|Affiliation||Avatar of Panchajanya|
|Texts||Ramayana and its other versions|
Guptar Ghat , Ayodhya
Bharata (Sanskrit: भरत, romanized: bharata) is a character in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. He is the son of Dasharatha, the virtuous king of Kosala, and Kaikeyi, daughter of the King Ashwapati of Kekeya. He is a younger half-brother of Rama and rules Ayodhya while Rama is banished from the country and fights to recover his wife Sita, kidnapped by Ravana.
He is married to Mandavi, daughter of Kushadhvaja, with whom he has sons – Taksha and Pushkala.
In the Ramayana, Bharata is presented as a symbol of dharma. He is also an incarnation of Sudarshana Chakra, the divine weapon of Vishnu, while Rama is the incarnation of Vishnu himself.
Today, Bharata is mostly worshipped in Kerala. One of the few temples in India dedicated to him is the Koodalmanikyam Temple.
According to Monier Monier-Williams, bharata in Sanskrit means "one to be [or being] maintained".
Bharata was born in Ayodhya as the second son of King Dasharata, and the only child of his second wife, Kaikeyi. His childhood was knitted together with his elder half-brother and heir apparent to the Kosala Kingdom, Rama, and his younger half-brothers; Lakshmana and Shatrughana. Akin to Lakshmana's devotion to Rama, Shatrughana had been a devotee of Bharata.
During Rama's betrothal to Sita, King Janaka of Videha and his younger brother King Kushadhwaja of Sāṃkāśya had permitted Dasharatha's request for the unity between the Ikshvaku and Nimi, and as such was married to Kushadhwaj's daughter, Mandavi.
Prior to Dasharatha's attempt to abdicate and hand over the throne to Lord Rama, Bharata had left for Kekaya along with Shatrughana, as his Grandfather King Ashwapati requested his presence, as he was ill. During his absence; his mother Kaikayi, under the influence of her maid Manthara, had forced Dasharatha to overturn his decision for Rama to be king, in favour for Rama to be exiled for 14 Years, as well as Bharata to become the Maharaja of Kosala. Lord Rama had accepted this decision and went to live in Chitrakoot, accompanied by his wife Sita and half-brother Lakshmana. Soon after, Dasharatha had died due to the grief of being separated from his sons. Upon returning to Ayodhya, Bharata and Shatrughana were mortified to find out the events which transpired in their absence. Bharata had proceeded to shun his relationship with Kekayi, as a son; and attempted to retrieve Rama, Sita and Lakshmana.
After meeting the tribal king Guha of the Nishadas, and crossing the river Ganga, Bharata, along with Shatrughana and the army of Kosala had reached Chitrakoot. Initially, Lakshamana had perceived the incoming army as an attempt to oust Rama permanently, and attempted to attack first; before being stopped by Rama. Bharata had greeted and embraced his brothers and sister-in-law, begging them to forgive him for his actions; and later on broke the news of Dasharatha's passing, and his desire to see Rama on the throne. However, Lord Rama was persistent in maintaining his oath given to his late father; and allowed Bharata to take his shoes, as a symbol of his presence. Bharata had accepted, and placed the shoes on the throne of Ayodhya, and declared that he will rule under his brother's presence; but would live in a rural town of Nandigrama as an ascetic, till his brother returns.
During the War in Lanka, in the 14th year of Rama's exile; after Lakshmana's defeat by Indrajit, Hanuman had went to the Himalayas to fetch Mount Dronagiri; which contained the plants needed to save Lakshmana. During his return, he had met Bharata in Nandigrama and told him about the events that had transpired during the year, and soon left. When Lord Rama had returned, Bharata approached him, with Rama's shoes above his head, and gave it to him. After Rama's coronation as King of Kosala, Bharata later on reconciled with Kaikayi.
After Sita's Exile, Mandavi had borne him two sons; Taksha and Pushkala, and Bharata had vanquished Sindh, and became it's overlord. During Lord Rama's Ashwamedha Yagna, in order to become a Chakravarti, he had fought with Lava and Kusha, the twin sons of Rama, who were borne to Sita, during her exile; and lost to them in combat, along with Shatrughana and Lakshmana. Years after the revelation of the identities of Lava and Kusha, and Sita's return to the Earth; Bharata had waged war against Nagnajit of Gandhara for his repeated aggressions against the Kekaya kingdom. After exterminating his rivals; Bharata had placed Taksha as the King of Takshashila and Pushkala as the King of Pushkalavati.
Bharata had later on committed Samadhi, by drowning in the River Sarayu alongside Lord Rama, and Shatrughana; and became the Panchajanya of Vishnu, once more.