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.

No comments:

Post a Comment