‘Speak, my true, my faithful Bharat,’ so the righteous Rama cried,
‘Wherefore to this jungle dwelling hast thou from Ayodhya hied,
Speak, my fond and loving brother, if our father bade thee come,
Leaving throne and spacious empire in this wilderness to roam?
Heir and Regent of Kosala! Dost thou tend our father well,
And obey the lofty mandate from his royal lips that fell,
And the ancient Dasa-ratha, glorious still in regal might,
Doth he pass his bright life’s evening in each pure and holy rite?
Doth my mother, Queen Kausalya, still for Rama wet her eye,
And the gentle Queen Sumitra for her banished Lakshman sigh,
Doth the peerless Queen Kaikeyi pass her days in duties fair,
Guard her Bharat’s mighty empire, tend him with a mother’s care?
Is each holy rite and homage to the Gods and Fathers done,
Is the honour due to elders rendered by each duteous son,
Do thy warriors guard thy kingdom as of yore with matchless skill,
And with counsel deep and duteous do thy min’sters serve thy will?
Rich thy fields in corn and produce fed by rivers broad and deep,
Rich thy green unending pastures with the kine and fattened sheep,
Tend the herdsman and his cattle, tend the tiller of the soil,
Watch and help with all thy bounty workmen in their peaceful toil,
For the monarch’s highest duty is to serve his people’s weal
And the ruler’s richest glory is to labour and to heal!
Guard thy forts with sleepless caution with the engines of the war,
With the men who shoot the arrow and who drive the flying car,
Guard Kosala’s royal treasure, make thy gifts of wealth and food,
Not to lords and proud retainers, but to worthy and the good!
Reader justice pure and spotless as befits thy royal line,
And to save the good and guiltless, Bharat, be it ever thine,
For the tears of suffering virtue wither like the thunder levin,
And they slay our men and cattle like the wrath of righteous heaven,
Fruitful be thy lore of Veda, fruitful be each pious rite,
Be thy queen a fruitful mother, be thy empire full of might!’
Weeping, weeping, Bharat answered Dasa-ratha’s eldest son,
‘Dasa-ratha walks the bright sky, for his earthly task is done!
For impelled by Queen Kaikeyi to the woods he bade thee go,
And his spotless fame was clouded and his bosom sank in woe,
And my mother, late repenting, weeps her deed of deepest shame,
Weeps her wedded lord departed, and a woman’s tarnished fame!
Thou alone canst wipe this insult by a deed of kindness done,
Rule o’er Dasa-ratha’s empire, Dasa-ratha’s eldest son,
Weeping queens and loyal subjects supplicate thy noble grace,
Rule o’er Raghu’s ancient empire, son of Raghu’s royal race!
For our ancient Law ordaineth and thy Duty makes it plain,
Eldest-born succeeds his father as the king of earth and main,
By the fair Earth loved and welcomed, Rama, be her wedded lord,
As by planet-jewelled Midnight is the radiant Moon adored!
And thy father’s ancient min’sters and thy courtiers faithful still,
Wait to do thy righteous mandate and to serve thy royal will,
As a pupil, as a brother, as a slave, I seek thy grace,
Come and rule thy father’s empire, king of Raghu’s royal race!’
Weeping, on the feet of Rama, Bharat placed his lowly head,
Weeping for his sire departed, tears of sorrow Rama shed,
Then he raised his loving brother with an elder’s deathless love,
Sorrow wakes our deepest kindness and our holiest feelings prove!
‘But I may not,’ answered Rama, ‘seek Ayodhya’s ancient throne,
For a righteous father’s mandate duteous son may not disown,
And I may not, gentle brother, break the word of promise given,
To a king and to a father who is now a saint in heaven!
Not on thee, nor on thy mother, rests the censure or the blame,
Faithful to his father’s wishes Rama to the forest came,
For the son and duteous consort serve the father and the lord,
Higher than an empire’s glory is a father’s spoken word!
All inviolate is his mandate,-on Ayodhya’s jewelled throne,
Or in pathless woods and jungle Rama shall his duty own,
All inviolate is the blessing by a loving mother given,
For she blessed my life in exile like a pitying saint of heaven!
Thou shalt rule the kingdom, Bharat, guard our loving people well,
Clad in wild bark and in deer-skin I shall in the forests dwell,
So spake saintly Dasa-ratha in Ayodhya’s palace hall,
And a righteous father’s mandate duteous son may not recall!’