Dasharatha, was the King of Ayodhya and had three wives and four sons.
Rama was the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya. Bharata was the son of Dasharatha's second and favorite wife, Queen Kaikeyi. The other two were twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. The Princes had a happy childhood and were the pride and joy of their parents.
In time, the Princes were young men and it was time for them to marry.
In the neighboring city the ruler's daughter was named Sita. When it was time for Sita to choose her bridegroom, at a ceremony called a swayamvara, princes from all over the land were asked to string a giant bow.
No one could lift the bow. However, as Rama picked it up, he not only strung the bow, he broke it. Seeing this, Sita indicated that she had chosen Rama as her husband. She did this by putting a garland around his neck.
A few years later, King Dasharatha, decided it was time to give his throne to his eldest son Rama and retire to the forest. Everyone seemed pleased, save Queen Keikey. She wanted her son, Bharata, to rule.
Because of an oath Dasharatha had made to her years before, she got the king to agree to banish Rama for fourteen years and to crown Bharata, even though the king, on bended knee, begged her not to demand such a thing.
Broken-hearted, the devastated King could not face Rama and it was Queen Keikey who told Rama the King's decree. Rama, always obedient, was content to go into banishment in the forest. Sita and Lakshmana accompanied him and so, the trio set out for the forest.
The early years spent in the forest were happy ones for the trio.
One day Rama and Lakshmana wounded a rakshasas princess who tried to seduce Rama. She returned to her brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka.
In retaliation, Ravana devised a plan to abduct Sita.
He sent a magical golden deer to entice Sita. To please her, Rama and Lakshmana went to hunt the deer down. Before they did though, they drew a protective circle around Sita and told her that she would be safe for as long as she did not step outside the circle.
After Rama and Lakshmana left, Ravana, changed his shape and appeared as a holy man begging alms. The moment Sita stepped outside the circle to give him food, Ravana grabbed her and carried her to his kingdom in Lanka.
Rama, broken-hearted seeks the help of a band of monkeys offer to help him find Sita. Hanuman, the general of the monkey band can fly since his father is the wind. He flew to Lanka and, finding Sita in the grove, comforted her and told her Rama would come to save her soon.
Ravana's men captured Hanuman, and Ravana ordered them to wrap Hanuman's tail in cloth and to set it on fire. With his tail burning, Hanuman escaped and hopped from house-top to house-top, setting Lanka on fire. He then flew back to Rama to tell him where Sita was.
Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army built a causeway from the tip of India to Lanka and crossed over to Lanka. A mighty battle ensued.
Rama killed several of Ravana's brothers and eventually confronted the ten-headed Ravana. Rama killed Ravana and freed Sita. After Sita proved here purity, they returned to Ayodhya and Rama became king.
Aneeta Sundararaj, a storyteller, is the creator of the bestselling program "How To Tell A Great Story". Aneeta