Ayodhya was a magnificient city on the banks of the river Sarayu. The people of the city lived a happy and contented life, As they were ruled by a wonderful king called Dasaratha. King Dasaratha had three wives. Kausalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi. But , he was an unhappy man, For he was old and did not have any children. Being upset to see his sadness, the sages advised him to undertake a yagnya and pray for children. Heeding to their advice, he performed the Putra Kameshti Yagnya. During the ritual, A magical form appeared out of the holy fire And offered the divine sweetened milk to Dasaratha and told him to distribute it among his wives. Dasaratha was delighted He thanked God for this boon. and he divided the kheer among his wives. The kheer did its magic. Four lovely sons were born to Dasaratha. Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharath, and, Sumithra to Lakshmana and Shatrugana. King Dasaratha was very happy. The princes grew up as individuals with good qualities. They excelled themselves in archery , reading and hunting. They also learnt about the holy books and learnt how to look after the welfare of the people. They respected their Gurus and the elders and gained the love and affection of the people of Ayodhya. One day, the great sage Viswamithra came to Ayodhya. He was received with a warm welcome. Sage Viswamithra asked King Dasaratha to send Rama. along with him to protect him from the powerful demons which were disturbing his sacrifices. King Dasaratha was taken aback by the words of Viswamithra. Rama was dearer to him than anything else in the world. But he could not refuse the great sage Viswamithra, So he agreed to send Rama with him. With the blessings of Dasaratha, Rama and Lakshmana followed Viswamithra to the forest. They went into Dhandaka forest, A rakshasi called Thataka lived here with her son Maaricha. She had the strength of a thousand elephants. She encharmed and cast spells. No one dared to enter the forest for fear of her. Viswamithra told Rama to kill her Rama pierced her heart with a deadly arrow. Thataka crashed to the earth Vishwamitra rejoiced at Rama’s great skill He decided to give Rama and Lakshmana the divine weapons he had acquired through his austerities. Then the three went on towards Siddhashrama , which was the ashram of Viswamitra The hermits requested Rama to guard the sacrifice They were afraid that the huge demons Maaricha and Subahu woukd disturb the sacrifice. Viswamithra took the vows of silence and started an elaborate sacrifice. Rama and Lakshmana guarded the place day and night. On the seventh day, when the sacrifice was nearly ending a terrible noise was heard. Rama looked up and saw Maaricha and Subahu. Rama silently prayed and discharged the newly acquired divine weapon. With one arrow he hurled Maaricha miles away into the sea. With another , he killed Subahu. Viswamithra completed the sacrifice. The sages rejoiced and blessed the prince.