So as the story goes, Dasrutha was a king in India, a long walk away from Sri Lanka, where Ravana made his home. He was a pretty good king, something extremely uncommon in modern history. The people genuinely loved and worshiped Dasrutha, and he genuinely did his best for them. According to the story, anyway. This is a myth after all.
He had three wives and four sons. Two of those sons are central to the story. They are Rama and Lakshmana, Avatars of Vishnu and Sesha. Vishnu, the Great Preserver, sleeps on Sesha's back while his wife Lakshmi rubs his feet and he dreams the universe. So when the gods were having problems with Ravana these two took birth as Dasrutha's children.
They had pretty standard Kshatriya childhoods, extremely well fed and well taught. They had their godly little heads done in at the Ashram as old boys and young men. Then they're sent off with a guru into the wilderness on their first journeys. He teaches them mystical arts and they kill a lot of demons. This gets Ravana's attention.
Finally, they come to a neighboring kingdom where the princess is the most beautiful woman in the world. (One tradition says that she is actually the daughter of Ravana left on a hillside in secret by his wife who was pissed off about his constant philandering and massive harem.) Her name is Sita, the Avatar of Lakshmi, Vishnu's wife, who spends eternity rubbing his feet while he sleeps. And embodying beauty, wealth, prosperity, peace and joy as she watches over the universe.
So there's this trial to become her husband and of course an endless line of Kshatriya trying to pass it. You have to string Shiva's bow. Well, the biggest guys in the room (as you know, Indians can come in just about any size, so there's some big guys there) the biggest guys in the room can't do it. Rama, being quite balanced, is mid-sized.
So he steps up to the bow, takes it in one hand and strings it with the other. He does this easily. Everyone is shocked: "Who is this kid?" the disappointed suitors shout in disbelief.
"Yeah, but can you draw the bow?" Someone taunts. "I bet you can't even pull the string a centimeter."
And naturally, Rama pulls the string back. Just as naturally, it being an excessively old bow, it snaps in half with a sound that literally shakes the universe. Even Ravana gets rattled on his throne leagues to the south.
An old incarnation of Vishnu who once killed a lot of people with an ax, and has since gone insane but retains the power of Vishnu, comes and starts complaining. Lakshman, loyal brother that he is, gets into a fight with the old avatar. The avatar threatens to kill Lakshman for his impudence, so Rama draws his own bow and says something to the effect of "I will either take your life or your glory. Choose old man!" In classic anime style.
The angry old man, Parashurama, is shocked and chooses that his glory be taken away. So Rama shoots his bow and somehow destroys the glory of the old man with it. The old man wanders away pretty much empty. Rama tells Lakshman to be more polite, then marries Sita.
They go back home after however long they were away, and the marriage is certified in Ayodhya, Rama's kingdom. Everyone's all excited that Rama has a beautiful wife. None of his brothers are jealous. They all love him.
Then Bharat, the son of the youngest wife goes off to a neighboring city, for some unspecified reason. Around this time Dasrutha starts to feel old, begins showing signs of heart failure, and decides it's time to name his oldest son, Rama, successor to the throne.
The old nursemaid who has cared for his youngest wife since she was a child starts scheming. She goes to the youngest wife (whose name sounds a lot like all of the other wive's names) and tells her that when Rama is made king he will kill her beloved Bharat. She doesn't believe at first, but the old lady is very persuasive and already has a plan. "You remember how you carried Dasrutha off of that battlefield that one time? He promised you two boons! Here's what you do..."
And so, in tears the youngest and most beloved of the king's wives comes to see him. He tries to comfort her. It doesn't work. She makes two demands because he owes her two wishes. One, "Banish Rama for fourteen years into the jungle." Another, "Make Bharat the new king." And though the king argues, she will not change her mind. His heart is broken, but he calls Rama in to see him.
"Disobey me!" He begs. But Rama cannot be a good son and disobey his father. "Start a revolution!" His father screams. But that would break the kingdom. "Don't go!" And Rama asks if that is an order.
So Rama goes to tell his wife he's going to leave her for fourteen years, because he's just that sort of madman. He tells Lakshman to take care of her. They look at him blankly.
"You're not going into the jungle alone, you idiot." One or the other or both say.
"You have not been banished, you should not suffer." He argues that marching off into the wilderness by himself is the only rational decision.
They ignore him and start packing their things.
In Part Three - Into the Wilderness: Bharata comes home to a mess. Rama, Sita and Lakshman give farewell to Ayodhya.