disregard my entire request and move again into the forest form here, please allow me to come along with you."
            The imposing and very impressive appeal of Bharata did not make Rama to agree to the request of his brother. All the people who accompanied Bharata were very sorry to see that Rama was obdurate and at the same time wondered at the firmness of Rama. The priests, citizens and elders of that multitude as well as Queens, distracted and weeping bitterly, acclaimed Bharata who was prostrating himself before Rama and added their supplications to Rama.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

81. Bharata requests Rama to takeover the kingdom.

               Eventhough eager to meet Rama, Vashishta let Dasharatha's widows precede him. The king's queens were however, moving slowly. When they saw the ford of the River Mandakini, which was being frequented by Rama and Lakshmana, Kausalya with a gloomy and emaciated face, filled with tears, told Sumitra and the other royal women "I am sure that this ford, located in the eastern region of the forest, is being frequented by Seetha, Rama and Lakshmana. O, Sumitra! Lakshmana, your son must always be drawing water himself from here unwearyingly for the sake of my son. Though engaged in an inferior act of carrying water, your son is not to be censured because all that service rendered to his brother is enjoined with virtues. Your son too, who is not accustomed to such pains, will indeed be relieved now of this mean, wretched and laborious task."
          The large-eyed Kausalya observed a ball made of Ingudi pulp, which was placed by Rama in honour of his father on the ground, on a heap of Darbha grass, the raised spikes of which pointed towards the south. Seeing that ball of food placed on the ground by Rama for his father, the Queen Kausalya told all the other queens of Dasharatha "See this ball of food offered traditionally by Rama in honour of his father. I do not consider this offering as befitting for that great-souled king, who was like a God and who lived amidst every pleasure. How can that Lord of the earth, Dashartaha, equal to the Lord of celestials and a mighty man, having enjoyed the earth with its four quarters, the boundaries of which are the oceans, eat a cake of Ingudi pulp? I do not consider any thing more painful to me on earth than Rama the man of fortune offering a cake of Ingudi pulp to his father."
           They proceeded further and saw Rama in his hermitage. Seeing them Rama raised up and took hold of the auspicious feet of all his mothers. Seeing all those mothers, Lakshmana too slowly paid obeisance devotedly to them all by bowing to each in turn. All Dasharatha's wives showed the same affection towards Lakshmana, as they did to Rama. Then, the grief-stricken Seetha, her eyes filed with tears, also touched the feet of her mothers-in-laws and stood before them. Kausalya embraced the miserable Seetha as a mother and asked her "How has the daughter of the King Janaka and the daughter-in-law of the King Dasharatha and Rama's wife, fallen into such a wretched plight of living in a desolate forest? O, Seetha! My heart pains very much to see you in this condition."
            Rama then saw Vashishta and immediately went up to him and took hold of his feet in salutation. Then, as ordered by the sage sat down by his side. Then, Bharata along with his counsellors, the leading citizens, warriors and virtuous people seated at a lower level but within the proximity to Rama. And they were talking this and that; some were lamenting. 
            While they were indulging as above the night passed giving way to a gleaming and beautiful dawn. Rama and his brothers along with their companions, made their offerings and recited their prayers on the banks of River Madakini.
           After finishing the morning chores, all sat down on the bank of the river. Then Bharata told Rama "My mother has been consoled by you by giving the kingdom to me. I am giving back that kingdom to you. Enjoy it without hindrance! As a dam breached by a great rush of water during a rainy season cannot be repaired so easily, this great kingdom cannot be defended by any one other than you. As a donkey cannot emulate the tempo of a horse, or an ordinary bird the movement of Garuda, neither can I adopt your ways of ruling the kingdom. 
         "May all behold you, shining resplendent on all sides like the sun, seated on the throne! O, Rama! May the elephants, intoxicated with ichor be heard trumpeting on the highway, when you do return and the women of the inner apartments rejoice, all happily joined together."
         Rama told Bharata with a smile "Man is not able to do what he wills. He is not the Master. A fixed form or name drives him hither and thither. All that is piled up is finally disbursed. What rises, ends in a fall. Union ends in separation. Life ends in death. How a ripe fruit does not fear for anything other than its falling, so also a man once born, does not fear for anything other than his death. As a house that is solidly constructed ultimately falls into decay, human being too is subject to age and death. The night that has passed, does not return and the bountiful River Yamuna just marches on towards the sea. The passing days and nights in this world quickly decrease the life-span of all living being as in the summer, the rays of the sun dry up the water in a pool.
         "You grieve for yourself. Why do you grieve for another? Even while you stay at home, or departed to another place, your life-span gets shortened. Death walks just with us as we walk and sits with us as we sit. Having traveled a very long distance with us, death returns along with us as we return.
          "What expedient can make a man whose body became decayed with age, with folds on the limbs and hair turned grey,come back to the original splendour? People are delighted when the sun has risen and also when the day ends. But they are not able to perceive the waning in their life-span.
          "Seeing the onset of season, people rejoice, as though it has come something newly. But the succession of the seasons devours the life of being. As pieces of drift-wood floating on the ocean come together for a span, so also wives, children, kinsmen, wealth and property come together for a while and part with us. Their parting is inevitable. Here, no being can escape its destiny in the form of birth and death. For that reason, the power to avert his own death does not ingrain in a man mourning for a dead person. As a caravan is passing on a road, one stationed at the way-side says, I too will come behind you. In the same manner, we should inevitably follow the path taken by fathers and forefathers. Why a man who obtained that path, for which there is no return, distress himself.
          "While the age rushes on, without any return like a flowing river, one's self should be employed in a pursuit leading to blessedness. It is said that all beings are meant to be happy. The king Dasharatha, our pious minded father performed almost all auspicious sacrifices and paid plentiful sacrificial fees to the officiating priests and Brahmins and went to heaven.
          "Our father reached heaven because he maintained his servants properly, protected his subjects and realized the taxes in the manner prescribed by scriptures. Our father obtained heaven because of his auspicious acts and performing sacrifices involving heavy sacrificial fees.
           "Having performed many types of sacrifices, enjoying worldly pleasure abundantly and having obtained a long and virtuous life, king Dasharatha reached heaven. O, dear brother! King Dasharatha, our father who was treated with respect by all men and who secured excellent life-span and enjoyments, is not to be pitied.
            "King Dasharatha, our father, having abandoned his worn-out human body, has attained the celestial state, by which he can stroll in the realm of Brahma, the highest heaven. No wise, learned and exceptionally clever man, such as you, would weep in such a situation, about the emperor.
            "The wise, who are steadfast, should indeed relinquish these sorrows, lamentations, weeping and such other states of misery. Be composed. Control your grief, return to the City of Ayodhya in order to obey the command of our father. I, on my part, will fulfill the command of our father.
            "O Bharata! It is not justifiable for me to violate the command of our father. You also must honour it to the end, for it comes from our father, our own blood. Hence, I shall conform to the honourable word of our father, by my act of dwelling in the forest. Thus should a pious man act, who seeks to harm none, who is obedient to his elders and who aspires to conquer the higher world. Perceiving the virtuous conduct of our father, the King Dasharatha, act in conformity to your own nature."

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

80. Rama's bereavement over the death of his dad.

                   Rama looked at Bharata with matted locks and wearing bark-robes lying on the ground with joined palms
It took some time for Rama to recognize that the lying figures were his brothers Bharata and Shatrugna. Bharata looked very emaciated and his face looked pale. Rama stooped and took him by the arm. Smelling the crown of his head, embracing him and placing him seated besides him and asked him kindly "My darling brother Bharata! Where is our father, that you have come to the forest?  I see you after a long time. I see that you are wearing a mournful face.  Alas! Why have you come to the forest, my dear brother!  Is our dad okay?
          "I hope the kingdom has in a no way suffered from your youthful experience. Are you rendering service to our father, who is truly valiant? I hope that the King Dasharatha is well."
         Assuming that Bharata was now the prince regent, Rama indirectly told him the summum bonum for a good ruler. He did this by questions like 'Do you, regally adorned, appear soon after you get up, before the people every morning, on the great high way?' and statements like 'The source of victory for kings indeed comes from a concealed counsel by ministers, who are well-versed in political sciences and who can hide their thoughts within themselves. I hope you do not fall a prey to excess of sleep and do wake up at appropriate time. I hope you contemplate during the later half of the night, about the adroitness of an action.'
            On completion of the discourse as mentioned above, Rama suddenly realised that Bharata was wearing bark and antelope-skin. He therefore, asked him "Hi! dear bro, to what am I indebted to the honour of this visit from you? Why are you wearing robes of bark and antelope-skin? As you have come here relinquishing the kingdom indicates that you require something very important from me. Ask whatever you require from me and that shall be yours."
          Bharata replied "O, my most dear brother! Our dear father unjustly agreed to something out of moral compulsion. As urged by his wife, to wit my mother Kaikeyi, our father committed this atrocious sin of moral turpitude that has wrenched and thrown away his own reputation into trash. For her wicked act my mother will fall into the most terrific hell. Grant me, who is your true servant, a favour! This very day, as Indra the Lord of celestials, receive the royal anointing! Grant all these people who have come here to see you, this felicity!
          "Brother! Please accept the throne that is yours by right. And that is the desire of everyone in the kingdom. Bring the loneliness of the entire world to an end by becoming her Lord, as does the immaculate moon to the autumn-night. Grant this grace to your brother, who prostrates at your feet along with your ministers.
          "You cannot disregard this unbroken kingdom, which is eternal, ancestral and honoured."
            Saying this Bharata, with tears, once again seized Rama's feet in great honour, as per precept. Rama embraced his brother Bharata and said "How should a man of noble birth, rich in Sattva (goodness), dignified and who has observed sacred vows like myself, commit a sin for the sake of a mere kingdom?  I do not see the slightest fault in you and you should not reproach your mother for her action.
           "It is incumbent always on the part of the elders to act freely with reference to their wives and progeny. Since it was said thus by virtuous men in this world, we should all obey our Lord; this must be known to you. The great king is the master, who has a discretion either to make me reside in the forest, wearing bark robes and a black antelope skin or to sit on the throne.
            "The same degree of respect is to be paid to our mother, as is due to our father, who is honoured by all. How can I do otherwise, while both my parents of virtuous nature ask me to go to the forest? It is for you to occupy the throne in Ayodhya that the world reveres and it is for me to occupy this Dandaka forest, wearing bark robes. Having commanded thus, the emperor Dasharatha made the division of duties in this manner (for the two of us) in the presence of the people, his learned ministers and other counsellors and his preceptor the Sage Vashishta. That king, the preceptor of the world is the standard authority for you and you accordingly have to enjoy the share given by our father. I, for my part, shall enjoy the share given to me by him viz. a sojourn for fourteen years in Dandaka forest."
           Bharata replied "My dear learned bro! It has ever been the established tradition in us that while there is an elder son, the younger one cannot become a king. Therefore, come to the prosperous Ayodhya along with me and get anointed in kingdom for the welfare of our race. While I was in Kekaya kingdom and you in the forest, the king Dasharatha went to heaven. I may add that our dad died shortly after you went away with Seetha and Lakshmana, as he could not bear the separation from you, his most beloved son, for fourteen years. Let the traditional libations of water be offered to our father. Shatrughna and I have already done it. It is well known that you undoubtedly are the most beloved to our father. Entirely abandoned by you, lamenting about you, desirous of beholding you, being not able to turn away his mind absorbed in you alone, immersed in grief of you and recollecting you, our father died."
          Rama was shocked to hear the news of the demise of his dad. He cried "Oh, God" and fell down on the ground.

Seeing Rama lying on the earth, his wife Seetha and all his brothers approached him from all sides and weepingly sprinkled water on him. On regaining his senses Rama opened his eyes and said "He died of grief on my account and I did not perform the last rites for him! Bharata, I am happy to learn that Shatrughna and you did all the obsequial rites of our father. 
         "Even after the end of my exile, I do not want to return to Ayodhya which is in a disarranged state, deprived of a chief and made bereft of a king. While our father has gone to the other world, who will counsel me when my exile in the forest is over? Formerly, our father used to address me in words of praise. From whom shall I now hear those words delightful to my ears?"

          Rama then turned to his wife and said "O, Seetha! your father-in-law is dead. O, Lakshmana! You have become bereft of your father. Bharata just now conveyed the sad news."

          Rama consoled Seetha who was weeping and himself stricken with grief, told Lakshmana "Bring the crushed pulp of Ingudi Tree and bring a piece of bark for being wrapped about my loins and another for being used as an upper garment, so that we may proceed to offer libations of water for our father. Let Seetha walk in front and you follow after her nearby. I shall follow in the rear. This indeed is the most harrowing procession."
         Then, their faithful companion Sumantra well versed in the spiritual science, endowed with great intelligence, kind, self-controlled and glorious, and deeply devoted to Rama, consoling him and his brothers, took Rama by the hand and helped him descend to the auspicious River Mandakini. The illustrious Rama and others reached the River Mandakini, that stream of sacred fords, the enchanting one always covered with flowers, coming to a blessed ford, free from mud and offered the lustral water to the king, saying "Father! May this prove agreeable to you."
          Holding together in his palms full of water and turning his face towards the southern quarter and weeping Rama pronounced the traditional words saying: "O, Tiger among men! May this water without taint and incorruptible at the moment that I offer it to you, reach you in the region of your ancestors where you are."
         Thereafter, Rama offered balls of food to his father. He placed the pulp of the Ingudi tree mixed with the pulp of plums on a mat of Kusa grass and overcome with sadness, weeping, spoke the following words: "O, Great King! Be pleased to partake of this, which we eat for, that which man eats, is also consumed by his gods."
        Rama then re-ascending by the same path on the banks of the river reached the charming summit of Chitrakuta mountain. Gaining the door of his leafy hut, Rama embraced Bharata and Lakshmana and started crying. Seeing
him cry all his brothers and Seetha cried, too. From the sound of the cry of those brothers and Seetha, which resembled the roaring of lions echoed in the mountain. Hearing the tumultuous clamour by those mighty heroes crying, Bharata's army concluded that Bharata had joined Rama and this was the sound only of their wailing, as they mourn for their dead father. Leaving their tents all of them went running in the direction of that sound instantly. Some went on their horses, some others on their elephants, some in their chariots covered with ornaments while the youthful people went on foot. In their longing to see Rama, whose absence though recent, seemed so long a period for them, the whole people ran towards the hermitage. Those who were more eager to see those brothers re-united there, went hastily by hoofed animals or by wheeled vehicles.
         Trodden by many vehicles, beasts and chariots, that land emitted a tumultuous noise, as a sky during the conjunction of clouds. Frightened by that noise, the wild elephants, surrounded by female elephants, perfuming the quarters with the scent of their ichor, went to another wood from there.
         Boars, wolves and lions, buffaloes, snakes, monkeys, tigers, Gokarnas and Gavayas (two distinctive species of deer) along with spotted deer felt frightened. The ruddy gooses, water-fowls, swans, Karandavas (a sort of ducks), herons, male cuckoos and cranes, utterly confused made it to various directions. The sky filled with birds that had been frightened by that noise and the earth covered with men, both looked beautiful at that moment.
         They found Rama, sitting on the bare earth. Abusing Kaikeyi and Manthara, those people turned up with their faces bathed in tears while approaching Rama. Seeing those people thus deeply afflicted their eyes suffused with tears, Rama knowing what was right, embraced them like their father and mother.
         Rama embraced some men there, while some others offered salutations to him. Rama also saw his friends and companions. The tumult of those magnanimous persons lamenting, resounded over the earth and in the sky, reverberating through the mountain caves and in all quarters like the continuous beating of drums.

Friday, 20 September 2013

79. Bharata found Rama.

          At the time Bharata was trying to locate Rama, Rama was on a stroll with his wife on the hill-side. In order to gratify her appetite with a piece of flesh, Rama was cajoling Seetha like "This meat is fresh, savory and roasted in the fire." Then both of them were enjoying that piece of meat.
         Meanwhile, frightened by that gigantic clamour of Bharata's army, the leaders of elephants and other animal-troops  fled in different directions from there. Rama heard that sound emanated from the army and also saw all those animals were hurtling helter-skelter hither and thither. The noise brought Lakshmana to where Rama was with his wife. Rama told him "Lakshmana! The tumultuous sound is as terrific as that of a roaring cloud. See what it is. The lordly elephants in the forest, the buffaloes in the great woods and the wild beasts are suddenly running away in disarray to various directions. Maybe they are frightened by lions. Lakshmana! Please find out whether it is a king or a prince roaming for a hunt or some savage beast. This mountain is difficult to access even to birds. Find out quickly what exactly is the reason."
           Lakshmana quickly ascended a Sala tree in flowering and looking towards all directions. Looking in the northern direction, Lakshmana saw a huge army, full of chariots, steeds and elephants accompanied by smart infantry and cavalry soldiers. Lakshmana informed Rama about that army which was full of horses, elephants and chariots decorated with flags. He continued "Brother! Extinguish the fire. Let Seetha go to a shelter. Make your bow ready with a bow-string and arrows. Wear an armour."
          Rama calmly asked Lakshmana  "Any idea whose army is that?"
         Hearing the calm response, Lakshmana was irritated and spat out "Bharata, Kaikeyi's son, having obtained coronation and desirous of making the kingdom free of enemies, is coming here to kill both of us. It is clear. The ensign bearing the design of a kovidara (pomegranate) tree is shining on the prime chariot.
         "Brother! Don't be so casual. Quickly arm yourself.
Bharata surely has come here to subjugate us. Ipso facto Bharata has become a foe. He deserves to be slain by me. I see no sin in slaying Bharata. One cannot be charged for any unethical action if he strikes down an aggressor. Bharata is the assailant and my killing him will be legitimate. After his demise, you will rule the entire earth. Let Kaikeyi, who is craving for the kingdom, see, with great sorrow, her son slain by me today in battle, as a tree is crushed down by an elephant. I shall kill Kaikeyi too along with her friend the hunch-back and other accomplices. Let the earth today be relieved of a great sinner. Today in the concentrated fury that injustice has kindled I shall scatter the enemy battalions as a fire consumes the dry wood.
           "Today, with my sharpened arrows, I shall slay the bodies of our foes and make this forest of Chitrakuta overflow with blood. The elephants and horses whose breasts were torn open with my darts and the men too struck down by me, be dragged about by the savage beasts. By killing Bharata together with his army in this great forest, I shall discharge my debt to my bow and arrows."
           Rama was quite calm as always and smilingly told Lakshmana "While Bharata, the highly wise man, wielding a bow is coming here himself, what is the use of a bow or a sword with a shield? Lakshmana! Having promised to make our father's wish a reality what shall I do with the kingdom by acquiring an ill-fame in killing Bharata who has come here to see me? I cannot enjoy the spoils obtained by slaying a relative or a friend.
           "Lakshmana! It is for your sake I desire virtue, legitimately acquired wealth and pleasure or even the earth itself. I promise this to you. I desire the throne only for the protection and happiness of my brothers. I swear this on my weapons. This earth, bounded by the sea is not hard to conquer for me. I do not indeed wish even the position of Indra by unrighteousness.
           "If there be happiness that I could enjoy without Bharata or you or Shatrughna, may it be burnt to ashes by fire. I think Bharata was back to Ayodhya, with full of affection for us, his long-lost brothers. He is dearer to me than my life. He who is mindful of the duties of his race, hearing of my exile and that I was wearing matted locks and the antelope skin, accompanied by Seetha and you, in his devotion towards me and due to the distress that troubles his mind, has come to see me. He certainly could not have come with any other motive.
           "Getting angry with Kaikeyi, his mother and speaking unkind and harsh words to her, Bharata, after getting permission from our father, has come here to bestow kingdom to me. This, I am positive, is the reason for Bharata's presence here. Knowing Bharata, I am sure that he is absolutely incapable of even dreaming unkindly towards us.
           "Has Bharata at any time done any harm to you in the past, even as a little boy? What is the reason for you to be so apprehensive of Bharata now? Indeed, Bharata should not hear any harsh or disagreeable word from your lips. An affront to him, is an affront to me!
           "Lakshmana! How could a son strike his father, even in a distress or a brother strike a brother who is as dear to him as his life? If you are uttering these words for the sake of the kingdom, I will tell Bharata to give the kingdom to you, when I see him. When Bharata receives this command from me, 'Cede the empire to him', he will answer, 'So, be it.' and he will very gladly handover the kingdom to you."
          After hearing Rama, Lakshmana realized what Rama was telling was quite correct and absolutely true. He was abashed, embarrassed and shrank into himself and said meekly "I think that our father Dasharatha himself has came here to see you." Observing the embarrassed Lakshmana, Rama said, "Probably you are correct. Maybe our dad Dasharatha himself has come here to see us. Or rather, to my mind, as he knows that we have been accustomed to comfort, reflecting that we are dwelling in the forest, he wishes to take us home.
           "It would be very nice if he has come to take back Seetha from the forest, as she was always living in the heart of prosperity. Bro, See those excellent horses of noble breed, shining attractively and vying with the wind in swiftness. Here is that colossal elephant carrying the head of the army Shatrunjaya, the aged companion of our sagacious father.
          "But I do not see that white heavenly canopy of our father, the well known insignia in the world. I have some apprehension. You get down from the top of the tree. Act on my word." 
           Descending from the top of that Sala tree, Lakshmana stood by the side of Rama.
           Bharata, before setting out to locate his brother Rama, was pointing out the sign of Rama's habitation to Shatrughna.  Bharata, who was affectionate towards all elders, asked the sage Vasishta to bring his mothers and went ahead quickly.  Sumantra also, equally eager to see Rama, followed Shatrughna at a little distance.
          Bharata observed in that wood of ascetics, a leafy hut of his brother together with a small hut made of leaves, nearby. Bharata then beheld wood that had been broken up and heaps of flowers gathered in front of that hermitage.
On nearing the hermitage, Bharata saw some signs here and there serving as a proper direction to that hermitage, to wit tufts of Kusha grass and strips of bark tied to the trees by Rama and Lakshmana. He also saw in the vicinity great heaps of dried dung of deer and buffaloes, kept ready for protection against cold.
            Then, proceeding further, Bharata told Shatrughna "I think we have reached the place about which Bharadwaja directed us. I believe Mandakini River is not far from here. These pieces of bark have been tied up from above. This may be the path provided as signs by Lakshmana in order to find his way back in odd hours of darkness."
           Looking around, Bharata beheld his both brothers.
Beholding Rama, Bharata the son of Kaikeyi distraught by the grief that possessed him, rushed towards him and cried
"My elder brother who is fit to be honoured in an assembly by a body of ministers around him, is now being served by a body of wild beasts around him in this jungle.That magnanimous hero, who formerly used to possess countless articles of apparel is now wearing two antelope-skins, following ascetic righteousness.
          "How this Rama, who used to wear various kinds of colourful flowers, is bearing this burden of matted locks now? He who acquired merit through countless sacrifices performed according to the prescribed procedures, now follows the path of righteousness through asceticism!
           "He whose body was formerly rendered fragrant by white sandal paste, has now only dust with which to smear the limbs of my venerable elder brother! Rama who always used to have happiness, has fallen into this misfortune, because of me. Cursed be my existence that the whole world condemns!"
          Lamenting thus, Bharata perspiration bedewing his lotus-like countenance and without touching Rama's feet, fell
down prostrate weeping. Overcome with grief, Bharata cried out "O, Noble One!" once and in his distress, was unable to speak anything further as his throat was choked with grief.
          Shatrughna too, weeping, threw himself at Rama's feet. 
          Then, in that forest, the princes Rama and his brothers were seen by Sumantra and Guha, as, in the sky, the sun and the moon are seen in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter. Everyone seeing those princes resembling leaders of elephant herds meeting together there in that great forest, shed his cheerfulness and tears.

Monday, 16 September 2013

78. Life of Rama & Co. at Chitrakuta.

        Now let us have a peep into the life of Rama and co. at the Chitrakuta.
        The salubrious climate at the Chitrakuta and the beautiful, calm and pleassant locale of the place made Rama to love his wife Seetha more than before and to make a resolution that his utmost priority would always be to make Seetha more and more happy.  Living there for sometime made him delightful in his mind.  He began to point out the beauty of Chitrakuta to his consort saying "O, my good and the most lovely lady! By seeing this beautiful mountain, neither the loss of kingdom nor the non-existence of friends distresses my mind. Behold this mountain, abounding with flocks of birds of every kind where minerals lie and crowned with peaks that seem to project upwards to the sky. Some areas of the mountain are encrusted with minerals, having the appearance of silver, some resembling blood, some yellowish, some red as madder, some sparkle like precious stones, some possessing the lustre of topaz and crystal and a hue of Ketaka flower and some sparkle with the splendour of a kind of gem called Jyotirasa."
          In this vein he was explaining every aspect and beauty of the captivating scenery of the region to his wife every day.
         Rama was spellbound seeing the beautiful river of Mandakini carrying splendid waters. He told his wife "Behold this charming river of Mandakini, with its multi-coloured sandy banks, frequented by swans and geese and laden with flowers. Behold this river, hedged on all sides with various kinds of flowers and fruits, growing on its banks and enhance its loveliness like the lake (Sangadhika) of Kubera (the ruler of Yakshas). At this moment, its pleasant fords, where herds of deer drink and make the waters turbid, create ecstasy in me."
          Describing the varied beauties of the Mandakini River, Rama with his beloved consort as a companion, strolled in the lovely mountain of Chitrakuta which to look at was as an ointment for pleasing the eyes.
          In short the trio were quite happy living there.

Friday, 13 September 2013

77. Bharata arrived at Chitrakuta.

            Bharata along with his retinue, who were treated with such a grand hospitality, spent that night there and in the following morning sought out Bharadwaja with fondness. The sage Bharadwaja asked Bharata "Bharata! Have you and your people passed the night at our place comfortably? "
           Bharata replied "O, venerable sage! With all the enjoyments in plenty provided by you, all of us including our animals were extremely comfortable and highly satisfied. All our ministers, the entire army and our animals  have become so satisfied that they can never forget the grand hospitality they received here.
        "O, Your holiness!  I am taking leave of you. Please tell me about the abode of my dear brother, Rama. Tell me as to which way I have to go, how much distance it is from here and so forth."
        The sage replied  "O, Bharata! About sixty miles from here, there is a mountain called Chitrakuta, in the middle of a lonely forest with its charming cascades and groves. In its northern side, you will find the River Mandakini, both banks of which are entirely enveloped with flowering trees and forests flourished with charming blossoms. Beyond that river lies the Chitrakuta mountain. I am sure that both your brothers are residing there."
           On hearing this, Dasaratha's wives eligible for sitting in palanquins, came out of their palanquins and stood encircling Bharadwaja. Kaikeyi with her unfulfilled desire and despised by the whole world, clasped the sage's feet with bashfulness. Then, having gone around that venerable and eminent sage clock-wise, she stood close to Bharata, distressed as she was at heart. Then, Bharadwaja, firm in austerity, enquired Bharata  "O, Bharata! I wish to know the distinctions of your mothers."
          Bharata replied "O, venerable sage! This miserable lady who is resembling a goddess but emaciated by grief and fasting, is the prime royal consort of my father, Kausalya who, as Aditi gave birth to Upendra, begot that god in human form, Rama. She, who stands clinging to the left shoulder of Kausalya, plunged in grief is the unfortunate Sumitra, looking like a branch of Karnikara tree with withered flowers standing in the interior of the grove. Both Lakshmana and Shatrughna, the two heroic princes of god-like appearance and unfailing prowess are the sons of this godly woman, Sumitra. She, through whose fault, those two heroes have to get into a miserable existence and King Dasharatha has gone to heaven due to the grief for his son, and she, who is irate, imprudent, arrogant and esteems herself to be beautiful, who is covetous of power, unworthy though noble to all appearance, is known as Kaikeyi, my mother of wicked and sinful resolve, in whom lies the root cause of my great misfortune."
         Bharata then broke into sobs and was breathing like an enraged and hissing snake. The sage Bharatwaja looked at Bharata kindly and consoled him fondly "O, Bharata! Kaikeyi is not intended to be understood by you accusingly. I am sure that the future will see that she was more sinned against than sinning. The exile of Rama will, I am sure become ultimately a cause for happiness not only for you and your clan but to all the worlds! Now Rama's exile will bound to cause some immense benefit to the celestials and the sages whose souls are purified by meditating on the Universal Spirit."
          Bharata satisfied, paid obeisance to him and circumambulated him in bidding a farewell.  He then gave orders for the move of the army.  
          Seeing that large army on the march, the herds of beasts with their leaders, the denizens of the woods were frightened and ran away together. Bears, dappled deer and antelopes could be seen everywhere, on the tracks of the forest, on the hills and by the rivers. That pious minded Bharata gracefully marched ahead, surrounded by that clamorous army. The army, which resembled the high tide of an ocean, covered the earth as clouds cover the sky in a rainy season.
          Submerged by the waves of horses and elephants, the earth became invisible for a long time. Having traveled for quite a distance, Bhatata told the the Sage Vasishta "Looking at the features of the pace and from what has been heard by me, it is clear that we have reached that area of which Bharadwaja spoke. This mountain must be Chitrakuta. This river must be Mandakini. This forest is appearing like a blue cloud from a distance. These trees on the peaks of the mountain are shedding flowers, as black and intense clouds shower water in a rainy season."
         Then he turned to Shathrugna and told him "This place looks very much lovely. Resembling in every way a threshold of heaven, it is clearly an abode of ascetics. In this forest, many dappled deer with their hinds, endowed with enchanting forms, are seen as if studded with flowers. Let the soldiers proceed quickly to explore the woods to find Rama, Seetha and Lakshamana."
        As ordered, a battery of soldiers penetrated into the forest and they observed a plume of smoke rising. Seeing that spiral of smoke, they returned and reported "There can be no fire in a deserted place. Assuredly, Rama and Lakshmana are there. If it be not them, then it must be some ascetics."
        On hearing the report, Bharata ordered his army to stay put. He then went along with his brother Shatrugna, Sumantra and also Dhriti, his spiritual preceptor and of course the Sage Vasishta. Bharata with his gaze fixed on the column of smoke, went forward. The army, which was held up there by Bharata, felt rejoiced in the thought of meeting their beloved Rama soon.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

76. Bharata goes to the hermitage of Bharatwaja.

           After listening Guha about Rama, Bharata approached the foot of the Ingudi tree along with his ministers and gazed on that grass-bed on which Rama had slept. Thereafter, he told all his mothers "It is here that my dear elder brother rested for that night, his limbs pressing the earth. The son of the great and sagacious Dasharatha of an illustrious family, Rama verily does not deserve to sleep on this bare earth! How could Rama the tiger among men, who used to sleep on a couch stuffed with rich cushions covered with superior hairy skins of antelopes, sleep on a bare floor? 
         "This is unbelievable and does not appear true to me. My mind is absolutely bewildered. I wish that it was a dream. It is incredible that Seetha the daughter of the king of videha, lovely as a goddess to look upon and the cherished daughter-in-law of Dasharatha had to sleep on the floor!
          "This is the bed of my elder brother. Here are indeed the blessed marks of his changing sides, in the form of all the blades of Kusa grass, trampled by his limbs on the hard ground. It appears that the godlike and devine Seetha has slept on this bed along with her jewels. I could see that some particles of gold stuck up, here and there. It is very clear that the upper garment of Seetha got entangled with these blades here at that time. That is why, these silk-threads appear stuck to them. I think the bed of her husband is sweet to a woman. Alas! I am a cruel man because on my account, Rama, like an orphan, along with his wife slept on such a bed. How can Rama, born in the race of monarchs, highly honoured by the entire world, beloved of all, having a dark complexion as that of a blue-lotus, having red eyes, lovely to look at, who is entitled for comfort and who is not worthy of suffering, sleep on the ground, abandoning the most excellent kingdom and its concomitant comforts?
           "Lakshmana, having auspicious marks on his body and an exceedingly lucky man, who accompanied his elder brother Rama in times of adversity is no doubt a fortunate man. Seetha, who went together with her husband to the forest, is indeed an accomplished woman. All of us, deprived of the highly virtuous Rama, are an unsettled lot. Dasharatha went to heaven. Rama is dwelling in the forest. The kingdom appears to me as a boat without an helmsman. Despite staying in the forest, Rama protects this earth with the power of his fame. Hence, nobody can think even in his dream, to invade this kingdom. Without guards to watch over its ramparts, with its unrestrained horses and elephants, with its city-gates wide open, without any defenders, denuded of its happy army, plunged in desolation in difficulties and exposed, that royal capital of Ayodhya will be shunned like poisoned food by the enemies, just because of Rama. From today onwards, I shall sleep on the earth or on the grass, with my locks matted, wearing robes of bark and by all means living on fruits and roots.
            "For the rest of his exile, on behalf of Rama, I shall dwell cheerfully in the forest, thereby discharging that promise so that the vows of Rama shall not have been made in vain. Shatrughna will bear company with me, residing in the forest on behalf of Rama. My elder brother, Rama along with Lakshmana will protect Ayodhya. Rama will be enthroned in Ayodhya, by Brahmanas. May the gods grant me this desire. Should Rama not accept the respectful appeals made in every possible way by me, I shall follow the foot steps of Rama for any length of time he roams about in the forest thereafter. He ought not to refuse this grace to me."
          Bharata passed the night in that place on the bank of Ganga. He got up at dawn and told Shatrughna  "Shatrughna! wake up! Please get Guha to convey the army across the river."
         Shatrughna replied "I am not sleeping. Thinking about our brother Rama. I have been wakeful."
         While those two were talking, Guha came and with joined palms, addressed Bharata saying: "Bharata! Did you pass the night comfortably? I hope all is well with your army."
         Bharata replied "The night passed pleasantly for us.  We were treated very hospitably by you. Let your men ferry us across Ganga River on your countless boats."
       Guha agreed and shouted suitable orders to his people.
Within a very short time five hundred boats appeared on the river Ganga. All seemed excellent boats, possessing large bells, marked with Sawstika, well-kept together with appropriate sails and adorned with flags.
          Guha himself brought there his personal boat adorned with Swastika, covered with white canvas, re-echoing with acclamations and was very beautiful. Vasishta, the royal priest and whatever elderly Brahmanas were present there ascended the boat, along with Bharata, Shatrughna, Kausalya and Sumitra. All the royal women who were present also followed and took their seats. 
           Those boats glided speedily. Some were filled with women. Some were loaded with horses and some of them ferried other animals. Goaded on by their mahouts, elephants adorned with their flags, swimming across the river, looked life winged mountains. 
           Some men ascended boats. Some others crossed the river by rafts in the same manner. Some others swam across with the help of big and small earthen vessels. The rest swam with arms. All men, women, animals and supplies were transported safely, efficiently and quickly. Immediately all started without any halt, towards the hermitage of the sage Bharadwaja.
           When he sighted the hermitage of the Sage Bharadwaja, Bharata halted the army there itself to rest, by encamping it according to its inclination and set out along with the priests and king's counsellors to meet Bharadwaja, the foremost of sages. Approaching the hermitage of that Brahmana and the family priest of gods, Bharata saw an extensive and enchanting grove with its leafy huts.
             When they neared Bharadwaja's hermitage, Bharata, leaving his ministers behind at a visible distance, wearing a simple garment, went forwards by foot, preceded by Vasishta, his spiritual preceptor.
          Seeing Vasistha, Bharadwaja the great ascetic rose quickly from his seat, asking his disciples to fetch water to wash the hands of the distinguished guests. Having met Vasishta and greeted by Bharata, Bharadwaja of great splendour recognized him to be a son of Dasharatha. Bharadwaja offering them both, in order of seniority, water to wash their hands and feet and fruits afterwards, made enquiries concerning the welfare of their family.
Subsequently, Bharadwaja made enquires with both of them as to whether all were well in the city of Ayodhya, with the army, with the treasury, friends and counsellors.  As he was aware that the king was no more, he did not speak of the king.
          After the formalities, Bharatwaja asked "May I know the reason for your visit.  I hope you do not intend to do any harm to Rama and his younger brother in order to enjoy the throne without hindrance."
        Bharata with his eyes filled with tears in grief and in a faltering tone, replied "Sir, I cannot conceive of any harm to Rama. Please do not charge me thus. I do not approve of what my mother has done when I was away from home. I am not pleased with her nor do I accept her word in this matter. I, on my part, have come to take back my dear brothers to Ayodhya, after prostrating myself at the feet of Rama and having propitiated him.  Please believe me. I have come to you for a favour. Please tell me where Rama can be found now?"
          Bharatwaja looked at Bharata and was satisfied that he was telling the truth. He told him "Bharata, I was aware of your purpose in your mind. But, I desired to confirm it from your mouth. That is why I asked you, in order to strengthen your fame immeasurably. I know where Rama along with Seetha and Lakshmana are to be found. Your elder brother is staying on the great mountain called Chitrakuta. You may proceed to that place tomorrow. Stay here today along with your ministers."
         Bharata agreed.
        Sage Bharadwaja told his disciples to the effect that Bharata should be given the full honours due to a very distinguished guest. Then, Bharata told Bharadwaja "Have you not presented me with water to wash my hands and feet and offered me fruits thereafter? What more will be more fitting for a guest in this forest?"
        Bharadwaja smilingly replied "I know you possess a friendly disposition and you are pleased with whatever is offered to you. I wish to offer food for your army. You ought to fulfill my satisfaction in every suitable way. Why did you come here, leaving your army at a distance? Why did you not come to my place with your army?"
         Bharata, with joined palms, replied "Sir, I have not come here with my army for the fear of displeasing you. Either the king or the prince should always keep away from the places occupied by ascetics. Spirited horses, men and rare elephants covering an immense area are accompanying me. They may damage the trees, huts and ground and defile the waters of the hermitage. Hence I came alone." Thereafter, Bharata, at the insistence of that great sage, brought the army to the hermitage.
         While the army personnel were settling down in and around the hermitage, Bharadwaja entering the fire-sanctuary (the place where the sacrificial fire is kept), and after the usual chore in this regard, prayed "As I wish to offer hospitality to the guests, I summon Vishwakarma who is also the divine carpenter. Let arrangements be made in that connection for me. I further invoke the three gods Yama, Varuna and Kubera the guardians of the worlds with Indra as their king. I wish to offer hospitality to the guests. Let arrangements be made in this connection for me. Let the rivers which flow towards the east and those which flow towards the west, across the earth and in the aerial region now come together here from all quarters. Let some rivers flow with Maireya (a kind of wine made from date, palms, etc.) some others flow with highly refined spirituous liquor and some others flow with cool water with the taste of sugarcane.
            "I invoke the celestials and celestial musicians Vishvavasu, Haha and Huhu as also Apsaras (nymphs) belonging to the celestials and celestial musicians' race from all regions. I invoke the celestial nymphs called ghritachi, Vishvachi, Mishra Kesi, Alambusa, Nagadanta and Hema as also Hima who have abodes made in mountains.
            "I invoke the fair women who are attending on Brahma the Lord of creation - all of them with their external appendages (like musical instruments) along with their teacher. Let that beautiful garden in the region of northern Kuru, presided over by Kubera (the god of riches) always with its leaves which serve as raiment and ornaments, with its fruits in the form of heavenly damsels appear in this place. May the blessed moon-god furnish me at this place, excellent food of every variety, confections, sweets, sauces and syrups. May the blessed moon-god furnish me many-coloured flowers which have just fallen from the flower-plants or trees, the drinks like wine and others as also various kinds of meat."
         The prayer of the Sage was conceded by all the divinities. While that sage Bharadwaja was meditating with absorption in the east, all those celestials came one by one. Then, a pleasant, comfortable and gracious breeze, passing over the mountains of Malaya and Dardura, began to blow, removing sweat by its influence. Thereafter wonderful clouds let loose a rain of flowers, while the sound of divine gongs could be heard on every side.
            Troops of Apsaras (divine nymphs) danced to the melodious rustling of the wind. The clestials and the celestial musicians sang. Vinas and other stringed musical instruments transmitted their tunes. Sweet and harmonious sounds emitted smoothly, entered the sky, earth and the ears of all beings. Those celestial melodies were so pleasingly heard by the human ears, Bharata's army saw the wonderful and enchanting creations of Viswakarma.
            A levelled land of approximately twenty miles on all sides, became covered by many carpets of grass, dark as emerald. At that place, Bilva, Kapittha, Panasa, Citron Amalaki and Mango Trees laden with fruit appeared. A forest of divine enjoyments from the territory of northern Kuru's along with a river with various trees on its banks appeared there.
           Splendid square mansions with stables for elephants and horses as well as resplendent gates with watch-towers flanked by turrets were seen. A royal palace emerged, dazzling as a cloud, pierced by splendid arches, hung with white garlands, filled with fragrance of celestial perfumes, forming a perfect quadrangle, spacious, furnished with couches, seats and palanquins, supplied with ambrosial drinks of every kind as well as magnificent attire and food of every variety, well-prepared eatables of every description in cleaned vessels and all kinds of seats arranged in order looked charming with superb couches duly covered with rich carpets.
            Bharata, all the ministers together with the priests entered that excellent palace, were filled with delight and amazement.
           Bharata along with his ministers went clock-wise round the excellent royal throne, whisk and the royal umbrella kept there, as if they were utilized by a king. They paid reverence to the royal seat, bowing before it, as if Rama was sitting thereon and thereafter Bharata, taking hold of the whisk, sat down on the seat meant for the chief minister.
            All the ministers and priests sat down in the order of precedence. Thereafter, the chief of the army and at last the officer-in-charge of the encampment occupied their seats. Then, in an instant, by the orders of Bharadwaja, streams having milk thickened with rice in the place of mud, flowed towards Bharata. On both the banks of those streams, enchanting celestial houses plastered with white clay born out of the grace of Brahma the Lord of creation, appeared.
            At that moment itself, twenty thousand women adorned with beautiful ornaments, sent by Brahma, arrived. Twenty thousand more women, who were radiant and adorned with gold, gems, pearls and corals came from the region of Kubera. A particular company of Apsaras who sent any man who looked at any one or more of them into a daze as though seized with insanity, came from Nandana grove.
          Those most excellent among celestial musicians - Narada and Gopa whose radiance was like that of the sun, began to sing in front of Bharata. Then, on the command of Bharadwaja, Alambusa, MishraKesi and Vamana started dancing in the presence of Bharata. By the command of Bharadwaja, wreaths of flowers which were the beloved of the gods or those which grew in the woods of Chaitraratha were seen at Prayaga.
          By the command of Bharadwaja, Bel trees assumed the form of drummers, Vibhitaka trees assumed the form of cymbalists and Peepul trees assumed the form of dancers. Then, palmyras and Tilaka trees along with Tamala trees transformed into hunch backs and dwarfs and joyfully arrived there.
          Shimshapas (Ashoka trees), Amalakis (Emblic myrobalan), Jambus (rose-apple trees), Malati, Mallika Jati and other creepers in the forest had been changed into dancing girls in the hermitage of Bharadwaja and they cooed sweetly  "O, wine-bibbers! Drink the wine, however much you desire! O troops stricken with hunger! Let milk thickened with rice and the meats which are very much fresh, be eaten as much as you want."
           Seven or eight young women bathed every single man on the beautiful river-banks, after massaging his body with oil. Women with charming eyes came running and shampooed his limbs. Lovely women likewise wiped off the moisture on the body with towels and gave him beverages to drink.
           The keepers of animals fed horses, elephants, donkeys, camels and bullocks (the offspring of Surabhi the divine cow) with their preferred feed. The animals, belonging to the exceedingly strong and illustrious warriors, the descendents of Ikshvaku, were fed with pieces of sugarcane and roasted grain soaked in honey, duly cajoling them to eat.
           The groom did not recognize his horse. The elephant-keeper did not recognize his elephant. That army there appeared intoxicated, maddened and enraptured on that spot. With all their desires gratified, their bodies anointed with red-sandal paste, and surrounded by a company of Apsaras, those soldiers exclaimed "We shall not go either to Ayodhya or to Dandaka forest. Let Bharata be well! Likewise, let Rama too be at ease!"
          After that dazzling hospitality, the infantry, the cavalry as well as those mounted on elephants and their keepers too, no longer acknowledging their leaders. In the height of joy, those men in thousands there of the retinue of Bharata cried out "This is heaven!"
         The soldiers in thousands, wreathed in flowers danced, laughed, sang and ran hither and thither. To those soldiers who had partaken that food which was as sweet as ambrosia, wanted to have some more of it whenever they saw again those fresh dishes.
         Thousands of servants, slaves, youthful women and those in the army on every side, clad in new raiment, became very much contented. Elephants, donkeys, camels, bullocks, horses, animals and birds there were suitably well-fed. Hence, one did not afflict the other. There was no one seen in soiled attire or hungry or unkempt or with any dusty hair.
        Dishes of goat and boar with delicious sauces were there and condiments that were spicy, fragrant and succulent, cooked in fruit juices; vessels of rare metals filled with rice, decorated with flowers, were offered to the thousands of those soldiers there. The soldiers saw the wonder on all sides. The wells in all the sides of the forest surrounding Bharadwaja's hermitage have their mud transformed into milk in which rice was cooked. All the animals in the region were transformed into cows of plenty and the trees dripped honey.
             Some ponds there were endowed with full of wine and some were filled with assortment of various dressed meats pertaining to deer, peacocks and wild cocks, cooked in hot pans. There were thousands of portable furnaces, lacs of culinary utensils, ten crores of golden vessels, well-cleaned bowls filled with curds, small water-jars and a wide variety of dishes.
            Lakes full of fresh curds, shining fragrant and in the colour of a wood-apple, curds mixed with sugar and spices, some other lakes filled with white curds, some others filled with milk soaked in rice as well as sugar and some other lakes with a mixture of barley and sugar were formed.
              Those soldiers saw jellies, powders and syrups made of fruits and various kinds of accessories used in bathing, kept stored in vessels, on the banks of the rivers. Those soldiers saw there heaps of twigs used for cleaning the teeth with white brushes at their tips, white sandal pastes stored in caskets, polished mirrors, piles of clothes, thousands of pairs of shoes and sandals, caskets containing collyrium for the eyes; combs, brushes, raiments, bows, protectors of vitals, strange couches and seats, drinking ponds for donkeys, camels, elephants and horses, lakes with good stairs for descent having water-lilies and lotuses with sky-blue colour, with clear water offering a comfortable bath and soft grasses having the colour of Nipa tree and of cat's eye gems useful for feeding animals.
         Seeing such a wonderful and dreamlike hospitality offered by the great sage Bharadwaja, all those men were amazed and speechless. While they were enjoying thus in that charming hermitage of Bharadwaja, in the same manner as celestials enjoy in the garden of Nandna, that night had elapsed. Having been permitted by Bharadwaja, those rivers, the celestial musicians and all those beautiful women went back in the same way they came. The soldiers, intoxicated with spirituous liquor, were likewise excited with joy. Likewise, the men were drenched in charming aloes and sandal paste. Various kinds of excellent and charming garlands were there, crushed and scattered at distances, likewise.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

75. Bharata meets Guha and gets some info. about Rama.

                Seeing the very large army, Guha the king of Nishadas became inquisitive. He was quite a rational king and as such he did not jump into any conclusion. He collected his chief commander and other aides and ministers and told them "A huge army is seen like an ocean on the bank of Ganga. I guess everyone of you has seen it, too. I am not able to comprehend the extent of this army even by my discerning mind. The towering banner of the prime chariot bears the Kovidara tree. It is therefore reasonable to presume that Bharata himself has come.
*Kovidara tree: pomegranate tree.
          "I am unable to come to a definite conclusion as to why Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi has come with such a large army. Has he come to kill Rama so that he could never be able to claim the prosperous Ayodhya kingdom on his completion of the period of fourteen years of exile? I do not think so. However, Rama the son of Dasharatha is my Lord and my companion. Let us be discreet, cautious and prudent. Hence you, covered well with armor, be stationed on this bank of the Ganga River, and be ready for a battle. Let the ferrymen guarding the river, along with the troops, eating meat, roots and fruits in their boats, stay positioned along the River Ganga.  Let five hundred boats, each manned by adequate number of youthful ferrymen, be stationed and made ready. I am going with a handful of our men to meet Bharata. His army may be allowed to cross the River Ganga in safety only if he is favourably disposed towards Rama."
           Guha then took fish, meat and honey as an offering and approached Bharata. Seeing him, Sumantra the charioteer told Bharata "This chap is Guha the king of Nishadas. He is fully acquainted with the forest of Dandaka and also an old friend of your elder brother. For that reason, let him see you. I am sure that he knows where Rama and others are stationed now."
           Hearing the sensible advice of Sumantra, Bharata asked Sumantra to get Guha to his presence without any delay. Guha along with his own people, joyfully and humbly approached Bharata and said "This place is like a pleasure-grove near your house.  I am your vassal and as such am reporting to you. Stay in this servant's house. Here are the roots and fruits gathered by my tribe as well as fresh and dried meat of top quality and of various kinds, and all are forest produce. I hope the army, after eating well, can halt for the night here. Furnished with all you could desire, you can continue your journey tomorrow along with your troops."
          Bharata replied "A friend of my elder brother is my friend, too. Indeed, your desire to offer hospitality to my army of such a magnitude, is great. Could you please guide me the way to the hermitage of Bharadwaja? This region engulfed in waters of Ganga River is not easy to negotiate and is difficult to cross."
         Guha replied "Oh, highly illustrious prince! My able ferrymen highly competent in wielding their bows, and very attentive, will certainly accompany you.  I too will follow you in person. May I ask you why you desire to go to the hermitage of Bharadwaja? Are you going to attack Rama and kill him or take him a prisoner? If so this army of yours does not seem to be quite adequate."
          Bharata replied with resentment "How such a blasphemous thought entered your mind? You should never have suspected me. That Rama, my elder brother is indeed regarded as my father. I am going to get back Rama who is now living in the forest. Oh, Friend! You should not entertain any more apprehension in this regard."
          Hearing the gratifying words of Bharata, Guha's  face radiated with joy. He told Bharata "You be blessed! I am extremely sorry. I do believe you. I think that no one except you can renounce the acquired empire. Assuredly your fame will traverse all the worlds, as you wish to bring back Rama from his terrible plight."
         Then Guha slowly reassured Bharata as regards his elder brother. He told Bharata "I had a long chat with Lakshmana, who was keeping a vigil guarding his brother. I told him to take rest and I and my people would guard Rama. He declined my offer saying 'How is it possible for me to sleep or rest when Rama is reposing on the floor? Oh, Guha! Behold that Rama, who cannot be conquered in a battle even by all the celestials and demons, sleeping on the blades of grass along with Seetha. This Rama is an excellent son, having qualities even excelling those of Dasharatha. The king obtained Rama by performing a great penance. Without Rama by his side, the king Dasharatha will not survive for long. This earth will surely be without a husband soon. The women in the gynaeceum having cried with a great noise, would have ceased their crying out of fatigue. The great noise would have stopped in the royal palace by now. I do not expect any of them, like Kausalya, Dasaratha and even my mother Sumitra will survive at all till this night. By beholding Shatrughna, my mother perhaps may survive. However, the afflicted Kausalya who gave birth to the eminent Rama will surely die.
      'Failing to realize his long-cherished wish of installing Rama as his successor to the kingdom of Khosala, my father Dasharatha will expire. Bharata and Shatrughna will perform all the funeral honours to the king Dasharatha, my father when the time comes for it. They will joyfully inhabit my father's capital City, with its pleasant cross roads and meeting places, with its main roads well laid out, sumptuous with large houses and lofty mansions, with all the gems they are encrusted, with elephants, horses and chariots that abound there, the sound of trumpets with which the city resonates, the many diversions it contains, its prosperous and well-fed people, its luxurious gardens and parks as well as the assemblies and festivals that continuously take place in it. Shall we enter Ayodhya happily along with that virtuous Rama, who has truly redeemed his promise, when he completed his term of exile?' While that magnanimous prince was lamenting thus, standing guard, the night passed.
         "When the sun rose brightly in the next morning Rama and Lakshmana got their locks of hair matted into a thick mass at the banks of River Ganga and they were safely ferried by me.
         "Rama and Lakshmana, looking back at me, went away with Seetha."
         Hearing those most depressing words from Guha, Bharata began to think more deeply about Rama, of whom those unpleasant words were heard.  That gentle, extremely courageous and the mighty armed young prince, whose shoulders resembled a lion's, his large eyes opening like a flowering lotus and having pleasing appearance, momentarily sighed and in his extreme anguish, sank to the ground suddenly like an elephant that has been wounded in the heart with goads. Seeing Bharata lying unconscious on the ground, Guha shook like a tree during an earthquake.
         Bharata after some time regained consciousness and asked Guha  "Oh, Guha! Tell me where did Rama, my brother as also Seetha and Lakshmana halt in the night? On what couch did he repose?"
         Guha told Bharata about the manner in which he made arrangements for feeding and reposing his beloved and kind guest, Rama. "We also offered him various kinds of food and drink and different varieties of fruits. Rama, however, refused all of them.
        "Oh, Bharata! We were pacified by Rama who said 'Oh, friend! We are not allowed to receive anything; we must always be givers.' Rama, of great glory, then along with Seetha drank the water brought by Lakshmana. Thereafter Lakshmana also drank the left-over water. Lakshmana then personally brought a layer of Kusa grass and arranged a fittingly nice bed with it for Rama. Rama, along with Seetha, settled down on that bed. After washing their feet, Lakshmana went away to a distance. Here at the foot of this Ingndi Tree, on just this grass, on which both Rama and Seetha slept that night. Lakshmana wearing a glove of goha skin, strapping two quivers full of arrows on either side of his back and wielding a great stringed bow, remained on his part walking round Rama during that night. Wearing excellent arrows and a bow along with my vigilant kinsmen carrying their bows, I on my part remained near Lakshmana, who was guarding Rama who vied with Indra the Lord of celestials."

Monday, 2 September 2013

74. Bharata starts to get Rama back.

                News about the intention of Bharata spread like a forest fire. People skilled in the work related to the construction of the road poured in and volunteered to do the work without any remuneration. It was a task for the officials to select. Somehow they managed to select the best (in their assessment) of those able to advise on the nature of soils, those skilled in thread-holding for leveling purposes, those who were young, energetic courageous and attentive in doing their jobs, excavators, mechanics, labourers, carpenters, road-menders, wood-cutters, hollow-makers, men skilled in plastering and white washing, basket makers, tanners and skilled supervisors of work. After the necessary and adequate persons were selected, the task force sallied forth in advance. That mighty assembly of men gladly setting out to the forest looked splendid like an ocean on the day of the full moon having a gigantic commotion. Men skilled in making roads, furnished with tools of every kind, seeking the company of men of their own proper place, marched ahead. Clearing away rows of creepers and shrubs, timber and big rocks as well as various kinds of trees which obstructed the way, they carved out a path. Some men planted trees in treeless areas. Some others chopped the existing trees obstructing the free passage for Bharata.
          Some other strong men removed sturdy tufts of Virana grass and leveled the uneven places here and there. Some others filled up wells and extensive pits with earth. Some men leveled low-lying places all around. Then, some men bridged the streams that could be bridged, pulverized the rocks that could be pulverized and smashed wherever possible, those     impediments that blocked the flow of water. Many ponds, in various sizes and shapes containing plenty of water resembling a sea were built by constructing dams on rivulets. In water-scarce areas, excellent wells in various shapes were dug duly decorated all around with platforms to rest. They made tracks having their surface inlaid with cement, with flowering trees on both sides, inhabited with birds in excitement making their sounds, adorned with flags on its either side with its surface sprinkled with water of sandal-wood fragrance, and decorated with various kinds of flowers, looked very much splendid like the path for the celestials.
           Those officials responsible for the execution of the work, as ordered by Bharata, skillfully guided their workers and got erected tents which were intended for the great-souled Bharata, in beautiful locales abundant with tasty fruits. They further adorned profusely with decorations, the tents which themselves resembled a bunch of ornaments. The connoisseurs erected the tents for Bharata at auspicious hours in days when the stars were propitious. Those camps, with many breast works of sand, moats surrounding each of them, streets as resplendent as sapphires, their crowns of turrets, the ramparts covered with stucco to protect them, the splendid banners, the skillfully laid out avenues, lofty mansions the tops of which were provided with dove-cots, which flew about as it were in the air and in splendour, resembled the capital of Indra.
           The route thus prepared, extended up to the Ganga River, whose pure and limpid waters, abounding in great fish, flowed between woods and forests of every kind. That beautiful royal high way, which was built gradually but speedily, by very highly efficient engineers, appeared as resplendent as a night in a clear sky, illumined by the moon with its procession of stars.
            At dawn on the following auspicious day, Bharata was awakened as if he was the king by by singing and playing various instruments. Hearing that Bharata became more depressed and irritated. He ordered for the stopping of those sounds.
          As desired by the sage Vasishta, Bharata with Shatrughna entered the assembly hall wherein, apart from the sage Vasishta,  ministers and other important officials were already present.
           Welcoming Bharata, Sage Vashista said "O, beloved Bharata! Your father, the king Dasharatha gave away to you this wide earth endowed with grains and riches and went to heaven. Rama, as you know has gone to the forest as per the command of his father. As the kingdom was given to you by your father and your brother, take a firm hold of it and  enjoy it, with its highly capable and delightful ministers. Get anointed for the kingdom without any delay."
            Bharata was very much distressed to hear those words. He replied "How can a man such as I, rob the throne from one, who practices continence and chastity, versed in the science of the Vedas (sacred scriptures) and who is devoted to duty?  How could one born of Dasharatha become the usurper of a crown?  Both the kingdom and I myself belong to Rama. You ought to tell the law and justice in this matter.  Rama, the eldest son, an excellent man, and the most pious one and who can be compared with Dilipa* and Nahusha*, is to get the kingdom.
    ** Dilipa and Nahusha: Two most ancient and illustrious representatives of the solar and lunar dynasty respectively.  
        "I consider that it would be a disgrace for me to take over the kingdom. I do not indeed like that sinful act done by my mother. From here itself, I offer my salutation with my joined palms to Rama who is residing in a forest. I will follow Rama's steps. He, who is supreme among men, is the king. Rama is eligible even for the kingdom of the three worlds.
          "If I am unable to bring back my elder brother from the forest, I shall stay back in that forest itself, like venerable Lakshmana.  I shall use every means to bring him back. All those who are skilled in clearing paths are working on and without wages have almost completed the path."
          Then turning to Sumantra who was was sitting nearby he said "Oh, Sumantra! Rise quickly and go. Arrange for the journey immediately. Let the army accompany us."
           Sumantra most willingly and joyfully arranged all that in accord with Bharata's orders and wishes. Hearing about the employment of the army too in connection with the task of making Rama return to Ayodhya, the ministers and the army commanders there were delighted. All the wives of warriors in every house, knowing about the ensuing expedition, were jubilant and hurried up all their respective husbands to set off for the journey. Those army generals made it known to each and every soldier that the army should move forward quickly, with the fast moving horses, bullock carts with a good speed and the chariots along with the warriors.
           When that the army was ready, Bharata asked Sumantra to quickly get his chariot ready. He added 'We are leaving at dawn tomorrow.'    
           Bharata rose up at day-break, mounted on the excellent chariot and with the entire army started to get Rama back to Ayodhya and take over the kingdom. Nine thousand elephants escorted Bharata. Sixty thousand chariots filled with archers, furnished with weapons of various kinds, followed Bharata. A hundred thousand cavalry accompanied Bharata. Kaikeyi, Sumitra and Kausalya rode in a resplendent chariot, delighted as they were at the thought of Rama's return.
            The entire clan of noble men in Ayodhya, with bubbling joy in their hearts followed Bharata to see Rama and Lakshmana again, and recounting the marvelous exploits of Rama to each other saying "When shall we see the mighty armed prince, of the hue of dark cloud, whose courage is unshakable, of inflexible purpose, Rama, who banished sorrow from the earth?  Beholding Rama, our entire sorrow will indeed be dispelled, as darkness of the entire earth is dispelled at the rising of the sun."
          Thus they recounted happily of Rama's glorious deeds, and they embraced each other as they went along. Those others who were held in high esteem, merchants and all common people also joined merrily to see Rama. Some lapidaries, skilled potters, those who lived by making and selling arms, carpenters, those who made various articles from peacock-feather, sawyers, workers in artificial ornaments, those who pierced gems, pearls etc., those who made articles of ivory, those who lived by perfumery, highly reputed goldsmiths, weavers of blankets and other woollen goods, those who provided hot-water baths for others, physicians, distillers and vendors of spirituous liquors, fumigatorswasher-men,  tailors, chiefs of villages and hamlets, dancers with their women-folk and fishermen also joined. Thousands of Brahmanas, renowned for their virtuous conduct, versed in sacred scriptures and riding on bullock-carts, accompanied Bharata.
            All of them, attired in clean and fair raiment, anointed with pure red sandal-paste, mounted on various kinds of vehicles, followed Bharata tranquilly.
           Exceedingly pleased and cheerful, that army escorted  Bharata, who was affectionate towards his brothers and who had set out along with his family to bring back his brother, Rama. Having gone for a considerable distance in their chariots, carts, horses and elephants, they reached the River Ganga close to the city of Shringaberapura, where the valiant Guha, the bosom friend of Rama along with a multitude of relatives was ruling that region. That army, which was accompanying Bharata, arrived at the bank of the Ganga River, looking beautiful as it was with Charka* birds and stopped there.

*Chakra bird: zoological name= Anas casarca.

             Seeing the army behind, which accompanied him and the River Ganga in front with its propitious waters, Bharata told his officers "It is my will that my army should take rest here for the night and get refreshed. We shall cross the river tomorrow. Meanwhile, descending into the river, I desire to make offering of the sacred water as libation for the infinite spirit relating to the state after death, to the king Dasharatha who has gone to heaven."
           All agreed.