Bharata - Part 2

மரபு விக்கி இருந்து

தாவிச் செல்ல: வழிசெலுத்தல், தேடுக

பொருளடக்கம்

Of affection and defection

Now that he was convinced about the intentions of Bharata, the same Guha who with an adamantine affection for Sri Rama declared a war against Bharata and challenged – ‘Shall they cross today the deep waters of Ganges and are we bowmen afraid of the army because it is strengthened by elephants?’ – agreed to take Bharata to the other bank of the river. When they walked on, Bharata’s heart that was always set on Sri Rama wanted to know from Guha, where he slept when he was with Guha. Guha pointed to the bed of grass on the stony floor. That intensified Bharata’s anguish. His tears drenched the earth.

‘ இயன்றது என் பொருட்டினால் இவ் இடர் உனக்கு என்ற போழ்தும் ’ (even after knowing that) you suffered exile on my account  ‘ அயின்றனை கிழங்கும் காயும் அமுது என ’ (even after learning that) you ate roots and berries as ambrosia ‘ புல்லில் துயின்றனை ’ (and that) you slept on grass, ‘ஆவி துறந்திலேன் ’ I have not given up my by breath. I continue to live. The crudities that you were subjected to were on my account. I was at the root of your sufferings and yet I breathe. That shows how hardhearted I am. At this rate, would I even wear the crown! ( மகுடம் சூடும் செல்வமும் கொள்வேன் யானே! )

The agony that Bharata was passing through, his purity of heart and the guilt feelings that shrouded him show themselves through every other step he takes. With brotherly affection he enquired where Lakshmana passed the night. Guha replied, ‘When the dark-hued handsome Rama and his consort slept, ‘ வில்லை ஊன்றிய கையோடும் வெய்து உயிர்ப் போடும் ’ with his bow in hand and with many a sigh and tear ‘ கங்குல் எல்லை காண்பு அளவும் நின்றான் ’ he stood on guard the whole night. ‘ இமைப்பிலன் நயனம் ’ He didn’t even wink – where is the question of his sleeping?

Need I mention that Bharata’s heart found him guilty once again? ‘Among the brothers of Sri Rama ‘ யான் என்றும் முடிவு இலாத துன்பத்துக்கு ஏது ஆனேன் ’ I became the cause of his endless miseries. ‘ அவன் அது துடைக்க நின்றான் ’ He (Lakshmana) stood by his side to alleviate them; to remedy them. ‘ அழகிது என் அடிமை ’ O! The service that I have done to Rama is grand indeed!

Well, Bharata was praising the way Lakshmana was serving Rama and was self-reproachful about himself. But Lakshmana on the other hand was not ready to trust Bharata. That is the irony of life. The epic shows us one more instance of how even good intentions are to be proved threadbare. As Sri V V S Aiyar observes, “It is the plan of the poet to show off the pure gold of Bharata’s character by melting it again and again in the fire of unjust suspicion and calumny. So here also Kamban exposes Bharata to unjust charges of Lakshmana.”

It was so typical of Lakshmana. The reader will remember our observation in earlier instances. Lakshmana’s entire life was devoted to the service of Rama. He was always alert and ready to guard Rama against the least little danger. In his intense love for Rama, Lakshmana is too ready to suspect anyone and anything of causing harm to the interests of Sri Rama.

Love is not blind; it has a different eye!

Lakshmana saw from a distance the dust that was raised by the movement of almost the entire population of Ayodhya. He saw Bharata at the head of the procession. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that Bharata was coming with hostile designs against Rama. He rushed to the cottage, put his armour on, took his bow and quiver and got himself ready to take on Bharata and his ‘army’.

He made terrible oaths, as did Guha. At least Guha was wise enough to see the appearance of Bharata and read his intentions from the anguish that was showing on his face. For Lakshmana nothing was a proof for good intentions. If it was someone connected with Kaikeyi, it should represent evil tidings. In his profound love for Rama he considered that he could not afford a moment’s delay. He should be ready for any contingency – even if it were the shadow of a non-existing but seeming contingency. He was up in arms against Bharata.

He ran to Rama and told him, ‘ இருமையும் இழந்த அப் பரதன் ஏந்து தோள் பருமையும் ’ (you are going to see) that Bharata who has become an outcaste of this world as well as that of the world yonder and his strength. ‘ அன்னவன் படைத்த சேனையின் பெருமையும் ’ the vastness of his army ‘ நின் ஒரு பின்பு வந்த என் ஒருமையும் ’ and the matchless prowess of (me) your younger brother. I am going to ruin the entire army. I am going to make the heavens bend with the burden of quick-rushing immigrants from this army, who would reach veera-swarga. Bharata is now the Sovereign of the Earth by the command of the tyrant king, who was thereto induced by his favourite queen. ‘ இன்று  என் ஏவலால் அரு நரகு ஆள்வது காண்டி ’ You will see him ruling the hell at my behest.

We have had occasion to mention earlier that Lakshmana fiercely guarded Rama. As Sri V V S Aiyar would put it, “Now this intense love for Rama makes Lakshmana regard as his own mortal enemies all who have injured Rama. He never stops to inquire whether they have actually injured him. It is sufficient if he believes that they have injured, or even suspects them to have injured Rama. This passion of hatred clouds his mind in all that concerns Kaikeyi and those connected with her.”

In the words of Right Hon’ble Srinivasa Sastriyar, ‘Lakshmana, so single-minded was he in guarding the interests of his brother, so like a faithful dog, he can only suspect everybody. What made him suspect is not his interest, is not any small idea, but he desire to protect what he conceived were the imperilled interests of Sri Rama. When we think of the high motive actuating him, we see how though it was suspicion, it was not an unworthy suspicion. It was not a suspicion, which we should put in the category of wickedness or shameful misbehaviour.’

But Rama knew his Bharata. He was convinced that Bharata could not have such evil designs. He did not have an iota of doubt about the purity of Bharata’s intentions. At last there was someone who understood Bharata, to whom Bharata had not to prove himself. But was that in any way helpful to the purpose that Bharata had in mind?

Not all brothers are like Bharata

‘Lakshmana my dear child!’ said Rama. ‘  உலகம் ஓர் ஏழும் ஏழும் நீ "கலக்குவென்" என்பது கருதினால் அது விலக்குவது அரிது ’ If you set your mind on churning all the fourteen worlds, who can stop you? I know your prowess. I know how skilled an archer are you. ‘  புலக்கு உரித்து ஒரு பொருள் புகலக் கேட்டியால் ’ But there is something that wisdom demands us to see. Listen to me.

‘If you think for a while, you will realise that there is not a single one of our ancestors in our rich lineage who have swerved from the path of Dharma. It is therefore not natural to think that Bharata would move away from that path. If at all he is coming here it is ‘ என்வயின் பிறந்த காதலின் வரும் ’ because of the love he has for me. And ‘ மண்ணை என்வயின் தரும் ’ he would return the kingdom to me. Instead if you think he would ‘ தானையால் பொரும் ’ fight with me, it is not part of wisdom Lakshmana.

Even as Rama was pacifying Lakshmana, Bharata ferried across the Ganges by Guha approached them with hands joined over his head. Rama pointed out the tearful eyes of Bharata, the tree-bark attire he was clad in and remarked ironically to Lakshmana. ‘ ஆர்ப்பு உறு வரி சிலை இளைய ஐய ’ My child of the twanging bow! ‘ தேர்ப் பெருந் தானையால் "பரதன் சீறிய" போர்ப் பெருங் கோலத்தைப் பொருந்த நோக்கு ’ Behold the panoply of war in which the angry Bharata is coming to attack us!

But Lakshmana had gained his senses now. He was pale of face. His tongue that reviled Bharata was dumb. His wrath was fled and his eyes inundated the ground with tears. His great bow dropped from his hands and he stood in amazement and he was ashamed of himself.

Rama’s assessment of Bharata was precise. His pride for him comes out on another occasion too. It was when Sugriva challenged Vali for a single combat and were wrestling with each other with war-shouts. Rama and Lakshmana were watching this from behind clumps of trees. Lakshmana was distressed that brothers should fight. He could not stand the very thought. At the same time, another thought passed his mind. If Sugriva is bent upon killing his brother for the sake of kingdom, is he really trustworthy? He told Rama –

“They say
It is unwise to put our faith in those
That are unnatural; when he can harden
His heart against a brother and fall on him
As on a foe, what can his loyalty
Be worth to strangers, brother?”

                                    (Translated by V V S Aiyar)

Rama smiled for a while. He said, ‘Can we expect ideal morals among these foolish apes? And then my child, is it possible to expect all brothers to be like Bharata?’

These words uttered to Lakshmana speak very highly of Bharata. Bharata comes foremost in the list of loyal brothers. Imagine! Rama says these words to Lakshmana, who left the palace on his own volition, left his wife, took delight in the delight of Rama and could not bear any injustice done to him, who was Rama’s forte during the most depressing moments that he passed through! Can any single brother that we know stand such a praise of another brother, when such praise seems to ignore what this brother did! Yet, Lakshmana did not say anything. He agreed with the view of Rama. And that, we should say, is a trait that needs to be seen in depth, when we study Lakshmana.

Property of impropriety

Rama then learns about the end of Dasaratha, from Bharata. Consoled by Vasishtha he performs the rites. It was not until the next day that Rama opened the subject. On the following day, he so lovingly - ' பரிந்து கூறினான் ' says the poet - asked Bharata the reason why he was in the hermit's garb while it was his duty to wear the crown, as ordained by Dasaratha.

It makes a lot of difference when Rama uttered a word as compared to how others framed their question. Others just flung the question at Bharata. Rama puts it very mildly, without the least trace of the tone of finding fault. When others looked at him with an eye of distrust, Rama looked at him with trust. Rama softened the effect of his words with his tone that was mellifluous and that showed a genuine concern and care.

' வரதன் துஞ்சினான் ' Our father died. ' வையம் ஆணையால் சரதம் நின்னதே ' The world belongs to you, by his order, forever. Observe the word 'saradham' for sure, forever. It was a term of fourteen years that Rama was supposed to be exiled. But Rama prefers to call it 'forever.' It was his way of assessing people and verifying his own assessment. His people skills are immaculate and unsurpassed. Even if he knows a thing for certain, he would not always go by his judgement unless it is verified. No. It was not a cunning way to elicit information. He was playing the dual role of a brother and an administrator who has vacated his office in favour of another. It is the responsibility of any administrator to find out real intentions before coming to conclusions. Valmiki's Rama shows this trait once again in the Book of War when he sends Hanuman as his emissary to Bharata. This portion of course is omitted by Kamban. We will discuss this point later. As for the word 'saradham' we will see it changing to fourteen years, presently, as the scene develops.

He asked him finally.  ' விரத வேடம் நீ என்கொல் வேண்டினாய்? பரத'  Why then should you prefer to lead an ascetic's life as it appears from the tree-bark that you are wearing? You should have been ruling the world by now as you were ordered.' Bharata could not bear even these words. He stood up immediately, his body shuddering and shivering, his hands joined over his head in reverence and he looked at the face of Rama without a word, for a long time.

At last he mustered up strength to tell Sri Rama. 'Who is there for righteousness, but for you? You won't move away from the path of Dharma. Would you do so now? I was born of a mother who sent you on exile and killed our father with two merciless boons that she sought from him. I am born from her sinful womb, she who was responsible for breaking the hearts of all and how I am supposed to lead the life of a hermit? ' யாவன் ஆகி இப் பழிநின்று ஏறுவேன்? ' How am I going to wash my sin? How will I ever be absolved of the guilt that shrouds me?

Property of Impropriety II

‘The kingdom was not given to me in accordance with Dharma. As the eldest son, it is yours. It is you who should adorn the throne, as per the tradition of our ancestors. If you can give up what is your rightful due and remain in the forest on the pretext of Dharma, how do you expect me to give up Dharma and assume kingship? Would it not tantamount to my killing Dharma with my sword and eating it too? (  வாளின் கொன்று அறம் தின்றான் என, அரசு அது ஆள்வெனோ? )

As we mentioned earlier, Bharata was just one day younger to Sri Rama. But that doesn’t matter to him. From his point of view, he was younger and he was in no way eligible for the crown.

We see here a brother who is too ready to give up what is his due and another who is not able to take it for the sake of Dharma. Our other epic Mahabharata gives us a diametrically opposite picture as we saw in our discussions earlier.

The Pandavas were deprived of their kingdom in a game of dice and walked back from Hastinapur. When Dhritarashtra heard of their appearance when they did so, especially that of Draupadi who walked the streets of Hastinapur with her hair dishevelled and unkempt and a finger pointing to the condition of her hair as if to forewarn the women of Hastinapur of the disaster that was in store for them, he was frightened. So they were called back once again for a game of dice.

Duryodhana so cleverly framed the stake. Indraprasta would be returned to them if they won the game. Otherwise, they will have to live for twelve years in the forest and one more year in exile, when they should not be seen or found by anyone. If they were identified during this time, they should undergo an exile of similar terms. He very shrewdly did not mention that Indraprasta would be returned to them if they successfully complete the exile as prescribed.

When they came back from the exile and asked for their property, he quoted this point among others, and said that he did not promise to return the land to them. The stake did not include that condition. And think of it, even Balarama, the elder brother of Sri Krishna supported this view!

Our two epics show us the ways of the world. One presents an ideal situation and the other presents the crude reality that surrounds us. But both the epics have a common purpose, and the purpose needs no reiteration.

Here is a brother in the Ramayana who readily and gladly gives up his throne without a word of protest, when his stepmother tells him that his father wanted him to give it up in favour of his younger brother saying, ‘என் பின்னவன் பெற்ற செல்வம் அடியனேன் பெற்றதன்றோ! ’ ‘If my brother wears the crown, it is like my wearing it’. And the brother, though it came of its own volition, refuses to touch it on moral grounds.

It is your kingdom in all wisdom

‘Did you consider that I am your foe?’ asks Bharata. ‘வகை இல் வஞ்சனாய் அரசு வவ்வ ’ To arrogate the crown from you like a cruel conspirator ‘ யான் பகைவனே கொலாம்? ’ am I your foe ‘ இறவு பார்க்கின்றேன் ’ waiting for an opportune moment.

‘Please return to Ayodhya and nullify the wrongs that were done to you by your father (Bharata specifically mentions ‘ உந்தை தீமையும் ’ your father’s wrong doing) and by mother, the mother of all evils ( தீவினைத் தாய் ) and adorn the throne.’

The reader may remember our mentioning the use of the word forever, when the term Rama was supposed to serve in forest was limited to fourteen years and the quality of Rama, of verifying his own assessments before coming to any conclusion. And the Poet confirms it. When Bharata finished his request, Rama thought –  ‘சொற்ற வாசகத் துணிவு உணர்ந்த பின் ’ After he listened to him and understood the import of what he said,‘இற்றதோ இவன் மனம்  என்று எண்ணுவான் ’ Oh! And that is how his mind is! He thinks in this manner!

I wish to stress here that Rama did not suspect Bharata. As we saw earlier, when he admonished Lakshmana, he gave clear indication of the fact that he had already read the intention of Bharata. But he is exercising his abundant precaution to ascertain Bharata’s views, to even out any remote possibility of a pitfall. The human mind has a complex way of functioning and it is not that easy to find out what is lying in which recess, cleft or crevice of its impregnable and baffling number of innermost chambers. There are certain things, which are to be known and understood clearly and without doubt before venturing into the next step. And it does not stop with that. It has to be watched, known and understood when the other step needs to be taken. Rama took this step also – in Valmiki’s version. Any administrator should have to do this and Rama was playing his role. It would not mean that he suspected Bharata. As we said, he was playing his role. He was doing justice to his role.

And Rama had his reasons for staying in the forest. He laid a clear definition of the persons whose words should be regarded as law. ‘  பரவு கேள்வியும், பழுது இல் ஞானமும் ’ (One who has) wide knowledge and flawless wisdom ‘ விரவு சீலமும், வினையின் மேன்மையும்  ’ character of the highest order and (one whose) actions are guided by the best principles. And if you weigh them with deeper perception ( சிந்தை தேர்வுறத் தெரிய நோக்கினால் ) none else would more fulfil these qualities than one’s parents. ( "தந்தை தாயர்" என்று இவர்கள் தாம் அலால் )

‘My child! I undertook this exile as my Dharma, at the behest of our father and as conveyed to me by mother. It will not be proper for me to give it up because you are asking me to assume power, as a boon.’ It is another aspect in Sri Rama’s qualities. He never uttered a word of disrespect whenever he referred to Kaikeyi. She was always the loving mother for him. One is simply stupefied at the kind of maturity, clarity and balance that he possessed.

‘The kingdom was given to you by our parents. It is proper for you to assume power and rule. Not only that. It is your duty to do so.’

Faith will move mountains

‘Moreover,’ continued Rama. ‘It was by a boon that mother got this kingdom for you. It was a promise made by our father that could not be broken. I came to the forest so that our father does not become a liar. And it is not proper for you to ask for a boon from me to come back to Ayodhya. If I come back, I make our father a liar and would send him to the hell. Do you think that I can enjoy all the wealth and power when our father would have to lie in hell by my act?’

Bharata did not give up. His argumentative skills surfaced. As we observed earlier, though Lakshmana and Bharata were equally devoted to Rama, Lakshmana was a self-effacing person. He did not speak a word against Sri Rama’s injunction, whatever were his personal feelings. In fact, did he have a personal feeling is a question that perplexes many a scholar. Bharata was of a stronger mould. Rt. Hon’ble Srinivasa Sastriyar observes –

“…Bharata stands on a pedestal of his own. Reading over his speeches and noting the way in which he behaved one might think that he had a great deal of persistence and strength of will. Of these we have had already some proof in the way in which he matched them or tried to match them against his own brother’s. It was only his elder brother, Rama, who could surpass him in resolution, in determined pursuit of the highest. Only to him had Bharata to yield a little. Otherwise he would have held his ground firmly against anybody else as we see. His utterances are all strong, decided and unequivocal. There is no hesitation about them, nothing of the tentative, nothing of the dim, none at all…he does not seem to have been afraid of anybody unless it was Sri Rama himself. And why should he be afraid of anybody? We might even describe him as an untamed youth.”

‘OK. Agreed. The kingdom is mine,’ Bharata said. ‘And now I am giving it to you, who does not have an equal in all the three worlds.’ ‘  என்னது ஆகில், யான் இன்று தந்தனென்  ’ If the kingdom is, as you say, mine, I am giving it to you. ‘  மன்ன! போந்து நீ மகுடம் சூடு ’ O King! Please go with me and accept the crown. When the entire world is asking you to do a thing, you are doing what you think is right (‘nee unakku uruga seiydhiyO’.) Bharata’s argument is stronger. Put in the mildest form. You can’t continue to stick to your opinion when the entire world thinks otherwise. When all of us want you to return and take the throne.

Now we see Sri Rama changing his earlier stance. You will remember that he told Bharata that he should have been ruling the world for it belongs to him ‘forever’. He now says, ‘You are doing so (giving the kingdom back to me) out of your love. But it will not be proper for me to accept it. ‘ நான் இசைந்த ஆண்டு எலாம் இன்றொடு ஏறுமோ ? ’ I have accepted to go on exile for fourteen years. Have those fourteen years come to an end now?

Take your crown, now!

‘Truth has no alternative course,’ continued Sri Rama. ‘I will carry out the order of my father and live in the forest for fourteen years ‘ அந்த நாள் எலாம் ஆள் என் ஆணையால் - ‘ And you rule the kingdom all those fourteen years, by my order.’

‘Alright. I will come back and take the kingdom from you after fourteen years. But you rule it during that time, by my order.’ The word ‘order’ signifies that Rama has accepted the kingship, though it is deferred for now, which he earlier did not. That Rama could be changed from his original stand was itself a success for Bharata. It was his love for Rama, love for Dharma, love for principles, humility and steadfastness in his pursuit that made this mountain, Sri Rama, budge an inch!

Vasishtha saw this change and thought a little more persuasion would make him relent. He decided to base his argument on what Rama put forth – the words of one’s parents must be regarded as law and obeyed without a second thought. ‘A teacher,’ he said ‘who educates and trains a person and prepares him for both this world and the next is to be regarded as a higher and better guide. Therefore, listen to what your teacher says. ‘ அன்று எனாது இன்று எனது ஆணை ஐய! ’  not on a later day, but today, by my order Sire, ‘ நன்று போந்து அளி உனக்கு உரிய நாடு  ’ go with us for good and govern the country as is your right and duty. His use of the word ‘order’ was obviously inspired by Rama’s usage of it, in his address to Bharata. If Bharata should respect your order because you are elder to him, respect my order because I am elder to you and I am your teacher as well!

But Rama’s decisions are clear, considered and needed no amendments or bolstering up from others to move away from them. He joined his palms respectfully and pleaded, ‘Then please tell me sir, is it right for me to give up what I have accepted and not honour my own words? I have accepted the order of my parents and am carrying out what they told me. You are now ordering me against it. If I accept what you tell me, I would violate the word of my parents and would make my father a liar. Please guide me as to what I should do.  (என் இனிச் செய்வகை? உரைசெய் ஈங்கு). That rendered the old teacher speechless. He had no answer to it.

And then Bharata took up another stance. ‘ ஆள்பவர் ஆள்க நாடு ’ Let whoever wishes to rule the country do so. I will not leave your side. I will stay with you in the forest. I will also not return to Ayodhya. This is for certain.’ Bharata is not prepared to relent. He is as firm in his resolve as is Sri Rama. That is a quality of Bharata that shows through and shines throughout the epic. With his utterance of this oath, the story stutters for a while. Even the poet is baffled by his stoicism. It appears as though he is not able to resolve this crisis. Neither Rama nor Bharata relent. But he has to move the story ! He has to take it to its ultimate end of killing Ravana! He now summons the help of celestials!

Let me be the deputy of your sandals…

With Bharata and Rama not moving an inch from their resolve, the poet had no alternative but to call for celestial help. All the celestials (Devas) gathered in the skies, he says. ‘If Bharata persists any more and succeeds in his efforts, it would defeat our purpose. That would set the entire purpose of Rama’s incarnation at nought. Therefore it is high time that we made our voice heard,’ they thought.

‘It is your duty Bharata to rule the empire during all the fourteen years that Rama has undertaken to pass in exile, in accordance with the will of his father,’ sounded their incorporeal words, thus giving Rama an opportunity to stay firmer in his position. And just listen to his words to Bharata.

‘ வானவர் உரைத்தலும்  மறுக்கற்பாலது அன்று ’ One should not disobey the words of Devas.‘யான் உனை இரந்தனென்’ I beg of you Bharata. ‘ என் ஆணையால் ஆனது ஓர் அமைதியின் அளித்தி, பார் ’ Rule this world with my authority. Let peace prevail under your leadership. So saying, Rama took hold of the hands of Bharata as if to beseech. The reader would observe that Rama says ‘ என் ஆணையால் ’ once again. But it cannot be interpreted to mean ‘my order’ any more, as he had to use the word ‘இரந்தனென்’ I beg of you, to Bharata. What he now means by the word ‘order’ is, rule the world with my authority.


Bharata had to relent for he had no other go. He did not have anything else to do but to listen to Rama now. ‘If that be so,’ said Bharata ‘you should return after the period of fourteen years. You should accept the crown of Ayodhya. You should be the ruler. If that doesn’t happen, I will light a huge fire and burn myself in it. This is an oath that I make on you.’ After uttering these words Bharata appeared calm, ‘ துன்பு இலன் ’, says the poet. Rama saw his firm resolve and melted was he at heart, seeing the unselfish devotion that Bharata had and agreed to his condition.


Rama accepted to reduce the term of Bharata’s kingship to fourteen years and to return to rule Ayodhya. He had also said a little while ago, ‘rule the world with my authority. Therefore, Bharata asked for a favour from Rama, which to this day is celebrated by one and all. There is no devotee of Rama who has not shed tears over this act. ‘Give me your sandals my brother. Let me carry them with me.’ Rama had to oblige.


Bharata carried the sandals over his head. This is how Sri V V S Aiyar writes on the incident -

“Bharata with many a sob requested Rama to give him his Padukas – the wooden shoes that he wore – as he would rule the land in the name of these sacred shoes only as the symbol of Rama’s personal authority; and Rama gave them – those shoes that give temporal as well as spiritual salvation to those worship them in faith and love. And placing them upon his head and shedding tears profusely at the thought of separation from Rama, Bharata at length took his leave with all his host and returned home. But he would not enter Ayodhya, for, was not Rama an exile therefrom? He therefore stopped at Nandigram, placed the Padukas on the throne and conducted the affairs of the state as their vice-regent, himself living the life of an anchorite!”

And how he spent those fourteen years!

Let me be the deputy of your sandals…II

It was a life of penance that Bharata undertook for the fourteen long years that he was supposed to be in charge of the administration of Ayodhya. Actually, he undertook the exile that was pronounced on Sri Rama, on himself. The reader will recollect that he decided to live in the forest and took three vows ‘I will not leave your side. I will stay with you in the forest. I will also not return to Ayodhya. This is for certain.’ (Take your crown, now!). Of the three, the only one that is left possible of undertaking is the third. He had no choice but to listen to Rama and that sealed the way of observation of the first two. He therefore stopped at Nandhigram, a village in the outskirts of Ayodhya. He decided to carry out his duties and responsibilities as the deputy of Sri Rama’s ‘paadhukas’ from there.

Sri Rama does a similar thing in the Kishkindha Kanda. Sugriva’s crowning was a natural consequence to the killing of Vali. And who else could perform it, in the absence of other elders in Kishkindha, other than Sri Rama? He anticipated that Sugriva would come out with such a request and even before he could say anything, he assigned that responsibility to Lakshmana and gave his advice to Sugriva on administration – a very thoughtful collection of eight verses, which together with the verses that Vasishtha uttered to Sri Rama make it a thought provoking adage for the present day managers and administrators too. We will take them up presently.

Coming back to Rama’s decision. Sugriva invited Rama to be present on his coronation, even if it is to be performed by Lakshmana. ‘The city has only one flaw by human standards,’ said Sugriva, ‘that it is inhabited by monkeys. If you overlook this fact, Kishkindha is more than equivalent to the very heavens. You should come and stay with us and give us an opportunity to carry out your orders. Remain with us till Sita is found out.’ Rama said a firm ‘no’. ‘I have been ordered to live in the forest. It has an inevitable precondition that I am not supposed to enter any city during these fourteen years. I would therefore live somewhere in the forest, close to Kishkindha. Please do not force me.’

Therefore, when Bharata decided not to enter Ayodhya, it very clearly shows that he very readily and gladly accepted a self-imposed exile on him. If he could not live by the side of Rama, he could at least live like him, eating simple food like fruits, leaves and roots and by wearing the tree-bark that Rama was wearing. That would be the equivalent of living with Rama, in the circumstances, until it was possible for him to see Rama again.
That Bharata who was innocent and guileless should decide to stay in a hamlet outside Ayodhya has another implication. He was now the deputy of Rama, whose sandals now represent his authority. Technically speaking, it was the sandals of Sri Rama that were the supreme authority in Ayodhya and whatever Bharata did was supposed to be done with the authority and approval of them.

Therefore, Bharata – in the strictest sense of Dharma – cannot be bigger than his boss, whose authority he has accepted through the insignia of his sandals. Of course, interpretations could make his life much enjoyable. It was not for Bharata. He would not do that. So steadfast in his observance of Dharma, for he was the brother of Rama!

Trusteeship and transparent administration

The Ramayana speaks about transparent administration and clearly states what it means by the acts of Bharata…

‘Not a day passed without Bharata performing puja to the sandals of Sri Rama,’ says the poet. It was a kind of reminder for himself and to the world at large that he was just a representative of Rama and it was he who was actually ruling the world through the pair of sandals. Valmiki describes Bharata's entry into Nandigrama from the forest carrying the sandals of Sri Rama as follows -

Having speedily entered Nandigrama and quickly alighting from his chariot, the said Bharata for his part then submitted to his preceptors  - " This kingdom has been given to me by my (elder) brother as a foremost sacred trust, as well as these wooden sandals decked with gold, which will supply all our needs and bring security (to us)." Having dedicated the sacred trust to the (pair of) wooden sandals with his head bent low, Bharata, who was sore stricken with agony, then spoke (as follows) to the entire body of his ministers: -  " Hold the royal umbrella over these sandals; they are considered (by me) to be (as good as) the feet of my elder brother. By these wooden sandals of my elder brother will righteousness be established in the kingdom. From affection alone has this sacred trust been committed to my charge by my (elder) brother. I shall keep this aforesaid trust till the return of Rama (a scion of Raghu). Having undoubtedly restored these wooden sandals to Sri Rama’s feet immediately (on his return to the capital) myself, I for my part shall behold those feet placed on the (wooden) sandals." (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Canto 15, verses 13 to 18)

Therefore, he considered himself only as a trustee and not as a king. All the administrative decisions were no doubt taken by him. But they were under the authority of Rama and not his own.

We speak so much of transparency of administration these days. The transparency that Bharata enabled and made it known to one and all in Ayodhya has to be seen to understand what the word actually means. He made it a point to speak these words in public. He enthroned the sandals to be seen by all. He even ordered that the royal white umbrella to be held aloft the sandals so that everyone could see that the king in actuality was Sri Rama himself and not Bharata. He made it very clear to the people of Ayodhya that he was a mere trustee and that he had accepted this position that was offered to him ‘out of affection’ by Sri Rama.

And not alone that, as we observed earlier, he was so careful about his appearance, avoiding jewels and the silk robes of royalty. His hair was matted and he eschewed all luxury, even though he was the king-assigned. Valmiki even states –

“Having then consecrated the wooden sandals of his elder brother (on the throne of Ayodhya), the glorious Bharata for his part now carried on the rule always subordinate to them. Submitting in the first instance to the wooden sandals whatever affairs (of the State) came up (before him), nay, whatever highly valuable present was offered (to the State), the said Bharata dealt with it in the proper way afterwards. (Ibid. verses 26 and 27)

Does it ring a bell?

End of fourteen years

We were discussing yesterday that Bharata used to submit (sa paadukaabhyam prathamam nivedhya chakaara pashchaad bharato yathaavath) whatever valuable present was offered to the State, to the sandals of Rama before taking any appropriate action. Our present times are such that high offices of public are held for a fixed duration of time. We are aware of the convention of Presidents, Prime Ministers etc., returning to the State all the valuables that they were presented with, when they held office.

This is considered to be a healthy habit since the valuables were gifted to the particular office and not to the person who is holding the office. Therefore, it is only appropriate for him or her to return it to the State when he or she vacates the office.

But a King’s office was not temporary and therefore there would not have been any need nivedhya for such a code of conduct in those days. However, the action of Bharata of showing or submitting (nivedhya) contains the elements of such a code. Visualise Bharata standing before the paadhukas with folded hands and telling them ‘See here. We have received this today from so and so.’ That is an expression of a conviction – ‘whatever I receive is not mine. I receive them on behalf of the actual ruler, whose office is reflected in his sandals here.’ Think the kind of humility, self-effacing nature and strength of character that a person needs to do such a thing. And he did so for fourteen years! And he did so whenever he had to take an important decision.

It also emphasises another fact. It is not sufficient if an administration is clean. The fact that it is clean should also be seen. That is why Bharata – even though he was very sincere in his purpose – made all his intentions and the position as he saw it, clear to one and all.

He was waiting for the return of Sri Rama on completion of fourteen years. Rama was returning hastily. He was troubled with the thought that Bharata might give his life up as he vowed. Valmiki and Kamban paint different pictures here too. Valmiki’s description shows that none is above suspicion and an administrator should wait and watch before taking a sure step in a desirable direction. Kamban perhaps read an inner meaning that might be understood to be a slur on the hero’s character and he modified this portion to give a better account.

Rama was delayed at Bharadwaja’s ashram when returning, as the sage wanted Sri Rama to accept the feast that he offered to him. If he were to accept that request, it would delay his return on completion of the fourteenth year. He had no option but to accept it, as he could not offend the feelings of a great sage. That caused Rama to worry that Bharata might enact his vow, without waiting for him.

Rama then decided to send his messenger in advance and announce his arrival. And according to Valmiki, it had another purpose too.

The power of Power

Rama called Hanuman to send him as his messenger to convey to Bharata the happenings of the past fourteen years – including the abduction of Sita, friendship with Sugriva and the victory over Ravana – and then to inform him that Rama has arrived and is detained and delayed at the Bharadwaja ashram. Valmiki shows Rama in a different mould altogether.

Of course that is intended to show Rama in one of the shining qualities. Like giving a fair chance to even his enemy. He had sent Angada as his emissary to Ravana before the commencement of war, just to give him one more opportunity, knowing full well that he would not budge). Or remaining steadfast in observance of Dharma, even if it comes to the repudiation of his very own loving wife or even Lakshmana for that matter. He had in fact censured Lakshmana for having left Sita in the forest in violation of his instructions. And again in Uttara Kanda when with the greatest mental suffering he had to punish his Lakshmana, the most loved of all for him, one could even daresay dearer than Sita herself, with death sentence for violating his instruction not to interrupt him when he was in discussion with the Lord of Death himself.

Fairness in the strictest sense of the word, was the very breath of Rama and it is with this in mind that the reader is requested to read what follows. I am giving the portion from Valmiki Ramayana, containing Rama’s elaborate instructions to Hanuman.
“Say to him, ‘Having conquered the hosts of enemies and won unsurpassed glory, his purpose thus accomplished, Rama has arrived near with (other) friends endowed with extraordinary might.

“Nay, the expression which Bharata wears on his face on hearing this news should also then be observed by you as also all that he intends to do in relation to me. All the reactions of Bharata and his gestures too should be truly ascertained through the colour of his face, glances and speech. Whose mind will a kingdom exceedingly rich in all coveted enjoyments (nay) with elephants, horses and chariots and inherited from one’s father and godfather not actually attract? If through association (with rulership or with his mother) the glorious Bharata has himself grown covetous of sovereignty, let the delight of Raghu rule the entire globe without exception. Ascertaining his mind and resolve as well, O monkey, you ought to return apace before we are gone far (from the hermitage of Sage Bharadwaja.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda, Canto 125, verses 13 to 18.)

The kind of steadfastness! The minute details of the weaknesses that even the strongest willed person is susceptible to! Rama without doubt shows that he is aware of the changes that may come over a person once he takes over the reins of power in his hand. It is not due to the frailties, weaknesses and fickle-mindedness of human beings alone that this should be attributed. The power of Power is such that it can change even the strongest of minds to falter a little here or there. Rama did not want to take the least of chances. He wanted to be very sure that Bharata was still the same old Bharata. If he was not, Rama did not want the kingdom for him. He was so ready to give it up once for all.

The acid test…

That was human psychology at work. Kamban sensed something different here and he omitted this scene completely. Perhaps he felt that this description shows Rama in a slightly undesirable stance and his Rama just tells Hanuman to quickly reach Bharata and inform him of his return. But he builds the drama up where Valmiki did not elaborate.

Kamban shows his Bharata waiting for the return of Rama, as does Valmiki. But in a different situation. The time for the return of Sri Rama passes and Bharata becomes restless. He is unable to bear the anguish of Sri Rama not returning. His mind goes in all directions, seeking the reason for his not reaching in time. ‘Did he forget the day of return that he promised to me? But he would not do so.’ “He wouldn’t forget the day agreed with me? Nor be unmindful of his mother’s love, or anguish mine, and overstay his time. I fear some evil has befallen him.” The next moment he feels that that was impossible. “But who can stand before my hero brother? Nor gods, nor man, nor beings of the world beyond, nor even the Three Supreme could win if him the faced in war!” (Kamban’s verses translated by Sri V V S Aiyar.)

And the Poet very beautifully puts the very same thought that Valmiki’s Rama expressed to Hanuman, into the mouth of Bharata - ‘ennai innum arasiyal ichchayan annan aagin avan adhu koLga endru unninaan kol’ ‘Did he think that I have a desire for the crown and therefore he stays away in the wilderness so that I enjoy the throne in peace?’ That thought caused unimaginable agony in the heart of Bharata. ‘May it be that he returns or may it be that he stays in the forest. I am going ahead with the fulfilment of my vow of giving up my life in fire,’ he decided. And ordered that a roaring fire be lit for the purpose. It may be observed here that Valmiki Ramayana is silent on this point. The meeting of Hanuman with Bharata is described as follows, in Valmiki Ramayana -

“At a distance of two miles from Ayodhya he (Hanuman) saw Bharata miserable and emaciated, dwelling in a hermitage with the bark of trees and the skin of black antelope wrapped around his waist, wearing matted locks on his head and afflicted through separation from his (elder half-) brother subsisting on fruits and roots...”

And then he says Hanuman appeared before him and spoke to him with joined hands.

Kamban intensifies the drama. He shows Bharata calling Satrughna and telling him of his resolve and asking him to take charge of the kingship of Ayodhya. He builds up pathos showing Satrughna in a delicate and sorrowful situation of not being able to stop Bharata from his decision to fall in the fire and not able to accept his direction of taking charge as King. And what kind of human drama he is depicting!

A mother in agony

There are not many instances when we see Satrughna speaking his heart out and such occasions can be counted on the fingers in one hand. He was in a fix and his pleadings went did not have any effect on Bharata. Finally, he had to obey Bharata who ordered him to light the fire himself. When he did so, the news reached Kausalya and she came running to Bharata. These fourteen years seem to have caused a sea change in her. She is unable to bear the thought of having to lose Bharata. And see how she tries to dissuade him.

‘ மன் இழைத்ததும் ’ That which was done by the king and ‘ மைந்தன் இழைத்ததும் ’ that which was done by the son (leaving to the forest) ‘ முன் இழைத்த விதியின் முயற்சியால் ’ are all caused by the design of Fate. ‘ பின்    இழைத் ததும்  எண்ணில்  அப் பெற்றியால் ’ that which has happened now is also due to Fate. (She hints that Rama might perhaps not be living now!) And she once again repeats the idea very openly, in her attempt to stop Bharata from what he intends.

‘If he doesn’t come today, he would do so tomorrow. And if he doesn’t do so tomorrow, there is only one possibility, since he is unfailing in his word – he might have ceased to live.‘ பொன்றும் தன்மை புகுந்தது போய்',  ‘ ஒருவன் மாண்டனன் என்று கொண்டு ’ Consider that ‘one’ has died. ‘ எண்ணில் கோடி இராமர்கள் என்னினும் அண்ணல் நின் அருளுக்கு அருகாவரோ ’ I tell you my child even numberless millions of Rama would not equal your grace. It is your duty now to protect this world. You cannot give it up. You have to live my child to protect Dharma. If you still persist, it would lead to the death of all this world.’

And that was her heart! This was the same Kausalya who fourteen years ago suspected Bharata’s collusion in the exile of Sri Rama. Now she is able to think of Rama breathing his last, without showing much pain. The Poet wants us to see the change in her heart. Sri VVS Aiyar remarks here, “So spoke the grand-souled Kausalya forgetting even her grief for the delay of Rama in the sight of the immaculate Bharata. She could contemplate the death of Rama without swooning – so much had the sacrifice of Bharata endeared him to her heart. How then could she look on and allow him to fall into the fire in a mistaken sense of sin?”

That is the height that the character of Bharata reaches at the hands of Kamban. His steadfastness, his adherence to Dharma, his simple ways of living and his devotion – unswerving devotion – to Rama and undoubtedly towards Kausalya, have moved the heart of the poor mother to forget even her own son, for she is able to see him in the form of Bharata. And she, who is already living away from her most endeared son and who has no answer for the delay in his return, is not able to bear the thought that she might lose Bharata as well, by his falling into the fire. Not a single word more is needed than the most moving statement of Kausalya to describe the strength of character, the love and sincerity of Bharata.

The happy reunion

But Bharata persisted. It would appear that no power on earth could stop him from fulfilling his vow. ‘வானுள் எய்திய மன்னவன் மைந்தனால் ’ I am the son of Dasaratha who saved his word at the cost of his life. And if Rama should live in the forest in keeping with what was ordained, for the sake of his acceptance to live in exile (refer Rama’s answer to Vasishtha in Take your crown, now!) it is also equally important for me to respect my own words.' கானுள் ஏகிய காகுத்தர்க்கே கண்டான் ?  ஏனையோர்க்கும் இது இழுக்கில் வழக்கன்றோ ! ’ Fulfilling a vow as a matter of duty is not limited to Rama who went to the forest. It applies to all and it is a virtue worthy of following.’

It is this capacity for reasoning out and convincing the other person that we saw as a mark of distinction from Lakshmana, earlier. His skills of winning the argument surface again. I am guileless ‘ மாசு அற்றேன்’. I will prove it by my death. ‘இது காட்டுவென் மாண்டு ’

He walked round the fire in preparation for jumping into it. And Hanuman jumps into the scene with his usual communication skills, so selected and precise. ‘ ஐயன் வந்தனன் ஆரியன் வந்தனன் ’ My Lord has come. The noble hero has come. ‘ மெய்யின் மெய் அன்ன நின் உயிர் வீடினால் ’ If your life, which is like the very body for Truth to reside in is shed, ‘ உய்யுமே அவன்? ’ Can he survive such a calamity?’ So saying, he put out the fire and produced the ring of Rama in authentication of his identity.

And after due introduction, Hanuman narrated the entire happenings of the fourteen years to Bharata. I give the rest of the scene in the moving words of Sri V V S Aiyar -

“Bharata grieved that it was not given to him to help Rama like Lakshmana in the destruction of Ravana. But all the grief and sorrow melted away the moment he saw Rama coming in the aerial chariot towards Ayodhya. He then felt as if he saw his father himself returned to life. He fell at Rama’s feet and Rama took him up and unable to utter a word in intensity of his grief and joy, embraced him till their very souls touched. Tears flowed unceasingly from Rama’s eyes at the sight of the twisted knot of hair on the head of Bharata, which had never been untied, all these fourteen years. These tears and the love of Rama’s heart, which was like that of the cow for its calf, were enough compensation to the heart of Bharata for the untold mental anguish that he had been suffering from the moment that he had heard of Rama’s exile. And Lakshmana, who had misunderstood him in the early days of the exile, clasped his feet in loving worship. The tortured heart of Bharata had at length fount its balsam and fluttering with joy he too his brother and the Vanara host to Ayodhya and crowned Rama to the delight of himself and that of the whole world.”

Bharata is an example of what men of wisdom, patience and justice would do in times of test and stress. How they would slowly win over even the heart of those who refused to trust them, those who did not believe in their honesty, and how transparent lives as well as transparent administration wins the world.



Hari Krishnan


பங்களிப்பாளர்கள்

Dev மற்றும் Hariki

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இப்பக்கம் கடைசியாக 10 ஏப்ரல் 2010, 15:32 மணிக்குத் திருத்தப்பட்டது. இப்பக்கம் 10,120 முறைகள் அணுகப்பட்டது.