Bharat Leaves for Chitrakoot
Bharat refuses to accept the throne, and decides instead to leave for Chitrakoot, meet with Rama, and persuade him to return.
Soon after Bharat had returned and overcome the shock of his father's death, the ministers of Ayodhya, in consultation with sages like Vashishta and Vamdeo, decided it was time Bharat took over the throne. After all, no kingdom should remain without a ruler indefinitely, and Bharat was a wise, able administrator. Furthermore, it had been decreed by Dashrath that Bharat be crowned king, and his wishes should be honoured.
When the sages approached Bharat and requested him to agree to be crowned King, Bharat was very hesitant. All tried to persuade him by telling him that this was his father's wish, and that his brothers would be very happy indeed to know that Ayodhya was in able hands and Bharat was the ruler. Kaushalaya too requested Bharat to accept the crown, and gave her heartfelt blessings to her son who had done no wrong.
Bharat, however, was deeply unhappy, and had a burning desire to meet Rama. He was not keen on ruling Ayodhya and strongly felt that Rama was the rightful ruler. He was determined to bring Rama back to Ayodhya, and declared that he would leave for Chitrakoot the next morning.
Everyone heartily approved of Bharat's decision to visit his brothers at Chitrakoot. The ministers immediately started making preparations, on Bharat's orders, for the coronation ceremony. Bharat had decided that he would crown Rama as King and would bring him back to rule Ayodhya.
The next morning an entire procession departed with Bharat. Kaushalya arranged for chariots for all the members of the procession, as she felt that they were too weak to travel on foot. The people of Ayodhya were already very weak due to being depressed by Rama's leaving, and continuous fasting as they prayed for his safe and quick return.
The procession carried on for hours, and when they reached the river Ganga, Nishadraj heard of Bharat's arrival and was disturbed by the news. If Bharat wanted to meet Rama, why did he need to be accompanied by so many others? His doubts lead him to believe that Bharat probably wanted to kill his brothers so he could rule Ayodhya in peace for the rest of his life. He then commanded his troops to remain on alert and be ready to battle in case need arises, and went onward to greet the procession. He introduced himself as a friend of Shri Rama.
When Bharat realized that this was his beloved brother's friend, he jumped down from his chariot and embraced Nishadraj. Seeing the pure love for Rama in Bharat's eyes, Nishadraj immediately realized that Bharat was indeed going to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya and not to kill him. Then Bharat and the procession stayed the night as guests of Nishadraj, and crossed the Ganges the next morning. The procession continued onwards until it reached the hermitage of Sage Bhardwaj. The wise sage spoke to Bharat and advised him not to feel guilty about what had happened. He reassured Bharat that he was not to blame. Even if Bharat had accepted the throne, it would be entirely understandable as it was the command of his father. Bharat's love for Rama was no doubt very deep, and the sage stressed that just as he felt blessed to have met Rama, so also he felt doubly blessed on meeting Bharat.
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