Aranya Kandam is the third chapter in the great epic Ramayana. Those who travel for a long distance due to their occupation or due to temple visits are suggested to read this holy chapter, since this chapter covers Rama’s stay in the forest along with his brother Lakshmana and his consort Ma Sita.
They reached the Chitrakuta forest, and visited the ashram of the pious couple Atri and Anusuya, and as per their advice, they travelled to Tandakaranya forest, and there they have destroyed various powerful demons, in order to protect the sages and the noble people who lived in that place. He also relieved the curse of Viradan, and due to that, Viradan had restored his original body and become the great Tumburu, a celestial Gandharva, whose statue can be found in the Tirumala Temple, and also a tank in Tirumala is known as Tumburu Teertha. They met Rishi Agastiya, and as per his advice, they went to Panchavadi and met their father’s friend Jatayu, and discussed about spiritual matters with him.
When they were staying at Panchavati, Surpanaka met them, and fell in love with Rama and Lakshmana. When she tried to kill Sita, by considering as a disturbance for her, Lakshmana had removed the ears and nose of Surpanaka. On hearing about this incident, her cousin brothers, Kara and Dhushana began to fight with Rama and Lakshmana, and finally, both of them were killed by the divine brothers.
The wounded Surpanaka went to her brother Ravana’s palace at Lanka, and cried with pain, and she also described the beauty of Sita, and asked her brother to kill the divine brothers and to kidnap Ma Sita from the Tandakaranya Forest. Ravana had planned cunningly, and he sent his uncle Maricha, to the forest. Maricha took the form of a golden deer and he began to wander in the forest, in front of Sita. Sita was very much excited with the beauty of the magic deer and asked Rama to catch it, and to bring it to her, in order to keep it as a pet animal for her.
Rama asked Lakshmana to safeguard Ma Sita, and went deep inside the forest, and when he found it difficult to catch the golden deer, he killed it with his bow and arrow, and at the time of its death, it began to shout in the voice of Rama, as “LAKSHMANA, please come immediately and save me”. Sita was shocked on hearing the voice of Rama, and asked Lakshmana to safeguard his brother Rama. Lakshmana went inside the forest, in search of Rama. During that time, Ravana transformed himself as a sage and asked for alms to Sita. Sita believed that he is a real sage and went in front of him. Immediately Ravana took his original form, and kept her in his divine plane, and moved from that place. While he was travelling in the skies, the noble Jatayu, fought with Ravana, in order to rescue Sita, but finally he was killed in the hands of Ravana.
While Rama and Lakshmana were searching for Sita, they met Jatayu who was laid down in the floor in a wounded state, with full of blood oozing from his body. Jatayu narrated the entire incident to Rama and Lakshmana, and he died. Due to the divine touch of Lord Rama, Jatayu had attained salvation. Lord Rama also granted salvation to Kabanda and Sabari in the Tandakaranya Forest.