Friday, February 4, 2011

PDE Ramayana: Rama and Bharata

Reading Guide. After Dasharatha's funeral, Bharata goes into the forest to seek out Rama and persuade him to return to the city. He finally finds Rama at Chitrakuta.

Image: The painting you see below depicts multiple scenes in a single frame, and you can see how Rama reacts with great emotion to the arrival of Bharata and to the news that he brings.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [600 words]

The Funeral | 23. Rama and Bharata | The Sandals

The two brothers met in the jungle of Chitrakuta, and they embraced one another and wept for their dead sire.

In the morning Bharata spake to Rama in the presence of the army, saying, “This raj, which was given unto me against my will, I now gift unto thee, mine elder brother. Accept it and remove the stain of my mother's sin.”

Said Rama, “O Bharata, my royal sire, fulfilling his vow, banished me to the jungle and appointed thee to the raj. A faithful son cannot recall the mandate of his sire.”

Then Jabali, the brahmanic counsellor of Dasharatha, spake and said, “O Rama, why dim thine understanding with empty maxims? Thou hast already obeyed thy sire. It is foolish to think that thou shouldst continue this allegiance to one who is dead. A man enters the world alone and departs alone; he owns not friendship to kindred. His parents are to him like a wayside inn which he leaves in the morning; his allegiance to them is temporary. He meets them like a traveller who tarries on his journey and then goes on his way as before. In this world we have only one life to live. If thou wilt refuse this raj, thou wilt destroy thy one life. I am sorry for those who scorn the blessings of this world so long as they are alive in the hope that they will reach a Paradise which does not exist. When this life is spent we are extinguished for ever. Alas that men should make to their ancestors useless offerings! Can a dead man eat thereof? These offerings are a waste of food. If the soul endures and passes into a new body how can it benefit from food eaten by another? These practices were invented by cunning priests with selfish motives. There is no Hereafter. Therefore, snatch the joys of life while thou canst, O Rama: take the raj which is offered to thee and return to Ayodhya.”

Said Rama, whose heart was filled with anger, “O Jabali, thy motive is excellent but thy doctrines are false. A good man is distinguished from an evil man by his deeds. How can I, who have embraced a virtuous life, turn now into the path of evildoing? The gods who read a man's heart would curse me for my sins. Vain are thine idle words; thy reasoning is cunning but false. Truth is our ancient path. Truth endures when all else passes away. The venom of falsehood is more deadly than the venom of a serpent's sting. Thou hast said that there is no Hereafter, and that we should snatch pleasures while life endures. If that is so, why do wise men condemn what is evil, if the vicious are simply pursuing the quest of happiness? Why do sages live austere lives, eating fruits and roots, instead of feasting on flesh and drinking wine? There would be no sciences if we believed only those things we behold. Inferential proof must be permitted. Is a woman to consider herself a widow when her husband is out of sight? Know, all of ye, that I will be faithful to the mandate of my sire. I will keep my promise which I cannot recall. Let Bharata reign, for I will dwell in the jungle.”

Bharata said, “If my sire's wish must be fulfilled, let me remain in the jungle for fourteen years so that Rama may return to Ayodhya.”

Said Rama, “Neither Bharata nor I can recall or change the commands of Dasharatha.”

The Funeral | Rama and Bharata | The Sandals

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