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In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Bharata (Sanskrit: भरत, Indonesian: Barata, Chinese: Poloto, Burmese: Bhadra, Malay: Baradan, Tamil: Paratan, Thai: Phra Phrot, Khmer: ព្រះភិរុត) was the second brother of the main protagonist Rama, and the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha was the emperor of Ayodhya and belonged to the Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty. It is said that after Rama, he was the symbol of dharma and idealism. A few commentators, however, deem Bharata to be even greater than Rama himself in virtue.
The first male Swaymbhu Manu and the first female Satrupa who are the originator of the human race underwent severe penance and austerities to get a glimpse of God. They asked the Lord that they want to have a son like Him. The Lord said, "So be it. But where can I find one equal to me? O King, I shall be a son to you."  They were reborn as Kashyapa and Aditi and then Dasaratha and Kausalya. The Lord appeared as Rama, the elder son of Dasaratha.
Bharata was the second of the four sons of Dasaratha. His mother was the daughter of Kekeya Kingdom. The Ramayana describes the four brothers as loving and devoted to one another. He was also the husband to Mandavi, daughter of King Janaka's brother Kushadhvaja and thus a cousin of Sita, who was wife of Rama. They had two sons, Taksha and Pushkal.
The spiritual guru Vashishtha during the naming ceremony says that Bharata is the incarnation of the power responsible for feeding and nourishing the whole world.
"King" of Ayodhya
After delivering the painful news of their father's death to Rama and Lakshmana, Bharata argued with Rama to return to Ayodhya as emperor, but the latter steadfastly refused on the grounds that such a deed would be unrighteous. Upon an explanation from King Janaka that since Bharata's love for Rama was unparalleled, it became his duty to enable Rama to live righteously. Bharata gave up his efforts to take Rama back to Ayodhya before the fourteen-year exile elapsed. Though deeply disappointed, Bharata returned to Ayodhya after receiving a promise from Rama that he would return promptly at the end of the fourteen-year exile and ascend the throne. He vowed to Rama that if Rama did not return immediately when the fourteen years elapsed, he would give his life up by immolation.
He agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler, but as Rama's representative. The people supported Bharata, as he became the "king" of Kosala and Ayodhya, but Bharata himself placed Rama's sandals at the foot of the royal throne, and neither sat upon the throne nor crowned himself.
Bharata's reign was righteous and the kingdom was safe and prosperous, but Bharata continuously longed for Rama's return. During this time he did not forgive his mother Kaikeyi, and diligently served Kousalya, Rama's mother, and Sumitra, Lakshmana's mother.
The deep love and esteem that Rama had for Bharata is evident from Rama's declaration that his love for Hanuman was on par with that of his love for Bharata.
King of Takshashila
It is also known that Bharata conquered Gandhara and created his kingdom of Takshasila comprising present day Punjab, Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. The present-day Pakistani city of Taxila is also a mark of his rule. Pushkalavati, which is present day Peshawar, was named after his second son Pushkal. Takṣaśilā is reputed to derive its name from Takṣa, who was the son of Bharata, the brother of the Hindu deity Rama. Legend has it that Takṣa ruled a kingdom called Takṣa Khanda, and founded the city of Takṣaśilā. According to another theory propounded by DD Kosambi, Takṣaśilā is related to Takṣaka, Sanskrit for "carpenter", and is an alternative name for the Nāgas of ancient India. Ambhi Kumar, king of Gandhara (at the time of Chandragupta maurya and Alexander) was a direct descendant of Bharata (of Ramayana) and Shakuni (of Mahabharata).
Return of Rama
Remembering Bharata's vow, an anxious and worried Rama sent Hanuman ahead of himself to prevent Bharata from sacrificing his life.
Upon Rama's return to Ayodhya, Bharata led the procession to greet the rightful king and queen, and his brother Lakshmana. Although Rama intended to crown Lakshmana the Yuvaraja, or Crown Prince after his own coronation, Lakshmana pointed out that Bharata's great virtues and years of experience as Ayodhya's administrator qualified him better, and thus he was immediately made Yuvaraja by Rama.
When Rama decided to retire, Bharata and Shatrughna joined him. When Rama walked into the river Sarayu, he transformed into his eternal and original Mahavishnu form. Bharata and Shatrughna walked into the river also and united with him.
- Singaravelu Sachithanantham (2004). The Ramayana Tradition in Southeast Asia. University Malaya Press. ISBN 983-100-234-2.
- Bhalla 2009, p. 24
- Poddar 2001, p. 151
- Poddar 2001, p. 155
- Poddar 2001, p. 159
- Needham, Joseph (2004). Within the Four Seas: The Dialogue of East and West. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36166-4.
"When the men of Alexander the Great came to Taxila in India in the fourth century BC they found a university there the like of which had not been seen in Greece, a university which taught the three Vedas and the eighteen accomplishments and was still existing when the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien went there about AD 400."
- Invasion of the Genes Genetic Heritage of India, By B. S. Ahloowalia. p81
- Kosambi 1975:129
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