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.

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