In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Jatayu is the younger son of Aruṇa. His brother, Sampati, is a demi-god who has the form of a vulture and was an old friend of Dasharatha (Rama’s father).
In the epic Ramayana when Jatayu sees Ravana abducting Sita, he tries to rescue Sita from Ravana. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana, but as he was very old Ravana soon got the better of him.
As Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu in their search for Sita, he informs them of the fight between him and Ravana and tells them that he had gone south.
Jatayu and his brother Sampati, when young, used to compete as to who could fly higher. On one such instance, Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get seared by the sun’s flames. Sampati saved his brother by spreading his own wings and thus shielding Jatayu from the hot flames. In the process, Sampati himself got injured and lost his wings. As a result, Sampati lived wingless for the rest of his life.
While Jatayu was wounded and lying on the ground when Lord Rama arrived, Lord Rama sensed the end result and decided that Jatayu gets moksha. Jatayu consoles the distraught Rama and reassures Him that no harm will come to Sita and that very soon she will be restored to them. Rama is as much overwhelmed by grief as by a surging sense of affection and gratitude and embraces Jatayu. He asks Jatayu to be comfortable and blesses the bird.
Rama says that the grief of seeing Jatayu pass away is greater than the loss of Sita. He considers Jatayu as equal to His father and proceeds to do the final rites for the bird. All along Rama had shown Himself as a human being in this avatar, but in this context He forgets Himself and by His Sankalpa and supremacy, Lord Rama then slammed an arrow into the ground so as to call all seven sacred rivers, called teertha. Six rivers’ waters arrived, one river water failing to obey Lord Rama’s call. Since Lord Rama was himself an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, He forced the Gaya Teertha to arrive at the spot.
Written by R HARISHANKAR