BOOK 6 - BOOK OF WAR - YUDDHA KANDA
CHAPTER 127 - SARGA 127
VERSEs 18 & 19 - SLOOKA 18 & 19
tu shirasaa dharmakovidaha (18)
Rama returned from the exile to forest. Bharata was getting ready to welcome him back. The above line describes the condition of Bharata at that time.
The great expert of righteousness Bharata was carrying the footwear of Rama on his head ...
Bharata was emaciated with fasts.
Bharata was wearing black deer.
*I greatly appreciate the virtuosity of Bharata and his respect to Rama. Making fasts and wearing deer skin etc. also we can appreciate. Yet one question lingers:
Rama was under a vow to stay in forests and he could not visit the City. Bharata was not barred by law to visit Rama in the forests. How many times did Bharata visit the forest to inquire about his well-being? Rama didn't bar Bharata from visiting forest. Rama and Sita were carrying gold ornaments in the forests. There was no bar on Bharata on sending some gifts to Rama. Why Bharata didn't send any gifts, though not gold, some gifts to Rama?
Had Bharata kept a continuous track of Rama during the 14 years, he could have known about the abduction of Sita immediately after the incident. Bharata could have sent his army to Rama in the forest, for undertaking the search of Sita. There was no bar on Bharata from providing such aid to Rama in the forest. The condition was that Rama should stay put in the forest.
Bharata could have sent some birthday gifts to rAma, the kind of which were not prohibited by the terms of exile to forest. He could have sent Satrughna to find out if rAma and SItA had some off-springs during the fourteen years. It is strange that rAma and sIta did not have children during their 13 years of cohabitation in the forest and Sita became pregnant only after they returned to ayOdhya and coronation of rAma.
bharata`s keeping track of rAma`s well-being while in forest, would have saved Rama, from the travails of begging Vanara tribal chiefs for help. This would have helped Rama to avoid the unnecessary slaying of Vali and anointing his brother as the new king. bharata`s army would have joined rAma`s battles with rAvaNa. Such co-operation would have truly reflected fraternal love. Not symbolic fasts / not staying outside ayOdhya / not undertaking fasts / not taking baths which were all nothing but tokenisms.
From the above, we can possibly deduce that Bharata and Kaikeyi did not expect Rama to return from forests after 14 years. They would have felt comfortable had Rama been killed by wild animals or tribals or Vali or Ravana. This did not happen. Instead, Rama returned stronger with an army of Vanara tribal warriors.
Now, Bharata would have no alternative. Had he refused to return the kingdom to Rama, Rama would have killed him with the help of Vaanara army. Bharata didn't want to take that risk of fighting with a stronger Rama. Bharata had to save himself by representing as a person emaciated by fasts and wearing deer-skin. He had to prove his loyalty to Rama.
3-45-24 and 25 : Sita was doubtful of Bharata's and Lakshmana's sincerity. When in forest, she felt that Bharata and Lakshmana conspired against her and Rama. This attitude on the part of Sita might have been wrong and she might have received her punishment. Yet one thing is certain: There was hidden animosity and cold war between Rama and Bharata. Both didn't want to engage in an open war for the kingdom.