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The Four Brothers and their Dharma -2

In the Ramayana, Bharata, Rama's younger brother, exemplifies the ideal of selfless service and adherence to dharma. To experience undeterred joy in the joy of his brother was the dharma of Bharata. Rama was sent to exile, not Bharata. Bharata was given the throne to rule over Ayodhya. But Bharata rejected the plea of his mother Kaikeyi. He even rejected the request of Kaushalya and Sumitra and turned a deaf ear to the requests of his ministers and politely refused to follow the advice of even his Guru, Vashishth. He even started decrying Vashisht’s sense of judgement in the filled-up courtroom. Could there be any crime greater than criticising your Guru? So many Suryavanshi rulers starting from the first ruler Vaivasvata Manu till that day, came, ruled and went but Vashisht, as the Guru of Suryavansh rulers, was rooted there. Bharat said, “Guruji is great. But it seems that my heinous crimes have taken a toll on Guruji’s sense of justice. My mother has committed a crime. I was aware that everyone would advise me to sit on the throne. But I was also confident that Guruji would be the only one who would abstain me from becoming the king saying that this very act goes against the establishment of an ideal kingdom.” Bharat’s heart-throbbing cry pierced every onlooker. Vashishth’s eyes filled with tears and he agreed with Bharata saying, “Your decision is my decision, O Bharata.”

Without wasting another moment Bharata said that it would become impossible to survive without having darshan of the lotus feet of his brother Rama. Everyone assembled in the court raised their hands and hailed Bharata. Bharata ran out of the palace, heading for Chitrakoota where Lakshmana had built a hut for Rama and Sita. The plants, animals and sages of Chitrakoota were having a grand time with Rama in their midst. But even they became misty eyed and sided with Bharata seeing him fall down at the feet of his elder brother crying inconsolably, urging him to return. With this act, Bharata adorned the hearts of all the people forcing them to urge Rama to return to Ayodhya.

Seeing everyone’s love, Rama turned to Bharata and said that he wouldn’t be able to reject the wish of his subjects and would definitely return but inquired whether they would be happy to see Rama unable to keep his father’s promise, unable to follow his dharma. Dazed, Bharata looked at Rama and replied, “No brother Rama, please don’t listen to me. My happiness lies in seeing you happy. Please follow your dharma. I will stay alive bearing your separation only for your happiness. But You must remember tht I won’t be able to survive a single moment after the completion of fourteen years.” Rama embraced Bharata tightly and said, “You kept the flag of love and devotion flying high. I will surely come back.”

Bharata's sacrifice is considered even greater than Lakshman’s. Bharata exemplified sacrifice through his profound sense of duty and loyalty to Rama. He rejected the throne and expressed his unwillingness to enjoy the privileges of kingship. Instead, Bharata undertook a self-imposed exile to live in the forest, choosing to reside in a humble hermitage. He relinquished the comforts of royal life and embraced the austere lifestyle of a forest dweller to honour Rama's rightful place as the king. His unwavering commitment to dharma and brotherly love set a powerful example of sacrificing personal desires for the greater good. Bharata's noble actions resonate throughout the Ramayana and his character serves as a moral compass, highlighting the importance of righteousness and devotion to duty even in challenging circumstances.

Shatrughna, the youngest of the four brothers, played a pivotal role in the Ramayana, often overshadowed by the deeds of his elder siblings. His sacrifice lied in his unswerving loyalty to his brothers and commitment to their shared cause. His dharma is considered even greater than Bharata’s. He was the youngest of the four brothers but made the greatest sacrifice. He had never even lifted his eyes to look at the lotus face of Ramachandra. He was scared that if he looked at Rama then his heart would be stolen. He was aware that he was not born to serve the Lord but to serve the servant of the Lord. If Rama stole his heart, then he won’t be able to duly serve Bharata.

Look at the fate of Shatrughna! His father died, brothers Rama and Lakshmana left for the forest. Bharata came back to Ayodhya and retrieved to his secluded austere life with strict instructions that he would meet Shatrughna only once a day to discuss about the welfare of the kingdom. Bharata sent Shatrughna back to the palace in Ayodhya and ordered him to take care of their mothers and the people. Shatrughna had to made sure that Ayodhya was being run like ‘Rama Rajya’, so that the citizen led a happy life without shedding a drop of tear.

Shatrughna was equally capable of staying in the forest, leading an austere life without the lavish lifestyle of a prince in the palace. But he had a greater duty of making people happy, keeping the kingdom vibrant, spirited and full of life till the return of Rama. In the night, he wept bitterly, unable to bear the separation of Rama and Bharata, but as soon as the sun rose, he got up hiding his grief behind his vivacious smile. He would run straight to the cows in the morning like Rama would, feeding them and wiping their tears, hugging them, telling them to eat well and stay healthy to be able to welcome Rama when he returned after fourteen years. The cows of Ayodhya should be able to perform the Maha Abhishek of Rama with their milk during his coronation. Listening to Shatrughna, the cows, horses, elephants, the inmates of the palace, the people of Ayodhya got back to resuming their daily duties with a smile on their face. The artists, singers and dancers were motivated to practice and refine their artforms so that they would be able to offer their best when Rama adorned the throne. The kingdom had to flourish for the happiness of Rama.

Shatrughna went straight to Mother Kaushalya. Mourning the exile of Rama along with Lakshamana and Sita, Kaushalya sat in her room like a statue. Tears ran like streams of rivers as she looked at Shatrughna questioning why hasn’t she fallen down dead yet. Shatrughna ran out of words trying to pacify his grieving mother. Perplexed, he answered, “I am hungry Mother. Who will feed me if you don’t?” Listening to Shatrughna’s honey laced words, Kaushalya’s motherly instinct arose in her. She stood up from her position, went inside to get some food and started feeding Shatrughna. Shatrughna didn’t give up either. He made sure to feed everyone, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra before being fed by them.

His sacrifice reached its pinnacle when Rama, after returning to Ayodhya, asked Shatrughna to leave for Mathura to fight with Lavanasura - a separation of twelve more years. Rama made Shatrughna the crown prince of Mathura and advised him to serve the kingdom and its people. After killing Lavanasura and being made the prince of Mathura, it was difficult for Shatrughna to survive being separated from his brothers. Seeing the plight of their king, the brahmins of Mathura formed a group to enact Ramleela so that Shatrughna’s pangs of separation could be pacified by watching the Ramleela. Shatrughna watched the Ramleela for twelve years and survived the period of separartion from his brothers. The Ramleela of Mathura is famous even now. It is mentioned in the Padma Puran that Rama along with Bharata had once came to Mathura to visit Shatrughna.

Shatrughna's unwavering dedication to the cause and his willingness to face adversity exemplify the essence of sacrifice in the pursuit of righteousness. The characters of Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna in the Ramayana stand as timeless symbols of sacrifice, embodying the principles of duty, loyalty, and selflessness. Their unwavering commitment to their brothers and the path of righteousness serves as a source of inspiration for generations, teaching valuable lessons about the importance of familial bonds and the sacrifices one must make for the greater good. In the tapestry of the Ramayana, these brothers weave a narrative of sacrifice that transcends time, reminding humanity of the enduring significance of dharma and virtuous living.




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Nice....a must read!

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