|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Bharata (Sanskrit: भरत, Indonesian: Barata, Chinese: Poloto, Burmese: Bhadra, Malay: Baradan, Tamil: Paratan, Thai: Phra Phrot) 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.
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 Pushka.
"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.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bharata (Ramayana).|