Sa kāma manavāpyaiva rāmapādāvupaspŗśan
Nandigrāme karodrājyaṃ rāmāgamanakāṇkṣayā
Meaning: Bharata who could not succeed in bringing Rama back to Ayodhya, decided to reside in Nandigrama, a place near Ayodhya. Keeping the Padukas on the throne, offering his prayerful prostrations to them, praying for the safe return of Rama, Bharata began to rule his kingdom.
Bharata reverentially retained Rama’s paadukas on his head and together with Shatrughna boarded the chariot. They advanced in the form of offering a circumambulation to the Mountain Chitrakuta. They reached the hermitage of Sage Bharadwaja. Bharadwaja asked Bharata, “Were you successful in your mission? Did you meet Rama?”
Bharata politely replied, “Revered Sage! All of us were blessed to receive his divine darshan. In many ways I begged him to take back the kingdom. But he was very firm about his decision. He insisted upon completing his entire period of exile in the forest. As per the advice of Maharishi Vashistha, I have taken His golden padukas and am now heading back to Ayodhya”.
Bharadwaja Maharishi profusely praised his noble traits and his virtues. Taking leave of the sage, Bharata continued his journey. They crossed the River Ganga and passed by Sringiberapuram and entered Ayodhya.
The city of Ayodhya, devoid of the presence of Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta appeared dilapidated, lifeless and lusterless. Movement of people could not be seen. Owls could be found flying everywhere. In the place of men, cats were moving about everywhere. Ayodhya appeared like the smoky and empty fire pit (homa kunda) that exists after the completion of the homa. Lack of business had caused all the shops to shut down. The absence of Rama from Ayodhya had robbed the city of its splendour. Bharata expressed to his charioteer all his feelings and sentiments.
They neared the palaces and Bharata ensured the queens were dropped safely to their homes. Thereafter he addressed Vashistha and other eminent people and said, “I find it impossible to live in my royal palace. To tell you the truth, I do not seek to stay in this city of Ayodhya itself. I have no need of these luxuries. Separation from my brother Rama and the death of my father haunt me. Until Rama returns, I will stay in Nandigrama”.
Vashistha appreciated the greatness of Bharata’s character and his devotion to his brother. All the elders agreed to his request. Having offered his prostrations to all the elders present there, Bharata kept Rama’s padukas on his head and along with Shatrughna boarded the chariot. Even after seating himself in the chariot he did not place Rama’s sandals at any place beside him. He continued to keep them on his head.
The citizens followed Bharata to Nandigrama. Addressing the crowds, Bharata said, “My dear citizens. These are the sandals of my dear brother Rama. From now on, these sandals will be ruling you. Only they are deserving of the royal shelter upon them. I will be ruling under the orders from these padukas”
Bharata then placed the sandals on the throne and conducted the coronation to them. He changed into the attire of a hermit. From then on, he lived in Nandigrama and ruled as a representative of his brother’s paadukas. Very diligently he abided by his vow. Every minute and every second he awaited the return of Rama. He read out to the paadukas all the royal commands, the assignments and the administrative duties completed. All the royal gifts received were offered to them.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam Namaha.