Rama's party set up a hermitage in the Chitrakoot forest on the
banks of the river Mandakini and spent a few months there. One day they saw wild animals
running about with fear near their hut. After sometime, they heard a big commotion as if a
big hunting expedition was on. Rama suggested to Lakshmana to climb up a tree and see what
it was all about. From the treetop, Lakshmana could see an army battalion. In the middle
of the ranks was fluttering a 'Kovidara'flag - it was Bharata's flag.
Lakshmana, sighting it, said; "A battalion is coming. It is Bharata's. His flag is
flying. As if not satisfied with usurping the kingdom, he is now probably coming to
inflict more harms upon you. You stand aside with the sister-in-law. I will finish that
bad fellow. Let his mother, who got him the kingdom through her misbehavior, see that I
will kill him." Rama said, "is it Bharata who is coming?
Why do you think about him in this manner? Probably, my brother must be coming to take
me back to the capital after denouncing his mother's misdeed. Without you, I do not want
to be the ruler of even all the three worlds." Hearing this, Lakshmana felt somewhat
Bharata arrived shortly and as expected, pleaded with Rama to return. Rama was not
willing. When he heard that his father had passed away, Rama decided that there was no
point in going back. Thereupon, Bharata requested Sri Rama to give him his sandals and
with them returned to the capital. "These sandals will rule our kingdom in your
absence. You must return immediately on completion of the 14-year exile. Otherwise, I will
burn myself and die."
Lakshmana must have wondered at Bharata's conduct, which was quite contrary to what he
had imagined. He now felt very happy. Then onwards he never thought anything bad about
him. One day, remembering him, Lakshmana said: "Dear brother, Bharata is waiting in
the capital pining for your arrival." His sympathy and affection were evident.
Kaikeyi also, had come with Bharata to see them and desired that Rama should come back.
Still Lakshmana was sore about her. "People say that sons take after their mothers
instead of their fathers. It may not be wholly true. Bharata did not take after his
mother," he thought. Rama told him: "Speak about Bharata whatever is good. But I
do not like your speaking ill of our aunt." Lakshmana kept quiet. "When I speak
thus in support of my elder brother, he himself supports those opposed to him and
chastises me," thought Lakshmana but he did not feel hurt. Rama's demeanor had now
made him a most obedient servant rather than a brother.
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana visited various Ashrams, stayed there for one, two or six
months and by the tenth year arrived on the fringe of the Janasthana jungle.
At that time, this forest was under the control of 'Rakshasa' (demons). Ravana, the
ruler of Lanka, was their king. Under his aegis, the local chieftains were very arrogant.
Khara, Dooshana and Trishira were these local rulers. When Rama, Sita and Lakshmana
arrived on the fringe of the forest, Rama decided to build a hermitage there. Lakshmana
built the huts and his work earned praise from Rama.
They stayed there happily for sometime. Nearby was the abode of
Gridhraraja, (Gridhraraja means an eagle as stated in contemporary versions of
Valmiki Ramayana. That the bird spoke like a human being and acted like one could only be
Perhaps, we should interpret the name Gridhraraja as a king whose standard bore the
insignia of an eagle.) Jatayu told Rama and his companions that he was a friend of
Dasharatha and welcomed them affectionately.