• Yoga Mythology Series: Bharata’s Yama – A Discerning Self

    It is our thoughts and thoughts alone that shape our actions and deeds. If we are free from greed, content with what we have, and if we keep our minds calm, wealth and wellbeing will come to us. The richest person in the world is the one who has a serene mind free of tension and anxiety.

    The King of Ayodhya, Dashratha, had four sons. Ram was the eldest. Bharata was the second. Lakshmana and Shatrughana were the younger ones. Prince Ram was sent away with Sage Vishwamitra to study and learn under his tutelage. After years of study and devotion to the sage, Ram was asked to go back to his Kingdom as a married man and take responsibility for the Kingdom from his aging father.

    At the day of Ram’s coronation ceremony, the second wife of King Dashratha, Kaikeyi, demanded her favorite son Bharata be crowned as the King, and Ram be sent to exile for fourteen years in the forest. King Dashratha was heartbroken, but he kept his promise, granting the two wishes to Queen Kaikeyi because she’d saved his life years ago.

    When Bharata learned about his mother’s wish, he was deeply saddened. He did not want to become the King of Ayodhya because he knew it rightfully belonged to his elder brother Ram. To his mother’s disappointment, he refused to become the King of Ayodhya through such trickery.

    Both Ram and Bharat were bound by their father’s promise to Queen Kaikeyi and the responsibility of running the Kingdom of Ayodhya. Ram, without an iota of regret, removed all his royal robes and left the city of Ayodhya as a hermit for fourteen years. Bharata had a duty to perform in the absence of Ram, that of administering the Kingdom. But instead of becoming the King himself, he chose to become his brother Ram’s regent. He left the palace to live as a hermit like Ram in a village called Nandigram. As a mark of respect and love for his elder brother, Bharata placed Ram’s footwear on the throne to proclaim Ram’s undisputed kingship.

    Bharata’s administered the Kingdom of Ayodhya with righteousness, and it prospered under his leadership. But he always worked as a representative of Ram, his elder brother and the rightful heir to the throne. For fourteen years of his life, while Ram was away in exile, Bharata lived with meager means as a hermit, knowing that he had no right to enjoy the luxuries of a royal life when they were meant for Ram only. At the same time, he did not shy away from performing his duties as the administrator of Ayodhya and looked after Kingdom as promised to his elder brother and father.

    After fourteen years of exile upon Ram’s return to Ayodhya, Bharata received his elder brother and the King of Ayodhya at the city gates with flowers and handed over the Kingdom to Ram. Ram too, after his coronation, made Bharata the Yuvraj (crown prince) for his great virtues and years of experience as Ayodhya’s administrator.

    Our instincts are purely of peaceful and joyful living, but intellect drives us to obtain more and more. How would it be if our day-to-day life was simplified just a little bit? What if we choose not to steal other’s possessions in thought or action; tried not to be envious; nor cheat someone with sweet words, gaining selfish ends under the pretext of truthfulness? How would it be if whatever we acquired was only through righteousness? What if we always gave two out for two in? When we buy two shirts, we give away two from our wardrobe.

    If we did these things we’d be living our life by Asteya and Aparigraha, the yogic principles of life that prince Bharata chose.

    It is our thoughts and thoughts alone that shape our actions and deeds. If we are free from greed, content with what we have, and if we keep our minds calm, wealth and wellbeing will come to us. The richest person in the world is the one who has a serene mind free of tension and anxiety.

    By Ankur Tunaak

    Ankur Tunaak has been an Ashtanga yoga practitioner for over a decade, studied with Shree M. Vishwanath who was one of the first students and nephew of Shree Pathabhi Jois. Also, an alumnus of Bihar School Of Yoga, one of four premier Yogic Studies Institutions in India. Ankur is a storyteller and photographer, currently teaching yoga in New Delhi, India.

    Photo by Frank Holleman on Unsplash