King Dasharath had three wives, namely Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi. The queens were beautiful, royal, graceful, and faithful to the king. Simplicity, selflessness, modesty, and willingness to sacrifice their everything for the king and the kingdom (all such virtues, typical of Indian Womanhood), were embodied in them.
They never complained about inconvenience, suffering, pain, and deficiencies any time, although such situations were rare in a royal house.
However, despite a long married life, none of the queens was blessed with motherhood. Silently, as is every Indian woman's wont, they longed for their own son or daughter. The king was also aware of the undercurrent of gloom all around the palace and the kingdom.
As was customary in those ancient times, the king was advised to perform sacrificial rituals (called Yagna). Accordingly, arrangements were made for the vast resources required for such Yagna. Due invitations were sent to the most learned and expert 'Pandits' and Brahmins who would perform such a Yagna.
Many months passed by in these rituals, and at last the Yagna-Devata (The God) was pleased and the rituals and sacrifices bore fruits. Out of the Yagna-Kunda arose one Divine Form who said:
"O king, I am very much pleased with your deep faith and devotion in me. I offer you these four fruits which would fulfill the desires of the royal family. Your queens would bear sons in due course of time after ingesting the fruit."
The king, the queens, and for that matter whole of the kingdom of Ayodhya was agog with pleasure and joy that knew no bounds. Kausalya and Kaikeyi received one fruit each, and remaining two came to the lot of Sumitra.
In due course of time Ram was born to Kausalya, Bharat to Kaikeyi, and Sumitra gave birth to two sons--Laxman and Shatrughna.
The palace was filled with joy and merriment. The queens were overjoyed with the arrival of these four lovely princes. Ram was born of the eldest queen and hence attracted special attention, as the eldest son always had the first claim to the royal throne.
The four brothers grew under the loving care of their parents and relatives in the royal comforts of the palace. There was no want nor deficiency of any kind. All the four princes were sharp, intelligent, brave, and healthy. They were obedient and respectful towards their parents and teachers; and the love amongst these four brothers knew no precedence.
As they grew up, the old king made arrangements for their best education in humanities, art, science, and expertise in war-games. They acquired all special skills in archery, etc. at the holy feet of their teachers: Vashishtha and Vishwamitra.