Episode 129 – Sage Bharadwaaja too mistakes Bharata’s devotion!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Bharata and his people are all set to sail across the river Ganges with the help and the guidance given by Guha. While boarding the raft, we also saw that Bharata introduces his three mothers one by one to Guha and explains their significance. We witnessed the beautiful “Paasuram” of Kamba Ramayana in this effect.

Now moving on further, the entire caravan boards the raft provided by Guha and thus all of them sail across and reach the other bank of the river Ganges and start their march towards Chitrakoota. It should be remembered that Guha had given them ample guidance on the direction that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita walked after crossing the river. According to the given directions, Bharata and the other people march on, and reach the ashram of Sage Bharadwaaja. It should be remembered that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita also passed by Sage Bharadwaaja’s ashram and only with his guidance did they found this place where they were currently residing.

Upon reaching Sage Bharadwaaja’s ashram, Bharata falls on his feet and pays the due respects to the great Sage.

“Kaschinna tasyaa paapasya paapam tharthumiheshyasi!

Akhantakam bhokthamanaa raajyam tasyaanujasyacha!!

Yevamukthvaa bharadwaajam bharathaha prathyuvaachaha!

Paryaschu nayano dukhaan vaachaa sandyajyamaanayaa!!”

Sage Bharadwaaja, upon seeing the arrival of Bharata says to him, “Oh Bharata! You’ve come with an intention to do a sin to a person (Rama) who cannot be affected by any kind of a sin in this world! You’ve got what you wanted and now why are you coming here to further add to the woes of Rama?”

Upon hearing these harsh words from a Sage of the stature of the Great Bharadwaaja, Bharata was shocked and for a moment, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Bharata falls down on his feet with tears in his eyes and replies, “Oh Great Sage! Even if you’ve mistook my intentions, then there is nobody else in this world for whom I’ve to live for! You are a Sage who knows everything through the power of your deep penance! If Kaushalya scolds me, she is a mother who has sacrificed her son and I can understand what she’s going through! If Guha mistakes me, I can still understand because he’s afterall a hunter! Even if Sage Vasishtaachaarya mistakes me, I can understand because he is our “Kula Guru” and he has the responsibility of ruling the kingdom effectively! What about you? In what way did I hurt you? If even you’ve to mistake me, then I’m shattered beyond words! I thought atleast you would understand me well, however now I think that I’ve been murdered mentally and emotionally! There is no point of me living in this world anymore!”

Upon seeing Bharata cry out his misery, Sage Bharadwaaja lifts him with happiness and says, “Oh Bharata! I know very well that you’ve done no fault! I know very well that you are an epitome of Bhakthi towards Rama! However, I had to ask that harsh question to you, just to make sure that tomorrow the society would believe that Bharata is a good person! Only if I make you cry like this, I can also substantiate to the world that you are a person with a kind heart!”

Bharata on hearing Sage Bharadwaaja’s explanation replies back, “Oh Sage Bharadawaaja! Thank you for your explanation! I do not need the certificate of approval from anybody that I’m a good person. All what is important is that you understand me well! That is more than enough for me! Please guide me with the way in which Rama went. I’m so desperate to see him, Lakshmana and Sita Devi.”

Sage Bharadwaaja was so impressed with the unconditional surrender from Bharata and guides him with the directions where Rama traversed. Thus, Bharata follows the instructions of Sage Bharadwaaja and after a while, the entire set of people are now nearing Chithrakoota wherein Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were residing. Upon witnessing the scenic beauty around that place, Bharata senses that Rama is somewhere in the vicinity. Hence, he searches his way through and walks on as he finds Rama sitting at some distance from where he was!

Before Rama sees Bharata approaching, it was Lakshmana who saw Bharata first! Lakshmana sees a huge crowd of people advancing towards their hamlet, with the flag of Ayodhya flying high in the air! What was Lakshmana’s reaction? What did he do? Was he happy to see his brother Bharata? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 128 – Bharata introduces Kaushalya, Kaikeyi & Sumithra to Guha!!!

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In the previous episode, we witnessed a very important aspect of the Bharata-Guha conversation wherein both Bharata and Guha express their deep love and devotion towards Rama during their talk with each other! Now all of them are set to get on to the boat that was arranged by Guha to cross the river Ganges. Everybody started to board the boat with Bharata leading the way along with Sage Vasishtaachaarya.

While everybody were boarding the boat one by one, Guha’s eyes fell upon the people who were boarding the boat by the side of Bharata – especially the three mothers, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra. Guha asks Bharata, who are they and why have they accompanied him. Now Bharata has to introduce the three mothers to Guha. Here is how he did it.

Bharata starts with introducing mother Kaushalya first. Kamba Naadar in his Ramayanam in Tamil explains this introduction beautifully in the following “paasuram”. I’m splitting the paasuram into three different parts for easy understanding. In the first part, Kamba Naadar explains the introduction of Kaushalya:

“Kokkal veihi muthatthaan mudhal devi!

Moondru ulagam eendraanai mun eendraanai petrathaal – Perum petrai

Yaam pirandadhaal izhandha periyaal!”

Here, the phrase “Mudhal Devi” means, “First Mother”, which is directly referred to Kaushalya. Bharata thus describes Kaushalya as the supreme mother and the first wife of King Dasharata (“Kokkal veihi muthatthaan mudhal devi”). Her unique significance is that she had the opportunity of bearing the Lord of the three worlds (Surface, Sky and Water) in her womb for twelve months! (“Moondru ulagam eendraanai mun eendraanai petrathaal”) In simpler words, Kaushalya is the most significant of all the three mothers because she protected Rama, (who himself is the protector of this entire world) in her womb for twelve months! Bharata doesn’t stop here. He continues to describe that, Kaushalya, although being this significant has lost all of that because of the birth of an unfortunate and a sinful person called Bharata! (“Perum petrai Yaam pirandadhaal izhandha periyaal”)!! Thus, Bharata introduces Kaushalya to Guha.

Now comes the next mother, Kaikeyi. Bharata, for obvious reasons, avoided even looking at her face and talking about her! Guha couldn’t understand why Bharata is not talking about Kaikeyi, as he straight went near Sumithra. Now Bharata starts introducing Sumithra to Guha. He says,

“Yaavarkkum thozhudhalamaam raaman pinbu pirandhaalum ulan ennai piriyaadhaan thannai payandha periyaal!!”

Here, Bharata says that “For Rama who is worshipped by everyone in this world, there is someone called a brother! This mother is the one who was blessed with that Lakshmana, who is the true brother of Rama! Oh Guha! I’ve failed in my duty as a brother to Rama! I feel ashamed of it! If I would have been a brother, I should have accompanied Rama for his exile, however I failed to do it! Hence, I’ve lost that status of being a brother to Rama! Thus, Lakshmana fulfilled the duty of going with Rama and being of service to him! Hence, it was this mother by name Sumithra, who is the mother of Lakshmana, the ‘true brother’ of Rama!”

Thus, after the introduction of Sumithra, Bharata slowly and unwillingly walks up to Kaikeyi, who is his own mother! He introduces Kaikeyi and says,

“Than paartha paavi kudalile nedungaalam kidandherkum innindraai – Yennai eendraal!”

Now Bharata says, “Oh Guha! This is the woman in whose womb I was unfortunate to reside for ten months, before I was born! By far, what I know is that both of us are sinners! But I don’t know if I’m a sinner because I’m born to her or she is a sinner because I was born to her! Ultimately, whatever maybe the fact, I’m a dumb and useless person! It is only because of myself and my mother, Kaikeyi, Rama left to the forest on exile!”

While Bharata was weeping profusely and uncontrollably, Guha hugs Bharata and says, “Oh Bharata! Please do not scold Mother Kaikeyi like this!” Bharata was surprised on hearing this statement from Guha! He wondered on what basis Guha was making this statement! What was the thought process behind Guha consoling Bharata this way? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 127 – Bharata praises Guha for his service to Rama & Sita!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed the sequence of events wherein Guha meets Bharata and initially mistakes him to be an enemy of Rama, but at last realizes the true love and devotion Bharata had for Rama! Eventually Guha goes on to give the “Certificate of appreciation” to Bharata for his immense love for Rama! Thus, everybody around Bharata doubts him initially, scolds him and then realizes his greatness! This was the terrible situation meted out to poor Bharata!

After seeing all these sufferings undergone by Bharata, one might wonder that Lakshmana never underwent such terrible circumstances in his life and he was very happy and contented all throughout! One might also wonder why I’ve been advocating that “Paarathanthriyam” form of Bhakthi is one step higher than “Seshathvam”. We might be immediately tempted to ask a question that people who follow the highest form of Bhakthi would suffer like how Bharata does here! Similarly in the Mahabharata, Dharmaputhra (Udishtra) was extremely focused towards the righteous part, however he suffered at every stage in his life, whereas, Duriyodhana was wicked throughout his life, yet he never experienced any difficulty until his last days! Sometimes if we think this way, we might start wondering what is this “Punya” and “Paapa” and why are we confusing ourselves so much with all this!

But we’ve to remember that Bharata had a very small drawback in him – I’ve already discussed this in one of the previous episodes, however it’s worth recalling again here. We’ve seen at the beginning of the “Ayodhya Kaanda” that Bharata leaves for his uncle’s place at Kekeya Desha for a few days – Which means, he is leaving Bhagawan Rama behind and going away! However, Lakshamana was in service to Rama 24 hours a day and all 7 days a week! He never left Rama even for a single moment and hence, he was protected by Bhagawan directly! However, since Bharata left Bhagawan for a few days, he lost the vicinity of the Lord and thus had to suffer this much!

Hence the important message that we should learn for our modern day life from this episode is that we should always remember that we should always invoke the presence of Bhagawan everyday and in whatever action we perform! This again boils down to the fact that we should never skip or compromise our daily spiritual practices. We should follow them meticulously and try to invoke the grace of Bhagawan, with which all our pains and sufferings are taken care by him!

Thus moving on further, the conversation between Bharata and Guha went on for a long time and thus all of them sleep at Guha’s place for that night. During the night time Guha shows to Bharata that this is the place where Rama and Sita were resting and explains how Lakshmana was protecting them while sleeping.

“Aacha chakshecha sathbhaavam lakshmanasya mahaathmanaha!

Bharathaaya apprameyaaya guha gahana bhocharaha!!”

Here, Valmiki Maharishi explains emotionally that Guha, who is after all a hunter, shows to Bharata with all his love and devotion and says, “Oh Bharata! You know what? This is the very place where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were staying for one night, before they crossed the river Ganges! Your brother Lakshmana was in service to Rama every minute!” Thus, Guha was speaking so high of Lakshmana to Bharata!

Upon witnessing such a situation, Valmiki Maharishi himself was moved to tears while authoring this portion of the Ramayana! Who is narrating whose significance to whom? Upon hearing this from Guha, how would have Bharata felt? Won’t he feel miserable within himself that he’s hearing the significance of his brother Lakshmana, through some third person by name Guha, whom he doesn’t even know! But Bharata was rather happy to hear these words from Guha! He appreciated Guha for his immense devotion towards Rama, Lakshmana and Sita!

Bharata replies to Guha, Oh Guha! You are so fortunate to be at the vicinity of my dear brothers Rama and Lakshmana! How many people in this world would get this golden opportunity? I’m so proud of you! Rama is lucky and fortunate to have a brother like Lakshmana, who is always in service to him! Out of the four brothers, if there should be one of them who is born to make our father, King Dasharata happy and contented, it would be Lakshmana only! It is not me! I’m totally guilty in my father’s eyes and I’m one person who was responsible for all this mess at Ayodhya!”

Upon seeing Bharata in tears, Guha consoles him and thus arranges for the boat for all of them to cross the banks of the river Ganges. All of them are ready to get on to the boat and waiting for Guha’s instructions. We shall also wait along with them till the next episode to find out what happened further! 🙂

Episode 126 – Guha praises Bharata’s love and devotion towards Rama!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that, upon having a closer look at Bharata, Guha was moved to tears and with a melted heart, his long and strong bow automatically fell down from his hands, on to the floor!

In today’s episode we can witness in detail as to how the mindset of Guha changed within minutes upon seeing Bharata! Just before Bharata arrived close to him, Guha was all in anger and fury towards him and we saw that he suspected Bharata’s purpose of visit with such a huge army! Kamba Naadar in his Ramayana in Tamil, brings out this contrasting feeling in a beautiful way as follows. Guha thus, says to his followers:

“Aaza nedunthirai aaru kadandhu ivar povaaro!

Vezha nedum padai kandu vilangidum villaalo!

Thozhamai kondu avar solliya sol oru sollandro!

Ezhamai vedanirambina endru ennai yesaaro!!”

Here, Guha appeals to his followers, “If at all I let this Bharata and army cross the river Ganges without confrontation, tomorrow the entire world would proclaim that this Guha could have rather died rather than living with the guilt of allowing Bharata to kill Rama! Even after Rama has proclaimed to the world that Guha is his fourth brother, if this Guha lets someone proceed further and kill Rama, what would be the validity of Rama’s words? Shouldn’t I sacrifice my life and save Rama from Bharata? Bharata is thinking that he could easily defeat me and cross the Ganges to reach Rama! But he cannot! Until I have the last drop of blood in my body, I’ll never allow Bharata to cross the Ganges and reach Rama!”

Such was the intention of Guha before he sees Bharata! But after Guha sees Bharata and his face, his entire fury was burnt to ashes! Look at the contrast in the feelings now! He now says,

“Nambiyum naayakanum okkinnaan!

Ayal ninnaar thambiyum okkinnaan!

Thava vedam kalaikkondaan!!”

Here, Kamba Naadar beautifully portrays the change of stance of Guha! Now Guha thinks within himself as his bow automatically falls on to the ground – “Oh My Goodness! This Bharata looks exactly like his brother Rama! (Nambiyum naayakanum okkinnaan!”) Both Rama and Bharata look so similar in appearance! How is this possible? Similarly, this Shathrughna looks very similar to Lakshmana! (“Ayal ninnaar thambiyum okkinnaan!”) Both of them are wearing the dress of a Tapasvi! (“Thava vedam kalaikkondaan!”) Oh! If there are brothers in any corner of this world, they should be united and devoted like these four!”

Kamba Naadar continues to say,

“Sindhanai mugatthil theeki! Theevalai enna neerthu!”

In the continuing line of the paasuram, Kamba Naadar says that Guha reads Bharata’s face. As we all know the proverb, “Face is the index of the Mind”, upon seeing Bharata’s face, Guha implodes with tears of joy because Bharata is in full thoughts of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana and is so eager to see them! Now Guha says to Bharata with tears in his eyes, Oh Bharata! After a long thought process about you, I conclude that, you are one step better than even a thousand Ramas’ put together! Your mother had plucked away the kingdom that was due to be Rama’s! You could have very well ruled Ayodhya according to the boon that was granted by your father! However, you rejected everything and came along to see Rama with all your devotion and love! I have no words to describe your greatness!”

Thus, Guha was in all praise for Bharata at last, and guides him with the way to reach Chithrakoota to meet Rama. Such was the greatness of Bharata’s devotion to Bhagawan! We shall thus experience and appreciate this devotion of Bharata for today and wait till the next episode to witness the next series of events that took place! 🙂

Episode 125 – Guha melts down into tears upon seeing Bharata!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed the important event of Bharata leading the entire city of Ayodhya with him in pursuit of Rama. Sage Vasishtaachaarya joins Bharata as Sumanthra leads the way. They slowly approach the banks of the river Ganges where Guha and his followers were present. The moment Guha saw such a huge caravan of Ayodhya approaching towards him, he immediately had an impression that Bharata is trying to wage a war with Rama and kill him to officially become the king of Ayodhya! Thus Guha is agitated with fury and calls for his followers to get ready to fight Bharata and co. Guha was determined not to allow Bharata’s army to cross the Ganges and confront him then and there! Thus Guha and his followers were waiting for Bharata to arrive at their place.

Bharata is now approaching closer to Guha and his followers. However to Guha’s surprise, Bharata was walking with his head bent down! He never lifted his head as he was walking towards Guha! Bharata was full of sadness and tears in his eyes as he was walking. Bharata now comes close to Guha and Sumanthra tries to introduce Guha to Bharata. It should be noted here that it is Sumanthra who was earlier interacting with Guha when Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were leaving for their exile. Hence, Sumanthra is the person who knows Guha very well. Hence he tries to introduce Bharata to Guha.

Kamba Naadar portrays this introductory dialogue beautifully in his Ramayanam in Tamil. Sumanthra points at Guha and tells Bharata, “Gangai iru karai udayaan!” which means, “He is the person who is in-charge of both the banks of river Ganges”! Bharata was not much convinced with this explanation given by Sumanthra, because, anyway he was the king of the entire country, and just being incharge of the banks of River Ganges was not something big for Bharata! Then, Sumanthra continues, “Kanakkirandha naavaayin!” which means, “He is the owner of innumerable number of boats!” Bharata still didn’t lift his head and look up! He was clearly not convinced by this explanation too! Now, Sumanthra gives the third explanation, which made Bharata lift his head up with awe – He says, “Ungal uyir thunai naadharkku uyir thunaivan!” which means, “He is one of the best and close friends of your dear brother Rama!” Upon hearing this, Bharata was shocked and lifted his head up to see who is Sumanthra referring to!

Thus as Bharata lifts his head up, Guha sees Bharata for the first time who is standing opposite to him!

“Varkhalaiyum udayaanai maasadaindha meyyaanai!

Narkalaiyin madhiyenna naghaiyenna mugathhaani!

Kal kaniya kanihindra thunayaanai, Kannuttraan!

Vil kaiyil ninnum idai vizha vimmuttru ozhindhaan!!”

In the above Tamil “Paasuram”, Kamba Naadar beautifully brings out the reaction of Guha when he sees Bharata’s face for the first time – He says, “Varkhalaiyum udayaanai”, which means that Bharata was dressed in the attire of a “Tapasvi” and not as a king. Guha was confused at this moment. He had a doubt if Bharata had already become a king or not! Kamba Naadar continues, “Maasadaindha meyyaanai”, which means, Bharata looked so dirty and like as if he hadn’t taken a bath for so many days now! Upon seeing Bharata in this state, Guha mentally thus concludes that Bharata is yet to become a king. Now Guha sees Bharata’s face closely – “Narkalaiyin madhiyenna naghaiyenna mugathhaani!” Here, “Madhi” means moon in Tamil. Thus from the above line, Kamba Naadar says that Bharata’s face was unlike the full moon with all this beauty! He was all in tears and his face was totally blank! He continues further – “Kal kaniya kanihindra thunayaanai” – Now Guha thinks within himself that upon seeing Bharata’s face, even a stone would melt in sorrow!! Such is the sadness portrayed in Bharata’s innocent face and upon seeing Bharata in this pitiful state, the bow and arrow in Guha’s hands, automatically slides down and falls on the floor! (“Vil kaiyil ninnum idai vizha vimmuttru ozhindhaan”) Thus Guha melts down into tears as he sees Bharata in this state and at this moment he completely forgets that he has to wage a war against him and stop him from advancing further down!

Guha thus concludes within himself “Oh! I think I’m no longer eligible to wage a war with this Bharata! I was under the impression that he would come towards me with a sense of pride in his face after becoming the king of Ayodhya, but all I see in Bharata’s face is sadness and sorrow! Now how will I fight with him? He looks so sincere in his love and devotion towards Rama! Upon seeing Bharata, I realize what true devotion is!”

Thus, Guha is in tears upon seeing Bharata and he is happy that Bharata is trying to bring back Rama to Ayodhya! We shall also enjoy this state of happiness and wait till the next episode to witness the conversation between Bharata and Guha – The epitomes of “Unconditional Devotion” towards Bhagawan! 🙂

Episode 124 – Guha sees Bharata advancing towards River Ganga!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed Bharata commencing his journey towards the forest in pursuit of his brothers Rama and Lakshmana. The three queens of King Dasharata, Kaushalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi join his pursuit along with Sage Vasishtaachaarya. A slew of citizens of Ayodhya too join them as they pass through the streets of the city. Thus, the entire groups of people reach Shringiberapuram under the guidance of Sumanthra, the charioteer. It is to be remembered that Shringiberapuram is the dwelling place of Guha – Leader of the hunter community.

Thus the entire army of people are now marching towards Guha’s hamlet and the moment Guha sees the ultra-huge army, Guha was surprised and at the same time, furious with anger! He got an impression that Bharata is coming along with his army to fight a battle against Rama and Lakshmana and to “formally” take over Ayodhya after killing both of them! As the army nears Guha’s hamlet, Bharata witnesses the River Ganga in awe! Even today if we go and see the mighty River Ganga, we would not be able to view the other end of the riverbank from this end! Such a mighty and a huge river is the Ganges! Once Guha saw the flag of Ayodhya along with the people who follow it, he immediately sent a message to all his followers to prepare for a war with Bharata and Co. The message was, “Bharata is coming along with his huge army to kill Rama! We should stop him from advancing further!”

Kamba Naadar in his Ramayana text in Tamil beautifully portrays this scene in the following “Paasuram”:

“Kattiya surigaiyin kaditha vaayinan vettiya mudiyinan vizikkum theeyinan!

Kottiya thuli kurikkum kittiyadhu por ena gangai iru karai udayaan!!”

Here, Kamba Naadar explains the angry talk of Guha, upon seeing Bharata and his group of people. He says how Guha sends the message to his followers to be ready to wage a war against Bharata. He describes Guha’s speech as Vettiya mudiyinan”, which means that Guha is extremely crisp and blunt in what he wants to convey and doesn’t mess around with words! In other words, Kamba Naadar describes Guha as a “No-nonsense” person! Normally people in villages speak this way – even today! They do not know to beat around the bush as we do! Kamba Naadar continues further and says, Kattiya surigaiyin” which means, Guha is tying his belt around his waist, with a force such that even the fiercest enemy would tremble in front of him! He continues further, “vizikkum theeyinan” which means, his eyes were looking at Bharata like fire! His fury was evident in his eyes!

Thus, Guha sends across the message to all of his messengers and followers and asks them to assemble around him, to take on Bharata and army! He was determined not to let Bharata advance even one step towards Rama! Thus, Guha and his followers were waiting for Bharata’s army to come nearer. We shall also wait till the next episode for Bharata to come near Guha and see what Guha thinks of Bharata once he has a closer look!

Episode 123 – Bharata sets out to the forest in search of Rama!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Sage Vasishtaachaarya tried to “smartly” convince Bharata to take up the kingdom of Ayodhya and start ruling it. However, Bharata was not to get carried away by Sage Vasishtaachaarya’s logic and bluntly refused to do so! However, he gave the assurance to Sage Vasishtaachaarya that only if Rama asks him to accept and discharge the duties of the kingdom, he would do so.

After this discussion, Bharata and Shathrugna proceed further to perform the last rites of their father, King Dasharata. They finish the duties and now Bharata convenes the courtroom again. He once again reiterates his decision that he is going to the forest in search of his brother Rama and requests them to join him in this pursuit. Accordingly, everybody in the courtroom give their consensus to join Bharata and Shathrugna in the pursuit. Sage Vasishtaachaarya too decides to come along and see what is going to happen. Thus accordingly, the entire group sets out of the palace. Bharata and Shathrugna, along with Sage Vasishtaachaarya were leading the way, as the ministers, rishis and the three mothers follow! Sumanthra again guides Bharata with the way and they now march towards the banks of river Ganges.

The entire group is now nearing Guha’s hamlet, wherein Rama, Lakshmana and Sita had rested for a night on their way to Chithrakoota. Upon seeing the flag of Ayodhya and a large group of people marching along, Guha got skeptical. Out of his immense love and devotion to Rama, Guha thought for a moment that now Bharata is coming with his army to kill Rama and Sita! Guha thinks to himself, “Oh! Already this Bharata had stolen the kingdom from Rama, now he’s coming to steal Rama’s life as well! How sad! Now I’ve to do something to stop Bharata from moving forward! I cannot let Rama’s life be at risk! I should act immediately!”

Thus with this thought in mind, Guha immediately calls upon all his people and explains them the situation. All of them were getting ready to wage a war against Bharata and his army and chase him back to Ayodhya, thus protecting Rama from danger! Guha himself was getting ready with his weapons and all other requirements to fight with Bharata himself!

There is an interesting point here to be discussed – Why is everyone mistaking Bharata’s devotion? You would have noted in the past couple of episodes that right from Bharata’s entry into Ayodhya, starting from the people of Ayodhya to Kaikeyi herself, to Sage Vasishtaachaarya and now to Guha and followers! Why is this happening to Bharata? So far we’ve discussed many a times that “Paarathanthriyam” is one step higher than “Seshathvam”. However, Lakshmana did not have to face all these allegations against his name and he was living happily alongside Rama. Given all this, why is Bharata undergoing all this pain and suffering as one of Bhagawan’s highest devotees?

For today, let Bharata and Co. approach Guha’s place and relax a little bit. We shall wait till the next episode for the answers! 🙂

Episode 122 – Bharata performs the last rites of King Dasharata!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Bharata proposed his idea of traversing to the forest to find where his brother Rama is, and to bring him back to Ayodhya to coronate him formally. As Bharata expresses his decision, the courtroom agrees to it in unison as Sage Vasishtaachaarya storms into the courtroom!

Sage Vasishtaachaarya’s first words upon entry into the courtroom – “Oh Bharata! The kingdom cannot run for long without a king in place. Hence, in the interest of the kingdom, please go ahead and get coronated without any delay!”

This was like rubbing salt on the wound for Bharata! He is already depressed and sad upon Rama’s departure, and upon hearing these words from his Guru Vasishtaachaarya, Bharata was pained even more and replies him, “Oh Brahmarishi! I’ve given due respect to you as my great teacher (Guru)! However, till date I had never known that you would be the greatest thief on earth!”

Sage Vasishtaachaarya was stunned for a moment upon hearing such words from Bharata – He asks back, “Oh Bharata! Already I’m deeply hurt on Dasharata’s demise and also on Rama’s exile! I’m expressing my opinion in the interest of the kingdom! You know very well that I’ve been the “Kula Guru” of this Ikshvaaku Dynasty for ages now! However, what characteristics did you find in me that made you conclude that I’m a thief?”

Now Bharata replies, “Oh Guru Deva! Don’t you know? My one and only property in this world is “Raama – Daasyam” and “Raama-Bhakthi”! Now, when Rama is alive and if you’ve to still say that I should become the king, then it is like stealing away my property! Isn’t it? I cannot rule this kingdom, which is to be officially ruled by my dearest brother Rama! I can only be his servant, but not a king!” Thus, Bharata refused Sage Vasishtaachaarya’s request.

Upon hearing Bharata’s words, Sage Vasishtaachaarya now tries to convince Bharata by using all his knowledge and smartness! He says, “Oh Bharata! I understand your good intentions! However, think in this way – Can’t one property rule another property? I mean, you are a property of Rama, and Ayodhya is a property of Rama too. Hence, one property can rule another, isn’t it? For instance, if I keep a precious ornament in a box, both the box and the ornament are my property. Now, the box protects the ornament from being stolen away, right? Hence in this way, you can take over the Ayodhya kingdom until Rama returns!” Thus, Sage Vasishtaachaarya tried to “smartly” convince Bharata!

However, Bharata was not in a position to get carried away by all these “smart words” and “logical thinking” employed by Sage Vasishtaachaarya! He replies back, “Oh Guru Deva! I know you are very smart in thinking! But given my present state of affairs, whatever you say, doesn’t make any sense to me! What did you say? A box would protect the ornament – I agree! But tell me, can the box take the ornament and put it within itself and say ‘OK! I’m ruling the ornament and property rules another property?’ What kind of logic is this? Only if the owner keeps the ornament inside the box, the box can protect it! Else how can it protect? Else, I’m very sorry! I’m not convinced with your argument!”

Sage Vasishtaachaarya was moved to tears with Bharata’s reply! He was very happy to see that Bharata is deeply immersed in the devotion towards his brother. He asks Bharata again, “OK my child! But if Rama asks you to rule the kingdom, will you do it?” Bharata promptly replies, “Yes! If Rama orders me to rule the kingdom I will. I will do whatever he tells me to do!”

This is the significance of “Paarathanthriyam” – From the above conversation we can see that Bharata was an epitome of this highest form of Bhakthi towards Bhagawan! We can see that he is ready to execute whatever Bhagawan wishes him to do! This is the biggest difference between Lakshmana and Bharata! I’ve already explained this in one of the previous episodes – Lakshmana was in the level of “Seshathvam”, which means, “Being a blind follower of Bhagawan”. This is why Lakshmana went along with Rama to the forest and was of service to him every single minute! However, Bharata was one step higher by being an epitome of “Paarathanthriyam”, which means, “Being of service to Bhagawan, but according to Bhagawan’s wish!” Thus, at many instances and discourses, our Aacharyas and Aalwaars who had written extensive commentaries on the Ramayana, have illustrated that, Lakshmana was one step higher than Rama! Bharata was one step higher than Lakshmana and Shathrughna was one step higher than all the three – Rama, Lakshmana and Bharata! This is because; “Bhaagawatha Paarathanthriyam” (Being of service to a Bhagawan’s devotee) is the one that is liked the most by Bhagawan Himself! With the same explanation, of all the twelve Aalwaars, Madhurakavi Aalwaar is considered one step higher than the rest!

Thus Bharata discards the words of Sage Vasishtaachaarya and before doing anything else, he prepares himself to perform the last rites of his father, King Dasharata. Thus he calls his brother Shathrughna and makes all the preparations for the last rites to happen. Thus both Bharata and Shathrugna complete the rituals of King Dasharata and both of them now prepare to set out to the forest in search of Rama.

What happened next? Did Bharata succeed in finding Rama? What did Rama say? Let’s wait till the next episode for the answers for all the above questions!

Episode 121 – Bharata – An epitome of selfless and unconditional “Bhakthi” towards Bhagawan!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Kaikeyi’s actions had shocked Bharata beyond limits! He was inconsolable and couldn’t hold himself any longer, and hence he fumed at his mother by saying that she was a “Kaala-Raathri” (The dark spot) in the entire history of Ayodhya! Later on he ponders as to what was the real underlying reason for the unfortunate exile of Rama – Who was actually responsible for all what had happened? After a deep pondering, Bharata concludes within himself that he was the person who was responsible for all this mess! He concluded that he himself has committed that unforgivable blunder of leaving for Kekeya Desha for a few days – Hadn’t he left, such mess wouldn’t have happened! Thus, Bharata was in uncontrollable grief and this particular thought, sank him even more!

This kind of unconditional love and “Bhakthi” towards the Lord is widely appreciated in the Hindu Literature and particularly Bharata in the Ramayana story is considered to be an epitome of this! You might all remember that in one of our earlier episodes, we’ve spoken at length about “Bhagawat Paarathanthriyam”, which signifies that the devotee behaves and acts according to Bhagawan’s wishes, rather than his own! In other words, he puts Bhagawan in front of himself for every action – This is exactly what we’ve started to witness in the case of Bharata. In the next few episodes, we shall get a bigger clarity of how “Paarathanthriyam” was practiced by the great Bharata.

In the famous “Thiruppaavai” in Tamil, Aandaal has employed a special phrase to signify this kind of “Bhakthi”. She says,

“Elle ilam kiliye! Innum urangudhiyo!

Chill enru azhaiyen min nangayeer poodharuginren!

Vallai un katturaigal pande un vaai aridhum!

Valeergal neengale naane thaan aaiyiduga!

Ollai nee podhaai unakkenna verudalyal!…. “

Here, I’ve just taken the first five lines of the 15’th Paasuram of Thiruppaavai. In this, we observe the phrase (underlined) “Naane thaan aayiduga!” This means that, even if someone puts the blame for a mistake that is not committed by us, we still accept the blame and ask for Bhagawan’s forgiveness! In other words, the one who accepts the mistake of his/her own actions and/or the blame for the mistakes that he/she has not committed at all, is considered to be the best devotee of Bhagawan! Thus, this is considered to be the highest form of “Bhakthi”! Here in this context of Ramayana, we see Bharata doing this – He was not even in the picture when Rama went on exile, but still, he puts the blame on himself for the unfortunate happening! This is why we can witness in various commentaries and discourses by various Aachaaryas that Bharata is one step higher in significance even than Lord Rama himself!

Thus Bharata goes straight to the courtroom and prostrates before everyone and says, “Respected ministers, rishis, etc. in this auspicious courtroom! I’m shocked as to what had happened at Ayodhya during my absence! Although King Dasharata has granted the boon of me becoming his successor, I cannot take this in my life. I feel that I do not deserve to be the king of Ayodhya! It is our beloved Rama who is supposed to rule all of us! I’m thinking of going all the way to the forest immediately in search of Rama and bring him, Lakshmana and Sita back to Ayodhya immediately! Oh ministers and rishis! What do you think of this plan?”

The ministers and rishis were all very happy with Bharata’s decision and they decided to accompany him to the forest in search of Rama. It was at this moment, Sage Vasishtaachaarya enters the courtroom! What did Sage Vasishtaachaarya say to Bharata? How did he react to his words? What happened next? Let’s wait and witness it in the next episode!

Episode 120 – Bharata fumes at Kaikeyi as he takes the blame for Rama’s exile on himself!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Bharata and Shathrugna hurry their way towards Ayodhya fearing the worst! As they had expected, things had taken a complete U-Turn at Ayodhya when they arrived! King Dasharata had breathed his last! His mother Kaikeyi was waiting eagerly for her son Bharata’s arrival and to hand over the kingdom of Ayodhya in his hands as per her wish! Bharata arrived and he entered into the shock of his life to hear his father passing away! He couldn’t control himself, but to fall on the floor and weep bitterly!

At this time, Kaikeyi eagerly lifted Bharata and tried to console him saying that she has some good news for him! Bharata asks what is that. As he gets up, Kaikeyi utters the phrase “Uttishto utthista kimdeshe raajan!” Upon hearing this phrase from his mother, Bharata was stunned than ever! He asks Kaikeyi, “Oh Mother, who is the king? Whom are you referring to here? Am I the king? Rama is the king right? He is the successor of our King Dasharata right? Where is my dear Rama? Where is Lakshmana? Why aren’t they around?”

It is very interesting to note here that according to Valmiki Maharishi, upon hearing this shabdha “Raajan” (which means king), Bharata immediately got up from the floor! Several scholars who wrote commentaries on the Ramayana have elucidated this in much interesting detail. Velukkudi Shri Krishnan Swami beautifully brings this out in one of his “Upanyaasams” – He gives an answer to this question as to why did Bharata immediately get up? He was weeping bitterly all this while and how come suddenly he got up? Is this a movie or a role-play to immediately change roles and change the mood of the person? For Bharata, whatever he has been hearing from his mother all this while about his father’s demise was no more a big tragedy – Because, some day or the other this is bound to happen. If there’s a father, he is going to pass away and the son is going to cry! This is a rule in life and can’t be changed! However, the shabdha “Raajan” proved to be the biggest shock of his life! It is because; Bharata has always considered himself as a “Raama – Daasa” (Servant and an ardent devotee to Lord Rama)! How can a “Daasa” (Servant) or a devotee ever become a king, in the presence of the Lord himself? This can never happen!! This is extremely dangerous!!!

Now Kaikeyi breaks the ice with all her happiness! She proudly proclaims to Bharata, “Oh my dear son! Before your father died, I had made sure that this Ayodhya kingdom is yours from today! Accordingly Rama has been sent on exile for the next fourteen years! Lakshmana has gone with Rama too! So there is no problem for you, my son! You are the ruler of Ayodhya from this minute! Go and get ready for the coronation! Don’t delay! I can’t wait to see you be the king of Ayodhya!”

Bharata couldn’t tolerate this any longer! He’s had enough! He cries out loudly and starts fuming on Kaikeyi!

“Kulasyastham ubhaavaaya kaala raathri vivaagathaa!

Angaaramupa guhyasma pithaa me naava bhoodhavaan!!”

Bharata shouts at Kaikeyi in extreme fury – “Oh Kaikeyi! I never knew that you would be that dark spot in the entire Iksvaaku Dynasty! You are the “Kaala Raathri” (Darkness personified)! I should blame my father for this – From the Day 1 of his marriage with you, he has failed to understand your wicked intentions! What is the use of ruling this kingdom for the past 60,000 years, when his own wife in the palace is an “Adharmi” (Unrighteous woman)? Without knowing your cruel intentions, King Dasharata has made you stay in this palace – This is his biggest crime ever! (As a king, he is supposed to know each and every subject of his, their intentions and their thought process. Only then this king can rule the kingdom according to the Dharma!)

Bharata continues.. “Oh Kaikeyi! I’ve never pointed my finger at my father till date, but today I’m pointing my finger at him – He was the worst criminal king I’ve ever seen in my life so far! It is so shameful that he had his own wife who is the embodiment of Adharma! How on earth could he rule this kingdom as per the Dharma?”

While Bharata was uttering these words, he ran out of that place and slowly started to think within himself – “Why am I fuming at King Dasharata now? Anyway he has passed away and there’s no use in blaming him anymore! Who is that person who has committed this big blunder of sending Rama on exile?” Valmiki Maharishi beautifully brings this out with the following important sloka:

“Na mantharaayaaha maathurasyaaha dosho naraagnyaha na cha raaghavasya!

Math paapamevaartha nimithravaaseeth vanaf praveshe raghunandanasya!!”

Bharata thinks within himself “Who is the person behind Rama’s exile? Should it be Manthara? She was the person who poisoned Kaikeyi’s heart! But what’s the use of blaming Manthara? She is after all a servant to Kaikeyi – She tried to be loyal to her boss and hence she did this! Hence, Kaikeyi should have had that maturity to differentiate what is good and what is bad! Why did Manthara’s words carry her away like this? So the blame is to be on Kaikeyi! Oh wait! Kaikeyi would have fallen prey to Manthara’s words because of her excess love and affection towards me! So how can I blame her like that? She’s after all my mother and she has intended to do what is the best for me! So who else is at fault now? What about King Dasharata? He should have known which is right and which is wrong and the tradition of the Ikshvaaku Dynasty! This cannot be told too, because King Dasharata was a “Sathya-Prathignya” (Protector of truth)! He wanted to protect the truth and hence he cannot be blamed as well! Then the fault might be on Rama himself – When King Dasharata ordered his exile, what Rama should have done? Rama should have replied saying that, “Oh Dasharata! The successor of Ayodhya is always the eldest son of the clan! Are you going to coronate me now or shall I coronate myself?” Rama failed to do this! Hence he should be the person who is at fault!”

Then Bharata thinks deeper, “Oh!! How can I blame my dear brother Rama for this? The very purpose of his incarnation is to uphold the words of his father! (Pithru-Vaakya-Paripaalanam) He did the right thing by obeying his father’s words! Then who is the person to take the blame – Neither Manthara nor Kaikeyi nor King Dasharata nor Rama himself! Then who? Ohhh!! The person who is to be blamed is none other than me! It is only because I left for Kekeya Desha that all these incidents happened! I should have been here and stopped all this! I failed to do so! Hence, I’m the biggest criminal by sending my beloved brother Rama to the forest!”

This is the reason why Bharata says the second line of the above sloka, “Math paapamevaartha nimithravaaseeth vanaf praveshe raghunandanasya!!” This means, “Ohh!! It is only because of my sin that Rama left to the forest!”

It might be very interesting to note here that Bharata was no way connected to all these unfortunate incidents that happened at Ayodhya! Yet, he takes up the blame on himself for all what had happened! What is the significance of this? Let us wait till the next episode to learn about a very important aspect of “Unconditional surrender to the Lord’s feet!”