An epitome of dharma and idealism, Bharata, like his other brothers was born with the grace of Agni, the Fire-God emerging from Putrakama yagna. He was born of Kekeyi, Dasharatha’s third and youngest wife.
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Rama is considered as the seventh avatar of Vishnu while Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna are considered as part-incarnations of Sheshanaga, Sudarshana Chakra and Shankha, respectively.
As the epic goes, it is said that when king Dashratha decided to crown Rama, Kekeyi who was beguiled by her maid Manthara, laid Bharata’s claim over the throne and succeeded in sending Lord Rama into exile for fourteen years. When told, Lord Rama left Ayodhya, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Unable to bear the pain of separation from his beloved son, Dasharatha passed away.
Bharata,who along with Shatrughna is at Kekeya, remained oblivious about the turn of events at Ayodhya and only experienced the misery through bad omens. He was summoned back to Ayodhya without being informed about the actual reason.
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Next what happens marks Bharata’s purity of soul. When Kekeyi narrates to him everything from first to last. Bharata, in a gust of self-condemnation accuses his own mother of being a sinner, one who waters the tree after she has killed the tree.
Bharata decline the claim over the throne and reach out for the search of his brother, Rama in the first place. However, persuaded by Guru Vashishtha and other he agrees to accomplish his father’s death rites before he begins his search for Rama.
This phase of Bharta’s life adds up a unique dimension to Ramanya that seeks sublimation of frailties. Bharata’s self-condemnation, the remorse for the evil which he did not planned but was nonetheless the cause of it, not only breeds in him humility but also deep agony of which he alone is the subject.
Unable to persuade his brother to return to Ayodhya, Bharata takes back Rama’s sandals and agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler, but as Ram’s representative.
Installing Rama’s sandals on Ayodhya’s throne, Bharata played the role of a king but lived like an ascetic. The Padma Purana quotes Lord Rama admitting that his exile is not as painful as Bharata’s penance as the ruler of Ayodhya.