"Markandeya said, 'That heroic king of the vultures, Jatayu,
having Sampati for his uterine brother and Aruna himself for
his father, was a friend of Dasaratha. And beholding his daughter-in-law
Sita on the lap of Ravana, that ranger of the skies rushed in
wrath against the king of the Rakshasas.
And the vulture addressed Ravana, saying, 'Leave the princess
of Mithila, leave her I say! How canst thou, O Rakshasa, ravish
her when I am alive? If thou dost not release my daughter-in-law,
thou shalt not escape from me with life!' And having said
these words Jatayu began to tear the king of the Rakshasas
with his talons.
And he mangled him in a hundred different parts of his body by striking him
with his wings and beaks. And blood began to flow as copiously from Ravana's
body as water from a mountain spring. And attacked thus by that vulture desirous
of Rama's good, Ravana, taking up a sword, cut off the two wings of that bird.
And having slain that king of the vultures, huge as a mountain-peak shooting
forth above the clouds, the Rakshasa rose high in the air with Sita on his lap.
the princess of Videha, wherever she saw an asylum of ascetics,
a lake, a river, or a tank, threw down an ornament of hers.
And beholding on the top of a mountain five foremost of monkeys,
that intelligent lady threw down amongst them a broad piece
of her costly attire. And that beautiful and yellow piece
of cloth fell, fluttering through the air, amongst those five
foremost of monkeys like lightning from the clouds.
And that Rakshasa soon passed a great way through the firmament like a bird
through the air. And soon the Rakshasa beheld his delightful and charming city
of many gates, surrounded on all sides by high walls and built by Viswakrit
himself. And the king of the Rakshasa then entered his own city known by the
name of Lanka, accompanied by Sita.' "And while Sita was being carried
away, the intelligent Rama, having slain the great deer, retraced his steps
and saw his brother Lakshmana (on the way).
And beholding his brother, Rama reproved him, saying, 'How couldst thou come
hither, leaving the princess of Videha in a forest that is haunted by the Rakshasa?'
And reflecting on his own enticement to a great distance by that Rakshasa in
the guise of a deer and on the arrival of his brother (leaving Sita alone in
the asylum), Rama was filled with agony. And quickly advancing towards Lakshmana
while reproving him still, Rama asked him, 'O Lakshmana, is the princess of
Videha still alive? I fear she is no more!' Then Lakshmana told him everything
about what Sita had said, especially that unbecoming language of hers subsequently.
With a burning heart Rama then ran towards the asylum. And
on the way he beheld a vulture huge as a mountain, lying in
agonies of death. And suspecting him to be a Rakshasa, the
descendant of the Kakutstha race, along with Lakshmana rushed
towards him, drawing with great force his bow to a circle.
The mighty vulture, however, addressing them both, said, 'Blessed
be ye, I am the king of the vultures, and friend of Dasaratha!'
Hearing these words of his, both Rama and his brother put
aside their excellent bow and said, 'Who is this one that
speaketh the name of our father in these woods?' And then
they saw that creature to be a bird destitute of two wings,
and that bird then told them of his own overthrow at the hands
of Ravana for the sake of Sita. Then Rama enquired of the
vulture as to the way Ravana had taken. The vulture answered
him by a nod of his head and then breathed his last. And having
understood from the sign the vulture had made that Ravana
had gone towards the south, Rama reverencing his father's
friend, caused his funeral obsequies to be duly performed.
The Story of Sitas abduction by the demon Ravana
and the killing of Jatayu bird
Mahabharatha CHAPTER XXV
Before Ravana kidnapped Sita, he send his demoniac brother
Marichi to the hermitage of Sita-Rama, who lured away Rama
and Laksmana in the form of a golden dear deep into the forest.
Maricha assumed the shape of a golden deer with silvern spots;
its horns were tipped with sapphire and its eyes were like
to blue lotus blooms. This beautiful animal of gentle seeming
grazed below the trees until Sita beheld it with wondering
eyes as she came forth to pluck wild flowers. She called to
Rama, saying: "A deer of wondrous beauty is wandering
through the grove. I long to rest at ease on its golden skin."
Said Rama: "O Lakshmana, I must fulfil the desire of
Sita. Tarry with her until I obtain this animal for her."
So speaking, he lifted his bow and hastened away through
Lakshmana spoke to Sita and said: "My heart is full
of misgiving. Sages have told that Rakshasas are wont to assume
the forms of deer. Ofttimes have monarchs been waylaid in
the forest by artful demons who came to lure them away."
Rama chased the deer a long time hither and thither through
the forest, and at length he shot an arrow which pierced its
heart. In his agony Maricha sprang out of the deer's body,
and cried out in imitation of Rama's voice: "Sita, Sita,
save me! O save me, Lakshmana!" Then he died, and Rama
perceived that he had slain the Rakshasa Maricha, brother
Sita's heart was filled with alarm when she heard the voice
of the Rakshasa calling in imitation of her husband. She spake
to Lakshmana, saying: "Hasten and help my Rama; he calls
Said Lakshmana: "Do not fear for Rama, O fair one. No
Rakshasa can injure him. I must obey his command and remain
beside thee. The cry thou hast heard is an illusion wrought
Sita was wroth; her eyes sparkled and her voice shook as
she spake, saying: "Hath thine heart grown callous? Art
thou thy brother's enemy? Rama is in peril, and yet thou dost
not hasten to succour him. Hast thou followed him to the forest
desiring that he should die, so as to obtain his widow by
force? If so, thy hope is a delusion, because I will not live
one moment after he dies. It is useless, therefore, for thee
to tarry here."
Said Lakshmana, whose eyes were filled with tears: "I
do not fear for Rama. . . . O Sita! thy words scald me, for
thou art as a mother unto me. I cannot answer thee. My heart
is free from sin. . . . Alas! that fickle women with poisonous
tongues should endeavour to set brother against brother."
Sita wept, and Lakshmana, repenting that he had spoken harshly,
said: "I will obey thee and hasten unto Rama. May the
spirits of the forest protect thee against hidden enemies.
I am troubled because I behold evil omens. When I return,
may I behold Rama by thy side."
Said Sita: "If Rama is slain I will die by drowning,
or by poison, or else by the noose. I cannot live without
Ravana kept watch the while, and when he saw Lakshmana leaving
the hermitage, he assumed the guise of a forest sage and went
towards the lonely and sad-hearted Sita. The jungle had grown
silent. Ravana saw that Sita was beautiful as the solitary
moon at midnight when it illumines the gloomy forest. He spake,
saying: "O woman of golden beauty, O shy one in full
bloom, robed in silk and adorned with flowers, art thou Sri,
or Gauri, 1 or the goddess of love, or a nymph of the forest?
Red as coral are thy lips; thy teeth shine like to jasmine;
love dwelleth in thine eyes so soft and lustrous. Slender
art thou and tall, with shapely limbs, and a bosom like to
ripe fruit. . . . Wherefore, O fair one, with long shining
tresses, dost thou linger here in the lonesome jungle? More
seemly it were if thou didst adorn a stately palace. Choose
thee a royal suitor; be the bride of a king. What god is thy
sire, O beautiful one?"
Sita honoured Ravana, believing that he was a Brahman. She
told him the story of Rama's exile, and said: "Rest thyself
here until the jungle-ranging brethren return to greet thee."
Then Ravana said: "No Brahman am I, but the ruler of
the vengeful Rakshasas. I am Ravana, King of Lanka, dreaded
by even the gods. Thy beauty, O fair one, clad in yellow silk,
has taken captive my heart. Be my chief queen, O Sita, and
five thousand handmaidens will wait upon thee. Share mine
empire and my fame."
Sita, whose eyes flashed fiery anger: Knowest thou Rama, the
god-like hero who is ever victorious in strife? I am his wedded
wife. Knowest thou Rama, the sinless and saintly one, who
is strongly armed and full of valour and virtue? I am his
wedded wife. What madness hath prompted thee to woo the wife
of so mighty a warrior? I follow Rama as a lioness follows
a lion. Canst thou, a prowling jackal, hope to obtain a lioness?
Snatch from the jaws of a lion the calf which it is devouring,
touch the fang of a cobra when it seizeth a fallen victim,
or tear up a mountain by the roots, or seize the sun in heaven
before thou dost seek to win or capture the wife of Rama,
Ravana boasted his prowess, saying: "I have power to
slay even Yama. I can torture the sun and shoot arrows through
the earth. Little dost thou know of my glory and my heroism."
Then he changed his shape and stood up in gigantic demon
form with vast body and ten heads and twenty arms. . . . Seizing
Sita, he soared through the air with her as Garuda carries
off the queen of serpents; he placed her in his chariot and
went away swifter than the wind.
The unseen spirits of the jungle looked on, and they heard
the cries of Sita as she called in vain for Rama and Lakshmana.
Jatayu, the Monarch of Vultures, who lay asleep on a mountain
top, heard her and awoke; he darted upon Ravana like to the
thunderbolt of Indra. A fierce battle was fought in mid air.
Jatayu destroyed the chariot and killed the Rakshasa asses,
but Ravana took Sita in his arms, and, soaring higher than
the Vulture king, disabled him with his sword.
Then Ravana continued his journey towards Lanka, floating
in the air. As he passed over the Mountain of Apes, Sita contrived
to cast off her ornaments, and they dropped through the air
like falling stars. . . . The five apes found them and said:
"Ravana is carrying away some beautiful woman who calls
upon Rama and Lakshmana."
When Ravana reached his palace he delivered Sita to a band
of Rakshasa women, commanding them to guard her by day and
Now, when Sita was dwelling in the palace of the demon king,
guarded by Rakshasa women, Ravana approached her again and
again, and addressed to her sweet speeches, praising her beauty
and endeavouring to win her love. But Sita rejected him with
scorn. Although she was his prisoner, he could not win her
by force. She was strengthened by her own virtue; she was
protected by Brahma's dread decree.
Be it known that once upon a time the lustful Ravana had
seized by force a nymph of Indra's heaven, whose name was
Punjikashthala. When he committed that evil offence, Brahma
spake angrily and said that Ravana's head would be rent asunder
(split in thousands of peaces) if ever again he attempted
to act in like manner towards another female in heaven or
Sita said unto the demon king: "Thou shalt never have
me for wife either in this world or in the next. Rather would
I die than gratify thy desire."
Angry was Ravana, and he commanded the female Rakshasas to
convey Sita to the Asoka grove, believing that her heart would
be melted by the beauties of that fair retreat. "Thou
wilt provide her with fine raiment," he said, "and
with rich ornaments and delicious food, thou wilt praise me
before her, and anon threaten her with dire calamity if she
refuseth to become my bride."
Sita remembered Rama in her heart by day and by night, and
wept and moaned for him, refusing to be comforted.
Meanwhile, when Rama and Laksmana returned to their hermitage
and found it bereft of Sita, Rama started to weep for Sita.
He searched hither and thither through the forest, and called
on every mountain and tree and on every bird and every beast,
asking whither she had gone.
On the morrow the brethren went forth again in quest of the
lost one. They came to the place where Jatayus lay dying,
and that lordly bird spake to Rama and related all that had
befallen Sita and himself.
Rama sat on the ground: he embraced the dying Vulture King,
and said unto Lakshmana: "Alas! my brother, the noble
Jatayus hath given up his life to serve me. I have lost my
kingdom and my-sire; I have lost Sita, and now our ally, the
Rajah-Jatayu, the king of Vultures, is dying. . . . All my
friends are passing away. If I were to sit in the shade of
a tree, the tree would fall; if I stooped to drink water from
a river, verily the river would dry up." . . .
Then he spake to Jatayu, saying: "Whither hath Ravana
gone with my well-beloved?"
Said the Vulture: "He went southward towards an unknown
forest fastness. . . . Alas! my strength fails, mine eyes
grow blind, my life is ebbing from my body."
When he had spoken thus, Jatayus died in Rama's arms, and his
soul ascended to the heaven of Vishnu in a chariot of fire.
Jatayu - mystical bird, king of vultures
Jatayu, the king of vultures, was not a ordinary bird, but a religious mystical
bird, like a sage, fully acquainted with the rules of dharma.
Vinita, the wife of the sage Kashyap had 2 sons, Garuda and Arun. Garuda became
the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, while Arun became the charioteer of Surya (the sun
God). Arun had 2 sons- Sampati and Jatayu.
Once in their childhood, Sampati and Jatayu decided to reach
to the sun. So they began to fly higher and higher. But very
soon, Jatayu seemed to have lost his tolerance to the heat
of the sun. Hence to save him, his elder brother Sampati spread
his wings over the younger Jatayu. He did save his younger
brother but got his own wings burnt by the heat and he fell
at the seashore. Later Jatayu came to stay in Panchavati.
Later on king Dasharatha came to the forests for hunting,
where he met and made friends with Jatayu.
Ravana, after abducting Sita, was on his way to Lanka on his Pushpak vimana, he
encountered Jatayu. Jatayu fought a fierce battle with Ravana and smashed his
aerial cart. But Ravana cut his wings and he fell on the ground.
On their way to find Sita, Rama meets Jatayu for the first
time though Jatayu had known Rama from earlier times. Jatayu
was then breathing his last. He said : "O Lord, the demon
king Ravana has forcibly taken Sita towards the south. I have
been holding my breath to have a sight of you. Now, I desire
to breath my last, so kindly allow me to leave now".
Shri Rama performed Jatayu's last rites and respectfully cremated
his body and then offered libations for him. It was indeed
a high fortune for Jatayu, that Lord Rama who could not perform
his father's last rites came to perform the last rites of