Story of Jatayu
The epic ‘Holy Ramayana’ written by Maharishi Valmiki is based on the life of Lord Sri Ram. Sri Ram is the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu born to the Ayodhya Emperor Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya. Lord Sri Ram went on exile, accompanied by His consort Goddess Sita Devi and brother Sri Laxman, to fulfil the promise to His father. They walked across Bharata Khanda; wherein the present-day State of Kerala is blessed to have their footfalls. The triad lived as hermits in Chitrakuta and Dandakaranya, and then reached Panchavati during the fourteenth year of exile. Shurpanakha – the sister of Asura King Ravan, met and proposed Lord Sri Ram in the forests there. Being faithful to Sita Devi, Sri Ram kindly rejected the proposal. Infuriated by the dismissal, Shurpanakha assumed demonic form and then tried to attack Sita Devi. The nose of Shurpanakha was cut-off when Lord Laxman tried to thwart the attack. This place, later named as “Nashik”, is located on the banks of River Godavari in the present-day State of Maharashtra.
Shurpanakha then fled to the court of Ravan in Lanka to describe the disgrace she had faced. Later, Ravan abducted Sita Devi, with the help of a demon named Maricha, and had escaped to Lanka in Pushpaka Vimana.
Jatayu was the brother of Sampati as well as the nephew of Lord Garuda, and was also an ally of Emperor Dasharatha. Jatayu is a demi-god in the form of a vulture who is addressed in Ramayana as the ‘King of Vultures’(Giddharaja).
While roaming in the skies, Jatayu heard a plaintive female voice. He rushed there and found Goddess Sita Devi lamenting for help. He stopped the chariot, and advised Ravan to let go of Sita Devi and apologize before Sri Ram for the deplorable conduct. The arrogant Ravan defied the wisdom of the righteous Jatayu. To rescue Goddess Sita Devi, Jatayu battled against Ravan and destroyed his chariot and weaponry. At the end of the ferocious encounter, Ravan took ‘Chandrahasa’ – the powerful sword gifted to him by Lord Mahadev, and then cut-off the left wing of Jatayu and proceeded to Lanka with Sita Devi. Devi had blessed Jatayu and told that it would sustain life until meeting Lord Ram.
After sometime, Lord Ram & Lord Laxman reached atop the rock, and met the perishing Jatayu from whom Sri Ram came to know about Sita Devi was being abducted by Ravan. Jatayu fortunately succumbed to injuries by lying on the lap of the Lord and thence attained Moksha. Both Lord Ram & Lord Laxman blessed the soul immensely and performed last rites to the mortal remains of Jatayu.