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Jataayu meets Raam in Aranya Kaand of Raamaayan, when Raam, Seetaa and Lakshman are heading towards Panchvatee to stay there after visiting Agastya Muni. In fact Agastya Muni advised them to go there and stay there.
Jataayu was a vulture and was a good friend of Raajaa Dasharath's. He helped Raam by fighting Raavan when he was abducting Seetaa. While fighting with Raavan, Raavan cut his wings and he fell down helpless. He could not do anything more to Raavan since he couldn't fly any more. Later he lost his life after telling the incident of abduction of Seetaa by Raavan to Raam. He had a brother named Sampaati too.
Jataayu was in the lineage of
Prajaapati Daksh, as he told Raam when
he met Him.
Jataayu Dies and Raam Performs His Last Rites
Then where is the question of a bird going to heaven? "Which heaven is scheduled to such specialists..." is the objection. But Jataayu acquired all those "merits" when he combated Raavan without any retreat; thus he is getting a shortcut without undergoing too many other kinds of births, and he is given Mukti (emancipation) from lifecycles, for his action on behalf of godlike Raam. It is justifiable and befitting to get a final release. By word of Raam "by me cremated ritually and by me aptly consented to..." where He alone can transcend the man-made rules.
Then the cremation, that too ritualistic one, is normally unavailable for birds and animals, how then can Raam perform funerals for birds, or get them performed for monkeys, as in the case of Baali... For this it is said, "that's why Raam had to cremate Jataayu" and further said, "by me cremated ritually and by me aptly consented to..." as sort of special sanction of, because the animals have no authority to get last rites like this in scriptures.
Taking some action, endeavoring to protect Dharm, or obstructing A-Dharm, itself is superior to mere reverencing a Devtaa, or performing a daily routine of Yagya, etc, which in itself is a subjective performance.
Here Jataayu did not attack Raavan keeping Raam or Seetaa in mind, but attacked Raavan only to play his part in uninstalling A-Dharm, which is not that easy, like purchasing some temple tickets to perform some ritual, for and on behalf of ticket holders and their families. For this it is said in Nrasinh Puraan that "because of me you attained your demise, thereby you get the realms of Vishnu..." where "because of me" is to be taken not as an individual godhood, but as Dharm (because of Dharm) itself. Hence the special sanctions to Jataayu, where such sanctions are absent in the case of Baali, as he followed the course of A-Dharm and there are many scripts that say Raam gave this emancipation to Jataayu.
Raam Sobs for Jataayu After His Death
It is said that Raam is God, but yet He weeps... Is it not self-contradictory...? Not so, when a neighbor weeps for the hardships of his neighbor, won't the neighborly God weep...? that too on incarnating as a human... When humans are in difficulties, He wails much... but waits much also, till those humans can correct or come over their problems on their own, keeping a little faith in Him... Here also, the sobbing of Raam is comparatively nothing when compared to the sobbing for Seetaa, because the action of Jataayu, in encountering A-Dharm..., is not that He should weep so much as He was weeping for Seetaa. Thus Vaalmeeki Jee is aware of the amount of sobbing in Raamaayan.
Raam chants two Vaidik passages: "Yaamya Sookt" and "Naaraayan Sookt" - Aaapastamb Sootra as usually recited by Braahman in such funeral rites. Here it is 'so imperfectly conducted for an ineligible bird, by an unrelated highborn Kshatriya Raam, reciting unconcerned Vaidik hymns...' is the objection.
Jataayu is beyond any caste or creed by way of his devotion to his duty and by his self-sacrifice while on duty. Hence, he is beyond eligibility or opposite of it. Normally funeral rites are to be performed by one's own sons or nearest relatives. If none of the relatives of the dead is present to cremate, they are to be undertaken by the King of that kingdom. When Raam blessed the soul of Jataayu to go to the highest realms, which are far beyond the Ved of mortals, it is a sacrosanct act to chant those hymns... on human level; hence, Raam's action is clearly pro-Vaidik. And in Vaishnavaite tenets everything culminates into one - Vishnu. The adherents of Vishnu, may it be an animal, like Gajendra, the elephant; or humans, like Shabaree et al., or a bird, like Jataayu, they are led to the Ultimate course of the realm of Vishnu...'
Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 06/15/13