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Valmiki Ramayana - Ayodhya Kanda in Prose

Sarga 88

Bharata and his minister approach the foot of Angudi tree, where Rama has slept on a grass-bed on the ground. Bharata feels bad that on his account, Rama and Seetha were to sleep on such a grass-bed. He thinks that the city of Ayodhya is plunged in desolation, because of the death of Dasaratha and the exile of Rama to the forest. Bharata further takes an owe that like Rama, he will also henceforth sleep on grass with his locks matted, wearing robes of bark and living only on roots and fruits. He says that if Rama refuses his appeal to occupy the throne of Ayodhya, he also will stay back in the forest along with Rama.

 

Having heard all that perfectly, Bharata approached the foot of Ingudi Tree along with his ministers and gazed on that grass-bed on which Rama had slept. Thereafter, he said to all his mothers as follows: "It is here that the magnanimous hero laid himself for that night, his limbs pressing the earth. Born of the great and sagacious Dasaratha in an illustrious family, Rama verily does not deserve to sleep on this bare earth! How could Rama the tiger among men, who used to sleep on a couch horded with rich cushions covered with superior hairy skins of antelopes, sleep on a bare floor? Having ever dwelt in palaces, the upper apartments resembling the chariots of the gods and in turrets, furnished with excellent carpets decked with heaps of flowers, perfumed with sandal and aloes, like unto a bright and towering cloud, re-echoing to the cries of parrots, surpassing the finest of palaces, which were cool and fragrant with perfumes, as unto Mount Meru with its golden walls, where in that palace he was awakened at the fitting time by songs and music from various instruments, tinkling of ornaments and the excellent sounds of clay tom-toms, glorified by many panegyrists, bards and ministrels through appropriate ballads and songs of praise."

"This ( such a prince becoming like this) is unbelievable in the world and does not appear true to me. My mind is indeed bewildered. I wish that it were a dream. Surely even a deity is not a little more powerful than Time (the will of god), since that Rama, the son of Dasaratha has to sleep on the bare ground! Even Seetha the daughter of the king of videha, lovely to look upon and the cherished daughter-in-law of Dasaratha has to sleep on the floor!"

"This is the bed of my elder brother. Here are indeed the blessed marks of his changing sides, in the form of all the blades of Kusa grass, trampled by his limbs on the hard ground. I think the blessed Seetha has slept on this bed along with her jewels for, some particles of gold appear to be stuck up, here and there. It is very clear that the upper garment of Seetha got entangled with these blades here at that time. That is why, these silk-threads appear stuck to them. I think the bed of her husband is sweet to a woman and thought Seetha is young and unfortunate, yet however delicate she be, she would experience no suffering. Alas! I am a cruel man because on my account, Rama, like an orphan, along with his wife slept on such a bed. How can Rama, born in the race of monarchs, highly honoured by the entire world, beloved of all the people, having a dark complexion as that of a blue-lotus, having red eyes, lovely to look at who is entitled for comfort and who is not worthy of suffering, sleep on the ground, abandoning excellent kingdom and comfort?"

"Lakshmana, having auspicious marks on his body and an exceedingly lucky man, who accompanied his elder brother Rama in times of adversity in indeed a fortunate man. Seetha, who went together with her husband to the forest, is indeed an accomplished woman. All of us, deprived of the highly virtuous Rama, are an unsettled lot. Dasaratha went to heaven. Rama is dwelling in the forest. this kingdom appears to me as a boat without helmsman. Even if staying in the forest, Rama protects this earth with the power of his arms. Hence, nobody can think even in his mind, to invade this kingdom. Without guards to watch over its ramparts, with its unrestrained horses and elephants, with its city-gates laid open, without any defenders, denuded of its happy army, plunged in desolation in difficulties and exposed, that royal capital of Ayodhya will be shunned like poisoned food even by the enemies. From today onwards, I shall sleep on the earth or on the grass, with my locks matted, wearing robes of bark and by all means living on fruits and roots."

"For the rest of his exile, on behalf of Rama, I shall dwell cheerfully in the forest, thereby discharging that promise so that the vows of Rama shall not have been made in vain. Shatrughna will bear company with me, residing in the forest on behalf of Rama. My elder brother, Rama along with Lakshmana will protect Ayodhya. Rama will be enthroned in ayodhya, by Brahmanas the Twice-born! May the gods grant that my desire be made a reality. Should Rama not accept the respectful appeals made in many a way by me, I shall follow the foot steps of Rama for any length of time he roams about in the forest thereafter. He ought not to refuse this grace to me."

 

Thus completes 88th Chapter of Ayodhya Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

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February 2004, K. M. K. Murthy