Reading Guide. Remember that Bharata was away from home when all this happened. He does not know that his father Dasharatha is dead, and he does not know that his brother Rama has been exiled, but he is about to find out.
Image: The illustration, another example of Mughal art, shows Bharata traveling in a horse-drawn chariot. If you look at the full-sized image, you will see that the men accompanying him are riding on camels and on elephants.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]
In the morning messengers were sent speedily to Bharata, who sojourned in the kingdom of the Kaikeyas with his mother's sire, the rajah Ashwapati, bidding him to return without delay. Seven nights passed while the prince journeyed towards Ayodhya. He knew not that Dasharatha had died until he reached the palace. Then Kaikeyi, his mother, informed him without tears.
Bharata wept, and flung himself down upon the floor, and cried aloud.
Kaikeyi said, “Thou shouldst not thus give way to grief, my son.”
Said Bharata, “If the Maharajah were alive, he would have embraced and kissed me on my return. But where is Rama, who is now as a sire unto me?”
Then Kaikeyi told him all that had taken place and said, “For thy sake, my son, I have accomplished this. Sorrow not because thou wilt be installed as ruler here.”
Said Bharata, “I have lost my father and my elder brother. Of what good is a kingdom unto me now? O evil-hearted woman, thou hast bereft this house of all joy; thou hast slain my sire and banished Rama. But I will bring my brother back from the jungle; he shall be seated on the throne.”
Shatrughna sorrowed like Bharata, and when he beheld the wicked hunchback Manthara he threw her down and dragged her across the floor, saying, “This hateful creature is the cause of our calamities. I will slay her.”
Kaikeyi flew away in terror, and Bharata said, “Slay her not, because she is a woman. I would have killed my wicked mother, but, had I done so, Rama would ne'er have forgiven me nor have spoken to me again. Spare this wretch, O Shatrughna, lest Rama should be angry with thee.”
Kaushalya, mother of Rama, then approached Bharata and said, “The raj is now thine, O ambitious one. Thy mother hath secured it for thee.”
Bharata fell at her feet and vowed that he would never sit on the throne, but would hasten after Rama to entreat him to return.