~ 111. The Story of Sampati and Jatayu ~

"Long ago," Sampati said, "Jatayu and I decided to race to the sun. We soared through the sky, flying fast. The sun's heat was intense. 'Turn back!' I shouted to Jatayu, but he kept flying straight at the sun. I sped in front, spreading my wings to shield him. The sun scorched my wings, and I fell to the ground here. I have had no news of my brother in all this time. Is he well? Tell me everything!"
"Your brother is dead," said Hanuman sadly. "He was trying to protect Rama's wife Sita from Ravana, and Ravana killed him."

Inspired by: Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik
Notes: This story is on p. 187 of the book. In Valmiki's Ramayana, this is the Kishkindha Kanda (Book 4), sarga 60. Pattanaik notes that in folklore, Sampati's story explains the origin of vultures: when he could not fly like an eagle, the gods granted him the ability to survive on the flesh of corpses, and thus vultures are scavengers of the dead even today.

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