The children grew up to become well educated and well trained young
men. One day, sage Vishwamitra came to Dasharathas court and said: "I am
performing a Yajna (sacrifice). Earlier when I was to perform this
Yajna, demons Mareecha and Subahu, sons of Tataka, descended and defiled the
holy ritual. This time, I dont want such a thing repeated. Please send Rama to
protect the Yajna from these evil forces. You will be doing a favor."
Dasharatha felt very much concerned. After all, Rama was still a very young boy. Can he
face such demons? There was a lot of discussion held and finally, the royal priest
Vashishta explained to Dasharatha: "Vishwamitra is a great sage. Under his care,
nothing untoward can happen to the prince."
The emperor then agreed to send his son with the sage. Obviously, Lakshmana would also
go with Rama. The brothers left with Vishwamitra to the latters forestabode.
Vishwamitra took the brothers to visit several holy places before reaching his Ashram.
On the way, at a riverside, the sage blessed Rama with the hymns for using the great
weapons Bala and Atibala. Both the brothers learnt the lessons. As
they walked on, Vishwamitra narrated to them stories about the holy places. On the way, in
a forest demon- woman Tataka attacked them with a ferocious roar, but Rama killed her.
They then proceeded and reached the sages Ashram.
The Yajna went off as planned. Mareecha and Subahu did come to spoil it but
were prevented by Rama and Lakshmana. While Rama killed Subahu with his bow and arrows, a
wounded Mareecha escaped running away. The yajna was successfully completed.
We should realize here that Rama accomplished this task with Lakshmanas help.
After the Yajna, Vishwamitra took the brothers to Mithila, the capital of the kingdom
of Vidisha, ruled by Janaka. He was also performing a yajna at that time. He had in his
possession a great bow; bendig and tying its string was a challenging task. However,
Vishwamitra was confident that Rama would succeed in this task. King Janaka extended a
warm welcome to the party.
Vishwamitra asked Janaka to show the bow to the princes he had brought with him. Royal
attendant brought the bow, and Janaka
said: "I have vowed that I will marry my daughter Sitadevi to any one who will
bend it." Rama went and, lifting the bow bent it easily. There was no need to tie the
string because as he bent it, the bow broke into two!
Janaka, who was content to see the bow bent, was overjoyed when it was broken. The King
had two daughters, Sitadevi and Urmila. It was decided to give them in marriage to Rama
and Lakshmana respectively. Dasharatha was sent for and on his arrival, preparations for
the weddings began. Meanwhile, Vishwamitra made a request to Janaka: "I suggest you
marry off Mandavi and Shrutakeerti, daughters of your brother, to Bharata and Shatrughna.
Let their marriages also take place at the same time." Janaka gladly agreed and the
marriages of all the four princes took place simultaneously.
Dasharatha returned to his capital Ayodhya accompanied by his sons and daughters-
in-law. The newely wed couples happily began their wedded lives and were spending pleasant
days. Meanwhile, King Ashwapati of Kekaya, who was Bharata's grandfather, desired to see
him and sent his son Yudhajit to Ayodhya to fetch him. Bharata and Shatrughna went with