|Affiliation||Incarnation of Panchajanya|
|Texts||Ramayan and its other versions|
Sarayu River, Ayodhya
Bharata (Sanskrit: भरत, IAST: Bharat) is a Hindu Deity depicted in the Indian epic Ramayana. He was the son of Dasharatha, the king of Kosala and Kaikeyi, and the younger half-brother of Ram. The Ramayana holds Bharata as a symbol of Dharma and idealism. He is mostly worshipped in Kerala. He is considered an incarnation of the Panchajanya, the divine weapon of Lord Vishnu.
According to the Ramayana, Rama is the seventh dashavatara (incarnation) of Vishnu, while Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna are considered as part-incarnations of Sheshnag, Shankha and Sundarshan Chakra respectively.
One of the few temples in India dedicated to him is the Koodalmanikyam Temple (also known as the Sangharatna Temple) in Kerala.
Bharata is a Vedic Sanskrit word. Monier Monier-Williams states that it means "to be", or "being maintained".
Bharat was born to the virtuous king of Ayodhya, Dasharatha and his second wife, Queen Kaikeyi. He was married to Mandavi, daughter of Kushadhwaja, Janaka's younger brother. Thus, Mandavi was Sita's cousin. They had two sons – Taksha and Pushkala.
According to the Ramayan of Valmiki the four sons of King Dasharatha (i.e. Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughna) were very close to each other. Ram was in line to become the king of Ayodhya, as dictated by primogeniture policy followed in the Ikshvaku clan, which they belonged to. However, Bharat's mother Kaikeyi, before the crowning of Ram went into Kopa Bhawan. The Kopa Bhawan was a place where the wives of the ruling king could go when they felt neglected, to compel the king to come to visit her and hear her complaints. When King Dasharatha arrived, she reminded him of the two wishes he had offered to her when she had saved his life in a battle. For her first boon, she asked for the exile or Vanvas of Ram for 14 years. Her second wish was to make her son Bharat, the second in line to the throne, the heir apparent. Since the clan of Raghu (as the Ikshavaku clan is also called), was known for keeping their word, Dasharatha had no choice but to adhere to her wishes. Once the order was officially announced, Ram went to exile with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman. Bharat was visiting his maternal relatives, and on returning a few days later, heard the news of his elder brother's exile and his own crowning as the heir apparent. Due to the bond shared between the brothers, he became angry with his mother Kaikeyi, and her maid Manthara, who had sown the seeds of discord in Kaikeyi's mind. As King Dasharatha lay on his death bed, he cried for his eldest son Ram. On his death, Bharat along with the mothers and Shatrughna went to meet Ram and requested him to come back. When Ram refused to dishonor his father's word, Bharat asked for his sandals. He then placed the footwear on the royal seat of Ayodhya, thus laying clear the fact that Ram was the ruler of Ayodhya, and Bharat would only rule in his stead, for the time he wasn't there. In the 14 years that followed, he went to Nandigrama (forest near Ayodhya) to pray to gods for his brother's safe arrival, living in austere conditions and leaving the amenities of the royal palace. There, he survived by eating only Kanda Mul and wearing the rough clothes of rishi munis or hermits. After 14 years, Ram was reunited with him and they went back to Ayodhya. There, Ram was crowned the king.
There are many folk songs dedicated to Bharat in Indian languages, mostly in Malayalam.