A gist of epic Ramayana-Part VI
Bharatha and the three queens alongwith Satruguna crossed the river Sarayu. The boatman Guha accompanied them to a little distance in the forest route since he was aware of the terrain. Though many of the residents of Ayodhya returned, yet some ardent admirers of Rama accompanied Bharatha into the deep forest. Lakshmana was guarding the place where Rama and Sita were resting. Seeing the big crowd from an elevated place, Lakshmana surmised that they were coming there to fight! When Rama was informed, he pacified Lakshmana and said, it is our own brother who is coming alongwith the queen mothers to see him. Hence they too went a distance to invite them all in the forest. On seeing the pitiable state of Rama and Sita, Bharatha could not contain himself. He ran to Rama and fell down on his knees sobbing heavily. Rama lifted him by the shoulder and embraced him. Still Bharatha was crying and sobbing. Rama pacified him and enquired about the welfare of their father. The three queens were nearing Rama and seeing that they have not adored their brow with vermilion marks, Rama surmised the catastrophe that fell on the Kingdom. He too prostrated to the queens sobbing and asking them the news, how all it had took place. The queen mothers embraced Rama and Kaikeyi too was crestfallen since she was the cause of the tragedy. But Rama never hated her and he has spoken kindly to her.
He said to Kaikeyi that "What is destined will happen but do not grieve mother. You are only an instrument in the hand of fate and hence do not feel that you are the cause! Finding the magnanimity in Rama's words, she clutched him and embraced him. Bharatha narrated all the incidents and about the funeral ceremonies. Immediately, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana took bath in the river and performed certain rituals to honor the soul of his departed father. Then Rama sat and everyone converged around Rama. Bharatha broached the topic of Rama's return to the Kingdom. But Rama straightaway told him, Keeping the promise of father is the bounden duty of the son. I will not return until fourteen years are complete. Be my representative and rule the Kingdom. When Bharatha was crying still, Rama handed him the pair of sandals he wore and said, this will guide you. With heart weighing with sorrow, the entire entourage left for Ayodhya.
Baratha install the sandal in the throne!
Baratha,Satruguna and the queen mothers returned to Ayodhya. On the way they met Guha and he took care of their needs perfectly. Bharatha bid adieu to Guha and all started back To Ayodhya. People at Ayodhya were pining for the return of their darling Rama but finding that he has not returned they were all in sorrow. Baratha has selected a holy place away from the city and it was called "Nandhigram". With the blessings of preceptor Vashista and the queen mothers, the sandals of Rama were installed in the throne amidst Vedic chants.Baratha too removed his royal cloths and wore the wood fibre as the dress to follow Rama. Thus he was ruling the kingdom justly as Rama would do and he considered the sandals of Rama as the real ruler. He was leading a pious life as though he was living in forest. Also he swore that If Rama has not returned after completion of fourteen years, He will jump into the fire and finish his life. Such was his adherence to Righteousness. He felt remorse and was brooding always due to the tragedy that struck the country.