Retiring King Dasaratha of Ayodha chooses his son Rama as his heir. His wife Kaikeyi asks that he appoint another son Bharata, instead. Kaikeyi pleads that he owes her two favors, and she feels misfortune will come upon her if he doesn't crown Bharata king and banish Rama to the forest for fourteen years. The king reluctantly agrees, so Rama goes with his beautiful wife, Sita, and his brother Laksmana, leaving their riches to live a simple life.
In the forest the three meet the demoness Surpanakha who falls in love with Rama. Rama refuses her advances and Laksmana wounds her. She flees to her brother Ravana, ruler of the island kingdom of Lanka. After hearing Surpanakha's report of the beauty of Sita, Ravana decides that he must have Sita and changes himself into in wandering holy man to find her in the forest. When Rama and Laksmana are distracted, Ravana carries Sita off to Lanka.
Sita mourns in Ravana's garden in Lanka, while Rama and Laksmana enlist the services of Hanuman, the monkey king, to help them find her. Hanuman, able to make himself larger or smaller, starts his search for Sita by taking a giant step to the Island of Lanka. Carrying Rama's ring he finds Sita and identifies himself as Rama's messenger. Sita is delighted, but Hanuman is caught and Ravana sets Hanuman's tail on fire. Hanuman escapes and sets fire to Lanka.
Rama, Laksmana, Hanuman, and his monkey army lay siege on Lanka. The monkeys make a bridge to Lanka, and after a long battle with spears, bows and arrows, Rama kills Ravana. Sita, however, is not received by Rama unreservedly; he questions her chastity after having lived in the house of another man. When he asks her to undergo the test by fire; she agrees. Proving her chastity by remaining unscathed by the fire, she rejoins Rama. Later, Rama abandons her to maintain the sanctity of public opinion and she goes to live in the ashram of sage Valmiki and bears twin sons Lava and Kusa, who as young men became reunited with their father, the god-king Rama.