Shatashloki 42: Agonized Bharata, declines the kingship offered to him

Mŗte tu tasmin bharato vasiṣṭa-pramukhairdvijaiḥ.

Niyujyamāno rājyāya naicchadrājyam mahābala

Meaning- After the demise of King Dasharatha, Maharishi Vashistha and others directed Bharata to take over the reins of the kingdom. Bharata however, due to the deep regard and love that he had for his elder brother Rama, declined the offer.

On receiving the message from the messengers Bharata ascended the chariot without losing any time. The chariot raced through various forests, plains, mountains and rivers and brought him to Ayodhya.

As soon as the chariot stepped into the city of Ayodhya, Bharata noticed that it had lost its luster. Eagerly wanting to meet his father, he directed his charioteer to quickly take him to his father’s palace. Not finding his father there, he decided to go to his mother Kaikeyi’s house. When he entered his mother’s home, he found her seated on a golden throne. Kaikeyi was absolutely delighted to see him and she got up from her throne, welcomed him lovingly with the words, “How are you, my dear son?” After enquiring about his well-being and the well being of her father and other relatives, she casually passed on the news of her husband’s death to Bharata as though it was a delightful news.

Bharata swooned upon hearing this devastating news. He lamented uncontrollably. He covered his face with a cloth and shed profound tears. He couldn’t come to terms with this grief. Kaikeyi lifted her son from the ground and said to him, “O prince, you should not be weeping. People of your stature should not sit on the floor either. Who do you think you are? You are the emperor of this land. Please stop crying needlessly. Go and change into a suitable attire that is worthy of being worn by a king”.

A perplexed Bharata wanted to know the whereabouts of Rama. In great delight she told him that Rama was not in Ayodhya. Bharata wanted to know in detail the reason for Rama’s absence from Ayodhya. His mother then disclosed all the events that had taken place in Ayodha as if they were pleasant occurrences.

She said, “Bharata, a long ago your father had given me two boons. I sought to choose them now. What is wrong in it? As the first boon I claimed that Rama should be exiled for 14 years. My second boon was that you should be crowned as the king of this land. All this, I have done with your future in mind. Hence Bharata, now you arise. Get ready. Act in accordance with the instructions that will be given by Maharishi Vashistha and quickly ascend the throne. I am eagerly waiting to see you seated on the throne. Rule well.”

Bharata, whose blood boiled at her cruel and heartless actions, flew into a rage and shouted, “Oh horrible woman, you have destroyed our kingdom. What sort of a mother are you? I just wish I could kill you this very moment. Even killing you is not a sinful deed in my opinion. But by killing you, I will be committing an unrighteous deed due to which my brother Rama will not even look at my face. For this single reason, I am leaving you alive today. O evil-minded woman, what a grave sin you have committed”.

Bharata’s anger was such that he would have killed Kaikeyi that very moment. But it was the rules of dharma held him back. Killing mother is adharmic. He feared that Rama would disown him for having acted in an adharmic way.  To see Rama was his goal. Hence he acted in this fashion.

By then all the ministers assembled there. Koushalya and Sumitra also arrived. Addressing Bharata, Koushalya wept, “My son, please send me to Rama at the earliest”. Bharata went to Koushalya and cried, “O mother, I am sinless”. He cried profusely till he was tired. Then, tired, dazed and unable to withstand this grief, that night Bharata slept in the comfort of his Mother Koushalya’s lap itself.

Next morning Vashistha and other Maharishis organized all the rituals to ensure the proper completion King Dasharatha’s last rites. The rites duly completed, Bharata and Shatrughna were speaking amongst themselves, when the maids caught Manthara and brought her to them saying, “O Prince, she is the evil Manthara; the mastermind behind Ayodhya’s doom. What are we to do with her?”

In the heat of the moment, Shatrughna kicked Manthara with his leg. Thereafter he was about to kill her, when Bharata held his hand and asked him to stop. Controlled his anger, in utter disgust Shatrughna just let her go.

Vashistha and other Maharishis arrived there, approached Bharata and said, “O prince, please take on the kingship. This is the command of your revered father”.

In response to it Bharata said, “O revered sirs! In this lineage of Ikshvaaku, only the eldest son ascends the throne. This kingdom rightfully belongs to Rama and he shall become the king. In lieu of him, I will live in exile for fourteen years. I will right now proceed to fetch Rama”.

In this way, Bharata set out to bring back Rama. Although he had in him the capacity and the competence to rule efficiently and wisely, Bharata declined to be the king. He was not influenced by any other personal need. He was determined to see Rama crowned as the king of Ayodhya.

What a beautiful situation! What a great and ideal personality Bharata was!


Om Seeta ramabhyaam namaha.

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