|The Ramayana |
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The story of Rama is divided into four parts:
1. Early life of Rama
2. Rama's exile
3. Abduction of Sita (Rama's wife) and
4. Slaying of Ravana, the abductor of Sita, and Rama's coronation.
Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, an ancient kingdom that was located in present day Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya was its capital. Dasharatha was loved by one and all. His subjects were happy and his kingdom was prosperous. Even though Dasharatha had everything that he desired, he was very sad at heart; he had no children.
During the same time, there lived a powerful Rakshasa king in the island of Ceylon, located just south of India. He was called Ravana. His tyranny knew no bounds, his subjects disturbed the prayers of holy men.
The childless Dasharatha was advised by his family priest Vashishtha to perform a fire sacrifice ceremony to seek the blessings of God for children. Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, decided to manifest himself as the eldest son of Dasharatha in order to kill Ravana. While performing the fire worship ceremony, a majestic figure rose from the sacrificial fire and handed to Dasharatha a bowl of rice pudding, saying, "God is pleased with you and has asked you to distribute this rice pudding (payasa) to your wives - they will soon bear your children."
The king received the gift joyfully and distributed the payasa to his three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya, the eldest queen, gave birth to the eldest son Rama. Bharata, the second son was born to Kaikeyi and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama's...