Preparations for Rama’s Return

Upon hearing the most blissful news, Bharata, the slayer of enemy warriors, gave the following orders to the delighted Shatrughna: “Let pure people perform worship of the gods at all the shrines in the city with fragrant sandalwood paste, flower garlands and instrumental music. Let bards learned in the ancient tales, all the minstrels, all the musicians skilled in playing instruments and groups of courtesans all sally forth to see the moon-like face of Rama.”

Hearing Bharata’s instructions, Shatrughna engaged many thousands of hired laborers: “Level the low and uneven places from here all the way to Nandigrama. But leave the temple sites alone. Sprinkle the ground thoroughly with ice-cold water. Then let others strew it all over with puffed grains and flowers. Decorate the streets of this very best of cities with flags. Until sunrise, decorate the buildings with garlands made with golden flowers or with five different colors of flowers. Tie them in loops or stretch them out in strands. Let hundreds of men see that the royal highway is not blocked.”

When they heard Shatrughna’s instructions, the ministers Dhrishti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Siddhartha, Arthasadhaka, Ashoka, Mantrapala and Sumantra were pleased and left, followed by thousands of elephants in rut that were nicely decorated and bearing flags. Other great warriors rode on bull and female elephants with golden girths, on horseback or in chariots. Warriors went forth surrounded by thousands of the best horses and thousands of foot soldiers carrying spears, javelins, nooses, flags and pennants. When all of King Dasharatha’s wives had boarded vehicles, with Kausalya and Sumitra placed in front, they departed. Accompanied by Kaikeyi, they all arrived at Nandigrama. In fact, the whole city came to Nandigrama.

The earth shook with the braying of horses and asses, the rumbling of chariots, and the uproar of conch shells and drums. Placing Rama’s worshipable sandals on His head and bringing along a parasol decorated with white flower garlands, the great soul Bharata went ahead with His ministers to meet Rama. He was surrounded by His ministers, twice-born Brahmanas, leaders of guilds and merchants carrying flower garlands and round sweetmeats in their hands. Although Bharata was emaciated from fasting and morose, wearing only tree bark cloth and the skin of a black antelope, when He heard that His brother was returning, He was overjoyed even before that arrival.

Looking around, Bharata spoke the following words to Hanuman, son of the wind: “I hope that you are not displaying the fickleness of monkeys, for I do not see the noble Rama, the scorcher of enemies. Nor can be seen the monkeys who can change their form.” After Bharata said this, Hanuman replied, making the truth of the matter known:

“One can hear the dreadful roar of forest-dwelling monkeys and bears overjoyed to reach flowering trees flowing with honey, abounding in fruit and resounding with the buzzing of bumblebees by the grace of the sage Bharadvaja. In fact, a boon was conferred upon You by Lord Indra when You visited Rama with Your army at Chitrakuta. I think the monkey army must be crossing the Gomati River. See the cloud of dust rising over there in the grove of Shaala trees! I think the monkeys must be shaking that charming grove of Shaala trees. There in the distance can be seen an airship shining like the moon. It is the celestial airship Pushpaka created by the mind of Vishvakarma through his spiritual powers, and has been requisitioned by the great Rama after killing Ravana and his relatives. That airship as bright as the rising sun is carrying Rama. This divine airship which is as fast as the mind belongs to Kuvera by the grace of Lord Brahma. In that airship the two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana are with Sita, along with the spirited Sugreeva and the rakshasa Vibhishana.”

Then a loud shout of joy touching the sky rose up from the women, children and elderly: “Here comes Rama!” Getting down from their chariots, elephants and horses and standing on the ground, the people looked at Rama in the airship like a moon in the sky. With joined palms, Bharata became overjoyed. Facing Rama, He worshiped Him appropriately with water for washing the hands, feet, and so forth. Bharata’s older brother Rama, whose eyes were quite broad, shone in that airship created from the mind of Vishvakarma, like Lord Indra among the immortals. Bowing down, Bharata saluted His brother Rama, who was in the front of the airship, as one would salute the sun on Mount Meru. When permitted by Rama, the unparalleled airship adorned with the image of a swan, came down to the earth. Delighted to climb onto the airship, Bharata approached Rama and greeted Him once again. Rising up from His seat when He saw Bharata after such a long time, Rama joyfully embraced Bharata to His chest. Approaching Lakshmana and Sita, He announced Himself to Them by uttering His name. Bharata also embraced Sugreeva, Jambavan, Angada, Mainda, Dvivida, Nila and Rishabha. Then He embraced Sushena, Nala, Gavaaksha, Gandhamaadana, Sharabha and Panasa. Having assumed human forms, the monkeys then inquired from Bharata about his welfare.

Embracing Sugreeva, the best of monkeys, Prince Bharata, the best of the virtuous, said: “You are a fifth brother for Us four. A friend is born from goodwill, whereas an enemy is distinguished by malevolence. Bharata then spoke the following gratifying words to Vibhishana: “Luckily a very difficult task was accomplished with your help.” After greeting Rama and Lakshmana, Shatrughna then bowed humbly to the feet of Sita.

Approaching His mother, who had grown pale and wane due to grief, Rama bowed down and touched her feet, thereby greatly pleasing her mind. After greeting Sumitra and the illustrious Kaikeyi, Rama then approached all the other mothers and the family priest Vasishta.

With joined palms, all the citizens of Ayodhya said to Rama: “Welcome, O He who increases the bliss of Kausalya!” Lord Rama saw thousands of joined palms that resembled blossoming lotus flowers. Taking Rama’s sandals, Bharata put them on Lord Rama’s feet. Then Bharata said to Rama with joined palms: “Here is Your whole kingdom entrusted to Me and returned by Me to You. Today My birth has become successful and My desire is fulfilled in that I see You, the king, returned to Ayodhya. Please examine Your treasury, treasure house, palace and army. By My exertion, I have increased everything ten-fold.” Seeing Bharata, who was full of brotherly affection, speak in that way, the monkeys and Vibhishana shed tears.

Placing Bharata on His lap out of joy, Rama then flew in the airship with his army to Bharata’s hermitage. When they arrived, Rama got down from the front of the airship and stood on the ground. Then He said to the exceptional airship: “I give you permission to carry the demigod Kuvera. You may go!” When permitted by Kuvera, the airship headed toward the north and proceeded to Kuvera’s abode. Propelled by the order of Rama, the celestial airship Pushpaka, which had been seized by Ravana, went with all speed back to Kuvera. As Rama sat on a splendid throne next to Vasishta, His family priest and personal friend, He clasped Vashishta’s feet, as Indra, lord of the immortals, would to his priest Brihaspati.

Thus completes 127th Chapter of Yuddha Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

Sriman Moola Rama Vijayate