Jatayu and Sampati
We all have heard of Jatayu. Jatayu is famously known in the Ramayana as he lost his life while saving Sita. But his lesser known brother, proved to more important as he helped in tracing exactly where Sita was. This brother was Sampati.
The tale of two brothers
Daksha and Panchajani had sixty daughters. Thirteen of these were married to sage Kashyap. Vinata, who was married to Kashyap had two sons, Aruna and Garuda. Aruna had two sons Sampati and Jatayu. Aruna is the Charioteer of Surya. Sampathi and Jatayu, when young, used to compete as to who could fly higher. On one such instance Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get seared by the sun’s flames. Sampati saved his brother by spreading his own wings and thus shielding Jatayu from the hot flames. In the process, Sampati himself got injured and lost his wings. As a result, Sampati lived wingless for the rest of his life.
During Kishkindha Kand, Sugriva ordered a bunch of monkeys led by Jambvant and Hanuman to search for Devi Sita. They came near to the abode of Sampati. Sampati became very pleased to see such a large gathering of the monkeys. He thought that these monkeys have been a gift of God, so that his hunger could be satisfied.
The monkeys were frightened to see the giant Sampati. Jambvant thought that how would these monkey, who are terrified by a vulture, fight against the mighty Ravana.
Just about that time, Angad was talking about Jatayu. He said – No one has ever been as blessed as Jatayu, who gave up his life for the cause of Sri Rama.
When Sampati heard about his brother Jatayu, he requested them to tell about Jatayu. After learning what happened to him, Sampati requested them to take him towards the sea, as he wanted to offer tilanjali (offerings of sesame seeds) in honour of his dead brother. Then Sampati told the story of two brothers.
“Once both of us had a flying competition. While flying, we went higher and higher in the sky. Soon the intense heat of the sun began to torment us. I, therefore spread my wings to cover Jatayu who was not able to bear the heat of the sun. Thus I managed to save Jatayu but but got my wings burnt and fell down on the earth at the seashore.
A sage Chandrama felt pity on my state and preached me on the futility of arrogance. He also said that in the times of Treta, almighty Lord Vishnu will take incarnation to slay the evil. His wife Sita would be abducted by the demon king Ravana. Lord would send messengers in search of his wife, and you would get a chance to meet him and your wings would be healed then.
Then the sage told me that Ravana, the abductor of Sita, would be residing in Lanka. He also instructed me to tell the Lord that he would find Sita mourning in Ashok vatika. Sampati’s wings were healed. After telling the monkeys where Sita was,He flew away advising them to sort out means to reach Lanka.
The search party was again in crisis. Though they came to know where Sita was, but now the problem was how to reach her. Jambvant said since he had grown old, so it was impossible for him to reach Lanka in one leap. But he knew the Hanuman had the powers to achieve this feat.
The story of Hanuman reaching lanka and back is known as Sunder Kand.