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.

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