Reading Guide. Meanwhile, the drama going on in Dasharatha's kingdom is connected to a drama going on in heaven. In order to defeat Ravana, the King of the Rakshasas, the god Vishnu has agreed to come to earth as a human avatar. Ravana cannot be defeated by gods, but he can be defeated by a human or a monkey. To defeat Ravana, Vishnu is born on earth as a human: Rama, son of Dasharatha.
Image: The illustration shows all three of Dasharatha's queens: Sumitra with the twins in the upper left room, Kaushalya and baby Rama in the upper right, and Kaikeyi with Bharata in the lower right.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]
After this, Indra and the other gods journeyed to the heaven of Brahma, and spake regarding Ravana, the monarch of rakshasas, who had his dwelling in Lanka.
Now Ravana had performed such great penances that Brahma rendered him invulnerable to gods and demons, with the result that the demon made Yama, god of death, his slave, and put Agni and Vayu, and the sun and moon, under subjection; indeed, he oppressed all the gods and obstructed sacrifices and despoiled the brahmins. So Indra and other minor deities entreated Brahma to deliver them from the sway of Ravana.
Brahma heard the gods and then conducted them to Vishnu's dwelling in the Ocean of Milk. Indra and the others honoured Vishnu the Preserver, and cried, “O Lord of the Universe, remove the afflictions which press heavily upon us. Brahma hath blessed Ravana, nor can recall his gift. Save us, therefore, from the oppression of the demon king.”
Vishnu spake and said, “Be not afraid, for I shall deliver you all. Ravana entreated Brahma for protection against all beings save the apes and men. Go therefore towards the earth, ye gods, and assume the guise of apes, and lo! I will divide myself into four parts and be born as the four sons of Maharajah Dasharatha. When I shall battle against Ravana, you will hasten to mine aid.”
It came to pass that the wives of Dasharatha, who had eaten of sacrificial food, became the mothers of sons—Kaushalya of Rama, Kaikeyi of Bharata, and Sumitra of Lakshmana and Shatrughna. The people of the kingdom rejoiced greatly; they danced and sang and decked Ayodhya with streamers and flower garlands.
Of the four children Rama was the most beautiful: lying in his white cradle he was like to a blue lotus bloom amidst the gleaming waves of the Ganges. Vashishtha, the wise brahmin, perceived that he had all the marks of Vishnu, and revealed his knowledge to the Maharajah, by whom the child was well beloved.