Dasaratha, king of Bārāṇasī, had three children, Rāmapaṇḍita, Lakkhaṇa and Sītā. On the death of his queen he took another queen and had by her a son, Bharata. When Bharata was seven years old his mother claimed the kingdom for him in accordance with a boon granted her by the king. The king was horrified and fearing that she would harm his elder children, sent them into the forest for twelve years, asking them to return after his death. In the forest Rāma lived the ascetic life while Lakkhaṇa and Sītā provided him with food. Dasaratha died after nine years, and when the ministers refused to recognise Bharata as king, he went into the forest in search of Rāma. Rāma, however, refused to return until three more years had elapsed, and on Bharata refusing to occupy the throne, Rāma gave him his straw slippers to be placed on the throne in his absence. When cases were heard, if the decision given was wrong, the slippers would beat upon each other, but, if right, they would lie quiet. After three years Rāma returned and reigned from his palace of Sucaṇḍaka for sixteen thousand years, with Sītā as queen consort.
The story was related to a man of Sāvatthi who greatly grieved at his father’s death and neglected all his duties. J.iv.123‑30.