Emperor Dasaratha Prays To Sun God
The story of the Ramayana as told by sage Valmiki goes thus:
King Dasaratha was the ruler of Ayodhya, capital of Kosala Desa. The people were prosperous and virtuours. The city was truly Ayodhya (unconquerable in war). It was well endowed with Nature's bounty.
Dasaratha of the Solar Dynasty, a descendant of Ikshwahu and Manu ruled the country righteously, loving the citizens as his own children. King Dasaratha had eight ministers, counsellors and two family priests Vasishtha and Vamadeva. His three wives Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi were without children. Longing for the birth of children to continue his famous Ikshwaku lineage, King Dasaratha desired to perform a horse-sacrifice(Ashwamegha Yaga).His ministers, priests and counsellors were involved in the decision making.
It was decided that the Ashwamedha Yaga with PUTRAKAMESHTI (Yajna for progeny/son) as a part, should be conducted by Sage Rushyashringa, the husband of Shanta, the adopted daughter of Romapada, a neighbouring friendly King. On Dasaratha's request Rushyashringa came to Ayodhya. Ayodhya was tastefully decorated.
Dasaratha of the Solar Dynasty worshipped the Sun God and commenenced the Yaga. The complicated procedures and rituals were meticulously followed. Dasaratha and his queens observed the vows for the Yaga strictly, with piety and determination, chanting the scriptures correctly. The priests used herbs and other offerings. The sacred smoke from the altar filled the Yagashala.
Rushyashringa blessed King Dasaratha saying that four sons would be born to perpetuate his race. He then started the Putrakameshti Yaga (Yaga for begetting sons.).At the same time, Brahma the Creator, prayed to Lord Vishnu who agreed to be born as Dasaratha's son; other Devas would take appropriate births to help Vishnu in destroying evil and establishing Dharma on earth.