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."

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