Sage Viswamitra plays an important role in the Ramayana. He comes to Ayodhya at a time when Dasaratha is contemplating the marriage of his sons.

In the presence of Dasaratha, who feels blessed by the sage’s entry, Viswamitra puts forth his request — that Dasaratha should send Rama along with him to the forest to destroy the demons who were causing hindrances to the yagnas of the rishis. Viswamitra knows he is seeking the Ultimate Truth from Dasaratha, pointed out Sri M. V. Anantapadmanabhachariar in a discourse.

But Dasaratha sees Rama as a 16-year-old who lacks the experience and resourcefulness to fight the demons with their wily, magical skills. Tataka and other demons such as Maricha and Subhahu liked to spoil the yagnas by intercepting the offerings and pouring blood into the sacrificial fires. In Dasaratha’s perception, human beings with their limitations are no match to their tricks and atrocities.

The sage becomes angry when Dasaratha hesitates to comply with his request; and Vasistha, who divines the real purpose of Viswamitra’s visit, impresses on Dasaratha that no harm would befall Rama. On the other hand, Rama would be benefited by His apprenticeship under Viswamitra. Dasaratha acquiesces in and the divine association begins.

A person of Viswamitra’s stature could have easily killed the demons. But he is keen to establish Rama’s greatness to the world and also wants the demons to gain a better end which they could if they died at the hands of the Supreme Lord. Moreover, this sojourn in the forest would be an opportunity for him to impart his knowledge of archery to Rama, teach Him powerful mantras (like Bala and Atibala) and give Him valuable astras that would be useful later when Rama faces the powerful Ravana in battle.

Viswamitra also knows that the time for the marriage of the divine couple is at hand and here was the chance to lead Him to Janaka’s palace to enable this to happen.

Throughout the sojourn, Viswamitra’s experience becomes enriched when he sees the Supreme Lord in Rama.