Illustrated Ramayana – Part 9

The sage Vasishta, who was present, advised Bharata to follow Rama’s advice.

Bharata was still not willing to go back home without Rama. He again begged Rama to reconsider his decision.

Rama was firm in his resolve to carry out the sentence of exile. Bharata said he would not be able to govern Ayodhya without help.

If Rama would not return, he must at least condescend to part with some symbol of his authority. Bharata produced a pair of sandals and asked Rama to step on them.

He would take the sandals with him and regard them as agents of Rama. From these sandals he would, derive his authority to rule over Ayodhya.

To Bharata the sandals became sacred objects. He carried them on his head all the way back home and installed them on the throne at a place called Nandigrama near Ayodhya.

Rama was unhappy that the people of Ayodhya were forgetting their duties and daily cares in their love for him. He thought that if he stayed near Ayodhya he would not really be in exile. He made up his mind to go further into the forest where he could lead a hermit’s life undisturbed.

In the heart of the dark forest the princes and Sita met the sage Atri and his pious wife, Anasuya, and paid homage to the couple. Further on, Viradha, a dreadful monster in human form, challenged the princes.

Viradha was, wounded in battle but since he had obtained a boon that he would not be killed on earth, the princes, at his own request, buried him alive so that he could go to heaven.

In Dandakaranya (the Dandaka forest) the rishis begged Rama to rid them of the terror of the rakshasas and Rama promised to do so.