Prince Rama goes to a neighbouring kingdom to compete for the hand of Princess Sita. Being the only one able to bend the magic bow, Rama wins Sita as his bride. Rama is about to be named heir to the throne of Ayodhya, but one of the king’s wives, referring to a promise made by the king, asks that her own son, Bharata, be made heir instead of Rama. The king can only but obey, and thus Rama, accompanied by his loving wife Sita and his younger half-brother Laksmana, is exiled for fourteen years to the southern forest. Here Rama finds the inhabitants harassed by the raids of demons from Lanka, the island fortress of the demon-king Ravana.
In the forest, Surpanakha, an ogress and Ravana’s sister, falls in love with Rama and Laksmana, but both reject her, and finally Laksmana cuts off her nose. Furious, Ravana plans to avenge the insult. While a demon in the form of a golden deer lures Rama and Laksmana, Ravana, in the disguise of an ascetic, kidnaps Sita, and flees with her to Lanka. While looking for Sita, Rama helps the monkey Sugriva gain control of the monkey kingdom.
In return, Sugriva and his loyal monkey army promise to assist in the fight against Ravana. Hanuman, the white monkey, goes to Lanka, discovers where Sita is imprisoned, and gives her a ring, a token of Rama’s love. Hanuman is captured and set on a pyre, but with his magic powers he is able to flee, although not before he manages to set the city of Lanka on fire with his burning tail.
Rama, Laksmana, and the monkey army invade Lanka, and in the final battle Rama kills Ravana. Sita’s chastity is, however, questioned by Rama, and she consents to an ordeal of fire. Unscathed by the flames, she proves her purity. In triumph, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya, where, the period of exile having elapsed, Rama’s noble half-brother Bharata generously surrenders the throne to him.