by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “prince bharata sees ayodhya filled with unhappy people” and represents Chapter 71 of the Ayodhya-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Ayodhya-kanda].
That valiant and resplendent prince, turning eastward, came to the river Suddama, and passing over it, reached the broad Hladini and the Satali flowing westward. Having crossed over the river at Iladhana, he reached Parvata and the stream in which all objects thrown are petrified, then proceeding further he forded the Shalyakartana river. Then the righteous and truth loving prince ascended the mountains and crossed the river Shilavaha near the forest Citraratha, arriving at the confluence of the Ganges and Sarasvati, and traversing the land of Viramatsya, entered the Bharunda forest. At length, reaching the swift and joy-inspiring Kulinga river, which descends from the mountains, he crossed the Yamuna and allowed his army to rest. There, the weary horses were refreshed and his followers bathed and drank, taking water with them for future use on the way. Thereafter, Prince Bharata entered the uninhabited forest on a great Bhadra elephant, speedily traversing it. Finding they were unable to cross the Ganga at Unchudhana, they went to the place called Pragavata and crossing there passed over another river named Kutikoshtaka; then with his army, he reached the village of Dharmavardhana. Resting for a while at Varutha, the son of Dasaratha went towards the east to the wood called Ujjihana which was filled with kedumbra1 trees. Arriving at the groves of sala and bhanduka trees, Bharata, leaving his army to follow slowly, went forward with haste, halting at the village of Sarvatirtha. Then crossing the river Uttamika, he passed over several other streams with the help of mountain ponies. At Hastiprastaka, he crossed the river Kutika and at Lohitya, the Sukatavati. Arriving at the forest of Sahavana, having crossed the Sthanumati near Eksala, he traversed the Gaumati at Vinata. His horses being greatly fatigued by the journey, the prince halted the night at Salawan and at dawn beheld Ayodhya.
Having spent seven nights on the way, seeing Ayodhya from a distance, the prince said to his charioteer: “O Charioteer, this would appear to be the renowned and taintless city of Ayodhya abounding in green lawns, but at a distance it resembles a heap of yellow dust; formerly the sound of the recitation of the Veda was heard, intoned by the brahmins, and the city was frequented by royal sages. To-day, I do not hear the cheerful cries of men and women in pursuit of pleasure! The woods at eventide were formerly filled with people, running here and there in sport, but to-day they are deserted and silent. O Charioteer, this is not like Ayodhya to me, but seems to be a wilderness. None of the nobly born are seen coming and going in chariots or riding bn elephants and horses. The flower gardens were erstwhile filled with cheerful people and the orchards with those who made merry there! These gardens, once abounding in flowers and trees, with pleasant groves and arbours, to-day seem to mourn. I no longer hear the cry of deer or the birds singing with joy. O Friend, why do the breezes, redolent with the scent of sandalwood and ambergris, not blow as formerly, over the city? In the past, the sound of drums and the music of the Vina was heard by us, now all is silent! I see portentous signs and evil omens, my mind is heavy on account of these forebodings. O Charioteer, without apparent cause my heart beats fast and painfully, my mind is clouded, and apprehension freezes my senses.”
Entering the capital by the northern gate, his horses being overcome with weariness, the guards, enquiring as to his welfare, sought to accompany him on his way. But Bharata, sick at heart, declined their company, though with due deference.
He said: “O Charioteer, I behold the houses with their doors set open, bereft of splendour and emitting no fragrance of incense or sacrificial offering! Filled with unhappy people and those who are fasting, the houses are destitute of all splendour. No garlands hang from any dwelling and the courtyards lie neglected and unswept. The temples, without attendant priests, have lost their former splendour, none worship the gods and the sacrificial pavilions are deserted. The shops where formerly flowers were sold and other merchandise, are neglected, and the merchants appear dispirited and anxious over the cessation of their trade. Birds in the sacred groves seem joyless and men and women in soiled attire, weeping and lamenting, wasted with grief, roam about the city.”
Speaking thus to the charioteer and seeing the city’s distress, Prince Bharata drove towards the palace. Beholding the capital once gay as Indra’s city, with the roads and courts deserted and the houses covered with dust, he was overcome with anguish. Struck by these painful portents formerly unknown to him, Bharata, with bowed head, his heart filled with dread, entered bis father’s palace.