18-2 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

When Kauśalyā saw the king withered and blasted, she concluded in her mind that the sun of the solar race was about to set. Summoning up courage, therefore, Śrī Rāma’s mother spoke words appropriate to the occasion:

“Ponder in your heart, my lord, and reflect that separation from Rāma is a vast ocean, you are the helmsman and Ayodhyā the bark which has been boarded by our near and dear ones as its passengers.

We can hope to reach a shore only if you have patience. If not, the whole family will be drowned. If you take to heart this entreaty of mine, my beloved lord, we are sure to see Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā again.” (1 - 4)

Hearing these soft words of his beloved queen, the king opened his eyes and looked up like a writhing wretched fish that had been sprinkled with cold water. (154)

Recovering himself the king got up and sat down. “Tell me, Sumantra, where is my gracious Rāma? Where is Lakṣmaṇa and where my loving Rāma? Where is my beloved daughter-in-law, Vaidehī?” The restless monarch wailed in many ways; the night seemed to him like an age and he felt as though it would never end. He was reminded of the blind hermit’s curse and he narrated the whole story to Kauśalyā. He was filled with agony as he related the circumstances. “Fie on the hope of surviving without Rāma. What shall I gain by preserving this body, which has failed to keep my vow of love? O delighter of Raghus, who are dear to me as life, already I have lived too long without you. Ah, Janaka’s daughter and Lakṣmaṇa, Ah, Chief of Raghu’s line, who gladdened the loving heart of your father as a rain-cloud delights the Chātakā bird.” (1 - 4)

Crying “Rāma, Rāma” and again “Rāma” and yet again “Rāma, Rāma, Rāma”, the king cast off his body in his agony of separation from the Chief of Raghu’s line and ascended to the abode of gods. (155)

It was King Daśaratha who reaped the reward both of his life and death. His untarnished fame spread through a number of universes; as long as he lived he gazed on Śrī Rāma’s moonlike countenance and brought glory to his death by making the separation from Śrī Rāma his excuse for it. Stricken with grief all the queens wept and praised his comeliness of form, amiable manners, bodily might and majesty. They lamented in a variety of ways throwing themselves upon the ground again and again. Men-servants and maid-servants alike wailed in anguish and there was weeping in every house throughout the city. “Today has set the sun of the solar race the perfection of righteousness, the repository of beauty and virtues.” Everyone abused Kaikeyī, who had robbed the world of its very eyes. In this way they waited till the close of night, when all the great and enlightened hermits arrived. (1 - 4)

Then the sage Vasiṣṭha narrated a number of legends befitting the occasion and dispersed the gloom that hung over them all by the light of his wisdom. (156)

The sage caused a boat to be filled with oil and had the king’s body placed in it (to guard against decomposition); he then summoned envoys and spoke to them thus, “Run quickly and go to Bharata; but break not the news about the king to anyone at any place. Approaching Bharata tell him only this much:” “The preceptor has sent for you two brothers.” Hearing the sage’s orders the couriers rushed along with a speed that would put an excellent steed to shame. Ever since things began to take a vicious turn in Ayodhyā evil omens occured before Bharata. He saw fearful dreams at night and on waking indulged in all sorts of unpleasant speculations. He would perform consecration water over Bhagavān Śiva in various ways and invoking the great Lord in his heart, begged of Him the welfare of his parents, family and half- brothers. (1 - 4)

While Bharata was thus passing an anxious time the courier arrived. And hearing the Guru’s commands he proceeded with an invocation to Lord Gaṇeśa. (157)

Urging the horses to run as fast as the wind he went on his journey crossing difficult streams, hills and forests. There was such a great anxiety in his heart that nothing would please him. He thought to himself, “Would that I could fly home.” Every moment hung heavy like an year. In this way Bharata drew near to the city. Evil omens occurred to him as he entered the city. Crows cawed in an ominous way at undesirable places. Donkeys and jackals gave a cry that foreboded evil and which pierced Bharata to the heart as he listened to it. Lakes and rivers, groves and gardens had lost their charm; while the city wore a particularly dismal look. Birds and fawns, horses and elephants were too wretched to look at, undone by the fell disease of separation from Rāma. The people of the city, both men and women, were extremely miserable as though all of them had lost everything they had in their possession. (1 - 4)

The citizens met him but spoke not a word; they made obeisance and quietly passed on. Bharata too could not enquire after their welfare, his mind being obsessed with fear and grief. (158)

The bazars and the streets repelled the sight as though a wild conflagration had broken out in the city on all sides. Kaikeyī, who was to the solar race what the moon is to the lotuses, was rejoiced to hear of her son’s approach. Preparing lights for waving round his head, she sprang up and ran glad at heart, and meeting him at the very door conducted him into her apartments. Bharata saw with wonder that while the household wore a wretched appearance like a bed of lotuses blasted by frost, Kaikeyī was as happy as a Bhīla woman who had set a whole forest ablaze. Seeing her son melancholy and depressed in spirits, she asked him: “Is all well in my mother’s house?” Bharata assured her that everything was well and then enquired after the health and welfare of his own family: “Tell me, where is my father and where all mothers, and where is Sītā and my beloved brothers, Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa?” (1 - 4)

On hearing her son’s affectionate words the sinful woman brought crocodile tears to her eyes and spoke words that pierced his ears and soul as so many shafts. (159)

“I have accomplished everything for you, my son; and poor Mantharā has been of great help to me. Only God has marred our plans a little before they could be completed; the king has departed to Indra’s paradise.” As soon as he heard this, Bharata was overcome with grief as an elephant who is terrified at the roar of a lion. Crying “Father, father, Ah my father!” he fell to the ground much agitated . “I could not see you before you left, nor did you, my father, entrust me to the care of Śrī Rāma.” Then, collecting himself he got up with some effort and said, “Tell me, mother, the cause of my father’s demise.” Hearing the words of her son she replied as one who had cut a vital part and inserted poison into it. With a glad heart the cruel and wicked woman recounted from the very beginning all that she had done. (1 - 4)

Hearing of Śrī Rāma’s exile to the forest Bharata forgot his father’s death; and realizing in his heart that he was at the root of it he remained mute and stupefied. (160)

Observing his son’s distress she comforted him like one who applied salt to a burn. “The king, my son, is not fit for lamentation. He not only reaped a rich harvest of merit and renown but enjoyed life also. During his life-time he obtained all the rewards of human existence and in the end ascended to the abode of Indra (the lord of immortals). Pondering thus cease sorrowing and rule the kingdom with all its limbs (such as the army, the exchequer, the ministers and so on).” The prince was utterly dismayed to hear these words as though a festering sore had been touched by a live coal. Recovering himself he heaved a deep sigh and said, “O wicked woman, you have brought complete ruin to our family. If you bore such deep malice, why did you not kill me as soon as I was born? Cutting down the tree you have watered a leaf and you have drained the pond for keeping the fish alive. (1 - 4)

“Claiming my descent from the sun-god, with King Daśaratha for my father and Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa for my brothers I have had you, mother, for my mother! One is powerless against Providence. (161)

“The moment, O malicious woman, you contrived this evil design in your mind, how is it your heart did not break into pieces? While asking for the boons did not your conscience pinch you, your tongue did faster nor did your mouth become free of maggot? How did the king trust you? Surely God must have robbed him of his senses on the eve of his death. Even the Creator has not been able to know the working of a woman’s heart, the repository of all deceit, sin and vice! Simple, amiable and pious as the king was, how could he know the nature of a woman? What living creature is there in the world, to whom the Lord of Raghus is not dear as life itself? Yet even that Rāma appeared to you as a great enemy. Tell me the truth, therefore, to what species do you belong? Whatever you may be, you had better bedaub your face with ink and leaving my presence remove to some place out of my sight. (1 - 4)

“Nay, God has created me out of a wone kaikey hostile to Rāma! Who is there so sinful as myself? In vain, therefore, do I taunt you.” (162)

When Śatrughna heard of mother Kaikeyī’s wickedness, he burned all over with rage; but there was no help. That very moment came the hunchback (Mantharā) clad in a variety of rich costumes and adorned with various ornaments. The very sight of that woman filled Lakṣmaṇa’s younger brother with anger as though clarified butter had been poured into fire. Springing forward he kicked her with such steady aim at the hump that she fell flat on her face and screamed aloud. Her hump was smashed, her head split and her teeth broken and her mouth emitted blood. “Oh, my God! What harm have I done? Surely this is an ill recompense for my services.” Hearing this and seeing her vile from head to foot, Śatrughna (the slayer of his foes) seized her by the hair on her head and began to drag her till the merciful Bharata rescued her. The two brothers then called on mother Kauśalyā. (1 - 4)

In sordid attire, pale, agitated and oppressed with woe and with a wasted frame she looked like a lovely celestial creeper of gold blasted by frost in the forest. (163)

When mother Kauśalyā saw Bharata, she sprang up and ran to meet him; but she felt giddy and dropped unconscious on the ground. Bharata was deeply moved to see her plight and threw himself at her feet forgetting the condition of his own body. “Mother, show me my father. Where is Sītā and the two brothers, Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa? Why was Kaikeyī born into this world at all? And if born, why did she not remain barren instead of bearing me, a blot on my family, a very sink of infamy and an enemy of near and dear ones? Who in the three spheres is so wretched as I, on whose account, mother, you have been reduced to such a plight. My father is in heaven and Śrī Rāma, the Chief of Raghu’s line, is in the woods; it is I who like a shooting star am responsible for the whole trouble. Woe be to me, who have proved to be for my family a very fire among the bamboos and a victim of terrible agony, suffering and censure.” (1 - 4)

On hearing Bharata’s tender words, Kauśalyā rose with a renewed effort and lifting him clasped him to her bosom; while tears streamed from her eyes. (164)

Guileless by nature, mother Kauśalyā pressed him to her bosom with utmost affection as though Śrī Rāma Himself had come back. She then embraced Lakṣmaṇa’s younger brother (Śatrughna); her heart was too full with grief and love. Everyone who saw her loving disposition said, “Rāma’s mother that she is, no wonder she should be so loving.” The mother seated Bharata in her lap and wiping away his tears spoke to him in soothing words: “I adjure you, my child, to compose yourself even now; knowing this to be an unpropitious time sorrow no more. Take not to heart the loss we have sustained and feel no remorse for it, remembering that the course of time and fate is unalterable. Do not blame anyone, my son; it is Providence that has turned hostile to me in every- way. And when He makes me survive even under such trying circumstances, who knows what may be His pleasure with regard to me even now?” (1 - 4)

“At his father’s behest, dear child, the hero of Raghu’s line discarded his ornaments and princely apparel and put on a hermit’s dress (consisting of the bark of trees) without either sorrow or exultation.” (165)

“With a cheerful countenance, and without either joy or anger, he comforted all in every way and proceeded to the forest. Hearing this Sītā followed him and would not stay, devoted as she was to Rāma’s feet. Lakṣmaṇa also, when he heard this, sprang up and accompanied them; he would not be left behind even though the Lord of Raghus tried his best to detain hi m. The Lord of Raghus then bowed his head to all and departed with Sītā and his younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa). So Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā left for the woods, whereas I neither accompanied them nor sent my soul after them (leaving my body here). All this happened before these eyes and yet this wretched soul did not take leave of the body. I am not ashamed of my love; to think that a son like Rāma should have a mother like me! The king knew well how to live and how to die; whereas my heart is a hundred times harder than adamant.” (1 - 4)

Hearing Kauśalyā’s words, Bharata and the whole court wailed in distress; the king’s palace seemed the very abode of sorrow. (166)

Much agitated, the two brothers, Bharata and Śatrughna, loudly lamented and Kauśalyā clasped them to her bosom. She comforted Bharata in many ways and tendered words of wisdom to him. Bharata too in his turn consoled all his mothers, narrating legends from the Purāṇas and Vedas. Joining both his palms he addressed them in guileless, innocent, simple and charming words: “The sins attaching to the murder of one’s mother, father or son and to the act of setting fire to a cow-pen or a village of Brāhmaṇas, and those incurred by slaying a woman or child and by administering poison to a friend or a monarch, nay, all the major and minor sins of thought, word or deed, that have been enumerated by the seers, - let all such sins be mine if, my mother, this plot has my concurrence.” (1 - 4)

“May Providence award me the fate of those who forsaking the feet of Śrī Hari and Lord Śiva worship frightful ghosts, if, mother, I have complicity in this plot.” (167)

“If, mother, all this has my approval, let me share the terrible fate of those who sell the Vedas, exploit their piety, are given to backbiting and expose others” sins, who are deceitful, wicked, quarrelsome and irascible, who revile the Vedas and are hostile to the world, nay, who are greedy and lecherous and behave as the rapacious do, and who cast their eyes on others” wealth and others” wife. Nay, mother, if I ever knew this secret, may Lord Śiva allot me the fate of those wretches who love not the company of the virtuous, who have rejected the path leading to God-Realization, who worship not Śrī Hari even though blessed with a human form, and take no delight in the glory of Śrī Hari and Lord Śiva, who have abandoned the path of the Vedas and follow the contrary way, and who are impostors and deceive the world by assuming false appearances.” (1 - 4)

Hearing Bharata’s truthful, artless and sincere words mother Kauśalyā said, “You, my dear child, have always been beloved Rāma in thought, word and deed.” (168)

“Rāma is dearer to you than your own life, and likewise you are dearer to the Lord of Raghus than his own life. The moon may diffuse poison (through her rays) and snow emit fire; nay, an aquatic creature may shun water and spiritual enlightenment may fail to eradicate error; but in no case will you turn hostile to Rāma. Those in this world who allege this plot was contrived with your connivance shall never attain happiness or salvation even in a dream.” So saying mother Kauśalyā clasped Bharata to her bosom; milk began to flow from her breasts and her eyes filled with tears. In this way they squatted away the whole night lamenting in profusion. The sages Vāmadeva and Vasiṣṭha then came and summoned all the ministers and the elite of the city. Vasiṣṭha admonished Bharata in many ways speaking to him words of wisdom appropriate to the occasion. (1 - 4)

“Have courage in your heart, dear son, and do what the occasion demands today.” Hearing his preceptor’s commands Bharata rose and asked everything to be got ready. (169)

He had the king’s body washed in accordance with the Vedic rites and caused a most splendid funeral bier to be prepared for him. Clasping the feet of his mothers Bharata prevented them (from ascending the funeral pile); they all stayed behind in the hope of seeing Śrī Rāma. There arrived many loads of sandal-wood and aloes and diverse other excellent aromatic herbs of untold varieties. The pile was raised in an artistic way on the bank of the Sarayū river, and looked like a lovely ladder reaching to heaven. In this way all the rites of cremation were gone through and then the funeral party bathed with due ceremony and offered a handful of water and sesame seeds to the departed soul. After ascertaining the views of all the Smriti texts, the Vedas and the Purāṇas Bharata performed the ceremony of Daśagātra. Whatever orders the great sage Vasiṣṭha gave on a particular point Bharata carried out all of them in a thousand ways. He bestowed all sorts of gifts on attaining purity.† He gave away cows, horses, elephants and conveyances of various sorts - (1 - 4)

 - And even so thrones, ornaments and costumes, food-grains, lands, money and houses; and the Brāhmaṇas had all their desires fulfilled on receiving them. (170)

Whatever rites Bharata performed for the benefit of his father (in the other world) were more than a hundred thousand tongues could recount. Then, after determining an auspicious date the great sage (Vasiṣṭha) came and summoned all the ministers as well as the elite of the city. They all repaired to the council chamber and sat there. The two brothers, Bharata and Śatrughna, were also sent for. Vasiṣṭha seated Bharata by his side and spoke to him words full of wisdom and piety. First of all the great sage repeated the whole story of Kaikeyī’s wily doing and paid his tribute to the vow of piety and truthfulness of King Daśaratha, who remained true to his love even at the cost of his life. And as the great hermit spoke of Śrī Rāma’s virtues, amiability and kind disposition tears came to his eyes and a thrill ran through his body. Again, when he extolled the affection that Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā bore (towards Rāma), the enlightened sage was overwhelmed with grief and emotion. (1 - 4)

“Listen, Bharata: formidable is fate!” the lord of sages sorrowfully exclaimed. “Loss and gain, life and death, glory and infamy - all these lie in the hands of Providence.” (171)

“Arguing thus, whom should we blame and with whom should we be angry without any cause? Ponder in your heart, my son, that King Daśaratha is not worth grieving for. Pitiable is the Brāhmaṇa who is ignorant of the Vedas, and who has abandoned his own duty and is engrossed in the pleasures of sense; pitiable the king who has no knowledge of polity and who does not love his people as his own life: pitiable the Vaiśya (a member of the trading class) who is niggardly though rich, and who is not perfect in hospitality nor in devotion to Lord Śiva; pitiable the Śūdra (a member of the labouring or artisan class) who is disrespectful towards the Brāhmaṇas, loquacious and proud of his knowledge and loves to be honoured. Pitiable, again, is the woman who deceives her husband, is crooked and quarrelsome and follows her own will; pitiable the religious student who breaks his vow and obeys not the orders of his preceptor.” (1 - 4)

“Nay, pitiable is the householder who out of ignorance forsakes the path of duty, and pitiable the recluse who is attached to the world and lacks discretion and dispassion.” (172)

“Pitiable is the anchorite who has given up penance and developed a liking for luxuries; pitiable the backbiter who is angry without cause and an enemy of his own parents, preceptor and brothers. Pitiable in every way is he who harms others, cherishes his own body and is exceedingly heartless. And pitiable in every respect is he who is not sincerely devoted to Śrī Hari. The lord of Kosala is not worth grieving for, his glory being manifest through all the fourteen spheres. There never was, nor is, nor shall be hereafter, a monarch like your father, Bharata. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Indra (the lord of celestials) and the guardians of the quarters, all sing praises of King Daśaratha. (1 - 4)

“Tell me, dear child, who can glorify him who begot such pious sons as Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Śatrughna and yourself?” (173)

“The king was blessed in every way; it is no use mourning for him. Hearing and realizing this, sorrow no more, and reverently obey the king’s command. The king has bestowed the kingship on you; it behoves you, therefore, to redeem the words of your father who abandoned Rāma for the sake of his word and quitted his body in his anguish of separation from Rāma. The king did not love his own life as he did his word; therefore, dear son, redeem your father’s word. Reverently obey the king’s command; this will do you good in everyway. Paraśurāma executed the command of his father and killed his own mother: the whole world will bear testimony to this fact. Yayāti’s son (Puru) exchanged his own youth for the old age of his father and incurred no sin or blame because he did so in obedience to his father’s command.” (1 - 4)

“Those who cherish their father’s word, minding not whether it is reasonable or otherwise, attain happiness and fair renown and dwell in the abode of Indra (the lord of immortals).” (174)

“Therefore, you needs must redeem the king’s word; cherish your subjects and cease to grieve. The king in heaven will derive solace, while you will earn merit and good fame and shall incur no blame. It is well known in the Vedas and has the sanction of all that the crown goes to him on whom the father bestows it. Therefore, rule the kingdom, feel no remorse and accept my advice as salutary. Rāma and Videha’s daughter (Sītā) will be gratified when they hear of it and no wise man will call it wrong. Kauśalyā and all the other mothers too will be happy in the happiness of the people. Nay, he who will know the supreme affinity between you and Rāma, will have perfect goodwill towards you. When Rāma returns home you may hand over the kingdom to him and serve him with ideal affection.” (1 - 4)

The ministers submitted with joined palms: “You needs must obey the order of your preceptor. When the Lord of Raghus comes back, you may do what you think fit then.” (175)

Summoning courage Kauśalyā said, “Salutary, my son, is your Guru’s command; the same should be respected and obeyed by you as conducive to your good. Cease to grieve realizing the vicissitudes of life. The Lord of Raghus is in the forest and the king is in heaven (the abode of gods); while you, my son, are thus giving way to faint- heartedness. You, my child, are the only support of all including your family, subjects, ministers and all your mothers. Perceiving the antipathy of God and the relentlessness of fate, I adjure you by my life to have courage. Reverently obey your Guru’s command, cherish your subjects and relieve the affliction of your family.” Bharata listened to the advice of his preceptor and the ministers, appeal endorsing the same, which were as soothing to his heart as sandal-paste. He further heard the mother’s soft words imbued with the nectar of amiability, affection and guilelessness. (1 - 4)

Bharata grew restless when he heard mother Kauśalyā’s speech imbued as it was with the nectar of sincerity. His lotus eyes shed tears that watered the fresh shoots of desolation in his heart. All those who saw his condition at that time forgot their own existence. Everyone, says Tulasīdāsa; reverently extolled him as the perfection of artless love.

Joining his lotus palms, Bharata, who was foremost among the strong-minded, took courage and proceeded to give befitting replies to all in words steeped as it were in nectar. (176)