King Dasaratha—whose chariot could go unobstructed in all the 10 directions—completed the Putra Kameshti yagna with the help of the Rishi Rishyashringa, the husband of his own daughter Shanta. The yagna was a great event. Kings from various countries were invited and gifts were given to them.
Even before the yagna began, there was a discussion in the heavenly regions when the gods appealed to Mahavishnu about the difficulties that people on earth were subjected to due to the misrule of tyrant kings headed by Ravana. Mahavishnu had decided to take a human form to put an end to the abusive rakshasas and sought all the gods to take different forms and be born on earth. He himself split into four and was born as the four sons of King Dasaratha. Lord Shiva took up the form of Hanuman.
At the end of the yagna, a divine being appeared out of the yagna vedi, bearing in hand a gold bowl containing an elixir-like sweet pudding called payasam. The being told King Dasaratha to distribute it among his three wives. Even as the being handed over the bowl, a strong wind blew and a portion of the sweet flew and fell into the hands of Anjani, an apsara woman who was born in the form of a monkey maid. The king Dasaratha gave half the pudding to his chief queen Kausalya. He divided the remaining half again into three parts, gave one part to Kaikeyi, another to Sumitra and the remaining part again
In course of time, four children were born in the family—Rama to Kausalya, Bharata to Kaikeyi and Lakshmana and Shatrughna to Sumitra. In the meantime, Anjani who also had a portion of the sweet gave birth to a powerful baby boy, looking like his mother. Since the sweet came flying to her palms, he is considered to have the blessings of the wind god and was called Anjaneya or Hanuman.
As Rama was growing up unaware of his divine mission, he went for his schooling with the family preceptor Sage Vasishta. He sought permission from his parents and all elders, when he had turned 15, to go on a pilgrimage around the country. The permission was granted and accompanied by his brothers, many brahmins in the kingdom, the young Rama toured the country visiting several holy places, interacting and gathering wisdom from great devotees and saints and returned after a year.
At that time, the fiery sage Vishwamitra, known for his propensity to curse, sought permission from the guards to enter the court of Dasaratha. The king himself ran forward accompanied with Sage Vasishta and his ministers to receive the noble Vishwamitra. The king asked the sage what brought him to his palace. The sage asked something which threw King Dasaratha out of his senses and he began to implore Sage Viswamitra with tears in his eyes. What was it that the sage wanted him to part with?
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi firstname.lastname@example.org