In the previous episode, we were at an important juncture wherein Bhagawan Rama had to take a “make or break” decision – Whether to go back to Ayodhya along with Bharata and the others, or to continue with this “Vana-Vaasam” for the next fourteen years. As Bharata cries and requests Bhagawan Rama to come back to Ayodhya, Bhagawan Rama is very clear in what He wants to do. For Him, nothing is bigger than executing His father’s words. King Dasharata had asked Him to go on exile for the next fourteen years and it is Bhagawan Rama’s duty as a son to execute his words without any deviation. Hence, Bhagawan Rama plays His cards very carefully. So today, let us witness how Bhagawan Rama consoled Bharata and what did He do to avoid this situation of Him going back to Ayodhya.
As Bharata explains his stance of taking Bhagawan Rama back, Bhagawan Rama tells Bharata thus, “Oh Bharata! I know your sincerity and honesty. I know what kind of love and devotion you have for me. You are right in calling me back to Ayodhya and coronating me as the king. However, given the situation, it is not wise for me to come back with you. I’ve given our father a promise and I shall never deviate from executing the same. If I deviate, it will grossly be “Adharma”. Moreover, tomorrow what would people say? People will say that Bhagawan Rama had a desire to be the ruler and the moment Bharata presented Him with a chance for the same, Bhagawan Rama was not bothered about his father’s request and the kingdom was paramount to him more than His father! Hence, I do not want to be a bad example for the future generations of people to follow. Hence, Bharata! Please forgive me. I shall not be able to come back to Ayodhya with you. You are perfectly capable of ruling the kingdom and hence, I recommend that you rule the kingdom until I come back after fourteen years. I shall definitely come back and take over from you! So till then, you please continue to rule Ayodhya and maintain peace and happiness amongst all our people!”
As Bhagawan Rama decisively says thus, Bharata is not very convinced. He once again makes a request to Bhagawan Rama thus, “Oh Bhagawan! Who am I in front of your might and capabilities? You are the right person to rule all of us. I’m merely your servant. Can any kingdom have a servant as a king? Moreover, if there is a “Jeshta-Braatha” (Elder brother), how can a younger brother be a king? How does this account to “Dharma”? You are talking about “Dharma”, aren’t you? Now what do you say?” Now this reply from Bharata puts Bhagawan Rama in a fix! On one hand, Bharata is also right. How can a younger brother take over as king if the elder brother is alive? Isn’t this against “Raaja-Dharma”? For this, Bhagawan Rama beautifully answers Bharata thus, “Oh Bharata! Do not worry. You take my “Paadukas” along with you and coronate them as the king of Ayodhya. You discharge the duties of the kingdom upon your surrender to my “Paadukas”. The “Paadukas” of mine will rule the kingdom on behalf of me until I come back!”
As Bhagawan Rama is steadfast in His approach in this way, Bharata too feels that Bhagawan Rama has His duties to execute. Hence, he takes His divine “Paadukas” and tells Him with tears in his eyes thus, “Oh Bhagawan Rama! I shall obey your words. However, you’ve given me an assurance – At the end of the fourteen-year-period, you will come back and take over the reigns of the kingdom. I shall keep waiting for you every passing day. However, if you are not coming at the end of the fourteen-year period, next day you would not be able to see this Bharata alive! I shall kill myself by jumping into the pyre! This is my final decision. If you’re accepting this decision, I shall let you stay here! Else, please come back with me!” As Bharata says this with a lot of devotion and “Sharanaagathi”, Bhagawan Rama assures Bharata that He would definitely come back after fourteen years and He would not delay any further after that.
With this, Bharata returns back to the forest with a heavy heart, along with all the Ayodhya people. Sadness is written all over their face as they make their way back to Ayodhya, and for the next fourteen years, Bharata obeys Bhagawan Rama’s golden words of wisdom by coronating His “Paadhukas” as the king of Ayodhya. Thus, it is believed that Bhagawan Rama virtually ruled Ayodhya through His “Paadhukas” until He came back physically to take over from there on!
So for today, let us understand the “Paadhuka-Prabhaavam” (Significance of Bhagawan’s divine footwear) and let us continue this discussion as narrated by Sage Maarkandeya to Yudishtra in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂