Ramayana for Life Skills: Selfless Devotion
Rishi Bharadwaja, with the power of his penance, brought a sumptuous feast with all delicacies desired by a gourmet. All the companions of the prince enjoyed the delicious feast after which they slept a blissful sleep. In the morning all of them woke up and after their routine proceeded to where Rama was camping. They saw Rama’s cottage from a distance and were in an emotional conflict.
Bharata, Satrugna and others walked steadily towards Rama who was surprised at the unexpected arrival of the brothers and was also happy to see him. The brothers embraced each other.
Observing the guru who was coming towards him, Rama went forward and fell at his feet. “I am most fortunate,” told Rama, “Is my father in all comforts? Does he have still that sorrow in his heart in my leave? What did he say you to tell me and what did he say you to tell Lakshmana.”
Vasishta answered him: “Rama, after your leave of him, he had been thinking about you always and chanting Rama…ha Rama…ha…Lakshmana, ha Sita…he closed his eyes for ever.”
Rama, hearing this spiky news, lost his conscious and fell down.
When he regained conscious he started crying aloud addressing his father and recounting all the tender love he had received from his father. Like-wise Lakshmana and Sita also made loud cries. Then Vasishta intervened. He appeased them telling the inevitability of death in human life. He also spoke to them about the great life Dasaratha had led and the reputation he had gained from all over the world.
The three bathed in river Yamuna and offered their ablutions to the departed soul. Returning to the hermitage, they took fast for the day.
On the next morning, Bharata went to Rama and saluted him. He then said: “O lord, I have brought all the necessary ingredients to accord your coronation here. After completing that ceremony please come back and look after the country and the citizens. Now living in the forest is no way appropriate for you.”
Lifting Bharata and placing him on his lap Rama told Bharata tenderly: “Young one, I have very patiently listened to what you had to say. Now listen to my words. Our father had ordered me to live in the forest for fourteen years and he has endowed the responsibility of ruling the country upon you. Both of us have to obey the orders of our father. Anyone that violates the orders of his father, he is the most accursed in the world. Therefore you rule the kingdom unblemished and I shall dwell in the forest.”
“Then,” said Bharata: “I shall live in the forest and you may rule the kingdom.”
“Even that is not possible,” said Rama. “Our father had decried as to who has to do what! If you manipulate that it will certainly violate his will.”
“If that is the case,” said Bharata, “I shall also stay with you and serve you as Lakshmana does. Otherwise I shall put an end to my life.”
Thus saying, Bharata spread Kusa grass on the earth and lain under the burning sun. Seeing the stubborn attitude of Bharata, Rama gesticulated to guru Vasishta.
The priest approached Bharata and appeased him with the purpose of the incarnation of Rama. “Therefore,” asked the preceptor, “Go to Ayodhya and rule the country. Your brothers and sister-in-law would be back as they complete fourteen years of life in the forest. Go, rule the country and make it prosperous.”
Succumbing to the guru’s directive Bharata agreed to go back but with certain conditions:
“Give me, Rama, your sandals placing which on the royal throne I shall rule the country as your proxy. I shall lead only an ascetic life with tree barks and garland of beads on my person. I shall rule the country from Nandigrama. I shall always be looking forward for the completion of fourteen years. If, after fulfillment of the stipulated time, you don’t return, I shall jump into the fire and immolate myself.”
“Sure,” said Rama. “There won’t be any failure in my word.”
Bharata took the sandals of Rama, circumambulated around him and went back to Nandigrama. Placing the sandals of Rama in the royal throne, Bharata ruled Ayodhya.After spending some days with Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, queen Kausalya and others returned to Ayodhya. KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )