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Bharata asks for Rama's paduka (footwear)
Bharata (Sanskrit: भरत, Indonesian: Barata, Chinese: Poloto, Burmese: Bhadra, Malay: Baradan, Tamil: Paratan, Thai: Phra Phrot, Khmer: ព្រះភិរុត) in the Hindu epic Ramayana was the brother of the protagonist Rama and the second son of Dasharatha and only son of Kaikeyi. Dasharatha 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.
According to Valmiki Ramayana, Bharata is one quarter component of manifest Vishnu(Rama).
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 Dasharatha and Kausalya. The Lord appeared as Rama, the elder son of Dasharatha. He is supposed to be the reincarnation of Vishnu's sacred shankha. His wife Mandavi is supposed to be reincarnation of Lakshmi's sacred shankha.
Bharata was the second of the four sons of Dasharatha. His mother was Kaikeyi, 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 Kushadhwaja 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. It is said that he made a hut on the banks of the river Saryu and stayed there for fourteen years tending the earth, claiming that he cannot live in the palace when Rama lives in the forest and sleeps on the ground.
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 Kausalya, 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. After meeting Bharat Guh said-"Even thousands of Ram can't compare Bharat in virtue."
Return of Rama
When the 14-year period of exile elapsed, Rama had just vanquished Ravana, the rakshasa emperor of Lanka. 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.
King of Takshasila
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. Takshasila is reputed to derive its name from Taksha, who was the son of Bharata, the brother of the Hindu deity Rama. Legend has it that Taksha ruled a kingdom called Takhsa Khanda and founded the city of Takshasila. According to another theory propounded by Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, Takshasila is related to Takshaka, 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).
When Rama decided to retire, Bharata and Shatrughna joined him. When Rama walked into the river Saryu, he transformed into his eternal and original Mahavishnu form. Bharata and Shatrughna walked into the river also and united with him.
- Ramayana, translated in English by Griffith, from Project Gutenberg
- Poddar, Hanuman Prasad (2001), Balkand, 94 (in Awadhi and Hindi), Gorakhpur: Gita Press, ISBN 81-293-0406-6
- Bhalla, Prem P. (1 January 2009), The Story Of Sri Ram, Peacock Books, ISBN 978-81-248-0191-8
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