Long ago in the court of the heavenly King Phra Isuan, a thoughtless joke played by a group of celestial courtiers on one of their number led - as these things often do - to a quarrel. So bitter did this quarrel become that even the death of a number of those involved failed to bring the factions to their senses, and it was agreed that the matter should be settled by a combat on earth between the courtier who considered himself injured by the joke, an embittered, ill-favored creature named Nontok, and the favorite of King Isuan, handsome Phra Narai, who had erred only in good-naturedly accepting the role of mediator in the dispute. As a result of this agreement, Phra Narai consented to be born as Phra Ram, the son of the king of Ayutaya city, while his enemy Nontok became Totsagan, demon prince of the island state of Longka.

This demon prince, who was endowed with ten heads, twenty arms and a formidable battery of occult accomplishments, was born with a disposition as evil as any to be found in the Three Realms of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, and the passage of the years developed and refined this disposition rather than diminished it. On the death of his father, Totsagan succeeded to the throne of Longka, from which he could muster a huge army of giants and demons and at the same time be sure of the loyal support of spirits, fiends and elements as far throughout the earth and underworld as his infamy was current. His three brothers oddly enough, for all that they were demons, were comparatively well intentioned, and his principal wife Nang Monto enjoyed an excellent reputation - as female demons go - as faithful wife and a loving mother. Their child, Intorachit, was, on the other hand, in all respects his father’s son.

Somewhere on the mainland, deep in the forest, lay the monkey metropolis of Keetkin. This city was created when the divine Isuan, foreseeing that the conflict between Phra Ram and Totsagan was soon to take place and that his favorite would need an army to pit against that of the demon king, ordered his liege man Phra In and the Sun God Phra Artit to attend to the matter. In compliance with his order, the two gods came to earth and made love to a hermit’s wife. Two fine boys, with visages of green and gold like their fathers’, were born to the woman and were named Palee and Sukreep. One day, however, the daughter of the hermit maliciously disclosed to her father the true parentage of his wards, at which the angry man cursed his wife and sons, turning the former into a stone and the latter into a pair of monkeys. In her turn the mother cursed the daughter, condemning her to stand on the slopes of Mount Jakrawan, with one leg propped up on the bough of a tree, until the Wind God fathered a monkey son on her. The offspring of this singular union, named Hanuman, turned out to be a monkey of extraordinary magical gifts, and after various adventures, he joined his uncles in the city of Keetkin, which by this time had been built for them by their fathers.

For awhile, the three monkeys lived in amity, Palee ruling the city as king with Sukreep acting as his regent. They treated their innumerable monkey subjects justly and maintained friendly relations with neighboring forest states. A dispute between Palee and Sukreep over the ownership of a woman, however, led to the flight of Sukreep and his exile in the forest, where at the beginning of this story he was patiently awaiting the coming of Phra Narai, who was to redress the injustice of which he had been the victim.

Across the strait from Longka and scores of leagues across the mainland at the other side of the great forest, the young Phra Ram grew up as heir to the throne of Ayutaya, his virtues testifying as clearly to his divine origin as his becoming green complexion. Only slightly less excellent than himself were his three brothers Lak, Phrot, and Satroot, and the sight of the four boys as they played in the flower garden of the palace, or learned to use the bow and the sword, or studied the arts of kingship and the secrets of the universe under their hermit tutors daily gladdened the heart of Ayutaya’s king. When in due course he came to manhood, Phra Ram was married to the lovely Nang Seeda, the daughter of the ruler of the neighboring city of Mitila, in a ceremony honored by the gods and celebrated by all men.

Now this young lady had a curious history. As Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Phra Narai, she had permitted herself to be born on earth in order to share the mortal adventures of her lord and chose as her parents Nang Monto and Totsagan. At the moment of her birth in Longka, she had uttered a cry defying the demons, and as it was predicted that she would be the cause of the death of Totsagan and the downfall of Langka, she had been cast adrift on the sea in a glass bowl. The gods and angels having protected the abandoned child, she had been found, nurtured, and educated as his own daughter by the childless king of Mitila. It is hardly necessary to add that Nang Seeda’s grace, beauty, and virtue surpassed by far those qualities of any other woman.

The marriage of the royal couple, less a joining of man and wife in wedlock that the union of sun and moon, cast an added luster over the city of Ayutaya, and it seemed at first that the Golden Age had been restored to the world. This almost universal happiness, however, was of short duration. The king was advanced in years by this time and announced his intention of relinquishing the throne in favor of Phra Ram. One of his wives, acting at the instigation of a hunchbacked and malevolent servant, demanded that he repay a debt of honor to her by placing her own son Phrot on the throne for fourteen years, banishing Phra Ram to the forest during this period. To his intense grief, the king was obliged to accede to her demands. Ram accepted the situation with equanimity. He tried to persuade Nang Seeda to remain in the palace, but when she insisted that it was a wife’s duty and privilege to share whatever hardships were her husband’s lot. Phra Ram yielded to her pleas and permitted her to accompany him. With the blessing of the dying king, the royal couple left the palace and, accompanied by Phra Lak, entered the forest.