... "One day Jatayu, the good eagle, was flying around the beautiful forest. He was smiling to himself as he admired the flora and the fauna. Everything was peaceful, fragrant and calm.
Suddenly a horrific scream pierced the quiet forest. It caused the leaves to rustle unexpectedly and startled the birds. The smaller birds flew away in fear, but Jatayu was curious and concerned. He immediately flew towards the direction of the screams. Perhaps someone needed help.
He followed the screams and came upon Ravana's vimana. He saw Sita struggling in Ravana's ruthless grip and understood what was happening. He flew towards Ravana intending to free Sita by pecking Ravana painfully. A great tussle ensued between Jatayu and Ravana. Finally, Ravana, ever powerful, managed to hack off Jatayu’s wings and he fell to the ground writhing in pain.
Jatayu knew he was dying. He had been a great devotee of Lord Ram throughout his life and wanted to be of service to him before he died. He knew that Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman, would be searching for Sita, and would sooner or later find him. Although in great pain, he kept breathing laboriously. When Ram and Lakshman finally found him he narrated the events to them with every ounce of his remaining energy.
Ram and Lakshman expressed their deep gratitude to Jatayu.
“I have one final request O Lord,” Jatayu whimpered to Ram. “Please end my misery with your own two hands. It would be a blessing and an honor to attain mukti at your hands O Lord!”
Ram, ever compassionate and kind, and a strict follower of dharma, understood. With one swift and powerful blow, he ended Jatayu's suffering. As they stood over the now lifeless bird, Ram and Lakshman felt a great sorrow. They had always had great regard for Jatayu and honored him by conducting his funeral rites as they would of a member of their own family."
Published by Penguin Random House India, available in paperback and e-book: