The Role Models from Ramayana- 6


Contributed by RP Turaga


Bharata was the second of the four sons of Dasaratha.

His mother Kaikeyi, was the daughter of Kekeya Kingdom. He was also the husband to Mandavi, daughter of King Janaka's brother Kushadhvaja.

Besides Rama, Sita and Hanuman, there are some major characters in the Ramayana, whose life is a role model for us.

Most outstanding among them is Bharata whom Valmiki calls Bhratri Vatsala (favourite brother of Rama).

If Rama stands for truth, Bharata stands for justice, humility and nobility.

The role played by Bharata is expressive of piety, righteousness, generosity, self-sacrifice and devotion.

All brothers are not like Bharata !

We see in the Yuddha Kanda that Vibhishana together with four of his companions reach Rama's place.

Halting in the sky itself, Vibhishana asks Rama to give refuge to him.

Sugriva tells Rama that he cannot trust Vibhishana the demon, who has deserted his brother Ravana.

In reply Rama makes a significant remark

“My dear one! Neither all brothers are like Bharata, nor all sons of a father like me nor all friends are like you.”

The role of destiny is nowhere better exemplified than in the dramatic turn of events in Ayodhya on the eve of the coronation of Lord Rama.

When it looked as if things were well set and even Kaikeyi rejoiced in this happy occasion, it only took a few minutes of persuasive and clever talk by Manthara to bring about a complete change of heart in Kaikeyi.

In fact, a joyous Kaikeyi had offered Manthara one of her jewels to celebrate the happy occasion.

But Manthara, feigning to seek Kaikeyi's welfare, took up the cause of Bharata to rouse the mother's instinct in her and also began to fan the flame of jealousy against Kaushalya.

Thus prompted, Kaikeyi manoeuvred not merely the kingdom for Bharata but also sent Lord Rama to the forest for 14 years.

The Ayodhya Kanda shows that life is unpredictable and what one thinks is sure to happen can take any turn leaving one baffled.

Kaikeyi herself becomes a victim of fate when she succumbs to the persuasion of Mantara. Her genuine love towards Rama fades and she becomes a step-mother to win the kingdom for Bharata and to keep Rama away for 14 years.

An inconsolable Dasaratha pleads with her with folded hands at least to relax the second boon — sending Rama to the forest.

To get around Dasaratha to promise these two boons, she remains relentless until he swears in Rama's name that he would grant her wishes.

Among the many characters in the Ramayana, that of Bharata evokes admiration and sympathy.

Because of Kaikeyi's unjust request to Dasaratha, Lord Rama is banished to the forest.

Bharata is away at the time of Kaikeyi's scheming. Bharata did not know what happened at Ayodhya till he returned.

He bears, along with his mother, the blame for Rama's banishment.

Dasartha dies, heart broken, and Bharata, who is visiting his maternal uncle, is summoned.

Kaikeyi breaks the shocking news to him slowly by stages.

Bharata is shocked at the turn of events, and asks Kaikeyi why Rama has been banished.

The scene of the meeting of Kaikeyi with Bharata is full of pathos.

Bharata condemns his mother thus:

“You sinful woman, by virtue of my having come out of your womb, I am now a wicked person.

I shall enter into fire or swallow poison or kill myself with the sword and thus perish.

You are a savage, the destroyer of your husband and so you shall enter into that hell in which the wicked are baked like the potter's vessel.”

Bharata disowns his mother.

He declares in clear terms that he is not going to fulfil her evil desire and

instead he is going to bring Rama back to Ayodhya and install him on the throne.

Bharata refuses to be anointed as king when Vasishta requests him after Dasaratha's death. He cannot imagine how people could entertain such a thought.

He claims that only Lord Rama is eligible for it, being the eldest in the family.

Being Lord Rama's younger brother, he would do nothing that would be demeaning. He never had eyes on the kingdom.

Bharata was clearly innocent, but however even the closest people (Vashistha, Bharadwaja, Guha, Kaushalya, Lakshmana) suspected his intentions and questioned him face to face.

It was a painful ordeal for Bharata to face those allegations throughout his journey to Chitrakoota, where he was to meet Rama and convince him to return to Ayodhya.

Bharata had to establish his pure heart to Guha who also suspected him.

Guha becomes overwhelmed by Bharata's nobility, when he realises that he had spontaneously renounced the kingdom that was recently acquired for him by his mother.

At Sage Bharadwaja's hermitage, where Bharata's retinue is offered hospitality befitting the celestials, and Bharata himself is offered a throne to indicate his status. Bharata's outright refusal dismisses any trace of suspicion about any ulterior motive in his actions.

Even Kausalya is unable to resist blaming Bharata, when he returns to Ayodhya. She tells him that he has plotted everything neatly, and accomplished what he wanted.

Bharata stood the test with humility, respect and regard for Mother Kaushalya. Bharata clarifies his stand with sincerity and simplicity.

Thus Bharata had to convince Kausalya first, then Vasishtha, later even a sage like Bharadwaja and ultimately the perplexed and perturbed audience at Chitrakoota .

The Summit on the Mount Chitrakoota

Bharata had to establish his inno­cence and dedication to his noble brother before everyone.

The dialogue between Rama and Bharata in Chi­trakoota is a marvellous discourse on human values in which both the brothers fight for their right not to rule but to reject their legitimate power.

Bharata tries his best to persuade Rama to come back to Ayodhya and accept the kingdom.

Both the brothers plead their case for justice and truth.

Ultimately Rama comes out with a solution that satisfies justice and truth.

Rama says:

"Let us share the kingdom in such a way that both of us can act as rulers.

I shall look after the vast land outside Ayodhya as the king of forests and beasts

and you will ensure human welfare and promote human values as the King of Ayodhya".

Even this does not satisfy Bharata.

Bharata requests his brother Rama to grant him the pleasure of ruling Ayodhya as his trustee till he returned to Ayodhya after the completion of 14 years of exile.

Ultimately they found a solution to the problem in the golden sandals blessed by the sacred feet of Rama.

So Bharata returns to Ayodhya with Rama's golden sandals, in place of Rama, and places them on the throne as Regal Representatives till Rama's return to Ayodhya.

The Summit on the Mount Chitrakoota is a lesson for the modern world - particularly at a time when a degeneration of human values has crept in to our society.

Both Rama and Bharata had a claim upon the kingdom in their own way, but neither of them wanted to exercise it; for it went against all canons of human culture.

Thus Rama and Bharata displayed statesmanship of the highest order and saved Ayodhya and the royal family from a crisis triggered off by Kaikeyi.

After the expiry of the period of exile, Rama sent Hanuman in advance to Nandigrama to convey the news of his arrival to Bharata.

Bharata functioned as the nominee of Rama for fourteen years. He was Rama's trustee and acted as a caretaker in accordance with Rama's directions.

There is a description of Bharata's handing over charge of the reins of government to Rama in the Yuddhakanda.

The golden sandals of Rama which were worshipped by Bharata with great devotion were placed at Rama's feet.

Bharata said thus:

“This kingdom of yours with its limbs has been administered by me so far.

I feel myself blessed in this life as I have been able to achieve my cherished end, when I see you, Oh Lord, returning to the capital city of Ayodhya.

The State granaries as also the treasures in the vaults have been increased ten-fold.

Let these be taken care of by your good self.

Oh Lord of the Universe, be pleased to take over charge of these treasures as also your city and govern the country by your heroic lustre.”

The monkey chieftains who witnessed this scene shed tears which came out profusely from their eyes and at that moment showered words of praise on the noble Bharata.