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Bharata Suspected

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  26. BHARATA SUSPECTED  GAZING across the river Ganga, Guha, the hunter-king, noticed unusual commotion on the bank opposite. A great army had encamped there. He pointed it to his kinsmen standing by his side and said:  "Who is this and why has he come here with a large army, apparently to cross the river? The flag suggests that it is Kaikeyi's son Bharata and his army. Yes, I see the flag flying on the top of the chariot and I can recognise the tree painted on it. That is the flag of the King of Ayodhya. Is not Rama's enemy, Bharata, the King of Ayodhya too? Having secured the kingdom unjustly through his mother Kaikeyi, it looks as though he has pursued Rama here to slay him. Get together our warriors and kinsmen and friends. Let them stand ready on this bank. Gather all the boats and fill them with armed men ready for battle. Let us wait and see. If the newcomers are well disposed towards Rama, we shall help them to cross the river and come over to this side. But, if t

Intrigue of Kaykeyi Wasted

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  25. INTRIGUE WASTED  Now Bharata understood everything and realised the enormity of the harm wrought by his mother.  Overwhelmed by grief and near, he could not control himself. At the thought of what she had done and the eternal infamy she had incurred, his grief grew wild and he hurled cruel words at her.  "What have you done?" he cried. "Did you ever hope to make me accept the kingdom? Deprived of such a father and such a brother, am I likely to care for power? After causing the death of the King and the banishment of Rama, you ask me to take their place and rule the land. This is like pouring oil into the fire of my grief. How unfortunate was my father to have chosen you for a wife! Kausalya and Sumitra will also die of grief. Oh, how could you bring yourself to do this to Rama who was so devoted to you? Revered mother Kausalya treated you like her own blood-sister. How could you think of plotting against her beloved son? And did you not know how much I loved Rama?

BHARATA arrives Home

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  24. BHARATA ARRIVES  Kausalya clung to the King's body and cried: "I shall go with the King to Yama's abode. How can I live without my son and without my husband?"  The elders and officers of the palace managed to separate her from the dead King and take her away. Then they discussed about the funeral rites. They could not be performed immediately, for Rama and Lakshmana had gone to the forest and Bharata and Satrughna were far away in their uncle's place. It was decided to send for Bharata and to keep the body immersed in oil till his arrival.  The great monarch's remains were thus kept waiting for Bharata's arrival. Ayodhya, the city of splendor, was sunk in darkness and lamentation. Crowds of women met here and there and reviled Kaikeyi. There was anxiety in men's hearts. The crown prince had gone to the forest. Bharata too was far away. Anarchy was feared, for no one in those days could imagine a people going on without a king. After the long nig

Last Moments of King Dasaratha

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    23. LAST MOMENTS  Dasaratha continued: "Listen, I shall tell you what followed. Having committed a sin and seeing the young ascetic die, I stood wondering what-to do next. Finally I decided that it was my duty and my interest to do what he advised me. I cleaned the pitcher, and filling it with fresh water, took it and went along the footpath he had pointed out. I reached his cottage and there I saw the old couple waiting for the return of their son. They sat there like two birds with broken wings shrivelled in body and unable to move. Both were blind. They were speaking to each other about the long delay of their son in fetching water from the stream. I was filled with terror as I slowly approached them. The old man, hearing my footsteps, mumbled: 'Why this long delay, my son? Quickly give me some water to drink. Your mother too is athirst. Were you making your pleasure in the stream? Was this the cause of your delay, son? Why are you silent? Even if your mother or I have

IDLE SPORT AND TERRIBLE RESULT

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  22. IDLE SPORT AND TERRIBLE RESULT  Dasaradha had been driven ruthlessly by circumstances to an action which not only broke his heart but made him hate himself and deprived him even of selfpity. The only way out of the dilemma of either breaking his plighted word or doing a great wrong to Rama would have been for the latter to disobey him and insist on his rights. But Rama placed his duty to his father high above all other things. And Rama was all the world to Sita and Lakshmana. So they had all gone together.  To Dasaratha, agonising on his bed of pain in desolation and remorse, Kausalya spoke reproachful words.  The stinging words in which Kausalya's sorrow found expression caused excruciating pain to Dasaratha, but she seemed to find some relief in giving vent to her feelings in this way.  "Proud of having kept your word and happy in young Kaikeyi's approval and gratification, have you any thought for others? You have been my world and my god, my joy in this world and

A MOTHER'S GRIEF

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  21. A MOTHER'S GRIEF  Sumantra and Guha stood watching the three figures as long as they could. When they disappeared from sight, they were plunged in sorrow and went back to Guha's town. After a while Sumantra returned to Ayodhya.  As the charioteer approached the city, he found it desolate and devoid of the usual cheerful bustle of urban life. As soon as he crossed the fortress-gate and entered the city, his chariot was surrounded by a crowd eagerly asking: "Where did you leave Rama? How was he when you left him?"  "Dear people of Ayodhya," said Sumantra, "Rama and Lakshmana have crossed the Ganga. Ordering me to return home, they entered the forest on foot."  A great cry of grief rose from the multitude and many cursed themselves and attributed the catastrophe to their own sins. On both sides of the streets, women stood as the chariot passed and cried: "Look at the car which departed with the princes and Sita and has come back empty."

CHITRAKUTA

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  20. CHITRAKUTA  Rama spent the night in Bharadwaja's ashrama. Getting up in the morning, they paid their respects to the Maharishi and, taking leave of him, set out for the Chitrakuta hill. The muni treated them affectionately as if they were his own children and sent them forth with his blessings after explaining to them the way they should take through the forest.  The three followed his topographical instructions closely and in due course came upon the river Kalindi. They constructed a raft with logs and bamboos and creepers of the forest and on it Lakshmana made a seat for Sita with little twigs and leaves on which she sat. The passage of the river was accomplished in safety.  In midstream Sita offered salutations to the river goddess and prayed that Rama might fulfil his vow and the three be enabled safely to return home.  After crossing a few more streams, they came to a big banyan tree which had been described by Bharadwaja. And under this tree Sita again offered prayers s

ALONE by Themselves

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  19. ALONE BY THEMSELVES  The citizens who had slept on the bank of the Tamasa woke up in the morning and looked round. They were surprised to see that Rama and the chariot had disappeared. They followed the track of the chariot-wheels but were disappointed to find that it was lost in the main road to the capital.  They returned home to their own houses and sought satisfaction in reviling Kaikeyi. Without Rama, the city was bereft of beauty and wrapt in gloom.  Sumantra and the princes had crossed the Tamasa long before dawn and travelled far into the forest. Crossing several streams, they approached the southern boundary of the Kosala country. As they journeyed on, Rama said to Sumantra: "I wonder when I shall hunt again in the forest of Sarayu. Is hunting good for princes? Perhaps, it is, in moderation."  Thus conversing on many matters, they went forward. When they reached the southern boundary of the kingdom, Rama stopped the chariot and facing north towards Ayodhya, ben

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