Ramo pi paramodaarah sumukha ssumahaayashaah
Nachai cchatpituraadeshaat raajyam raamo mahaabalah
He who causes bliss and happiness to those who have taken refuge under him can be called the most benevolent (udāra). Such person possesses great fame (keerti) and immense strength (balam). Rama, who had in him such great traits, bound by the command of his father, refused to accept the kingdom.
All of them turned towards Rama to hear his reply. Addressing Bharata, Rama said, “Dear brother, at the time when our father King Dasharatha married your mother Kaikeyi, he had given a promise to her father that the son born from her womb will succeed him to the throne. As per this promise made by him, this kingdom is rightfully yours and not mine. All the ministers present here are very well aware of this secret.
In addition, during the war between Gods and demons, your mother Kaikeyi very valorously assisted our father. Pleased with her skills, he asked her to choose any two boons. She has now sought those two boons. She has made our father take an oath that he will fulfill both the boons.
To ensure that his promise is fulfilled, I have stepped into the forests. Therefore, you please go ahead and get yourself crowned the king. Kindly allow me to live up to my promise. It is our mandatory duty to obey our father. Both of us should make sure that his vow of truthfulness (satya vrata) is not nullified. As his sons, the responsibility to prevent him from falling into hell (naraka) also rests upon us.
These respected sages and priests got our father to conduct the sacrifice. As its outcome we were born. Hence it is even more important for us to ensure that, by our actions, he does not descend to hell.
Shatrughna and yourself can govern the kingdom under the able guidance of Maharishi Vashistha. Together with Seeta and Lakshmana I will shortly move into the Dandakaranya forest. You be the king for the humans. Living in the forests I will be the king for all these animals here. Shatrughna will assist you there while Lakshmana will assist me here. All the four of us are the sons of the great emperor Dasharatha. Hence collectively, let us all abide by his commands and make them worthwhile”. With these words, Rama consoled Bharata.
At that point, an aged Brahmin by the name of Jabali tried to persuade Rama to take the kingdom by advocating an anti-dharma approach. He said, “Rama, each being is born on its own and is leaving this body on its own. In this situation, where is the concept of relationships? Who is related to whom? If so, where is the question of being bound by someone’s words? So, set aside all these theories. Do not speak of promises and their fulfillment. The wise do not waste time in pondering about it. As far as Ayodhya is concerned, Dasharatha was its past ruler. Today, you are its present ruler. There is no connection, whatsoever, between the two of you. It will be wise if you heed my words. Just accept Bharata’s demands. Accept the kingdom and rule wisely”.
Listening to this anti-dharma theory of Maharishi Jabali, Rama did not even waver a little bit. He continued to be resolute in his decision. In fact, he was saddened at this approach being preached to him.
He said to Jabali, “On the face of it, what you say appears very beneficial and wise. But the truth is that it will cause great harm. The world will not approve of such action. I will not perform any deed that will bring harm to the world. I will never ever go against my word. To me truthfulness is the first and foremost dharma. My father had personally instructed me to go on an exile into the forests. I have promised to him that I will abide by it and hence I will abide by it”. Rama thus preached to Jabali the greatness of dharma in great detail.
At this juncture, Maharishi Vashistha stepped in and explained to Rama the greatness of Raghu vamsa (linage of Raghu) and asked him to save and protect their dignity and honour by accepting the kingdom. He states that the eldest born always becomes the king and that Rama should not violate this rule. Even then Rama did not agree.
Bharata began to mentally shrink upon hearing this resolute decision of his elder brother. He was at a total loss. He then declared, “Until and unless my elder brother agrees to take on the reins of the kingdom, I will continue to live here. I will not touch a drop of water or eat anything until such time. I will fast until death”.
Hearing this, Rama chided Bharata that his decision was not prescribed for the warrior clan (Kshatriya). He said, “Bharata, return back to Ayodhya”. The elders understood that it was impossible to change Rama’s mind. Rama was that supreme being who would stand by his words and his promise at any cost.
Rama, meanwhile said to Bharata, “Bharata, come and touch me. With this your sin of pledging to fast unto death will be wiped away. Come here”. Left with no other choice, Bharata asked Rama to return to Ayodhya while he served the entire 14 years in exile in his place. Rama who did not want to yield even to this subtly said, “Our father should not be tainted with the sin of untruth. Hence you please rule the kingdom there while I live here”. In this manner, Rama continued to decline every offer that was put across to him.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha