This epic tale of India is narrated by Rarecrow, an impulsive street-smart crow with freckles, and his companion, Raj, an intellectual mongoose with wire rimmed glasses. The Demon King has been misusing his gift of invincibility against the gods by wrecking havoc everywhere. Knowing that the Demon King's invincibility does not extend to humans the god Vishnu takes on human existence as Rama.
The story begins when Dasaratha, the childless king of Ayodhya, offers a sacrifice to the gods. The gods answer by giving him four sons, Rama, Laksmana (Lak), Bharata, and Satrughna, with the understanding that the King now owes the gods a favor. Years later the favor is returned when Rama and Lak must rid the forest of the evil warriors, the Rakshasas. A Sage empowers them by putting chunks of a rainbow in their quivers, forging their swords in a sacred fire, and finally having a tornado-like wisdom mist enter their bodies. The Rakshasas arrive as hideous ethereal forms concealed in rapidly moving black clouds. Rama and Lak's arrows vaporize the clouds and destroy the enemy.
Before returning home, Rama and Lak pass through a neighboring kingdom where the King seeks a husband for his beautiful daughter, Sita. Whoever can lift, bend and string the bow of Shiva, will have Sita for his bride. Rama not only strings the bow but shoots the arrow into the clouds and flowers fall from heaven. After the wedding ceremony Rama's father, Dasaratha, announces that he is stepping down and Rama will be king. Unfortunately Dasaratha had promised two wishes to one of his wives. She wants her son Bharata to be king and for Rama to be banished from the kingdom for fourteen years.
Rama, Sita and Lak make their home in the forest where the ugly demoness Surpanaka transforms herself into a beautiful woman and tries to seduce Rama. When rebuffed by Rama, she returns to her hideous self and attacks Sita. Lak draws his sword and slices off one of the Surpanaka's ears. The demoness flees and convinces one of her brothers to send an army of Rakshasas to kill Rama and Lak. When Rama and Lak defeat his army, the demoness goes to another brother Ravana the Demon King, tells him of the slaughter of the Rakshasas by humans, and entices him with the desirability of Sita as one of his wives.
The Demon King enlists the help of his Uncle Maricha, who transforms himself into a shimmering golden deer. Sita persuades Rama and Lak to follow and capture the golden deer for a pet. While they track the deer Sita is abducted by the Demon King, who whisks her away in his aerial chariot. When Rama realizes that he has been tricked, he quickly rushes back to find Sita gone.
In Rama and Lak's search for Sita they encounter Hanuman, a flying monkey. Hanuman brings Rama and Lak to the Monkey King, who puts his armies of monkeys, apes, and bears at Rama's disposal to search the four corners of the earth for Sita. Hanuman and the Bear General and his army head south and get lost in the Cave of Illusions . Hanuman discovers that the Demon King has taken Sita to the Island of Lanka. The vast ocean is a formidable obstacle. Rama implores the Sea God for help. The Sea God tells Rama to build a bridge to the island and he would hold it in place.
Meanwhile the Demon King tries to persuade Sita to marry him by offering her Pushpaka, a mini-city which can be airborne. When the Demon King hears of the impending attack by Rama and his army, he summons his generals and his son Indrajit for a battle plan. The nightmarish creatures, who make up the army of the Rakshasas, are defeated by Rama's animal army. The Son of the Demon King makes a sacrificial fire and invokes the gods for their promise of invincibility and invisibility in battle. In the next battle the now invisible Son of the Demon King shoots two arrows, which turn into snakes with flaming mouths. The snakes attach themselves to the chests of Rama and Lak killing them.
Hanuman knows there is an herb on the mountain which will break the spell of the serpent arrows. Not knowing which herb, Hanuman and brings the entire mountain to Rama and Lak. Revived Rama and Lak return to the battlefield. The gods outfit Rama with an aerial chariot and magical arrows for a one-on-one battle with the Demon King. Meanwhile Lak tracks down the Son of the Demon King at the sacrificial fire before he is able to invoke the powers of invincibility and invisibility and defeats him. In the aerial chariot battle Rama shoots a fatal arrow at the Demon King while uttering the Mantra, "Release the evil from his heart, and give him peace."
Rama, Sita, and Lak return home in Pushpaka, are welcomed with a Festival of Lights, and rule the kingdom.
All Rights Reserved - Barbara Albers Jackson