Book 1 of “The Ramayana” typically introduces the main characters and sets the stage for the epic tale. It begins with a description of the kingdom of Ayodhya, ruled by King Dasharatha. The king is renowned for his righteousness and devotion to the gods.
Dasharatha has three wives—Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra—but no children. Worried about the lack of an heir, he decides to perform a grand yagna (sacrificial ritual) to seek blessings from the gods. The gods are pleased and bless Dasharatha with divine nectar, which is to be shared among his wives.
The wives consume the divine nectar and soon become pregnant. In due course, each of them gives birth to a son. Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. These four princes grow up to be virtuous, valiant, and beloved by the people of Ayodhya.
Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Mithila, there is a princess named Sita. She is the daughter of King Janaka and is renowned for her beauty and virtuous nature. King Janaka organizes a swayamvara, a ceremony where suitors compete for the hand of Sita. Only the suitor who can lift and string the mighty bow of Lord Shiva will win her hand in marriage.
Many kings and princes from far and wide attempt to string the bow but fail. When Rama and his brothers learn about the swayamvara, they decide to attend. Rama effortlessly lifts and strings the bow, breaking it in the process. Thus, Rama wins Sita’s hand in marriage, and the entire kingdom rejoices.
This sets the stage for the subsequent events and adventures of Rama, Sita, and the other characters in the epic. “The Ramayana” by R.C. Dutt is a poetic retelling of the original Valmiki Ramayana, one of the most important and revered texts in Hindu mythology.
Please note that this summary is a general overview and may not include all the intricate details or variations present in different versions of the Ramayana. For a more comprehensive understanding, I recommend referring to the actual translation of R.C. Dutt’s “The Ramayana.”