Wednesday, 26 February 2014

142. Rama saw the fatally wounded Jataayu.

               After hearing Lakshmana, Rama's immediate reaction was a complete wonderment. Lakshmana, his dear brother very nicely, without anyway wounding his feelings, pointed out how erroneous his intended action was. Rama had to agree to the most expedient course of action suggested by his brother. Looking at Lakshmana very affectionately, Rama nodded and smiled. Then propping against his bedazzling bow asked Lakshmana. "I agree with you in toto, my lad. What shall we do now?" 
              Lakshmana replied "Firstly, let us search thoroughly this Janasthaana which is rife with many rakshashas, and replete with manifold trees and climber-plants.
             "Then let us try the mountains, glens and caves. There are divers and pernicious caverns tumultuous with diverse packs of predators. And we should not ignore the     mansions of kinnaraas and palaces of gandharvas."
            Rama totally agreed and they started roving the  forest. Then they beheld Jataayu who was completely covered by blood and was buckling. They did not recognize him. Rama told Lakshmana "That must be the one who killed and eaten my Seetha. It is apparent that this rakshash is hiding here in the semblance of a bird and is now reposing comfortably. I am going to kill him now." 
              When the ireful Rama rushed towards the bird, that bird spewing up frothy blood pathetically and looking at Rama and calling him by name. Then Rama recognized him and rushed to him. When he neared Jataayu, the bird said
"Oh, my boy Rama, thank god I am alive to see you. That rakshash Ravana stole your wife Seetha. I tried to rescue her. 
As I have became very old I could not. Ravana overpowered me. When I became overtired Ravana gashed my wings and flew skyward taking Seetha with him.
              "Somehow I lived to tell you the news. Now please kill me and relieve me of this agony."
               Hearing the news Rama's bow fell down. He was both relieved and angry. Relieved because he got the news about Seetha and angry because she was kidnapped by that rakshash, Ravana. He hugged Jataayu affectionatelly.  And he wept. With utter sorrow Rama told Lakshmana "I was deprived of my kingdom and I am sent into the forests. Now, Seetha is misplaced and the death of this bird. This kind of misfortune of mine would incinerate even Agni, the Divine-Incinerator. Even if it were to be a plethoric and limitless ocean, and now if I were to enter it, or take a swim to the other shore of blissfulness, even that Lord of Rivers would run
completely dry, owing to my misfortune, it is definite. There will not be any greater unfortunate being in this world than me, even if all the sessile and mobile beings are put together, by whom such a complicated catastrophic enmeshment as this is derived. This decrepit kingly eagle is the friend of my father and is terminally gashed and recumbent on the floor owing only to the backlash of my misfortune." 
             Thus lamenting in that way Raghava patted the body of Jataayu along with Lakshmana instancing his parental regard.
             On hugging that kingly eagle whose wings were hacked off and who were bloodstained, Rama murmured "she who is identical with my live,... where is my Maithili..." And Rama wept and collapsed on the  earth due to deep sorrow.
              Rama after recovering told Lakshmana "Lakshmana, this lofty bird fought for us and has been fatally wounded." Then looking at Jataayu with great concern and asked him kindly "Oh, Jataayu, please let us know how this thing has happened to you. What happened to Seetha? Why Ravana was taking my wife?"
              Jataayu with great difficulty replied. With a feeble voice he said slowly and haltingly "Ravana abducted and was carrying away Seetha. I tried to stop him. In our tussle he hacked both my wings when I was overtired, and went southward taking the princess of Videha, Seetha, along with him. 
            "That rakshash is the son of Vishravasa.  He is also a step-brother of Kubera..." He could not say anything beyond this. Looking at Rama he exhaled his last breath. The inert body of Jataayu collapsed onto the surface of earth.
             With a deep sorrow Rama told Lakshmana "This bird which for years together lived fearlessly in the Dandaka forest, a habitat of rakshashas, has been hacked to death, because of me.
             "As to how the celebrated and highly renowned king Dasharatha is venerable and honourable for me, likewise this lord of birds is also a venerable and honourable one to me. Oh, Soumitri, get the firewood and I will cremate this lord of birds who expired because of me. I will mount this lordly bird onto the pyre and cremate ." 
             Then Rama addressed the inert body of Jataayu "Oh, greatly mighty king of eagles, you were being the friend of my father and also that you lost your life because of me, I am cremating you as if I am your son. I sincerely wish that you depart to the unexcelled heavenly world destined for the virtuosos of Vedic-rituals, and for the practisers of ascesis amid Five-Ritual-fires, and for those who never retreated in combats."
              Rama then mounted that lord of birds onto the pyre and with deep sorrow incinerated that eagle in a flaring fire of pyre, as he would do in respect of his own deceased close relative. Then the brothers hunted a big and robust-bodied animal and offered it to the deceased soul of that bird. Drawing up the flesh of that killed animal and lumping it to gobbets, Rama placed those gobbets on pleasant greenish pasture lands as obsequial offerings in respect of that bird Jataayu. Rama then chanted Vedic hymns that were employed in such funerals of one's own paternal people, as it was believed that they lead the soul of the departed to heaven. Then both the brothers went to the River Godavari and with the water of that river performed ablution for that king of eagles, Jataayu.  Both the brothers then had their funeral baths in the waters of the river Godavari and then made water oblations to the king of eagles.
                That king of eagles Jataayu, who did a creditworthy deed of stalling and combating Ravana, but felled by that Ravana, went away to the merited and auspicious heavenly realms of his own, after consecrated by Rama.
                Then both the brothers started moving south to find the whereabouts of Seetha.

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