(Lakshmana, Sita and Rama in the forest of Chitrakut. Rama has started his spiritual life.)
LAKSHMANA: Look! Look, Rama! Brother Bharata’s army! Bharata is invading us. Perhaps he thinks that when you go back after fourteen years you may create trouble for him. He wants to prevent any future trouble. Look at that ungrateful creature! Like mother, like son. It is his mother, Kaikeyi, who has sent you here to this life of hardship and humiliation. Now her son is coming to destroy you with his army. What else can you expect from your Bharata? After all, he is the son of Kaikeyi.
RAMA: Lakshmana, my brother, don’t be so rash. How do you know that he is coming to kill me? He may be coming to take me back to the kingdom.
LAKSHMANA (laughing): Brother, you are not only the embodiment of truth but also the embodiment of innocence. If he wanted to take you back he would come alone. Why has he to bring his huge army? O Brother, sometimes your innocence amazes me.
(Enter Bharata followed by officers. He prostrates himself before Rama and weeps bitterly.)
BHARATA: Brother, I am here at your feet. This army is yours. Come back! The kingdom awaits your arrival. I have not accepted my mother’s foul offering to me. I have not fulfilled her foul wish. We have lost our father. Your physical absence has sent him into the other world.
(Lakshmana, Sita and Rama burst into tears.)
LAKSHMANA: Father is no more?
BHARATA: No more. He is in the world beyond. My mother Kaikeyi has ruined us all. Only your presence, Brother Rama, can bring happiness back to my life, and to our kingdom.
RAMA: Brother Bharata, it is you who have to rule the kingdom. That was Father’s wish.
BHARATA: No, never! It was the wish of my cruel, brutal mother, Kaikeyi. I won’t listen to you, Brother. You must come back with me. I will be your perfect slave. You are the legitimate ruler of Ayodhya, not I. Lord, come back with me, or let me stay with you here to serve you. I shall also lead an ascetic life.
RAMA: Beloved Brother Bharata, I have embraced asceticism to obey my father and my mother Kaikeyi.
BHARATA: Kaikeyi is inhuman! She is not your mother. She is God’s worst mistake; she is man’s worst curse. Never will I call her Mother. She has ruined our family. She has done something terribly wrong to you. I do not approve of our father’s action.
RAMA: Who are you to approve or disapprove of our father? It is my bounden duty to obey him.
BHARATA: If it is your bounden duty to listen to our father, then it is my bounden duty to serve you here. I am not going back. I will not go back to the kingdom. (Speaking to officers and to everyone present.) My brother Rama shows no pity for me; he gives no consideration to my prayer. I shall lie down and fast unto death.
RAMA: Brother Bharata, this is not the way you should behave. You are a King, and you must face the world. You have to face the present situation with your manliness. It is I who am asking you to go back and rule the kingdom. If you wish to serve me, then you can serve me best in this way. The ocean may dry up, the sun may lose all its brilliance, but I will not be false to my father’s divine promise. I shall remain in exile for fourteen years.
BHARATA: Nor can I be false to my promise. I am going to stay with you.
RAMA: Then you are disobeying me, your elder brother.
BHARATA: I am not disobeying you. I cannot live without you, that’s all. You are my Lord; you are my God. I can’t live without my Lord and God.
VASHISTHA: With my occult vision I have come to know what is happening here. O Rama, O Bharata, I can solve your problem.
RAMA AND BHARATA: Please, please, O Sage Vashistha, solve our problem.
VASHISTHA: Bharata, do not sit on Rama’s throne. But go and be his agent. You rule on his behalf.
BHARATA: O Sage, that will not satisfy me. If he will allow me to keep his wooden sandals to represent him on the throne, then I shall go back. But I shall not go back to Ayodhya. No, I shall live in the village of Nandini which is on the outskirts of Ayodhya. From there I shall carry out Rama’s orders. Brother Rama, every day I shall place your sandals on my head and on my heart before I speak to anyone. It is your sandals that will represent you on the throne and give me my authority. You are the King. I am your deputy. I shall look after your kingdom as your deputy. If you should fail to return to Ayodhya on the first day of the fifteenth year, the appointed day, you will not see your brother Bharata alive. I shall consign this body to flames, while uttering your sacred name.
RAMA (embraces his brother): Brother, I assure you of my return. I shall keep my promise. I make one last request to you. Do not torture our mother Kaikeyi. Ignorance has covered her life. Let us both forgive her. Through our forgiveness her inner illumination will take place.
(Rama gives Bharata the wooden sandals from his feet.)
BHARATA (places the pair of wooden sandals on his heart): This is the symbol of my loyalty to you, Rama, my brother, my father, my All. (Embraces Lakshmana and touches the feet of Sita.) Mother Sita, I shall do everything for you and for my brothers Rama and Lakshmana. As an anxious mother waits for her son’s arrival after a long journey, as a dying man cries for a new life, I shall wait for your arrival and cry for your return.