19-2 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

When Bharata beheld the town of Śriṅgaverapura, all his limbs were overpowered with emotion. Leaning on the Niṣāda chief he presented a goodly sight; it appeared as if meekness and love had taken a living form. In this way Bharata with all his army went and saw the stream of the Gaṅgā, which purifies the whole world. He made obeisance to the ghāṭ where Śrī Rāma had bathed and said His prayers; and his soul was enraptured as if he had met Śrī Rāma Himself. The men and women of the city bowed low; they were glad to see the divine stream. Taking a dip into the river they begged with joined palms to be favoured with abundant love for Śrī Rāmacandra’s feet. Bharata exclaimed, “Mother Gaṅgā! your sands are delightful to all and the very cow of plenty to your devotees. With joined palms, therefore, I ask of you only one boon; viz., spontaneous love for the feet of Sītā and Śrī Rāma.” (1 - 4)

In this way after taking a dip into the Gaṅgā and receiving his Guru’s commands, and on learning that all his mothers had finished their bath he had the tents shifted. (197)

The people took up their lodgings at different places and Bharata made enquiries about all. After worshipping the gods and taking leave of them the two brothers (Bharata and Śatrughna) went up to Śrī Rāma’s mother (Kauśalyā). Bharata showed respect to all his mothers by kneading their feet and speaking to each in polite terms. Then entrusting his brother with the service of his mothers he himself summoned the Niṣāda chief and went hand in hand with him, his body overpowered with excess of love. He asked his friend to show him the spot - and thereby soothe the agony of his eyes and soul to some extent - where Sītā, Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa had slept at night. Even as he spoke the corners of his eyes were filled with tears. The Niṣāda chief was distressed to hear Bharata’s words and presently took him to the spot - (1 - 4)

 - Where the Chief of Raghu’s line had rested under a holy Aśoka tree. With great affection and reverence Bharata prostrated himself there. (198)

Beholding a lovely litter of Kuśa grass he paced round it clockwise and made obeisance. He also placed the dust of Śrī Rāma’s footprints on his eyes with an excess of love which could not be described in words. He saw there a few gold spangles, which he placed on his head and treated them on a par with Sītā. With tears in his eyes and a heart full of remorse he spoke to his friend in sweet accents: “These spangles have lost their charm and appear lustreless due to their separation from Sītā, even as the people of Ayodhyā, both men and women, are spent through sorrow. To whom shall I liken her father, Janaka, who in this world is a master of asceticism and enjoyment both? And she had for her father-in-law King Daśaratha, the sun of the solar race, who was the envy even of the lord of paradise (Indra). And her beloved lord is no other than Lord Śrī Rāma, from whose glory all great ones derive their greatness! (1 - 4)

“Even as I gaze on the litter used by Sītā, the jewel among virtuous women devoted to their lord, my heart does not break in horror; it is harder than adamant, my God.” (199)

"And my younger brother, Lakṣmaṇa, is so comely and worth fondling; never was there such a brother, nor is there, nor will be. Beloved of the people and the darling of his parents, he is dear as life to both Sītā and the Hero of Raghu's line. Nay, he is so delicate of frame and tender of disposition and his body has never been exposed to hot winds; yet he is bearing hardships of every kind in the woods. Oh! My breast has outdone millions of thunderbolts. As for Śrī Rāma he has illumined the world by being born in it; he is such an ocean of beauty, amiability, joy and all excellences. Śrī Rāma's disposition is the delight of the people of Ayodhyā and his own family, much more of his preceptor and parents. Even enemies praise Śrī Rāma, who steals the heart by his polite speech, agreeable manners and modesty of behaviour. Millions of Śāradās (goddesses of speech) and hundreds of millions of Śeṣas (serpent-gods) are unable to reckon up the virtues of the Lord." (1 - 4)

"That jewel of Raghu's line, who is bliss personified and a mine of joy and blessings, sleeps on the ground spreading the Kuśa grass on it! The ways of Providence are inexorable indeed." (200)

"Śrī Rāma had never heard any mention of sorrow; the king (our father) tended him like the tree of life. Nay, all the mothers cherished him day and night even as the eyelids protect the eyes or a serpent guards the gem on its head. The same Rāma now wanders through the forest on foot living on bulbs, roots, fruits and flowers. Accursed is Kaikeyī (my mother), the root of evil, who turned hostile to him (her own husband) who was the dearest object of her life. And twice accursed is my own wretched self, the ocean of sin and the occasion of all trouble. While God created me as a blot on my family, my wicked mother has made me the enemy of my master." Hearing this the Niṣāda chief lovingly comforted him: "Why should you lament in vain? Śrī Rāma is dear to you, and you are dear to Rāma: this is a settled fact, and the blame rests with an adverse fate." (1 - 4)

"Cruel indeed are the doings of an adverse fate, which drove mother Kaikeyī mad. The Lord reverently praised you again and again that night. There is no one, says Tulasīdāsa, so supremely dear to Śrī Rāma as you are: I declare this on oath. Therefore, be assured that all will be well in the end and take courage in your heart."

"Śrī Rāma knows the heart of all; nay, He is an embodiment of tenderness, affection and compassion. Considering this and summoning courage in your heart, please go and take rest." (201)

Bharata took comfort at the words of his friend and proceeded towards his lodgings with his thoughts directed towards the Hero of Raghu's race. On receiving this news the men and women of the city sallied forth to see the place (where Śrī Rāma had slept one night) much distressed at heart. Pacing round the spot clockwise they made obeisance to it and blamed Kaikeyī to their heart's content. Tears rushed to their eyes again and again and they reproached cruel Fate. Some would praise Bharata's love, while others said the king had vindicated his affection. They would reproach themselves and praise the Niṣāda chief; who can describe their confusion and woe? In this way they all kept vigil overnight and at daybreak the passage across the river began. The Guru was put on a good and handsome boat, and all the mothers on another newly-built one. In an hour and a half everyone was taken across. When Bharata had alighted, he made sure that all had come. (1 - 5)

Having finished the morning duties Bharata adored his mothers' feet and bowed his head to the preceptor, and keeping a party of the Niṣādas ahead started the whole host. (202)

He made the Niṣāda chief lead the van and then started the palanquins carrying the queen-mothers, and summoning his younger brother (Śatrughna) told him off as their escort. The Guru proceeded next along with the other Brāhmaṇas. He himself then made obeisance to the celestial river, invoked Sītā, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa and set forth on foot; Horse while empty saddle wise led by the bridle along with him. Again and again his faithful servants said, "Be pleased, sire, to mount your horse." "Śrī Rāma has gone on foot; while chariots, elephants and horses are intended for me! What behoves me is that I should walk on my head; most diflicaly for of servant." Seeing his behaviour and hearing his polite speech all his servants melted out of a feeling of self- disparagement. (1 - 4)

Bharata entered the limits of Prayāga (the area surrounding the confluence of the Gaṅgā and Yamunā afternoon; overflowing with love he cried "Rāma, Sītā!" "Rāma, Sītā!" even as he went. (203)

The blisters on the soles of his feet glistened like dew-drops on a lotus bud. The whole company was grieved to hear that Bharata had made the day's march on foot. After ascertaining that all had finished their ablutions, he repaired to the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī and did homage to it. He bathed in white and dark waters with due ceremony and honoured the Brāhmaṇas bestowing gifts on them. As he watched the coming of the dark and white waves Bharata felt a thrill of joy over his body and he joined his palms in prayer: "You are the bestower of all desired objects, O king of sacred places; your glory is known to the Vedas and manifest throughout the world. Abandoning the course of conduct prescribed for a Kṣatriya I beg alms of you as what vile act is there that an afflicted soul would not stoop to? Realizing this in their heart of hearts the wise and generous donors accomplish in this world the prayer of the suppliant. (1 - 4)

"I have no liking for wealth nor for religious merit nor for sensuous enjoyment nor again do I seek the state of perfect and perpetual calm. Birth after birth let me have devotion to Śrī Rāma's feet: this is the only boon I ask and nought else." (204)

"Let Śrī Rāma take me for a wicked fellow, and let the people call me an enemy of my preceptor and master. All the same by your grace may my devotion to the feet of Sītā and Śrī Rāma grow day by day. The cloud may neglect the Chātakā bird all its life and on its asking water may discharge thunderbolt and hail. But the bird will fall in the estimation of others if it ceases to call out to the cloud. It will gain in every way only by intensifying its love for the latter. Just as gold gets brighter by being put into the fire, even so the lover shines by sticking to his vow of devotion to the feet of his most beloved lord." In response to Bharata's prayer there came a sweet and benedictory utterance from the midst of the Triveṇī: "Dear Bharata, you are pious in every way and your love for Śrī Rāma's feet is unbounded. In vain do you harbour depressing thoughts in your mind; there is no one so dear to Rāma as you are." (1 - 4)

A thrill ran through Bharata's body and his soul rejoiced to hear the agreeable words of the (deity presiding over) Triveṇī. Exclaiming "Bharata is praiseworthy, all praise to him!" the gods joyfully rained flowers. (205)

The inhabitants of Prayāga (the king of sacred places), including anchorites, religious students, householders and recluses, were transported with joy. Some persons gathered together and said to one another, "Bharata's affection and amiability are artless and genuine." Hearing of Śrī Rāma's charming virtues he came to the great sage Bharadvāja. The sage saw him falling prostrate before him and looked upon him as his own good-luck personified. Running up and lifting him the sage clasped him to his bosom and gratified him by bestowing his blessing on him. Offered a seat by the sage he sat down with his head bent low, as if he would run away and hide his face in a den of bashfulness. He felt much perturbed at the thought that the sage might ask him any question. Seeing his amiability and confusion of mind the sage said to him, "Listen, Bharata! I have already heard everything; but we have no control over the doings of Fate.” (1 - 4)

"Be not distressed at heart by the thought of what your mother has done. It is no fault of Kaikeyī, dear child; it was the goddess of speech who deluded her mind." (206)

"Nobody would approve of it even if I said so; for the wise recognize worldly opinion as well as the judgment of the Vedas. By singing your unsullied glory, however, the world and the Vedas both will be exalted. The world as well as the Vedas admit it and everyone says that of king's sons he alone gets the throne on whom his father bestows it. The king, who was above all true to his vow, would have called you and bestowed the kingdom on you; and this would have brought him joy, religious merit and glory. But the root of all trouble was Rāma's exile to the forest and the whole universe was pained to hear of it. It was, however, as fate would have it; much as the foolish queen (Kaikeyī) did wrong, she now repents for it. But he who lays the least blame for it on you is vile, ignorant and wicked. Even if you accepted the sovereignty no blame would attach to you and even Rāma would have been gratified to hear of it." (1 - 4)

"But what you have done now is excellent; your standpoint is quite justified. For devotion to Śrī Rāma's feet is the root of all choice blessings in the world." (207)

"And that is your wealth and life, nay, your vital breath. Who is, then, so highly blessed as you? This is, however, not to be wondered at in your case, who are a son of King Daśaratha and a beloved brother of Rāma. I tell you, Bharata, there is no one held so dear in his heart by the Chief of Raghu's line as you. Lakṣmaṇa, Rāma and Sītā most fondly praised you the whole night. I came to know the secret only when they were bathing at Prayāga; they would feel overwhelmed with love for you. The Chief of Raghu's line cherishes the same love for you as a fool does for a life of ease in this world. This is, however, no great tribute to the Hero of Raghu's race, who cherishes the whole family of the suppliant. As for yourself, Bharata, my opinion is that you are the very incarnation of love for Rāma." (1 - 4)

“What, to your mind, constitutes a slur on you is a lesson to us all. The present occasion has proved very propitious for preparing elixir in the form of devotion of Rāma." (208)

"Your glory, dear child, is a new type of spotless moon as it were; while Rāma's devotees are like so many water-lilies (that open only in moonlight) and Chakora birds (that are equally fond of the moon). It shall always remain above the horizon and shall never set; nay, it shall never wane and shall ever wax in the heavens of this world. The Cakravāka bird in the shape of the three worlds shall cherish great love for it, while the sun in the shape of the Lord's glory shall never rob it of its splendour. It shall ever delight everyone by day as well as by night and the demon Rāhu in the form of Kaikeyī's doings shall never eclipse it. It is full of nectar in the form of ideal love for Rāma and is untarnished by any stain resulting from a wrong done to the Guru. Let Rāma's devotees now enjoy nectar to their heart's content since you have made it so easy of access even on earth. Of your forbears King Bhagīratha† brought down the celestial river, the very thought of which is a fountain of all choice blessings. As for Daśaratha's virtues they are more than one can describe. In the world there is none else even equal to you how then any one can be superior to you. (1 - 4)

"Won by his affection and meekness Śrī Rāma Himself appeared on earth - Rāma whom even Śiva always saw him with his mental eyes but never satiated." (209)

"You have created the peerless moon of your glory, which bears on it the figure of a deer in the shape of love for Rāma. You feel distressed at heart, dear son, for no purpose: you fear poverty even though you have found the philosopher's stone. Listen, Bharata - I tell no falsehood, I am an ascetic dwelling in the forest and having no concern with the world - I obtained the happy and excellent reward of all spiritual practices when I saw Lakṣmaṇa, Rāma and Sītā. The reward of that reward itself is your sight, It is great fortune for Prayāga as well as all of us. Bharata, you deserve all praise since by your glory you have conquered the whole world.” As he concluded his speech the sage was overwhelmed with love. Those who were assembled there rejoiced to hear the sage’s words, while the gods acclaimed Bharata and rained flowers on him. Even as Bharata heard the shouts of applause in the heavens as well as in Prayāga he was overwhelmed with emotion. (1 - 4)

Experiencing a thrill of joy all over his body, with his heart full of Sītā and Rāma and his lotus eyes wet with tears he made obeisance to the conclave of sages and thus spoke in a voice choked with emotion: (210)

"Here is an assembly of sages and we stand at a place which is known as the king of sacred places. Great harm will come to a man if he states even a fact on oath at such a place. And if one tells a lie there will be no greater sin and depravity. I speak out the truth knowing as I do that you are all-wise, while the Lord of Raghus has access to the inmost recesses of one's heart. Do not mind I am not semful for what my mother has done nor am I troubled at heart over the thought that the world will look upon me as mean. I fear not lest I should spoil my future life nor do I grieve over my father's death, whose meritorious deeds and fair renown shine forth throughout the universe, who had sons like Lakṣmaṇa and Śrī Rāma, and who quitted his frail body as a result of his separation from Śrī Rāma. Thus there is hardly any occasion for lamentation on his account. What pains me is that dressing themselves as hermits Śrī Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā roam from forest to forest without shoes on their feet.” (1 - 4)

"Clad in deerskin, living on bare fruits, reposing on the ground overspread with Kuśa grass and leaves and halting under trees they ever endure cold and sunshine, rain and storm!" (211)

"It is this burning agony which is ever consuming my breast, so that I feel no appetite by day and get no sleep at night. For this fell disease there is no remedy: I have mentally ransacked the whole world. My mother's evil counsel was like a sinful carpenter, who used my interests as an adze and fashioned out of the inauspicious wood of discord a destructive magical contrivance and muttering the terrible malevolent spell of (Śrī Rāma's) exile for a fixed term (of fourteen years) planted it (in the soil of Ayodhyā). It is for my sake that she employed this infamous contrivance and brought ruin on the whole world. This calamity will cease only when Śrī Rāma returns; by no other means can Ayodhyā thrive again." The sage (Bharadvāja) was gratified to hear Bharata's words and everyone applauded him in ways more than one. "Grieve not much, dear child; all your woes will disappear the moment you behold Śrī Rāma's feet." (1 - 4)

After comforting him (thus) the chief of the sages, Bharadvāja, said, "Be my beloved guest and deign to accept the bulbs, roots, fruits and flowers that we may offer you." (212)

On hearing the sage's words Bharata was troubled at heart; for he was faced with a hard puzzle at a difficult time. Then, realizing the the importance of what the elder's say he adored the sage's feet and replied with joined palms, "Your orders must be respectfully obeyed; this is my paramount duty, my lord." Bharata's reply pleased the great sage (Bharadvāja), who called his trusty servants and pupils by his side. "Bharata ought to be entertained; therefore, go and bring bulbs, roots and fruits." They bowed their heads with the words 'very well, sir!' and most gladly proceeded to take charge of their respective duties. The sage anxiously thought that he had invited a distinguished guest and that a deity must be worshipped according to his or her rank. Hearing of this riches of various kinds (Riddhis) and supernatural powers (Siddhis) like Aṇimā (the power of assuming. atomic size) appeared (in a visible form) and said, "We are prepared to do your bidding, O lord." (1 - 4)

"Bharata as well as his younger brother (Śatrughna) and the whole company are distressed due to their separation from Rāma. Entertain them and relieve them of their fatigue," the great sage gladly said. (213)

The riches and supernatural powers in their embodied forms bowed to the command of the great sage and deemed themselves highly favoured. The Siddhis said to one another, "Śrī Rāma's younger brother (Bharata) is a guest beyond compare. Bowing at the sage's feet let us do that which may gratify the whole of the royal party. So saying they erected beautiful dwellings of various patterns, which put to shame by their appearance the aerial cars of gods. They were replete with abundant luxuries and splendours, which were coveted by immortals. Equipped with necessaries of all kinds men-servants and maid-servants remained in attendance focussing their attention on the pleasure of the guests. The Siddhis provided in an instant all the amenities which cannot be dreamt of even in heaven. First of all they assigned to each of the guests quarters that were charming and comfortable and suited to the taste of the occupant. (1 - 4)

Thereafter Bharata and his family were assigned quarters; for such were the instructions given by the sage. By dint of his penance the great sage provided wealth that astonished the Creator (Brahmā) himself. (214)

When Bharata beheld the sage's power, the realms of all the rulers of the spheres looked small in his eyes. The luxuries were more than one could describe; the wise would forget their dispassion on seeing them. There were seats and couches, drapery, canopies, groves and gardens, birds and beasts of different species, sweet-scented flowers and fruits tasting like ambrosia, many a lake and pond of limpid water, foods and drinks of an undefiled and innocent character, which were more delicious than nectar and ambrosia, and which the guests would hesitate to accept like so many ascetics. Every house was supplied with a celestial cow (the cow of plenty) and a tree of paradise; Indra (the king of gods) and his consort, Śacī, grew covetous at their sight. It was the vernal season and a cool, fragrant and gentle breeze was blowing. Everyone had all the four prizes of life (viz., religious merit, worldly riches, sensuous enjoyment and final beatitude) within one’s easy reach. At the sight of luxuries like garlands, sandal-paste and women the guests were overcome by a mixed feeling of joy and sorrow (joy at the unique hospitality shown by the sage by dint of his Yogic powers and sorrow because at a time when they should abstain from luxuries of every kind they were being offered the same). (1 - 4)

Affluence, like a female Cakravāka bird, and Bharata, as her mate, were imprisoned together that night in the cage of the hermitage by the sage’s order, which was a sart play. And they remained there till it was dawn. (215)