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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Tue Feb 04 1997 - 04:11:35 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

The 'pramANam' for Swami Desikan's 'paramapada-sOpAnam' -- especially for
the 5 'parianka-s' we described as 'vivEkam','nirvEdam','virakthi','bheethi'
and 'prasada-hetu' -- is clearly demonstrated in the character of Sri.Rama's
beloved brother in the Ramayana, Sri Bharatha.

In my personal opinion Bharatha, nothwithstanding the 'kshatriya' birth and
royal grooming of his in the great epic of 'Ramayana', is perhaps the
closest in resemblance to a true, humble and enlightened Sri Vaishnava. I
think he exhibited all the qualities that NarsiMehta extolled in his famous
lyric "vaishnava-janatO...".

Further, if we follow closely the story of the Ramayana, dear
'bhAgavatOttamA-s', it will become clear to us that Sri.Bharatha progressed
in life in exactly the same way as Swami Desikan, in his
'paramapada-sOpAnam', describes a Sri Vaishnava's spiritual odyssey on earth.

Sri.Bharatha returned to Ayodhya from a visit to his uncle's dukedom to find
the royal house of Ishvakus in a state of tragic disarray. The scheduled
coronation of his brother Rama had been revoked, his father was halfway on
the road to a sad death, the Crown Prince had been banished into the forest,
his mother Kaikeyi was strutting around as if the coup d'etat she had
engineered was the epochal moment in the history of the Raghuvamsha-empire,
his foster-mothers, Kausalya and Sumitra, already had on their faces the
shadow of the pall that darkens as it forebodes soon-to-become widows; and
above all, the people of Ayodhya -- men, women, children, street dogs and
stable-beasts -- were behaving as if they had all just been rendered
homeless by one gigantic storm of collective disaster !

And yet amidst all that political unrest, Sri.Bharatha knew that it was the
moment of a lifetime-opportunity for him, personally ! It was the moment
when he could have easily written himself into the glory of the history of
Ayodhya whose stewardship was virtually presenting itself then on a platter,
as it were, to him ! He could have in that moment paused and gazed into the
telescope of future History and seen himself as Emperor of the IshvAku
Kingdom, the most powerful, dazzling plenipotentate of those times,
presiding majestically over a great Empire ! That magnificent sight could
indeed have been enough to have seduced out all the vainglory of a Prince
with any ambition to ascend to a King's throne !

Let's not forget, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', that POWER, or the opportunity
for ABSOLUTE POWER, is said and known to kindle a strange kind of LUST in
the minds of men just as opportunities for carnal pleasure are known to
stoke the fire in their loins. Human history is full of such examples of
undeserving men seduced into POWER by the smallest opportunity for it that
came by their way. We know, too, from History, what tragedies such men wreak
on the affairs and destinies of peoples and nations when they grab and
exploit such prospects to POWER.  

But our Bharatha, that gallant Prince of Ayodhya of that ancient age, was
not made, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', of the petty stuff of which such men in
our own times are known to be made of.

Bharatha was a 'vivEki' !!

He was a "vivEki" in the truest sense of the term as used in the
'paramapada-sOpAnam' !!

It was in BharathA's inherent nature to discriminate between Purpose and
Means. There was a fundamental strength in his whole personality make-up
which enabled him to distinguish, effortlessly and immediately, between what
his true existential purpose was and what only appeared to be so. He could
easily sense what were the things in life which promoted his advancement as
a human being and what were those that would veer him completely off-course
and away from his TRUE Destiny.

It was such remarkable ability of Sri.Bharatha, his 'vivEkam', which enabled
him to size-up and respond correctly to the chaotic situation then
prevailing in Ayodhya, when the entire Royal Court was looking up to him to
immediately take up the reins of power (from King Dasaratha) and establish
his writ of sovereignty.

If you go back to my post of 29 January, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', you will
recall that we described the 'vivEki' as one who, by his actions, exhibits
true awareness of the following:

 a) the nature of truth ("satyam") and of error ("anartham")
 b) the nature of good ("sat") and evil ("a-sat")
 c) what promotes his spiritual progress and what retards it
 d) what is the 'summum-bonum' of human existence on earth and
    what only seems so;

Bharatha fulfills all the above criteria if you deeply consider, in the
light of his later actions in the 'AyodhyA-kAndam' :

 a) He knew that simply because Kaikeyi had legitimately extracted from his
father the price of a past promise ("satyam"), she could not be said to be
right; because what is sometimes seen to be legitimate or legalistic is not
always moral ('anartham');
b) He realized that even if he took over the reins of power as King, and
with his own sterling individual qualities ruled Ayodhya competently, his
reign would never attain that high moral status of "sat" or 'sAttvic-ness'
that the rule of Lord Rama would naturally command;
c) He at once understood that the welfare of the Kingdom of Ayodhya lay not
so much in the hands of "Bharatha the King" as much as in the hands of
Bharatha,  "fiduciary of Lord Rama".

d)And above all, Bharatha, understood very deeply that his life's mission on
earth would never be served by playing the part as "Ruler of Ayodhya";
instead he would do better to be known as the great one who, in spite of
being offered an Empire, renounced it willingly and cheerfully in favour of
its rightful owner! After all, as we all know, even the 14 years that
Bharatha did rule, by proxy, over Ayodhya are also commonly treated as part
of the famous 'rAma-rAjyA'; none ever mentions them distinctly as
"bharatha-rajyA" which, in truth, would not really be so inappropriate !

All the above reasons, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', various scholars have
adduced to show us that Sri.Bharatha's glory in the pages of that great
epic, The Ramayana, rests primarily on his being a great 'vivEki' and an
extraordinary one at that --- and in the same lofty sense implied by Swami
Desikan in the first "step" of the 'paramapada-sOpAnam' !!

I had intended, dear friends, to make this my last post in this series. But
Sri.Bharatha's 'vivEkam' is in itself a subject of oceanic proportions !

I shall try to certainly make the next post my last where we will discuss
how Sri.Bharatha exhibited 'nirvedam', 'virakthi', 'bheethi' and 'prasada-hetu'.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha