Rama and his three brothers received a very privileged upbringing, as deemed fit for princes. They received extensive training in warfare and became scholars in Vedic knowledge. They were valiant and at the same time interested in the welfare of the world and its people. Right from childhood, Rama & Lakshmana developed a close bond and became inseparable. Time passed by fast as the princes grew up together, delighting King Dasharatha.
When Rama was about 16 years old, sage Vishwamitra came to visit Dasharatha in search of help against rakshsas (demons), who were disturbing his Vedic rituals. He asked King Dasharatha to send Rama for protection against two powerful demons called Maareecha and Subaahu. Considering Rama’s age, King Dasharatha became very upset at the sage’s request and refused to send him. Sage Vishwamitra became very angry but was finally pacified by the intervention of Vasishtha. He convinced Dasharatha to send Rama with Vishwamitra, ensuring him that Vishwamitra’s powers and Rama’s own capabilities would make him successful. Finally, Dasharatha agreed, and Rama and Lakshmana were dispatched with Vishwamitra.
In their course of travel, Vishwamitra imparted a secret knowledge to the young princes called ‘Bala Atibala Vidya’, the practice of which would always keep them vigorous and full of vitality. Rama also received many weapons, after successfully killing the demoness Tataka on the orders of Sage Vishwamitra. Finally, they reached the place where Vishwamitra was to perform his sacred ritual. The young princes safeguarded the ritual for six days and nights. On the last night, the demons Maareecha and Subaahu appeared to foil the ritual. But Rama deftly hit Mareecha, banishing him, and killed Subaahu. After that, the ritual was completed successfully without any problems.
With the completion of the ritual, Sage Vishwamitra traveled to the kingdom of Mithila to attend a ritual and also to see the auspicious bow of Shiva that was being worshipped in the palace of King Janaka from ages. Rama and Lakshmana accompanied Vishwamitra on this journey. Upon reaching the precincts of Mithila, they visited the hermitage of Sage Gautama. Vishwamitra told them about the legend of Ahalya, Gautama’s wife. According to the legend, Indra was infatuated with Ahalya and desired a union with her. She complied with Indra’s desire but Sage Gautama caught them unawares and cursed them both. Ahalya was relegated to a lonely life in the hermitage where she would remain unseen and invisible. Only when Rama entered the hermitage, she was freed from her curse and emerged back into her divine form. After Ahalya’s redemption, Sage Vishwamitra, along with Rama and Lakshmana reached Mithila and entered the court of King Janaka.