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.


1 comment:

  1. Nice narration, chitappa. I will have Ramya and sruthi also read it.