Hanuman (on the way to Lanka while he was carrying Sanjivani) had told Bharata that Lakshmana was in great danger, Sita was kidnapped and Rama was at war with Ravana. Still Bharata and Shatruhgna didn't help Rama. Why?
Summary: (Everything has been quoted from Valmiki Ramayana).
It is untrue to say that Bharata and Shatrughna did not make efforts to help Shri Rama. The moment Hanumanji departs after meeting Bharata, Bharata sends messengers to Raghukula’s allies to come and help for the war, who do come to Ayodhya on such beckoning. However Shri Rama returns to Ayodhya before these kings can help and they then depart after seeing Shri Rama’s coronation.
Though a little out of the commonly accepted sequence of their meeting, the meeting of Bharata and Hanumanji and the efforts of Bharata find mention in the Valmiki Ramayana, Eastern Recension as follows:
भरतोऽपि महाबाहुर्गते वानरसत्तमे॥१३८॥
अनन्तरं समुद्योगं कर्तुमारभत प्रभुः। दूतान्प्रस्थापयामास काशेयाय स धीमते॥१३९॥
दूतान् स प्रेषयत् क्षिप्रं जनकाय स महात्मने। कैकेयेषु च दूतान्स मातुलाय प्रयच्छति॥१४०॥
अन्येषामपि राज्ञां च दूतान्प्रस्थापयत्तदा।रामस्य विजयार्थाय रावणस्य वधाय च॥१४१॥
After the excellent monkey (Hanuman) went, even the strong armed Bharata started undertaking an effort. He sent messengers to the intelligent King of Kashi. He sent messengers to the high-souled Janaka. Among the Kekeyas, He gives (sends) messengers to his maternal uncle. He sent messengers to other kings as well for Rama’s victory and the slaying of Ravana.
-VR(E) Yuddha Kanda Sarga 82 verses 138b-141
On being called, these kings went to Ayodhya, but the Lakshmana and Shakti missile episode (due to which Hanumanji journeyed northwards) was near the end of the war, immediately after which Matali comes with Indra’s chariot and Shri Rama wins the war, i.e. before those kings could help. They depart after the coronation. The fact that they had come is described in the Uttarakanda as follows:
Many army divisions, full of ardour, had come to the aid of Raghava under Bharata’s command with their regiments and squadrons. Thereafter, in the pride of their strength, those monarchs said:— “We did not see Rama’s adversary, Ravana, on the battlefield; Bharata called on us too late or those Rakshasas would assuredly soon have fallen under our blows. With the protection of the valiant Rama and Lakshmana we should have striven successfully without anxiety on the shores of the ocean.” Conversing on this and other matters, those kings, full of joy returned to their kingdoms,
VR(S) Uttarakanda Sarga 39 verses 1-6
The details of the same three primary invited ally kings (as mentioned in the Yuddha Kanda above) also find mention in the Uttarakanda Sarga 38 (in brief):
After some time, he, with joined palms, addressed the King of Mithila [VR(S) 7.38.2]
Janaka having departed, Raghava, with joined palms, respectfully addressed the maternal uncle, the Kaikeya. [VR(S) 7.38.9]
Having bade him farewell, Rama embraced his friend, Pratardana, the King of Kashi. [VR(S) 7.38.16]
Having dismissed Kasheya, Raghava smilingly addressed courteous words to the many monarchs present. [VR(S) 7.38.21]
Therefore, on being informed by Hanumanji, Bharata had undertaken due efforts for Ramaji’s victory by summoning their allied kings and it is not the case that he didn’t attempt to help.
Notes and Abbreviations used:
- VR(S)- Valmiki Ramayana Southern Recension, or the most commonly sold one, even by Gita Press.
- VR(E)- Valmiki Ramayana Eastern Recension by Gorresio Gaspare. English translation by me.
- 7.38- Uttarakanda Sarga 38
- A similar account of the kings is present in the Uttarkanda of VR(E) as well (Sarga 39 of VR(S) corresponds to Sarga 42 of VR(E)) but I have quoted from the VR(S) since we are most comfortable with that and to show that such an incident is there in the most referred recension albeit without the background (Hanuman meeting Bharata) of why Bharata had called them, which is only explainable from a reading of VR(E)