Bharata, the Virtuous Yuvaraja of Ayodhya


Sri Sangameswaran - Lord Bharata of Sri Koodalmanikyam Temple, Irinjalakuda, Kerala

Nov 03, CANADA (SUN) — In the epic Ramayana, we read the story of Bharata, the second brother of Lord Rama and the son of Emperor Dasaratha and Kaikeyi, of the Solar Dynasty. It is said that after Rama, Bharata was the symbol of dharma and idealism. He is considered to be born in the aspect of the Sudarshana Chakra, the most famous of Vishnu's panchayudhas.

Bharata was the second of the four sons of Dasaratha. Although the Ramayana describes all four brothers as loving and devoted to one another, Shatrughna was generally closer to Bharata, while Lakshmana was closer to Lord Rama. Bharata was married to Mandavi Devi, and they had two sons, Taksha and Pushkala. Because Mandavi was the daughter of King Janaka's brother, Kushadhvaja, Bharata was a cousin of Sita Devi..

In the Ramayana story of Lord Rama's exile, Valmiki explains how Kaikeyi betrayed the king into promising to put Bharatha on the throne of Ayodhya, banishing Rama into exile in the forest for 14 years. However, Bharata was away from Ayodhya at the time when Rama went into exile. When he learned of his brother's circumstance, he was mortified. Severely reprimanding his mother, he immediately declared his intention of bringing Rama back from the forests. Exemplifying virtue, he even stated his willingness to serve Rama's exile for him.

Although the people of Ayodhya and Rama's many allies had been under the assumption that Bharata had a role in Rama's exile, when they heard of his brotherly compassion their scorn and hatred for Bharata dissolved. From that point forward, his fame was fixed in the world due to his display of selflessness and honour for his family's fame and tradition, and his adherence to truth and righteousness, what to speak of his love for his elder brother. Ayodhya's guru Vasishta stated that no one had learned the lessons of dharma better than Bharata.

After delivering the painful news of their father's death to Rama and Lakshman, Bharata argued with Rama to return to Ayodhya as Emperor, but Rama steadfastly refused on the grounds that such a deed would be unrighteous. King Janaka explained that since Bharata's love for Rama was unparalleled it became his duty to enable Rama to live righteously, therefore Bharata gave up his efforts to return Rama to Ayodhya before the fourteen year exile had elapsed.

Although deeply disappointed, Bharata returned to Ayodhya after receiving a promise from Rama that he would return promptly himself at the end of his exile, and he would then ascend the throne and take his proper place. Bharata vowed to Rama that if he did not return immediately when the fourteen years had elapsed, he would give up his life by self-immolation. Likewise, Rama loved his brother, and his deep love and esteem for Bharata was displayed by the declaration that his love for Hanuman was on par with that of his love for Bharata.

In the interim, Bharata agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler, but only as Rama's representative. The people supported Bharata in this virtuous position, and he became the 'king' of Kosala and Ayodhya. Bharata, however, placed Rama's sandals at the foot of the royal throne, and neither sat upon the throne nor crowned himself thereon.

Bharata's reign in the absence of his brother was righteous, and the kingdom remained safe and prosperous. Bharata constantly longed for Rama's return, and during this time he refused to forgive his mother Kaikeyi. Instead, he diligently served Kousalya, Rama's mother, and Sumitra, Lakshmana's mother.

When the long exile was finally over, Rama had just vanquished Ravana, the rakshasa emperor of Lanka. Remembering Bharata's vow to take his own life if Rama did not promptly return, an anxious Rama sent Hanuman ahead of himself to prevent Bharata from sacrificing his life.

Upon Rama's return to Ayodhya, Bharata led the joyful procession to greet the rightful King and Queen, and brother Lakshmana. Although Rama had intended to crown Lakshman the Yuvaraja, or Crown Prince after his own coronation, Lakshman pointed out that Bharata's great virtue and years of experience as Ayodhya's administrator qualified him better, and thus Bharata was immediately made Yuvaraja by Rama.

When Rama deteremined to retire from his service to Ayodhya, Bharata and Shatrughna joined him there. Lord Rama walked into the river Sarayu, and transformed into his eternal and original Mahavishnu form, at which Bharata and Shatrughna walked into the river united with him.

Bharata's Koodalmanikyam Temple

Among Bharat's other glorious activities was his conquering of the Gandharavas, and the creation of his kingdom, Takshshila, which comprises the present day Punjab region, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia. The present Uzbek capital city, named Tashkent, was obviously derived from the word "Takshishila." Likewise, the present-day Pakistani city of Taxila is also a mark of his rule.

Today, the Koodalmanikyam Temple in the state of Kerala is the only temple dedicated to the worship of Bharata in all of India.


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