The Story of Jad Bharata (जड़ भरत) and Deer
Bharata (jada) was eldest son of Rishabhdev. The ancient name of India was named "Bharatavarsha" after his name. After Rishabhdev, Bharata ruled the nation. He was very dignified. He used to perform yajna and offered the fruits to Shri Krishna. One day in youth only, he developed vairagya (dispassion). He left his kingdom, queens and other things and went to forest. He built a little cottage with his own hands near a river in the Himalayan forest and lived on roots and wild herbs.
One day, a deer came to drink water nearby where the royal sage was meditating. At the same moment, a lion roared at a little distance off. The deer was so terrified that she, without satisfying her thirst, made a big jump to cross the river. The deer was carrying fetus in her womb. This extreme exertion and sudden fright made her give birth to a little fawn, thereafter she fell dead. The fawn fell into the water and was flowing rapidly. Bharata saw almighty in him and thought taking his care is Dharma. He got up and rescued the fawn.
Then the kind hearted king took the fawn under his protection. The fawn thrived under the paternal care and grew into a beautiful deer. By the time, the king who broke away attachment to power, position, and family, got attached with the deer. His mind deviated from meditation. When the deer went out to graze in the forest and got late in returning his mind would become anxious and worried.
Some years passed in this way and one day the king died. But at the time of death, his mind was thinking about the deer. As the result of this, in the next birth he was born as a deer. But no Karma is lost, and all the great and good deeds done by him as a king and sage bore their fruits. This deer was a born Jatismara, and remembered his past birth, though he was bereft of speech and was living in an animal body. He always left his companions and was instinctively drawn to graze near hermitages where oblations were offered and the Upanishads were preached. He used to eat dry leaves instead of grass being living. In deer life also, he did Ekadishi fast.
After the usual years of a deer's life had been spent, he died and was next born as the youngest son of a rich Brahmin. And in that life also, he remembered all his past, and even in his childhood was determined no more to get entangled in the good and evil of life. The child, as it grew up, was strong and healthy, but would not speak a word, and lived as one inert and insane, for fear of getting mixed up with worldly affairs. His thoughts were always on the Infinite, and he lived only to wear out his past Prarabdha Karma.
In course of time the father died, and the sons divided the property among themselves; and thinking that the youngest was a dumb, good-for-nothing man, they seized his share also. They gave him decayed food to eat. The wives of the brothers were often very harsh to him, putting him to do all the hard work. But he showed neither vexation nor fear, and neither did he speak a word. Once, his brothers asked him to look after the field. He did not stop the cows from grazing in the field. He never stopped cows from grazing.
One Bheel king was childless. He vowed that if he is blessed with child, he would offer a man to appease Mata Bhadrakali. Son was born. The Bheel king ordered his royal attendants to bring one man. Bharata was doing Sadhna in the field. Royal attendants saw him and thought that they should take him as appearing strong. They brought him in Mata Bhadrakali temple. Bharata was bathed, decorated with flowers and fed with sumptuous food. Bharata took food peacefully. Later he was taken inside temple where Bharata saluted Mata and sat down peacefully. Bheel king was ready with sward to offer him. Mata Bhadrakali saw this. She could bear the violence of a saint and appeared through idol and killed the Bheel king with sward.
One day, when the wives of the brothers had treated him with more than usual unkindness, Bharata went out of the house, seated himself under the shadow of a tree and rested there. At that moment, the king of the country was passing by, carried in a palanquin on the shoulders of bearers. He was going to Kapil muni hermitage to take insight of true principles of spiritual philosophy. One of the bearers had unexpectedly fallen ill, and so his attendants were looking about for a man to replace him. They came upon Bharata seated under a tree; and seeing he was a strong young man, they asked him if he would take the place of the sick man in bearing the king's palanquin. But Bharata did not reply. Seeing that he was so able-bodied, the king's servants caught hold of him and placed the pole on his shoulders.
Bharata was jumping to save the ants and worms as he was viewing shri Krishna in them. When Bharata jumped, head of the king hit with the upper rod of palanquin. The king remarked that the palanquin was not being evenly carried. Again, king’s head hit the rod of palanquin. King got infuriated. He said, he is king of Rahugan and will punish him. He looked the palanquin and addressed the new bearer, saying "Fool, rest a while; if his shoulders are paining."
For Bharata, his insult was not important. He thought, the king is going for spiritual knowledge. If he goes with ego, Kapil muni would not give him the knowledge. Then Bharata laying the pole of the palanquin down opened his lips for the first time in his life, and spoke, whether he called fool to the body, which knows no pain or the Self, which is universal consciousness. This body is like dead person. Body and jivatma are different. He explained the nature of the soul, and on the highest knowledge, etc. He said, jivatma is witness of manas (मन). Jivatma is present in all living beings; hence all are same, whether king or assistant. O King, only almighty is true. Bharata said, pleasure and pain is felt by body and not by him. Body gets power from manas, manas gets power from buddhi and buddhi gets power from jivatma. Hence, feelings of body would not impact him. O King, he was jumping as this body did not want — to trample upon the poor worms crawling on the road, and therefore, in trying to avoid them, the palanquin moved unevenly. The king, who was proud of his learning, knowledge, and philosophy, alighted from the palanquin, and fell at the feet of Bharata and begged his pardon saying, he did not know that he was a sage. The king questioned him, since body is connected with jivatma and when body feels pain, then jivatma should also feel pain. Bharata explained the king that jivatma is free and non-attached. Bharata blessed him and departed. He then resumed the even tenor of his previous life. When Bharata left the body, he was freed forever from the bondage of birth.
Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran