Ayodhya Kand 5 - Bharata Returns to Ayodhya
Dasharatha’s wives, the royal staff, and the citizens cried uncontrollably seeing their dead King. A distraught Kausalya accused Kaikeyi of exiling her son and killing her husband. Since the King’s sons were not available for the last rites, the royal staff immersed his body in oil to preserve it.
The great sages then met and reviewed the situation. They discussed the importance of having a king to ensure the people were protected. Vasishta then ordered his assistants to go to Girivraja and bring Bharata to Ayodhya immediately without telling him what had happened.
Meanwhile, Bharata had a disturbing dream where he had seen his father in a disheveled condition with many bad omens. He feared that something bad would happen. On the arrival of the messengers from Ayodhya, he took the permission of the Kekaya king and left for Ayodhya without knowing what was waiting for him.
After traveling for 7 nights, he reached Ayodhya and observed the silence in the city, feeling that it was like a city that had been destroyed. When he did not find his father in his house, he went to meet his mother. Kaikeyi then told him how Dasharatha had died after Rama had gone to the forests for exile.
Bharata was confused and enquired whether Rama had committed any sin that he was sent to the forests. Kaikeyi then told him the truth of how she had forced Dashratha to send Rama to exile, so Bharata could be crowned. Bharata was upset hearing his mother’s words and accused her of wickedness and being responsible for his father’s death.
He called his mother wicked and asked her to leave the kingdom. Accusing her of killing her husband, he bemoaned that her actions had caused misery for Kausalya and Sumitra. Bharata vowed to bring back Rama and left to meet Kausalya.
Bharata apologized to Kausalya, assuring her he had deep affection for Rama and he was ignorant about what Kaikeyi had done. Bharata was troubled by deep grief at what had happened. Vasishta then reminded him that he had to perform the last rites of his father. With family members and citizens shedding tears, Bharata cremated King Dasharatha on the banks of the Sarayu River.
On the twelfth day, he performed the final rites and gave away riches, food, and jewels to brahmanas. After performing the thirteenth day rites, both Bharata and Shatrugna wept bitterly, remembering their departed father and exiled brothers. They cursed Manthara for influencing Kaikeyi to take this terrible decision.
Shatrugna then spotted Manthara happily moving around decked in jewelry. Filled with rage, he dragged her around the ground until he reached Kaikeyi. He then used harsh words to criticise Kaikeyi’s action. A scared Kaikeyi ran to Bharata, who asked Shatrugna not to do anything to women. He said that Rama would not speak to them if they harmed Kaikeyi.
Refusing to be crowned the King, Bharata proceeded to the forests with the queens and his army to bring back Rama. Many men accompanied him and cleared the road for him, building bridges to make it easy to travel. The people of Ayodhya were happy to see Bharata leave, hoping that he would bring back the illustrious Rama.
When they reached the banks of the Ganga, Guha was worried that the army might harm Rama. He took fruits, roots, and leaves as offering to Bharata’s army. Bharata then made it clear that he had no hostile intentions and his only aim was to bring back Rama to rule Ayodhya.
Guha then offered to take Bharata to Bharadvaja’s ashrama. He described how Rama slept on the ground and how he was dressed in bark and leaves. Bharata wept uncontrollably and also decided to wear bark, and eat only fruits and roots until Rama returned to Ayodhya and was crowned as the King.
…. to be continued