Chapter I - Summary of the Rāmāyaṇa 

The celebrated Sage Nārada was known for his austerities and meditative composure.  He was the best of the learned ones, known for his wisdom.  The poet Vālmīki said to him “O’ Great Sage, I have a few questions for you.  Can someone on earth be skilled and powerful, utterly righteous, and steadfast in his determination?  Can the same person have qualities of gratitude? Would he be truthful?  Would he possess the strength of character to serve all, and be learned, handsome and capable at the same time?  Would he be completely self-realized? Would he have conquered his anger?  Would the same person be endowed with divine qualities that he is not jealous of anyone?  Is it possible that all these qualities could be combined in a single person, someone whom the gods would fear if he was upset?”

Chapter II – The First S’loka, Brahmā’s blessings

The Sage Vālmīki along with his disciples offered respectful services to the Sage Nārada.  After begging permission to leave, Nārada flew back to the heavens.  A few minutes later, Sage Vālmīki proceeded for his midday ablution.  He went to the River Tamasā, a tributary to River Gaṅgā.  On the bathing banks, the Sage said joyfully “Look Bharadvāja, the water here is clean and tranquil.  It looks beautiful.  The ambience is like that of a righteous mind. This place is just right for my bath! Please leave the pitcher here. Please give me my bark to change.”

Chapter III – Outline of the Composition

Having heard the story of righteousness and social conduct from Sage Nārada, Sage Vālmīki began his contemplation to probe the life of the brilliant prince.  He sat down on a mat of Kuśa grass, with blades that auspiciously pointed eastward.  He took a sip of water in the prescribed manner to help him concentrate.  The Sage meditated on the story.  He could visualize Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, along with King Daśaratha, the King’s wives, and the kingdom.  He could distinguish their activities, their conversations, their pleasantries and their movements.  He could also visualize how Rāma was tricked into exile by the third wife.  He could visualize Rāma’s wanderings in the forest.

Chapter IV - The Composition of  Ramayana + SJ edits

The Sage Vālmīki composed the Rāmāyaṇa after Rāma regained his kingdom and was installed as the king.  The poet told the story in twenty-four thousand stanzas of splendid word arrangements that contain colorful imagery.  The material was contained in approximately five hundred chapters, and organized into seven books, the last of which narrated the story of the period following the royal installation.  After completing the composition, Vālmīki looked for persons who could memorize the material and recite it to the public.  While thinking about this, he saw the two brothers Kuśī and Lava approaching him.  They were children of royal descent, were clad in hermit’s dress, and were living in the hermitage.  The princes paid their respects to the sage by prostrating themselves at his feet.  Vālmīki recollected their sweet voice, their talent and their study of the Vedas.

Chapter V - Description of Ayodhya

Lava and Kuśī began telling the story. 
From the time of its creation, the earth has been ruled by kings who were victorious in their battles.  Among these existed a King Sagara, who is credited with the digging of the sea.  His sixty thousand sons accompanied him on all his expeditions.  The great story of Rāmāyaṇa has its origin in this noble dynasty of Ikṣvāku.  Please listen to the story with an open mind; we will narrate it in its entirety.  The story is one of righteousness, desire and fulfillment.

Chapter VI - King Dasaratha and His  Reign on Ayodhya

Lava and Kuśī continued the story. 

King Daśaratha was an exceptional charioteer in the clan of Ikṣvāku.  Well-versed in the Vedas, a strategic thinker and heroic in personality, he reigned over the kingdom of Ayodhyā with respect and affection towards all.  Righteous, self-restrained and given to ritualistic sacrifices, he was comparable to a Maharṣi.  His reputation was spread throughout the entire world.  He was a strong leader, and had no enemies.   And he had plenty of friends.  He was a success in all respects; he was like Indra in opulence, and like Kubera in wealth.  Always truthful and always in pursuit of the three goals[i]in life, the King ruled the kingdom as Indra ruled Amaravati in the heavens.  King Dasaratha protected his people and the land, just like the great King Manu had protected and nurtured the earth in earlier times.

Chapter VII - The Counselors to  King Dasaratha

Lava and Kuśī continued the story. 
The King had appointed eight renowned ministers.  Each one was capable, learned, pure in heart and devoted to the King.  Each had the ability to read the King’s mind and perform royal duties to benefit the people.  The ministers were: Dhrishti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Surashtra, Rashtravardhna, Akopa, Dharmapala, Arthavit and Sumantra.  The great Rishis Vashishtha and Vamadeva served as family priests.  The royal counselors included: Suyajna, Jabali, Kashyapa, Gautama, the elderly Markendeya and the Brahmana Katyayana.  The family priests joined these six as counselors, in another group of eight.

Chapter VIII - King Dasaratha decides on the horse-sacrifice

Unfortunately, the King though resourceful and righteous, did not have a son.  A son was needed to maintain the clan.  The King badly grieving.  He thought deeply.  He came up with the idea to perform the customary Aśvamedha[i] sacrifice to be blessed with a son.  He consulted his Ministers and the other wise men.  He made up his mind to proceed with the task.  He summoned the Counselor Sumantra and ordered him to collect all priests and the family preceptors quickly.  Sumantra strode along and invited all scholars like Suyajña, Vāmadeva, Jābāli, Kāśyapa and the family priest Vasiṣṭha.  King Daśaratha greeted them respectfully and spoke these sincere words...

Chapter IX- The legend of the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga

On his way out, the Counsellor Sumantra shared the following story to the King.
“Please listen to the folk legend that I have heard.  I had heard of the sacrifice ritual that has been recommended to you by the priests as a legend.  The all-knowing sage Sanatkumara had foretold the story to the other sages about the birth of four sons to you.”

Chapter X - Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga’s marriage to S’āntā

The King prodded Sumantra to educate him what he had heard about the manner in which the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga was brought over to the kingdom.  Sumantra said: “Let me narrate fully.   Please listen along with your counselors.”

Chapter VII - The Counselors to  King Dasaratha

Lava and Kuśī continued the story. 
The King had appointed eight renowned ministers.  Each one was capable, learned, pure in heart and devoted to the King.  Each had the ability to read the King’s mind and perform royal duties to benefit the people.  The ministers were: Dhrishti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Surashtra, Rashtravardhna, Akopa, Dharmapala, Arthavit and Sumantra.  The great Rishis Vashishtha and Vamadeva served as family priests.  The royal counselors included: Suyajna, Jabali, Kashyapa, Gautama, the elderly Markendeya and the Brahmana Katyayana.  The family priests joined these six as counselors, in another group of eight.

Chapter VIII - King Dasaratha decides on the horse-sacrifice

Unfortunately, the King though resourceful and righteous, did not have a son.  A son was needed to maintain the clan.  The King badly grieving.  He thought deeply.  He came up with the idea to perform the customary Aśvamedha[i] sacrifice to be blessed with a son.  He consulted his Ministers and the other wise men.  He made up his mind to proceed with the task.  He summoned the Counselor Sumantra and ordered him to collect all priests and the family preceptors quickly.  Sumantra strode along and invited all scholars like Suyajña, Vāmadeva, Jābāli, Kāśyapa and the family priest Vasiṣṭha.  King Daśaratha greeted them respectfully and spoke these sincere words...

Chapter IX- The legend of the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga

On his way out, the Counsellor Sumantra shared the following story to the King.
“Please listen to the folk legend that I have heard.  I had heard of the sacrifice ritual that has been recommended to you by the priests as a legend.  The all-knowing sage Sanatkumara had foretold the story to the other sages about the birth of four sons to you.”

Chapter X - Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga’s marriage to S’āntā

The King prodded Sumantra to educate him what he had heard about the manner in which the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga was brought over to the kingdom.  Sumantra said: “Let me narrate fully.   Please listen along with your counselors.”