In the Ramayana, Lakshmana is praising Bharata and blaming Kaikeyi. Rama stops him and asks him to simply praise Bharata, but not blame Kaikeyi. Which verse was this?

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I was searching for the same verse just now, and found this question, so posting an answer here for anyone else who may arrive here looking.

My incorrect memory was that it occurs in the Ayodhyā (second) Kāṇḍa on the first evening after Rāma has left Ayodhyā, but actually this verse is in the Araṇya (third) Kāṇḍa, in Sarga 16. The autumn season (śarad) ends and winter (hemanta) begins, and Lakṣmaṇa starts speaking to Rāma about the season. After thinking of the people, the countryside, the sun, mountains, moon, forests, crops, etc, Lakṣmaṇa's thoughts turn to Bharata: how in his devotion to Rāma he must be performing austerities (tapas), sleeping on the ground in cold weather, bathing in the cold Sarayu river, etc. Then:

न पित्र्यम् अनुवर्तन्ते मातृकं द्विपदा इति ।
ख्यातो लोकप्रवादोऽयं भरतेनान्यथा कृतः ॥३.१६.३४॥
भर्ता दशरथो यस्याः साधुश्च भरतस् सुतः ।
कथं नु साऽम्बा कैकेयी तादृशी क्रूरशीलिनी ॥३.१६.३५॥
इत्येवं लक्ष्मणे वाक्यं स्नेहाद् ब्रुवति धार्मिके ।
परिवादं जनन्यास्तम् असहन् राघवोऽब्रवीत् ॥३.१६.३६॥
न तेऽम्बा मध्यमा तात गर्हितव्या कथञ्चन ।
तामेवेक्ष्वाकुनाथस्य भरतस्य कथां कुरु

“They say people follow their mother's nature not their father's, but Bharata has done otherwise. With a husband like Daśaratha and a son like Bharata, how could mother Kaikeyī be so cruel?” When Lakṣmaṇa said this out of affection [towards Bharata], Rāma, not able to bear this, said: “You shouldn't deplore our second mother. But say more about Bharata.”

And Rāma continues to talk more about missing Bharata and looking forward to reuniting with him and Śatrughna again.

You can see the verse with translation (it's 3.16.37, i.e. the 37th verse in sarga 16 of book 3, Araṇyakāṇḍa) at valmikiramayan.net or valmiki.iitk.ac.in (commentaries on the sarga that briefly touch on this: Kataka, Tattvadipika).

Just for completeness, here is the verse transliterated into IAST:

na te'mbā madhyamā tāta garhitavyā kathañcana |
tām evekṣvākunāthasya bharatasya kathāṃ kuru ||3.16.37||


na te'mbaa madhyamaa taata garhitavyaa katha~nchana |
taam evekShvaakunaathasya bharatasya kathaaM kuru ||3.16.37||

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