Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bharat’s love for Rama

While writing the epic of Ramanaya, Tulsidas, after paying obeisance to various gods and goddesses, bows his head to Bharat first, not to Rama, not to Sita, not to Laxman, around whom the entire tale of Ramanaya is woven. Among humans he pays obeisance to Bharat. He says: “vandau pratham Bharat ke charana.” All others come later in his list. One wonders why?

When Bharat returned to Ayodhya, and learned about his mother, Kaikeyi’s betrayal towards king Dasharatha and Rama, he was thoroughly displeased with her. Bharat refused to accept the throne and declared that he didn’t want anything to do with his mother and did not want to see her face ever again. Ignoring everyone’s pleas in the palace, Bharat, set out to find Rama, Sita and Laxman along with a few like minded citizens and a little army. He intended to request, cajole, force, whatever it took, to bring Rama , Sita and Laxman back to Ayodhya and for Rama to accept the throne and look after the kingdom.

Bharat found Rama, touched his feet, embraced both his brothers and expressed his desire that the trio should return with him. He also made it clear that he was not happy with his mother, was not a party to her scheme, and begged for Rama's forgiveness. Upon which Rama told him that he (Rama) bore no grudge against Kaikeyi. Like Kaushalya, kaikeyi too was his mother and it was his solemn duty to obey his mother’s wishes and follow her orders. That he had no misgivings for Bharat’s love for all of them. Bharat could not be consoled, refused to budge and insisted that if Rama did not return, he would remain with them in exile. Ultimately, Rama had to order Bharat to return to Ayodhya, take care of the kingdom and most important of all, forgive Kaikeyi. It was their destiny and Kaikeyi was only the means.

Bharat was heart-broken but had to abide by Rama’s order. He agreed on one condition. That he would not be the king, won’t sit on the throne, would take Rama’s Khadau (wooden footwear), put them on the throne and would look after the kingdom on Rama’s behalf, a mere proxy.

Here lies the truth. Bharat is not paid obeisance first, that is, even before Rama, Sita and Laxman because he sacrificed the kingdom, or because he insisted to remain with Rama in exile leaving behind his own family. Any well brought up prince of that time would do that for his brother, father or any loved one. He is paid obeisance because he forgave Kaikeyi on Rama’s say so. It is a fact that it is not difficult to forgive others, sometimes out of compulsion, sometimes because of our inability to do anything about it. But it is very difficult to forget wrong done by our own because it hurts our inner being, because we least expect such betrayal from them, such as Kaikeyi’s. It took immense strength of character for Bharat to forgive his mother. BUT HIS LOVE AND DEVOTION FOR RAMA WAS MORE THEN HIS HATE FOR KAIKEYI. There lies his greatness.

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