Out of the innumerable avatars , Lord Maha Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama…
Lord appeared to establish dharma in the world by following the rules and regulations laid down as per the Shastras.
The purpose of his appearance was to annihilate the evil forces torturing the world in the form of Rakshasas headed by Ravana and establish dharma .
Dasaratha Chakravarthy who ruled the world from Ayodhya performed Putrakameshti yagam and was blessed with NECTAR which was distributed amongst his three wives- Kousalya who was given half the share, then to Sumitra with one-fourth share , and then to Kaikeyi who was given one-eighth share and the balance of one-eighth was again given to Sumitra. Kousalya consumed first, followed by Kaikeyi and then Sumitra who had two shares consumed the one-fourth share and then one-eighth share. Based on this sequence, four lovely sons were born to Dasaratha during Chaitra month in Sukla paksham starting from Navami thithi.
Sri Rama was born to Dasaratha Chakravarthy and Kousalya Devi in the star Punarvasu , Bharata to Kaikeyi in Poosam star,
Lakshmana and Shatruguna were born to Sumitra in Asilesha star.
Right from birth, Ram –Lakshmana and Bharata-Shatruguna were inseparable.
Our poorvacharyars say that
Rama demonstrated how youngsters have to respect and abide by elders’ wishes,
Lakshmana was born to do service to the Lord,
Bharata was born to obey Sri Rama’s orders and
Shatruguna was born to serve devotee-Bharata.
Lakshmana did all services to Srirama as per his own will
whereas Bharata always obeyed his brother, Srirama.
In Kamba Ramayana it is briefed , Lord Rama is asked by his father Dasaratha to fullfill mother Kaikeyis wish . Rama comes to tell this news to kousalya.
She asks him “Who will be the king then?”.
Ram replies “It will be my brother,Bharatha”.
Kousalya replies, My son !! “except for the small problem that he is younger to you,
I dont see anything wrong in it.
He is three times better than you to rule this kingdom”.
Kousalya saw Bharatha as three times better than Rama even when her only son was about to go to forest.
Kambar next describes the scene of Bharatha going to forest to meet Rama.
He meets Guha on the way.
When Guha knows why Bharatha has come to forest,he is overjoyed.
He hugs Bharatha and says “Even thousand Rama’s are not equal to you.
” Kambar elevates Bharatha to 1000 times than Rama.
Earlier it was three times,now its 1000 times..
Ram doesnt return after 14 year period.
Bharatha as per his vow to Lord Rama is about to jump into fire.
Whole ayodhya is weeping.
Kousalya runs to stop Bharatha.
She says “Dont do it my son.
I can live without Rama but not without you.
Not even multi million Rama’s are equal to you”.
Bharathas status is elevated to multi million times than Rama,the hero of kamba Ramayanam.
Bharata is considered to be the foremost bhagavata who never exercised his free will and always obeyed Lords’ instructions.
He is the embodiment of saranagathi.
Shatruguna is praised by our acharyars as the one who served the Bhagavata (devotee) than the Lord.
For him, devotee was everything.
One can understand the true character of Bharata in Ayodhya kaandam and Yudha Kaandam.
By just contemplating on Bharata, the embodiment of virtue , our minds get purified.
Such is his character.
It is well known that Kaikeyi exercised her boons and demanded that the kingdom to be given to her son, Bharata and banish Srirama for fourteen years to forest which Dasaratha had to accept without any option.
Though Srirama was the rightful heir, he happily agreed the kingdom to be ruled by his dear brother, Bharata and left for forest with Mother Sita and the inseparable Lakshmana. During this incident, Bharata and Shatruguna were in their uncle’s place.
Soon after Srirama left for forest, Dasaratha left his mortal body and Bharata was summoned to return to kingdom . He was aghast to know the happenings and accused his own mother,Kaikeyi for banishing Srirama and being the cause of death of his dear father. Kaikieyi came back to senses only after Bharata shouted at her and blamed her. The whole world accused Bharata that he is part of his mother’s conspiracy in usurping the throne and for banishing Srirama.
Bharata , the embodiment of dharma had to face so much humiliation from the world for his mother’s foolish act.
When Bharata learnt from Sage Vasishta that he was not allowed to do the final rites for his father and when he was proposed by the elders to occupy the throne for which his mother fought, he was totally shattered and devastated. He pleaded innocence in front of everyone and declared that he is not part of the foul play and makes various promises to convince everyone that he is not prepared to upsurge the throne. This incident in Ramayanam will make even a stone hearten person weep. He proposed to go personally in search of Srirama and bring him back.
The funeral rites were performed by Shatruguna and immediately after completing the necessary formalities , Bharata set out with Sage Vasishta and other rishis, ministers, his mother and step mothers and entire army and came to the banks of Ganges where he meets Guhan. Guhan, the hunter chief initially suspected him to be a traitor was ready to fight with the mighty Ayodhya army and kill Bharata whom he felt was the cause for Srirama’s exile. But when he saw Bharata from close quarters with swollen eyes caused due to crying inconsolably, he realized that he was misguided .
Bharata lamented about his innocence and with tear filled eyes, convinced Guha that he is not interested in the throne and that Lord Rama’s lotus feet is the only refuge for him.
They proceeded to Chitrakoot. Seeing the dust filled in the air and hearing various sounds in that serene place, Lakshmana climbed on top of a tree and saw an army approaching them.
He saw their flag and concluded that Bharata has come in search of Srirama to kill him. He furiously took his weapons to challenge Bharata. Srirama pacified him and ordered him to remain cool.
Leaving the citizens ,army and queens behind, Bharata along with Shatruguna walked bare footed along with Sage Vasista and elderly ministers towards Sri rama’s hermitage. Bharata fell like a stick at Rama’s lotus feet and wept inconsolably.
Srirama pacified him, cajoled him, made him sit on his lap and enquired him about the kingdom and instructed him of how to manage the kingdom and take care of citizens. Bharata was confused as to why these instructions were given to him. He said that he is not eligible to rule the kingdom and it is Srirama’s birth right to rule over the world and protect everyone including him.
Srirama comes to know about Dasaratha’s demise and is shattered. The four brothers lamented over their father’s demise and as per Sage Vasishta’s instructions performed tharpanam to the departed soul on the banks of Mandagini in Chitrakoot. It is customary to give oblations to the departed souls at this place even today.
Bharata placed the crown in front of Srirama and requested the sages and priests to coronate Srirama with the sacred water brought from various punya theerthams amidst chanting of vedic mantras. He pleaded with Srirama to return to Ayodhya but Srirama refused that it was HIS Responsibility to keep up his father’s promise.
Despite repeated persuasions by Bharata to return to Ayodhya, Srirama was firm in keeping up his father’s promise. So, finally Bharata requested him to promise that the Lord would return after fourteen years and rule the kingdom for which Srirama accepts. Meanwhile, Bharata proposed Srirama to give his paadhukas (wooden sandals) to him which would rule Ayodhya during his absence.
He submitted that he would act as HIS representative and take care of the citizens till Srirama’s return. He made Srirama promise that he would return after completion of his exile and even if he delayed by a single day, Bharata would commit suicide. This incident makes even the rock on which Srirama sat to melt. This can be seen in Chitrakoot.
As his attempts in cornating Srirama became futile, Bharata poured all the punya theerthams brought for the coronation in a nearby well. We can see this well even today at Chitrakoot. The uniqueness about this well is the taste of water is different. WE are asked to draw water from four sides of the well and much to our amazement, we find that the taste differs.
Bharata returned with Srirama padhukas to Ayodhya and after placing the padhukas on the throne, he represented Lord Rama in ruling.
Bharata opted to stay outside the city in Nandigramam which is about 20 kms from Ayodhya , disrobed the royal costumes and adorned deer cloth like Srirama and knotted his hair like jadai. Shatruguna followed suit.
A beautiful temple is constructed at the place where Bharata had his ashram.
It is known as Bharat Mandir.
There are two temples-old and the new one wherein we can see Bharata in tapasvi attire and Srirama padhukas placed on the altar.
Bharata used to feel ashamed of himself to such an extent that he used to have bath in cold waters of River Sarayu even before dawn so as to avoid abuses from the citizens. This pond is known as Bharat kund in Nandigramam.
At the end of fourteen years after exile, Bharata was eagerly waiting for Srirama’s arrival. As the time was ticking away, he became restless and lit the fire to sacrifice his life while others were perplexed and didn’t know what to do. Such was his devotion to Srirama.
He did only those acts which pleased Srirama and obeyed HIS instructions
He started circumbulating the fire when Hanuman, the prana dhaata, appeared on the sky singing the praises of Srirama. Hanuman approached Bharata with the good news of Srirama’s arrival and saved his life. Bharata overwhelmed with the news hugged Hanuman tightly to his chest.
This can be seen at Bharat Milap Mandir in Nandigramam.
He praised Hanuman for bringing such nectarian news about his brother’s arrival.
As soon as Srirama’s Pushpaka vimanam halted, he entered into the vimanam prostrated at the lotus feet of his brother and handed over the kingdom.
Shatruguna arranged for shaving their jadais and having bath. There is a temple on the banks of Bharat kund at Nandigram where this incident took place. Later the princes returned to Ayodhya and Srirama ruled the kingdom.
When Srirama proposed Lakshmana to be the Yuvaraja and assist him in ruling the kingdom, Lakshmana refused as his free will of serving Srirama all the time prevailed over everything. But when Srirama proposed Bharata to be the Yuvaraja , he accepted it as Rama kainkaryam. He did everything as per his brother’s wish.
In the holy epic Srimad Ramayana we come across many people who had served LORD with supreme love and devotion. A doubt arises as to who among st all these people was the supreme devotee ?
Few consider it was Lakshmana ,
few say it was Hanuman ,
few Vibhishana ,
and few Guha
while some Sugriva , sabaari , Jataayu so on .
. However Swamy Desikar in his magnum opus Paduka Sahasra expresses
Bharataaya param namostu tasmai
it was Bharata to be praised as the most supreme devotee among the devotees of Lord Ramachandra .The reasons quoted are enlightening . Though Bharata and Lakshmana were both immensely devoted to Lord Rama and wished to serve him , the one who obeyed was Bharata . He submitted to Lord Rama by ruling Ayodhya for 14 years patiently bore the sorrow of separation and ruled the kingdom to the joy of the people . Even though he was the King , he wore matted locks and the bark of a tree , denied himself the prosperity of the Kingdom , slept on the floor and led a harsh life .
He demonstrated how a great a Tapasvi he was .When lord returned from exile after 14 years he was himself overcome by the harsh penance observed by his dear brother and praised him. Lord Rama concluded by saying that Bharata observed the vow of separation by virtually standing on the edge of a sword .
The subject decides on the immense love and devotion Bharata had for his brother , he was not mentally inclines to enjoy any of the kingly pleasures and observed the vow of awaiting the return of his brother in a most unwavering manner .
When Bharatha arrived in search of Lord Rama and Lakshmana to this holy place Chitrakoot , he offered his obesiances and requested for them to return and prayed to come along with his retinue .Lakshmana doubted Bharata’s approach and threatened to kill him .
Lord Rama prevented him and said Bharata has no desire or eagerness to rule the kingdom .He neither entertains any deceitful thoughts about me .If on the other way you have such desire to rule over the kingdom , please tell me .I shall speak to Bharata and convince him to handover the kingdom to you so that bharata will remain with me ..On hearing these words Lakshmana felt ashamed and bowed down his head in remorse .
Though Bharata was given the kingdom to rule and had access to all sorts of enjoyment, he rejected and abstained from all sorts of comfort and undertook a vow for Srirama’s reunion with him. Such is the character of blemish less Bharata.
Let us prostrate to the lotus feet of Bharata and pray for Sri Rama bhakti.
JAI SRI RAM