21-1 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

In the meantime the Niṣāda chief ran and climbed up an eminence, and lifting his arm, exclaimed to Bharata; “My lord, look at those huge and noble trees of Pākara (the citron-leaved Indian fig tree), Jambu (the black plum), Mango and Tamāla, in the midst of which stands out a beautiful and stately banyan, which is so charming to behold with its dark and dense foliage, red fruit and unbroken shade, which is pleasant throughout the year, as if God had brought together all that was exquisitely beautiful and given it the shape of a dark and rosy mass. The trees in question, my lord, stand close to the riverside where the Chief of Raghus has erected His hut of leaves. In front of it you will find a variety of charming basil shrubs planted here by Sītā and there by Lakṣmaṇa. And in the shade of the banyan tree there is a lovely altar raised by Sītā with Her own lotus hands -    (1 - 4)

 - Seated whereon the all-wise Sītā and Rāma listen every day, in the midst of a crowd of hermits, to all kinds of stories and legends from the Āgamas (Tantras), Vedas and Purāṇas.” (237)

The moment Bharata heard the words of his friend (Guha) and saw the trees tears, rushed to his eyes. The two brothers (Bharata and Śatrughna) made obeisance as they proceeded; even Śāradā (the goddess of speech) felt diffident in describing their love (for Śrī Rāma). They were as delighted to behold Śrī Rāma’s footprints as a pauper who had stumbled on a philosopher’s stone. Placing the dust on their head and heart they applied it to their eyes and experienced the same degree of joy as they would on seeing the Chief of Raghus Himself. Perceiving Bharata’s condition, which was altogether beyond description, beasts and birds and even inanimate creatures (such as trees etc.,) were overwhelmed with emotion. Overpowered by love Bharata’s friend (Guha) lost his way; but the gods showed it to him and rained flowers. God- realized saints as well as striving souls were filled with love at his very sight and began to praise his natural affection. If Bharata had not been born on this globe (or if the earth had not witnessed his love) it would not have been possible to turn inanimate into animate and animate into inanimate beings. (1 - 4)

For the sake of gods in the form of saints the all-compassionate Hero of Raghu’s line extracted this nectar of love by churning the unfathomable depths of Bharata’s soul; and it was separation from Him which stood for Mount Mandāra (that served as a churning-stick). (238)

The two charming brothers and their friend (Guha) could not be seen by Lakṣmaṇa, screened as they were by a dense thicket. Bharata, however, saw the holy and lovely hermitage of his lord, which was an abode of all fair blessings. Even as he entered it his woe and affliction disappeared; it seemed as though a Yogī (mystic) had realized the supreme truth. Bharata saw Lakṣmaṇa standing before the Lord and affectionately answering His queries. He wore matted hair on his head and had a hermit’s robe girt about his loins. Besides there was a quiver fastened to his waist and he bore an arrow in his hand and a bow slung across his shoulder. On the altar in the midst of an assembly of hermits and holy men shone Sītā and the Lord of Raghus, who was clad in the bark of trees and had matted hair on His head and a swarthy complexion; it seemed as though Rati and the god of love had appeared there in hermit’s garb. He was revolving His bow and arrow between His lotus hands and would dispel by one smiling glance the anguish of one’s soul. (1 - 4)

In the midst of a charming ring of hermits Sītā and the Moon of Raghu’s race shone forth like Devotion and the Supreme Spirit (who is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss combined) incarnated as it were in a circle of wisdom. (239)

Bharata as well as his younger brother (Śatrughna) and friend (Guha) were so enraptured that their joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, were all forgotten. Uttering the words “Protect me, my lord; save me, my master” he fell flat on the ground like a log, Lakṣmaṇa recognized his loving speech and concluded in his mind that it was Bharata making obeisance. On the one hand there was the loving affection of an elder brother (Bharata), while, on the other, there was the stronger claim of service to his master. He was, therefore, neither able to meet his brother (Bharata) nor ignore him; some good poet alone could describe Lakṣmaṇa’s state of mind. He threw his whole weight on the side of service and remained where he was, even as a kite-flier would pull against a kite that has risen high in the air. Bowing his head to the ground he lovingly said, “Bharata is making obeisance to you, O Lord of Raghus.” Overwhelmed with emotion Śrī Rāma started up as soon as He heard this, His cloth fell somewhere and His quiver, bow and arrows at other places. (1 - 4)

The all-compassionate Lord forcibly lifted Bharata and clasped him to His bosom. Everyone who witnessed the meeting of Bharata and Śrī Rāma lost all self- consciousness. (240)

How can the affectionate meeting be described? It was unapproachable to the poet in thought, word and deed alike. The two brothers overflowed with supreme affection; their mind, reason, intellect and ego were all lost. Tell me, who can portray such noble love? By what shadow will the poet’s mind seek to attain to it? The poet has its power in word and meaning; a dancer regulates his movements according to the cadence of the accompanying music. Unapproachable is the affection of Bharata and the Chief of Raghu’s line, which is beyond the conception of Brahmā (the Creator), Hari (the Protector) and Hara (the Destroyer of the universe). How, then, can I describe it, dull-witted as I am? Can an instrument strung with a chord made of a species of grass known by the name of Gāḍara produce good music? When the gods witnessed° the meeting of Bharata and the Chief of Raghu’s line they were alarmed and their heart began to palpitate. The dull fellows were disillusioned only when their preceptor (the sage Brihaspati) admonished them; and now they rained flowers and gave shouts of applause. (1 - 4)

After fondly embracing Ripusūdana (Śatrughna) Śrī Rāma met the Niṣāda chief. Even so with profuse love Bharata embraced Lakṣmaṇa while the latter was greeting him.(241)

Likewise Lakṣmaṇa eagerly met his younger brother (Śatrughna) and next clasped the Niṣāda chief to his bosom. Then the two brothers (Bharata and Śatrughna) greeted the host of hermits and were delighted to receive blessings to their liking. In a rapture of love Bharata and his younger brother (Śatrughna) placed on their head the dust of Sītā’s lotus-feet and made obeisance to Her again and again; while She lifted them each time and stroking their head with Her lotus hand made them sit down. Sītā blessed them in Her heart; She was so overwhelmed with love that She lost all consciousness of Her body. When they found Sītā propitious in every way, they became free from anxiety and the imaginary fears of their heart were gone. No one uttered a word nor asked any question; the mind was so full of love that it had stopped its activity. Presently the Niṣāda chief collected himself and bowing his head submitted with joined palms: (1 - 4)

“Stricken with grief due to separation from you, my lord, all your mothers, the people of the city, servants, generals and ministers, all have come along with the lord of sages, Vasiṣṭha.” (242)

When the Ocean of amiability, Śrī Rāma, learnt that His preceptor had come, He left Ripudamana (Śatrughna) by Sītā’s side and the All-merciful proceeded at once with quick steps, a champion of virtue and self-possessed that He was. On seeing the Guru both the Lord and His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa) were overwhelmed with affection and prostrated themselves on the ground. The chief of sages, however, ran and clasped them to his bosom; he received them with a heart overflowing with love. Thrilling all over with emotion and mentioning his name the Niṣāda chief too fell prostrate on the ground at a respectable distance. The sage, however, forcibly embraced him as a friend of Śrī Rāma; it seemed as though he had lifted up the love in person on the ground. “Devotion to the Lord of Raghus is the root of all choice blessings!” With these words of praise the gods in heaven rained flowers. “There is no one so utterly vile as this man; and who is so great as Vasiṣṭha in this world?” (1 - 4)

“Yet on seeing him the king of sages embraced him with greater joy than he did Lakṣmaṇa. Such is the palpable glory and effect of adoring Sītā’s lord!” (243)

Śrī Rāma, the all-compassionate and all-wise Lord, found all the people restless; and therefore, meeting the wish of everyone according to the sentiment each cherished in his heart. He and His younger brother met them all in an instant and relieved their distress and terrible agony. This was no great achievement for Śrī Rāma; the sun would as well cast its reflection in millions of jars (full of water) simultaneously. All the citizens met the Niṣāda chief with a heart overflowing with love and praised his good fortune. Śrī Rāma found all His mothers as stricken with grief as a row of tender creepers that had been smitten by frost. First of all He met Kaikeyī, and softened her mind by His guileless disposition and devotion. He fell at her feet and then soothed her attributing the blame to the wheel of time, destiny and Providence. (1 - 4)

The Chief of Raghu’s line thereafter met all His mothers and consoled them by exhorting them in the following words: “Mother, the world is controlled by the will of God; no one should, therefore, be blamed.” (244)

The two brothers (Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa) then adored the feet of their preceptor’s wife (Arundhatī) as well as of all those Brāhmaṇa ladies who had accompanied her, paying them all the same honour as is due to the holy Gaṅgā and Goddess Gaurī (Śiva’s Consort); while the ladies gladly blessed them in soft accents. After clasping Sumitrā’s feet they sought her lap even as an abject pauper would hug a treasure. Both the brothers now fell at the feet of mother Kauśalyā, all their limbs overwrought by love . The mother most fondly clasped them to her bosom and bathed them with tears of affection.

How can any poet describe the joy and grief of the occasion any more than a dumb man the taste of what he has eaten. After meeting their mother the Lord of Raghus and His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa) requested their Guru to accompany them. And on receiving the sage’s command the citizens encamped themselves wherever they saw a suitable site and water close by. (1 - 4)

Taking with them a few chosen people, viz., the Brāhmaṇas, the ministers, the queen-mothers and the preceptor, Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa and the Lord of Raghus proceeded to the holy hermitage. (245)

Sītā came and threw herself at the feet of Vasiṣṭha (the chief of sages) and received suitable blessings solicited by Her mind. The affectionate manner in which She met the Guru’s wife (Arundhatī) and the wives of other hermits was beyond description. Adoring the feet of all one by one Sītā received blessings dear to Her heart. When Sītā saw all Her mothers-in-law the tender Sītā closed Her eyes and she shrank They appeared to Her like so many female swans fallen into the hands of some fowler. ““ What has a mischievous Providence done!” She said to Herself. They too were sore distressed when they gazed on Sītā. “We must bear all that Fate imposes on us,” they thought. Janaka’s Daughter then took courage in Her heart and with Her dark lotus-eyes filled with tears She approached and embraced all Her mothers-in-law. Earth was enveloped in pathos at the moment. (1 - 4)

Throwing Herself at the feet of all Sītā greeted them with utmost love.

Overwhelmed with emotion they blessed Her in their heart, “May you continue to enjoy a happy wifehood!” (246)

Finding Sītā and all the queen-mothers shaken with emotion the wise Guru bade them all sit down. Declaring the nature of the world to be illusory the lord of sages gave them some discourse on spiritual matters. He then announced the king’s departure to heaven and the Lord of Raghus was deeply pained to hear of it. Thinking the king had died on account of love for Him the firmest of the firm was much agitated. Hearing the unpalatable news, which was cruel as the thunderbolt Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā and all the queens broke out into lamentations. Nay, the whole assembly was sore stricken with grief as though the king had died that very day. The chief of sages then comforted Śrī Rāma, who with all those present there bathed in the sacred stream. The Lord fasted that day abstaining even from water. And even though persuaded by the sage none else took a drop of water either. (1 - 4)

At daybreak the Lord reverently and devoutly did all that the sage bade the Delighter of Raghus do. (247)

Having performed His father’s obsequies as prescribed in the Vedas the Lord, who was a sun as it were, to the darkness of sins, became pure again. The Lord whose Name Itself is a fire to the cotton of sins and whose very thought is the root of all choice blessings, attained purity even as the heavenly stream is consecrated by invoking into it other sacred waters: such is the verdict of holy men. When two days elapsed after the purification, Śrī Rāma affectionately said to the Guru: “My lord, all the people are sore distressed, living as they do on bulbs, roots, fruits and water alone. When I behold Bharata and his younger brother (Śatrughna), the ministers and all my mothers, every minute that passes seems an age to me. Therefore, pray return to the city with all; for you are here and the king (my father) is in heaven (there is no one to look after the city). I have said too much and all this amounts to gross presumption on my part. Now, my lord, do what is proper.” (1 - 4)

“It is no wonder, Rāma, that you should speak like this, a bulwark of righteousness and a home of compassion that you are. But grieved as the people are, let them derive solace by enjoying your sight for a couple of days.” (248)

At the words of Śrī Rāma the assembly trembled with fear like a ship tossed on the ocean. When, however, they heard the auspicious words of the Guru, it seemed as though the wind had turned in their favour. Thrice in the day (in the morning, at noon and in the evening) they bathed in the holy Payasvinī river, the very sight of which wipes out hosts of sins, ever feasting their eyes on Śrī Rāma, the incarnation of blessedness, and gladly prostrating themselves before Him again and again. They went out to see the hill and woods hallowed by the presence of Śrī Rāma, where reigned joy of every kind and which was free from all sorrows. Water sweet as nectar flowed from springs; while soft, cool and fragrant breezes soothed every pain of mind and body. Trees, creepers and grasses of infinite variety; fruits, flowers and leaves of many kinds; beautiful slabs of stone and the delightful shade of trees: the splendour of the forest was beyond description. (1 - 4)

Lotuses adorned the lakes, waterfowls cooed and bees hummed; while birds and beasts of various colours roamed about in the forest free from animosities. (249)

The Koals, Kirātas, Bhīlas and other dwellers of the forest prepared lovely bowls of leaves and filling them with honey, pure, fine and delicious as nectar, presented them with small bundles of bulbs, roots, fruits and sprouts to all the newcomers with humble submission and salutations, severally mentioning the taste, species, virtue and name of each. The people offered a liberal price; but the foresters would not accept it and returned it adjuring them by Śrī Rāma’s love to take it back. Overwhelmed with emotion they submitted in gentle tones: “The good people respect true love once they have come to recognize it. You are all virtuous souls, while we are vile Niṣādas: it is through Rāma’s grace that we have been blessed with your sight. You were utterly inaccessible to us even as the stream of the heavenly river (Gaṅgā) is to the desert land of Maru (Western Rājapūtānā and Sindha). The all-merciful Rāma has showered his grace on the Niṣāda chief; a king’s kith and kin and subjects too should share his disposition. (1 - 4)

“Bearing this in mind shake off all scruple and recognizing our affection show your grace to us. And in order to oblige us do accept fruits, grass and shoots from us.” (250)

“You have come to this forest as our welcome guests; but we are not lucky enough to be fit for rendering service to you. What can we offer you noble sirs? Fuel and leaves are the only tokens of a Kirāta’s friendship; and our greatest service is that we do not steal and remove your utensils and clothes. We are uncultured creatures taking others” life, and are crooked by nature, wicked, evil-minded and low-born. Our days and nights are spent in sinful pursuits and yet we have no cloth to cover our loins and get no food enough to fill our belly. How could we possibly have ever dreamt of entertaining pious sentiments but for the virtue of having seen the Delighter of Raghus? Ever since we had the good fortune of gazing on our Lord’s lotus feet our terrible woes and evils have disappeared.” The citizens were overwhelmed with emotion to hear these words and began to extol the good fortune of those foresters. (1 - 4)

All began to extol the good fortune of the foresters and addressed them in terms of endearment. Everyone rejoiced to hear their talk and behold their polite manners as well as their devotion to the feet of Sītā and Rāma. Men and women deprecated their own love when they heard the talk of the Kolas and Bhīlas. It was through the grace of Śrī Rāma (the Jewel of Raghu’s line), says Tulasīdāsa, that a block of iron floated with a boat loaded on it.

Day after day all the people roamed through every quarter of the forest in great delight even like frogs and peacocks reinvigorated by the first shower of the rains.(251)

The men and women of the city remained deeply immersed in love; days passed like a moment to them. Sītā, assuming as many forms as She had mothers-in-law, waited on each with equal attention. No one but Rāma knew the mystery behind it; for all delusive potencies form part of Sītā’s delusive power. Sītā won over the queen-mothers by Her services, gratified by which they instructed and blessed Her . Perceiving the two brothers as well as Sītā Straight in their dealings, the wicked queen bitterly repented. Kaikeyī sought help both from Earth and the god of death; but neither Earth afforded her shelter in her womb nor did God grant her death. It is well-known by popular tradition as well as through the Vedas, and the Sages too declare, that those who are hostile to Rāma find no resting-place even in hell. The question that stirred every mind now was; “Good heavens, will Rāma return to Ayodhyā or not?” (1 - 4)

Bharata had no sleep by night nor appetite by day, perturbed as he was by a pious anxiety, even as a fish sunk in a shallow marsh is worried by paucity of water. (252)

“Disguised as my mother it was Fate that wrought this mischief, even as a crop of paddy ripening for the harvest may be visited by some pest. How can Śrī Rāma’s coronation be accomplished? I can hit upon no device to secure this. He would certainly return in obedience to the Guru’s commands; but the sage will ask Śrī Rāma to return only when he knows that the latter will like it. The Lord of Raghus would return even at the bidding of his mother; but will Śrī Rāma’s mother ever insist on it? As for myself, I am only his vassal and as such count for nothing. On top of it I have fallen on evil days and Providence is against me. If I assert my own will, it would be a grievous sin; for the duty of a servant is more arduous than the lifting of Mount Kailāśa (Śiva’s own Abode).” Bharata could not decide upon anyone device and he spent the whole night in speculation. At daybreak he bathed, bowed his head to the Lord and was going to sit down beside Him when he was sent for by the sage (Vasiṣṭha). (1 - 4)

Bowing at the preceptor’s lotus feet and receiving his permission, Bharata sat down; and presently the Brāhmaṇas, the elite of the city, the ministers and all other councillors came and assembled there. (253)

The chief of the sages, Vasiṣṭha, spoke in words appropriate to the occasion “Listen, O councillors, and you, wise Bharata; the sun of the solar race, King Rāma, is a champion of righteousness and the almighty Lord dependent on none but Himself. Śrī Rāma is true to His word and maintains the standard of morality set up by the Vedas; His very advent is a source of blessing to the world. Obedient to the commands of His preceptor and parents, He crushes the armies of the wicked and is a friend of the gods. Propriety of behaviour, love, the highest object of life and worldly interests - no one knows these aright as Rāma does. Brahmā (the Creator), Hari (the Preserver) and Hara (the Destroyer of the universe), the moon-god, the sun-god and the guardians of the various quarters, Māyā (the deluding potency of God), Jīva (the individual soul), the various forms of Karma (the residue of actions) and the Time-Spirit, Śeṣa (the lord of serpents), the rulers of the earth and whatever other powers there are and even so the accomplishments of Yoga extolled in the Vedas and other scriptures - ponder in your heart and consider well - Śrī Rāma’s commands exercise their authority over all.”(1 - 4)

“If we carry out Śrī Rāma’s orders and respect His wishes, it will be well for us all. Ponder this, O wise men; and do that which you all unanimously resolve upon.” (254)

“Śrī Rāma’s coronation will be delightful to all; that is the only course which is conducive to good luck and joy. In what way can the Lord of Raghus be prevailed upon to return to Ayodhyā; ponder this and tell me, so that we may adopt the same device.” Everyone listened with reverence to the sage’s speech, surcharged as it was, with prudence and spiritual wisdom and salutary from the worldly point of view as well. But no answer was forthcoming: the people were dumbfounded. Then Bharata bowed his head and with joined palms began as follows: “The solar race has produced many a king each one far greater than the rest. For the birth of all, the father and mother are responsible; whereas it is God who dispenses the good or evil fruit of their actions. Your benediction, as all the world knows, wipes out sorrow and confers all blessings. As for yourself, my lord, you thwarted the course of Providence; no one can alter what you have resolved upon.” (1 - 4)

 “And yet you ask advice of me at this juncture! All this is my misfortune.” The Guru’s heart overflowed with love when he heard these affectionate words. (255)

“What you have said is no doubt true, my child; but it is all due to Śrī Rāma’s grace. He who is hostile to Rāma can never dream of success. I hesitate to tell you one thing; the wise forgo one-half when they find the whole in peril. You two brothers (Śatrughna and yourself) retire to the woods; while Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā and the Lord of Raghus may be sent back.” The two brothers (Bharata and Śatrughna) rejoiced to hear these agreeable words; their whole frame was filled with excess of joy. They were pleased at heart and a glow irradiated their body as though King Daśaratha had come to life again and Rāma had been crowned king. The people thought they would gain much while their loss would be comparatively small. The queen-mothers, however, all wept because their joy and sorrow matched each other. “By obeying the Guru’s commands,” Bharata observed, “One would attain the fruit of gratifying all the creatures of the world. I will stay all my life in the forest; I conceive no greater happiness than this.” (1 - 4)

“Rāma and Sītā have access to all hearts, while you are omniscient and wise. If what you say is true, then implement your word, my lord.” (256)

Hearing Bharata’s words and seeing his love, the sage as well as the whole assembly were transported out of themselves-Bharata’s transcendent glory resembled the ocean and the sage’s wit stood on its brink like a helpless woman who longed to cross it and sought many a device but was unable to find a boat, ship or raft. Who else, then, can glorify Bharata? Can the ocean be contained in the shell of a small pool? The sage was pleased with Bharata in his heart of hearts; with the whole assembly, therefore, he came to Śrī Rāma. The Lord made obeisance and offered him a seat of honour; and receiving the sage’s permission all sat down. The great sage then spoke in well-considered phrases appropriate to the time, place and circumstances: “Listen, Rāma; you are omniscient and wise and a storehouse of piety, prudence, virtue and knowledge. (1 - 4)

“You dwell in the heart of all and know our good and evil intentions. Tell us, therefore, the way in which the citizens, your mothers and Bharata too may be benefited.” (257)

“The afflicted never speak with forethought. A gambler sees his own game.” On hearing the sage’s words the Lord of Raghus replied, “My lord, the remedy lies in your own hands. Everyone will be benefited by meeting your wishes, carrying out your behests and gladly acclaiming them. In the first place, whatever orders and instructions are given to me I will reverently carry them out. Then, my lord, whoever receives any order from you will fully devote himself to your service.” Said the sage, “What you have said, Rāma, is true; but Bharata’s love has robbed me of my wits. That is why I say again and again, my judgment has been enthralled by Bharata’s devotion. To my mind, Śiva be my witness, whatever you do with due deference to Bharata’s wishes will be all for good.” (1 - 4)

“Listen with attention to Bharata’s humble submission and then think over it. Again, sifting the worldly point of view and the conclusions of holy men as well as of the political ethers and the Vedas do what they enjoin upon you.” (258)

Śrī Rāma was particularly delighted at heart to see the Guru’s affection for Bharata.

Knowing Bharata to be a champion of virtue and His servant in thought, word and deed, He spoke words that were sweet, soft and delightful and harmonized with the Guru’s commands:

“My lord, I swear by you as well as by the feet of my father that in the whole world there has been no brother like Bharata. Those who are devoted to the lotus feet of their preceptor are highly blessed from the point of view of the world as well as of the Vedas. And who can extol Bharata’s good fortune, for whom you cherish such love! Knowing him to be a younger brother my mind recoils when I proceed to praise him to his face. Of course it will be conducive to our good to do what he suggests.” Having said so Śrī Rāma kept silent. (1 - 4)

The sage now said to Bharata, “Shaking off all scruple, my dear child, tell your dear brother, who is an ocean of kindness, what is there in your heart.” (259)