In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama and Lakshmana make their way through the southern direction from Panchavati, in search of Sita. Rama is so aggrieved that he wasn’t even able to walk properly and Lakshmana had to support and comfort him often! In due course, we also saw that river Godavari missed a golden opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama and hence it is believed to have lost its purity! This is an important lesson for us in terms of our selfless service towards Bhagawan! From this episode it is evident that if we fail in our duty towards Bhagwan, we tend to lose our purity and moreover, we tend to miss out on a golden opportunity to get close to Him! Today we are going to see another case wherein Bhagwan glorifies his devotee who is selfless in his service towards Him! This devotee is none other than Jataayu Mahaaraaja himself!
Thus, Rama and Lakshmana walk almost 50-60 kilometers in the southern direction from Panchavati. For a moment, let us glance into some geographical details given by Valmiki Maharishi in this context. I had already mentioned that Panchavati is situated very close to the city of Nashik in Maharashtra. Many of us might know that Nashik is located some 200-250 kilometers east of Mumbai. Now, Rama and Lakshmana are walking towards the southern direction from Nashik. If we draw a straight line from Nashik towards south, we would reach the city of Pune. From Pune, if we go towards the southwestern direction we would reach a town by name “Igathpuri”. Enroute to Igathpuri, if we travel a distance of 60-70 kilometers, we would reach a place called “Saaketh”. This town by name Saaketh is the “Jataayu Moksha Sthala”, that is, the place where Jataayu Mahaaraaja attained heaven!
It was at this place where Jataayu Maharaaja fought the battle with Ravana and was hit by his powerful sword. Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja is waiting for the arrival of Rama at this particular place.
“Kruddho raama sharam ghoram sanghaaya dhanu shikshuram!
Tathaha parvathaha mootaabham mahaapaapam vijoktharam!!
Dadarsha pathitham bhoomou kshadadaartham jataayuham!
Tham dristhva dhrusimhaavam raamo lakshmanamabhraveeth!!”
Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja was lying at Saaketh, in the verge of death, amdist heavy injuries inflicted by Ravana! While Rama and Lakshmana were passing through that place, Rama hears Jataayu Mahaaraaja’s cry! Upon seeing the condition of Jataayu Mahaaraaja, Rama runs towards him and comes closer to him! Rama takes Jataayu Mahaaraaja on his lap and tries to comfort him. Rama asks with a worried tone, “Oh Jataayu Mahaaraja! What happened to you? Why are you in this condition? Please tell me!”
As Bhagawan Rama asks with lot of concern, instead of answering him what happened, Jataayu Mahaaraaja starts singing in praise of Rama! Look at the amount of devotion Jataayu Mahaaraaja has for Rama! His life is under great threat and he is on his deathbed and yet, he still manages to muster his little bit of strength he has to sing in praise of Bhagawan!
“Yaa moshadhiva aayushman anveshathi mahaavane!
Chaadeveem mamachaha praanaa raavanena ubhayam drutham!!
Seethaamabhavannoham raavanascharane prabho!
Seethaa maathaaya vaidehim pushpa paada vihaayasam!!”
Now Jataayu Mahaaraaja narrates the incidents that happened a while back. He narrates how Ravana abducted Sita and carried her in his “Pushpaka Vimana” in the southern direction and how he fought with Ravana to somehow save Sita from him and how he was badly injured by Ravana’s sword! Jataayu Mahaaraaja guides Rama and Lakshmana – “Oh Rama! Please do not delay further! Hurry your way towards the southern direction and protect Sita! Please enquire the location with someone as you proceed and go as quickly as you can!”
Upon hearing these words from Jataayu Mahaaraja, Rama was grieved further! He sank uncontrollably into tears and hugs Lakshmana and says, “Oh Lakshmana! Look at what is happening! I thought I could spend quality time with my great father, King Dasharata at Ayodhya, however I was chased out of the kingdom and I came to the forest! Atleast in the forest, I thought I can live peacefully, however, I had to loose my beloved wife! Even if that is the case, I thought that I have Jataayu Mahaaraaja in place of my father and I can spend quality time with him! Now look at the condition of my father-like Jataayu! He is also about to die! I don’t know what kind of a sin I’ve committed in my previous births! Why is everything going so bad like this in my life?” Saying this, Rama is weeping uncontrollably!
While Rama was sobbing bitterly, Jataayu Mahaaraaja again tries to console him. He says, “Oh Bhagawan! Please do not worry about me. I’m happy that I’m with you at the last stage of my life! Now please get up and hurry up towards the southern direction! I saw Ravana carrying Sita in that direction only! My eyes are that of an eagle and my eyes are capable of viewing long distances. However, because of my old age I couldn’t see after a certain distance. But I’m sure that he had gone in the southern direction only! Please hurry up now and save Sita!”
Here we can see the selflessness of Jataayu Maharaaja! A very important lesson for all of us to learn here is that, if we dedicate ourselves completely to Bhagawan, in terms of every action that we do, Bhagawan will recognize it and his heart would melt in happiness! This is what we are currently seeing too – Lord Rama’s heart is melting towards Jataayu’s selfless service! In fact, Jataayu Mahaaraaja has gone one step further to even sacrifice his life for the sake of Sita and Rama! Moved by this selfless act, Rama says, “Oh Jataayu Mahaaraaja! I’m so greatful to you for what you’ve done for Sita and me! At this moment I do not have anything to give you in return at this moment, however, I’m giving you the highest reward ever possible – Moksha!! Now I’m declaring that you are entitled to attain the “Moksha Saamraajya” (Heaven)!”
Hearing this, Jataayu Mahaaraaja was overwhelmed with happiness as Rama hugs him! Thus, Jataayu Maharaaja’s body slows down gradually and eventually he passes away! Thus, we’ve learnt an extremely important lesson today in terms of selfless service! Let’s wait till the next episode to find out what happened next!