The modern history can only tell Mr X was born on so and so date, he has conquered so and so country, he acted such and such way and he died on so and so date. That's it.
Where as an ItihAsa (iti + hA + asau means "this is how it happened!") of a purANa explains why Mr. X was born as Mr.X, What happened during & after Mr.X's lifespan and what is the conclusion to be derived from the incident of Mr.X's narration. So, the reader can immediately benefited by learning from Mr. X's mistakes and start following the righteous path (i.e., dharma)
There is absolutely no compulsion to study purANas and ItihAsAs if one is not interested in knowing true and useful history of mankind.
Narration of Jada Bharata:
Bharata (This country is called as bhArata varsha due to him being the emperor of this land!) was the son of Rishabdeva. He righteously ruled this land for a long time and while he was still healthy and capable, retired to forests giving up all the worldly attachments.
Towards end of his life sitting at the bank of river Gandaki he saw a small baby deer floating in the water. He rescued it and started looking after the deer. He has developed attachment to the deer and in the final stage of his life thinking of the deer he died.
Due to the attachment to the deer while dying, he was born as a deer in the next life. Due to his penance in past life, he remembered his past life of King Bharata and lived the life of deer with devotion to Lord Hari near a temple and in the due course he left the deer's body.
As the next birth, he was born in a Brahmin family to pious Brahmana posessing sama, dama, tapas and tyaga. But he remembered his life as a deer as well as the King Bharata and started being indifferent to the worldly pleasures. There by he was called as JaDa. (non responsive) He was called as adhama brAhmaNa and jaDa bharata by fellow citizens.
King RahoogaNa going to meet sage kapila needed ONE bearer of his palanquin. He has seen jaDa bharata on the path and employed as the bearer. As jaDa bharata missed the steps and gone out of sync with other bearers thereby causing discomfort to the King RahoogaNa. Having repeatedly scolded by the King, Sage jaDa bharata makes a statement:
"You are talking of path, porter and punishment (to me), but none of these exist for me. If there is load, it is for the one who carries it; path is for the walker. Fat, thin, sickness, hunger, pain, fear, quarrel, desire, young, old, sleep, love, hate, anger, pretty and ugly are all present in a person who is body-conscious, they are not in me. All that you say apply only to the body, not to the Atma. 'I am king, you are servant,' such feelings are only in the practical world, not in Adhytma (spiritual world.) If you think you should punish me, you may punish, or beat the body; it will not affect me. I live in my own world, unconcerned about the body. Your punishment will be like grinding powdered stone or like beating a lifeless stone."
With these words, King RahoogaNa realized that the person carrying his palanquin was a great sage and comes down and falls at the feet of jaDa bharata.
There is a wonderful discussion that follows between the King and jaDa bharata leading to the discourse of ultimate truth.
So, this brief is shared here for the readers to study the bharata akhyAna from Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavata PurANa.
om tat sat.