A king’s responsibilities are demanding, and the role of wise counsel is important. A king should take care not to punish the innocent while being alert to see that those who have to be punished do not go unpunished. An uncanny alertness alone can detect the sly enemy who masquerades as friend to overthrow the king.

Rama instructs Bharata on the nuances of Rajaneeti (administration of dharma by king) in the Kaschit sarga of the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana. Rama in banishment was camping in the forests of Chitrakuta hill, and Bharata and his team from Ayodhya seek him out at his hermitage, after being advised by sage Bharadwaja that Rama might be found on the banks of the Mandakini. The instruction is in the form of a series of questions which bring out the duties to be observed, and the ideals of governance, emphasising strict adherence to the dharma sastras, pointed out Sri K. Srinivasan in a lecture. Rama is proud of the high standards of administration maintained by His forebears in the Ikshvaku lineage.

He asks Bharata about the state of affairs in Ayodhya. Are the preceptors such as Vasishta and others in the king’s court duly honoured? Are the ordained duties and rituals (such as agnihotram and asvamedha) that are incumbent on the rulers being reminded by the preceptors and observed?

Are the celestial beings propitiated through rituals, the elders revered and looked after, and the learned rewarded? Are the people well looked after? Have adequate funds been allotted to meet the needs of people?

He advises Bharata not to have any interaction with those who do not believe in the sastras. Their knowledge is opposed to truth as they disregard the ordained tradition and accepted beliefs.

They can create an impression of being capable and learned with their seemingly clever arguments and influence people to reject the sastras.

Any association with such people can be detrimental to the kingdom. Rama reveals a special attachment for Ayodhya and its noble citizens. The hereditary value of Ayodhya, an invincible capital, has been maintained by the rulers. Its people are selfless and generous.