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!”