Ramayana by Valmiki -3
STORY OF TWO MIGHTY BIRDS: JATAAYU AND SAMPAATI
Jataayu and Sampaati were two super vultures, who helped Ram in their own way when Sita was abducted by Raavan.
Jataayu was the younger brother of Sampaati. They were great sons of their mother Sheyni. Ram met Jataayu while going to Panchavati to setup his cottage to stay there with his brother and Sita during his exile.
Jataayu ,the huge bird introduced himself as friend of king Dashrath. Ram received him with full honor. Jataayu was a mountain – like huge bodied bird full of strength. His beaks and paws were solid iron. His feathers were powerful though he was old and had seen thousands of years of his life. The brave bird had travelled around the whole world and had enjoyed the heights of sky and had gone up to Indra loak with his brother Sampaati.
He was a well informed bird with great wisdom.
He narrated the history of origin of all beings living on the earth to Ram.
Jataayu told Ram-
सोहं वाससहायस्ते भविष्यामि यदिच्छसि।
इदं दुर्गम हि कान्तारं मृगराक्षससेवितम्।
सीतां च तात च रक्षिष्ये त्वयियाते स लक्ष्मणे।।३४
(If you desire, I can assist you in setting your dwelling. This inaccessible forest is full of beasts and orgs. I can guard Sita when you go out with Laxmana.)
Ram believed him and recognized his powers by entrusting Sita to him till he set up his dwelling in Panchvati with his brother Laxman-
स तत्र सीतां परिदाय मैथिलीं सहैव तेनातिबलेन पक्षिणा।
जगाम तां पंचवटीम सलक्ष्मणो रिपून् दिधक्षंशलभानिवानलः।।३६
AraNya Kand, canto 14
After his cottage was set up he started living there with his wife Sita and younger brother Laxman.
One day RaavaN, the king of Lanka, abducted Sita in their absence. Sita was crying pathetically calling Ram and Laxman when she was being taken away by RaavaN on his flying chariot. Jataayu heard her cry and recognized Sita being abducted by a black bodied huge monster; He flew and went near RaavaN and tried to stop him by his valuable preaching, but failed to impress him.
He told RaavaN that he is an old bird and RaavaN is in his full youth. RaavaN is equipped with various weapons but he had nothing with him. Still, he will not allow RaavaN to take away Sita till he is alive.
‘तिष्ठ तिष्ठ दशग्रीव मुहूर्तं पश्य रावण।
वृंतादिव फलं त्वां तु पातयेयं रथोत्तमाम। युद्धातिथ्यं प्रदाश्यामि यथा प्राणं निशाचर।।28
Wait, wait a while, o ten- headed monster! See how I knock you down from your chariot. O power of night! I shall offer you hospitality on the battle field according to my strength.’ (AraNya Kaand, canto 50)
‘तद वभूवाद्भुतं युद्धं गृद्धराक्षसयोस्तदा। सपक्षयोर्माल्यवतोर्महा पर्वतोरिव।।3
Then there took place an astounding battle between the mighty vulture and the monster.
It appeared as if two huge feathered -mountains named as Malyaywan have clashed together.’
Jataayu, the mighty king of birds injured RaavaN badly by hitting him hard with his sharp beaks and terrible paws. Jataayu broke the bows of RaavaN by hitting it with his rock – solid legs. He also damaged his chariot, killed horses and his driver. He broke his breast plate made of solid gold. RaavaN fell down on the earth along with Sita from his chariot. Jataayu also fainted. Seeing him in this condition RaavaN started running away from the battle field carrying Sita on his flying chariot. He had consumed all his weapons on the mighty bird excepting a sword. When Jataayu came in senses and saw RaavaN flying on his chariot, he followed him and attacked with his full force but finally RaavaN injured him badly with his sword and he fell down senseless.
When Ram and Laxman came searching Sita on that spot, Jataayu told him the whole story and died. Eyes of Ram and Laxman went tearful seeing the mighty king of birds dead. Ram embraced him and wept. He finally placed him on pyre, lighted it and cremated him with full dignity.
STORY OF SAMPAATI
Sugreeva sent many groups of mighty monkeys in different parts of the country to search Sita.
A group consisting of Hanuman, under the leadership of prince Angad was badly depressed as they had not traced Sita till only few days were left to report to Sugreeva about their finding. They were discussing their further strategies sitting on the Vindhya Mountain, where the old, famous and mighty vulture, Sampaati, brother of Jataayu lived. He was unable to fly as his feathers were left with no strength and were burnt. He used to catch his prey by running around. His mighty son Supaarshwa took care of him.
When he saw monkeys sitting there in huge number, he was pleased and thanked god for sending so much food for him. When monkeys came to know about his intentions they started criticizing him and talking about Jataayu and his greatness who sacrificed his life while protecting Sita, from RaavaN. This talk alarmed Sampati. When he heard that his brother died. His eyes filled with tears and he told to monkeys in his emotion charged Voice that he is the elder brother of Jataayu. He could have taken revenge from RaavaN and have killed him by flying to Lanka alone, but his feathers are burnt and he is left with no any strength of flying. He told to monkeys that he had unparallel strength in his youth. He was able to go anywhere and fly up to any height. When he came to know that Indra, the king of gods has defeated mighty Vritraasur, he thought of judging his strength by defeating Indra, flying to Heaven. He flew to heaven with his younger brother Jataayu and defeated Indra. While returning back they wanted to enjoy having some rounds of the sun. They did so, but Jataayu could not wear the heat of sun and was completely exhausted and started falling down on the earth fast. ‘Seeing his life in danger I covered his body with my feathers .In doing so my feathers were burnt and I fell down on this mountain.’
Sampati told to monkeys that he is very old. He has seen all lokas. He has travelled far and near everywhere. He has measured all the heights with his mighty feathers. He knows how Vishnu, as incarnation of Vaaman, measured the whole universe in his three steps. He has seen the big war between gods and demons as well as he has
Witnessed the great event of churning of the ocean.
He also said that every bird has a limited capacity to fly and they differ from one to the other in strength. Sparrows are the least flyers; crows can go higher than them. Bhaas, herons and ospreys come in third order. Hawks are big flyers and they are graded fourth in order. Vultures cover still higher flights and they are graded as fifth in order. Among birds, Swans, the Garuda, descent of AruN and son of Vinita are the greatest flyers and they have no parallel in strength and virility. Saying this Sampaati, the great bird, stopped for a moment and said further ‘O leader’s monkeys! We vultures also claim to belonging to the descent of the same AruN, mothered by Shyeni. We vultures have sharp eyesight and are capable to see more than eight hundred miles from here.’ He further said that the beautiful woman is abducted by evil – minded and dark colored RaavaN, son of Vishravaa. He lives in famous island named Lanka situated in the sea and eight hundred miles away from here. The beautiful woman, who looked like lightning in the black cloud, being carried by RaavaN, is still alive; I can see her from here. He also said that Sita was seen by his mighty son Supaarshwa when he had gone to prey for my food on the mountain Mahendra. Sita dropped some of her cloths there. ‘
Sampaati continued with a little pause as if he was looking something deep within himself.’ Some eight thousand years back, I was left with nothing after losing my feathers, kingdom and my only brother Jataayu who fell down from the sky. I never knew where, before you told me about him. I preferred to die than to lead a life depending upon others for food and other needs of life. Before killing myself I met famous seer Nishaakar, who could recognize me with great difficulty. He told me that he can give me new feathers immediately, but he will not do so. He told me that some eight thousand years later a great son of king Dashrath, named Ram will be exiled and his wife named Sita will be abducted by the monster king RaavaN of Lanka...I will have to survive till that time as I too have some role to play in his tuff task . He also said that I will get new wings, new life with fresh vitality after doing my job for Ram.
Two new fresh red wings came out from his body while he was talking to Angad and other monkeys. This filled him with great pleasure and tremendous vitality. He announced ‘the words of the great seer rishi have come true. You will soon be able to reach Lanka and meet Sita and Ram will defeat RaavaN. Now you prepare yourself to cross the ocean.’
Saying so much, Sampaati, the great bird, flew from there towards the heights of sky fluttering his new mighty feathers in his high spirits. Monkeys kept on watching him till he disappeared from their eyes.
Valmiki has given involving description of these two mighty birds, Sampaati and Jataayu.
We cannot forget them. They cover a good part of our memory and appreciation for their strength, enthusiasm, and wisdom and cooperating spirit in favor of goodness even at the cost of their life.