The heroic king of the Vultures, Jatayu, having Sampati as his brother and Aruna as his father, was a friend of Dasaratha. 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 Aruna. Garuda became the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, while Aruna became the charioteer of Surya (the Sun God). Aruna 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, bordering the Southern Bharatvarsha(India). Later Jatayu came to stay in Panchavati( located in Nashik, Maharashtra).
Later on king Dasharatha came to the forests for hunting, where he met and made friends with Jatayu. And so was the friendship bond continued. Once Dasharatha was assisted by Jatayu in a war with the demons and Jatayu have saved his life in time. So Dasharatha promised to grant him any wish. The humble Jatayu, therefore asked only for” Please , grant me wish as, Your son will be just like my own”. And hence, for this very reason after Jatayu’s death Rama, the son of Dasharatha performs the final rites of Jatayu, as a dutiful son does.
When Ravana, after kidnapping Sita, was on his way to Lanka on his Pushpak viman, he encountered Jatayu. Jatayu fought a fierce battle with Ravana and smashed his aerial chariot. But Ravana cut his wings and hence Jatayu fell on the ground.
On their way to find Sita, Rama met Jatayu and was shocked by seeing the state of Jatayu’s body. It was completely perished and blood spread all over. Jatayu was then breathing his last. He said to Rama as follows: “O Lord, the demon king Ravana has forcibly taken Sita towards the south. I have been holding my breath to have a last sight of you. Now, I desire to breath my last, so kindly allow me to leave now”.So after his passing away 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 Jatayu.
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