Bharata’s return to Ayodhya after a sojourn in his uncle’s place leaves him baffled — the absence of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, the death of Dasaratha, and the responsibility of Ayodhya regime on his shoulders. Bharata is pained at Rama’s banishment, and to this is compounded the truth that the people would see in him a usurper. How easily his integrity would become suspect in the eyes of the world?

He vents his anger at Kaikeyi and is determined to bring Rama back to Ayodhya. He had never wanted the kingdom. So there is no temptation to rule the kingdom that is now in his reach. Such is his noble nature.

Valmiki’s faithful record of the happenings captures the trauma experienced by all the characters involved at this juncture to bring to light the impeccable nature (Manobhava) of Bharata, pointed out K. Srinivasan in a lecture. Kausalya, for instance, does not mince words when she implies that Bharata has connived with Kaikeyi. To brave this ignominy, Bharata immediately makes the most terrible vows that would bring harm to him if he had at any time even harboured any desire for the kingdom. That he inflicts this challenge on himself establishes beyond doubt his pure heart.

Guha and later Bharadwaja too suspect Bharata’s innocence and intentions. In each instance, he patiently vindicates himself by his thought, word and deed to win their confidence. Guha consoles Bharata who is steeped in unbearable grief and offers him all full support for his mission.

Led by Vasishta, Bharata now approaches Bharadwaja, who asks him point blank if he intends to harm Rama. Bharata says the sage who can divine the past, present and future should be able to understand his innocence. With tears in his eyes, Bharata tells Bharadwaja: “I will not harm any being. I do not share my mother’s wishes regarding the kingdom. My aim is to plead with Rama to come back and rule in Ayodhya. So would you kindly tell me Rama’s whereabouts?” The sage then says he wanted to confirm his noble nature and also to see that it is steadfast in him. He assures Bharata that his fame will grow. He requests Bharata and his retinue to accept his hospitality.