20 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Bharata and his party took a dip into the Triveṇī (the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī), the chief of sacred places, and bowed their head to the sage (Bharadvāja). Bharata reverently received his orders and blessings and prostrating himself made much supplication. Accompanied by expert guides and taking the whole host along- with him he proceeded on his journey with his thoughts directed towards Citrakūṭa. Holding Śrī Rāma’s friend (Guha) by the hand he walked along like the very incarnation of love. He had no shoes and no umbrella over his head; and his love, self-discipline, austerity and piety were unfeigned. He asked his friend (Guha) to give an account of the wanderings of Lakṣmaṇa, Śrī Rāma and Sītā; while Guha narrated the same in soft accents. When he saw the spots where Śrī Rāma had rested and the trees under which he had halted the emotion within his breast could not be repressed. The gods who beheld his condition rained down flowers; the earth grew soft and the road became pleasant. (1 - 4)

The clouds afforded him shade all along and a delightful and excellent breeze kept blowing. The journey was not so agreeable to Śrī Rāma as it proved to be for Bharata. (216)

The numberless beings, both animate and inanimate, that saw the Lord or were seen by the Lord in their turn, had been rendered fit for the highest state; the sight of Bharata now finally rid them of the disease of transmigration. This was no great thing for Bharata, whom Śrī Rāma ever cherished in His heart. “Even they who utter the name of Rāma only once in this world not only reach the other shore themselves but are also able to take others across. As for Bharata, he is dearly loved by Śrī Rāma and is His younger brother too. No wonder, then, that the journey should be delightful to him,” Siddhas (a class of celestial beings), saints and great sages observed thus and rejoiced at heart to behold Bharata. Indra (the chief of gods) was filled with anxiety when he saw Bharata’s power. The world is good to the good and vile for the vile. He said to his preceptor (the sage Brihaspati), “Something must be done, my lord, to prevent the meeting between Rāma and Bharata.” (1 - 4)

“Śrī Rāma is scrupulous by nature and is won by love, while Bharata is an ocean of affection. What has already been accomplished thus threatens to be undone; therefore, finding out some stratagem let us use it as a remedial measure.” (217)

Hearing his words the preceptor of the gods smiled and realized that, though endowed with a thousand eyes, Indra was really blind, (lacked discernment). He said, “If anyone practises deception on a devotee of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Māyā), it recoils on the artificer himself. O king of gods! Last time we did something knowing that it had Śrī Rāma’s tacit approval; but by resorting to some underhand means this time we are sure to meet with disaster. Listen, O lord of gods; it is Śrī Rāma’s nature not to be angry at any offence against Himself. But he who sins against His devotees is surely consumed in the fire of His wrath. The story is well known both in the world as well as in the Vedas: the sage Durvāsā knows this glorious trait of Śrī Rāma’s character. who is there who loves Rāma as Bharata loves. World repeats Rāma’s name where Rāma repeats name of Bharata. (1 - 4)

Never harbour in your mind, O Lord of the immortals, even the thought of frustrating the purpose of a devotee of Śrī Rāma (the Chief of Raghu’s line); for the same will bring you infamy in this world, sorrow in the next and a series of woes in your day- to-day life. (218)

“Hear our advice, O king of gods! A devotee is supremely dear to Śrī Rāma; He is gratified through service rendered to His devotees, and bears great enmity to those who are hostile to them. Even though the Lord is alike to all without either love or anger and receives neither sin nor virtue, neither merit nor demerit, and even though He has made Fate the ruling factor in this world, so that one reaps what one sows, yet according as one possesses the heart of a devotee or an unbeliever He appears to be impartial or hostile in His dealings. Though devoid of attributes, unattached, free from pride and ever unchanged, Śrī Rāma has assumed a form with attributes yielding to the love of His but none afforded him shelter. Even Bhagavān Viṣṇu pleaded His helplessness and asked him to approach the king himself and ask for his forgiveness. The king, who was too good to harbour any ill- will against the sage and out of sympathy for him had remained without any food ever since he left, was moved to pity at his predicament and prayed to the Lord’s weapon, Sudarśana, to spare the Brāhmaṇa. Sudarśana granted the king’s prayer and left. The sage, who now realized the king’s greatness, fell at his feet and craved for his forgiveness for what he had done. The king in his turn felt sorry for the hardships which the sage had to suffer on his account and bade him good-bye after entertaining him to a sumptuous dinner and showing him every respect. devotees. Śrī Rāma has ever respected the wishes of His devotees: the Vedas and Purāṇas as well as saints and gods can bear testimony to this. Bearing this in mind give up perversity and cherish ideal love for Bharata’s feet.” (1 - 4)

“Śrī Rāma’s devotees are actively engaged doing good to others, share the sorrows of others and are compassionate by nature. And Bharata is the very crest-jewel of devotees; therefore, be not afraid of him, O ruler of gods.” (219)

“The Lord is true to His word and a friend of the gods, while Bharata obeys Śrī Rāma’s orders. You are feeling uneasy only because you are dominated by self-interest. Bharata is not to blame at all; it is your ignorance (which is responsible for your uneasiness).” The chief of gods, Indra, was overjoyed at heart to hear these valuable words of the heavenly preceptor and his depression of spirit was gone. The lord of celestials, therefore, rained down flowers and gladly began to extol Bharata’s noble disposition. In this way Bharata went on his way, while sages and Siddhas were filled with envy at the sight of his condition. Whenever he heaved a long sigh with the word “Rāma” on his lips, it seemed as if love overflowed on all sides. Even adamant and stones melted at his words; the love of the citizens was beyond description. Halting at one place on this side the party arrived on the bank of the Yamunā and Bharata’s eyes were filled with tears as he gazed on its dark water (which reminded him of Śrī Rāma’s swarthy form). (1 - 4)

At the sight of the lovely stream that possessed the same hue as the person of Śrī Rāma (the Chief of Raghu’s line) Bharata and his party were plunged into an ocean of grief on account of separation from Śrī Rāma and were saved from drowning only by boarding the bark of discretion. (220)

That day they halted on the bank of the Yamunā; everyone was provided with comforts according to the occasion. In course of the night innumerable boats of untold varieties came from all the ghats. At daybreak the whole party crossed the river in a single trip; everyone was pleased with the services rendered by the Niṣāda chief in this behalf. After performing their ablutions and bowing their heads to the river (Yamunā) the two brothers (Bharata and Śatrughna) resumed their journey with the lord of Niṣādas. At the head of the line in chosen vehicles travelled the principal sages (Vāmadeva, Vasiṣṭha and so on), followed by the royal host. Next followed the two royal brothers, both on foot; their ornaments, costumes and style of dress were all of the very simplest. They were accompanied by their servants, friends and the minister’s son and went with their thoughts fixed on Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā and the Lord of Raghus. They lovingly saluted each and every place where Śrī Rāma had either encamped or rested awhile. (1 - 4)

Hearing the news the men and women who lived by the roadside left their household work and ran after the royal travellers, and having seen their comely form and affection they all rejoiced on attaining the reward of their life. (221)

One woman lovingly said to another, “Friend, can they be Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa or not? Their age, constitution, complexion and comeliness of form are the same, dear companion; their amiability and affection are also similar and their gait too resembles that of Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa. Only their dress is not the same and they are not accompanied by Sītā, my friend; and an army complete in its four limbs (viz., horse and foot, elephants and chariots) is marching before them. Moreover, they do not wear a cheerful countenance and their heart is heavy with sorrow. This difference makes me doubt their identity with Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, O friend.” Her argument appealed to the rest of the women; they said, “There is none so clever as she.” Applauding the latter and admiring the truth of her remarks another woman spoke in sweet accents. She lovingly narrated the whole episode as to how the festivities in connection with Śrī Rāma’s installation had been obstructed. She then began to praise Bharata’s amiability, affection, genial disposition and good luck. (1 - 4)

“Journeying on foot, living on fruits and relinquishing the sovereignty bestowed by his father, Bharata is proceeding to persuade the chief of Raghu’s line to return. Who can equal Bharata today? (222)

“Bharata’s brotherly affection, devotion and conduct dispel the woes and evil of those who talk or hear of them. Whatever may be said with regard to them, dear friend, will be quite inadequate; it is no wonder that a brother of Rāma should be like that. All of us who have seen Bharata and his younger brother have become praiseworthy among women.” Hearing of his virtues and seeing his forlorn state they lamented, “Surely he is not a fit son for such a vile mother as Kaikeyī.” Someone said, “The queen-mother (Kaikeyī) is not to blame at all; all this has been accomplished by God, who is so favourably disposed to us. Of what account are we, vile women, excluded both from secular and Vedic rites and impure by birth as well as by doings, who dwell in an accursed region (woodland) and in a wretched village and are the worst of our class, that we should have such a sight, which is a reward of great religious merit?” There was a similar rejoicing and wonder in every village: it seemed as if a celestial tree had sprung up in a desert. (1 - 4)

At the sight of Bharata the good fortune of the people by the roadside manifested itself as though by the will of Providence Prayāga had been brought within easy reach of the people of Sinhala (Ceylon). (223)

Hearing his own praises as well as of Śrī Rāma’s virtues Bharata went on his way, thinking of Śrī Rāma. Whenever he happened to see holy waters he bathed in them and whenever he caught sight of a hermitage or a temple he made obeisance to it, asking in his heart only one boon, viz., devotion to the lotus-feet of Sītā and Rāma. Whomsoever he met, be he a Kola or any other forester or even if he were an anchorite, a religious student, a recluse or a hermit, he would salute him and enquire in which part of the forest were Lakṣmaṇa, Rāma and Videha’s daughter (Sītā). They told him all the news of the Lord and at the sight of Bharata obtained the reward of their life. Those persons who said they had seen the Lord doing well were counted as dear as Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa themselves. Thus in polite phrases he would make enquiries from all and hear the story of Śrī Rāma’s forest life. (1 - 4)

Halting that day in a suitable place he resumed his journey early next morning invoking the Lord of Raghus. Just like Bharata everyone who accompanied him longed for a sight of Śrī Rāma. (224)

Auspicious omens occurred to everyone; they had happy throbbing in their eyes and arms. Bharata and his whole host rejoiced at the thought that they would be able to see Śrī Rāma and the sting of their sorrows would come to an end. Each indulged in his own fancy and all went intoxicated with the wine of love; their limbs were getting out of control, their legs tottered and they spoke words in an incoherent way due to emotion. Śrī Rāma’s friend (Guha) presently pointed to Bharata the crest-jewel of mountains (Kāmadagiri), which was naturally charming and in the vicinity of which on the bank of the river Payasvinī dwelt the two brothers (Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa) along with Sītā. Catching sight of the mountain all fell prostrate on the ground with the cries of "Glory to Śrī Rāma, the life of Janaka's daughter!" The royal host was so overwhelmed with emotion as though the Chief of Raghu's line had turned back towards Ayodhyā. (1 - 4)

Bharata's love at that time was more than Śeṣa (the thousand-headed serpent- king) could describe. It is as unapproachable to the poet as the bliss of absorption into Brahma to those who are tainted by egotism and mine-ness. (225)

Being all overpowered by love for the Chief of Raghu's line they had covered a distance of only four miles by the time the sun set. Perceiving a suitable site and water close by they halted and at the close of night the beloved of Śrī Rāma resumed his journey. There Śrī Rāma awoke while it was yet dark. Sītā saw in a dream that very night as if Bharata had come with his retinue and that his body was tormented by the agony of separation from his lord. All who had accompanied him were sad at heart, miserable and afflicted; while Her mothers-in-law She found changed in appearance. On hearing of Sītā's dream Śrī Rāma's eyes filled with tears and He who rids others of their sorrow became sorrowful. "This dream, Lakṣmaṇa, bodes no good; somebody will break terribly bad news." Saying so He took His bath with His brother and worshipping the Enemy of Tripura, Lord Śiva, paid His respects to holy men. (1 - 4)

After adoring the gods and reverencing the hermits He sat down gazing to the north. There was dust in the air and a host of birds and beasts had taken to flight in panic and were making their way to the Lord's hermitage. Says Tulasīdāsa: He stood up when He saw this and wondered in his heart what could be the reason. Presently the Kolas and Kirātas came and told Him all the news.

When He heard the delightful words He felt overjoyed at heart. A thrill ran through His body and His eyes, that resembled the autumnal lotus, says Tulasīdāsa, filled with the tears of affection. (226)

Sītā's lord became anxious the very next moment. "What can be the reason of Bharata's arrival?" Then somebody came and spoke to Him thus: "He has with him no small army complete in its four limbs (viz., foot, horse, elephants and chariots)." Hearing this Śrī Rāma felt much disturbed. On the one hand there was His father's command, on the other His regard for His younger brother (Bharata). Realizing Bharata's disposition in His heart, the Lord found no proposition to fix His mind upon. Then He consoled Himself with the thought that Bharata was submissive, good and reasonable. Lakṣmaṇa saw that the Lord was troubled at heart, and spoke what prudence demanded on the occasion: "I make bold, my lord, to say something unasked; but a servant ceases to be impertinent if his impertinence is not inopportune. You, my master, are the crest-jewel of the all-wise; yet I, your servant, tell you my own mind.” (1 - 4)

"You, my master, are loving by nature and guileless of heart and a storehouse of amiability and affection. You love and trust everyone and know all to be just like yourself." (227)

"Fools given to the pleasures of sense are seized with infatuation on attaining power and reveal their true nature. Bharata was righteous, good and wise and his devotion to the Lord's feet is known to the whole world. But now that he has attained Śrī Rāma's (Your) position (as the ruler of Ayodhyā) even he has transgressed the bounds of righteousness. Finding an adverse situation and knowing that you are alone in the forest, this wily and wicked brother has plotted an evil design and after making due preparations has come to make his sovereignty secure. Planning all sorts of wicked schemes the two brothers have collected an army and marched here. If they had no wily intention and roguery at heart, who should like to bring chariots, horses and elephants? But why should one blame Bharata for nothing when we know that anyone in the world would be driven mad on attaining sovereignty?” (1 - 4)

"The moon-god committed adultery with the wife of his Guru (the sage Brihaspati), while Nahuṣa mounted a palanquin borne by Brāhmaṇas; and there was none so vile as King Vena, an enemy of established usage as well as of the Vedic injunctions.” (228)

"King Sahasrabāhu, Indra (the lord of celestials) and King Triśaṅku (father of Hariśchandra) - which of these was not brought into disrepute by the intoxication of kingly power? Bharata has resorted to a right expedient; for one should leave no trace of one's enemy or debt in any case. But he has made one mistake in that he has despised Śrī Rāma (yourself) as forlorn. And he will realize his mistake with vengeance today when he beholds Śrī Rāma's (your) indignant face on the battlefield." Even as he said so he forgot his love of propriety and the tree of his bellicose spirit burst into flowers in the shape of horripilation. Adoring the Lord’s feet and placing their dust on his head he spoke, revealing his own real and natural might: “Pray do not take offence, my lord, if I tell you that Bharata has provoked me not a little. After all how long shall I endure this and restrain my passion when my lord (yourself) is with me and the bow in my hand?” (1 - 4)

“A Kṣatriya (warrior) by caste and born in the race of Raghu I am known throughout the world as a servant of Śrī Rāma (yourself). (How, then, can I put up with such insult?) What is so low as the dust (on a road)? But if you were to kick it up it would rise to your head.” (229)

As he rose and with joined palms asked leave (to meet Bharata in an encounter), it seemed as if the heroic sentiment itself had awoke from sleep. Binding up the matted locks on his head and fastening the quiver to his waist he strung his bow and took an arrow in his hand. “Let me distinguish myself as a servant of Śrī Rāma today and teach Bharata a lesson in the battle. Reaping the fruit of their contempt for Śrī Rāma let the two brothers sleep on the couch of the battlefield. It is well that the whole host has collected at one place; I shall, therefore, give vent to my past anger. Even as a lion (the king of beasts) tears to pieces a herd of elephants or just as a hawk clutches and carries off a lark, so shall I lightly overthrow on the field Bharata as well as his younger brother (Śatrughna) and all their host. Even if Lord Śaṅkara comes to his aid, I swear by Śrī Rāma that I will kill him in battle.” (1 - 4)

Seeing Lakṣmaṇa speak with such vehemence and fury and hearing his solemn oath all the spheres trembled with fear, while their rulers were anxious to flee away in panic. (230)

The world was seized with terror and a voice was heard in the air extolling the enormous strength of Lakṣmaṇa’s arm: “Who can tell, dear child, nay, who even knows your might and glory? But before doing anything one must judge whether it is right or wrong; then everyone would approve of it. They who act impulsively and repent afterwards are anything but wise: so declare the Vedas and the sages.” On hearing this voice from heaven Lakṣmaṇa felt abashed; but both Śrī Rāma and Sītā greeted him and said: “What you have said, dear Lakṣmaṇa, is sound wisdom; the intoxication of kingly power is the worst of all. But of those rulers who have tasted it they alone lose their head who have never waited on an assembly of saints. As for Bharata, I tell you, Lakṣmaṇa, in the whole of God’s creation I have never seen or heard of anyone so good as he.” (1 - 4)

“Bharata would never be intoxicated with sovereign power even if he attained to the position of Brahmā, Viṣṇu or Śiva. What! Can a few drops of Kājī ever split the° ocean of milk? (231)

“Darkness may swallow the midday sun, and sooner may the heavens be absorbed into a cloud or the jar-born sage Agastya (who is stated to have drunk off the ocean in a single draught) be drowned in the water collected in a cow’s footprint: nay the earth may abandon its natural forbearance and Mount Meru be blown away by a puff of wind discharged from the mouth of a mosquito; but Bharata will never be intoxicated by kingly power, O brother. Lakṣmaṇa, I swear by you as well as by our father that there is no brother so good and innocent as Bharata. God, dear brother, creates the world by mixing the milk of goodness with the water of evil; while Bharata is a swan, born in the lake of the solar race, that has sifted goodness from evil. Choosing the milk of goodness and discarding the water of evil he has illumined the world by his glory.” Even as the Lord of Raghus extolled Bharata’s virtues, amiability and noble disposition He was drowned in an ocean of love. (1 - 4)

On hearing the speech of Śrī Rāma (the chief of Raghu’s line) and seeing His affection for Bharata all the gods were full of applause and said, “who else is such a gracious lord as Śrī Rāma? (232)

“Had Bharata not been born into the world, who on this earth would have championed the cause of virtue in its entirety? Who else than you, O Lord of Raghus, can know Bharata’s good qualities, which are unaproachable even to the race of bards?” On hearing the words of the gods, Lakṣmaṇa, Śrī Rāma and Sītā were more delighted than words can tell. There Bharata with all his host bathed in the sacred Mandākinī. Then, leaving all the people on the riverside and taking permission of his mothers, preceptor (the sage Vasiṣṭha) and the minister (Sumantra) he proceeded to the spot where Sītā and Śrī Rāma were, taking the Niṣāda chief and his younger brother (Śatrughna) with him. As he thought of what his mother had done, he felt diffident and formed ill-conjectures of every kind in his mind: “God forbid that Śrī Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā leave the place on hearing my name and shift to some other place! (1 - 4)

“Taking me to be an accomplice of my mother, nothing that he might do would be too much. But looking to his own self, I am sure, he will forgive my faults and receive me kindly.” (233)

"Whether He shuns me as one possessing a black heart or welcomes me as his own servant, my only refuge are Śrī Rāma’s shoes; he is really a noble master while the whole blame lies with his servant (myself). The only beings deserving of fame in the world are the Cātaka bird and the fish, who are clever in keeping ever fresh their vow of fidelity and love.” Revolving these thoughts in his mind he went on his journey, his whole body rendered powerless by diffidence and affection. The sinful act of his mother (Kaikeyī) dragged him back as it were; while the strength of his devotion pressed him forward, foremost among the resolute as he was. Whenever he thought of Śrī Rāma’s good nature his feet moved quickly along the way. Bharata’s gait at that time resembled the movements of a water-fly carried along a stream. Seeing Bharata’s anxiety and affection at that moment the Niṣāda chief forgot all about himself. (1 - 4)

Auspicious omens occurred and the Niṣāda chief after hearing of and reflecting on them said, “Anxiety will pass away giving place to delight; but in the end there will be sorrow.” (234)

Bharata knew every word of his servant (Guha) to be true; and proceeding further he drew near to the hermitage. When he saw the forest and the mountain range, he was as glad as a hungry man on getting excellent food. Just as a people tormented by the fear of calamities and afflicted by threefold troubles as well as by the influence of evil stars and by pestilence feel happy on migrating to a well-governed and prosperous country, Bharata too had similar feelings. The natural wealth of the forest grew while Śrī Rāma lived there, even as the people rejoice on securing a good king. The charming forest was the sacred realm referred to here; Discretion was the king (who ruled over it), while Dispassion was his counsellor. Likewise the five Yamas† and the five Niyamas constituted the champions of the realm, Mount Citrakūṭa stood for its capital, while Peace and Good Understanding represented the virtuous and lovely queens. In this way the good king was complete in all the limbs† of a good state; and depending as he did on Śrī Rāma’s feet his heart was full of zeal. (1 - 4)

Having conquered King Delusion with all his host King Discretion held undisputed sway in his capital; and joy, prosperity and plenty reigned everywhere. (235)

The numerous hermits” habitations in the forest region were like so many towns cities, villages and hamlets (comprising the king’s dominion). The many birds of various colours and the beasts of different varieties constituted his countless subjects. The hares, elephants, lions, tigers, boars, buffaloes and bulls presented a sight which attracted admiration. Shedding their natural animosities they roamed about together like an army complete in all its four limbs. Rills of water flowed and mad elephants trumpeted; their noise resembled the beating of kettledrums of various kinds. Chakravākas, Chakoras, Chātakas, parrots and cuckoos and swans made delightful and merry concert. Swarms of bees hummed and peacocks danced, which showed as it were that there was universal rejoicing in that prosperous kingdom. Creepers, trees and blades of grass alike were blossoming and bore fruit; the entire community thus wore a festive and delightful appearance. (1 - 4)

Beholding the beauty of Śrī Rāma’s hill (Chitrakūṭa) Bharata’s heart overflowed with love even as an ascetic who has reaped the fruit of his penance rejoices on the completion of his vow. (236)