The highest form of bhakti leads to total surrender of oneself and of one’s possessions at the feet of the Lord. Jatayu exemplifies this bhakti bhava that transcends the levels of speech and thought and manifests as hard core action, pointed out Kumari Lakshmi in a discourse.
Jatayu is the king of birds known for valour, strength and uprightness. Legend speaks of the strong bond of friendship between Jatayu and Dasaratha since their young days when an interesting incident brings them together. It is said that Ravana, getting to know that his end would be possible only through the son born to Kausalya and Dasaratha, devises a strategy to prevent their marriage. He keeps Kausalya captive in an island in the midst of the ocean but destiny gets the better of his plans when Dasaratha is stranded there in the course of his voyage. He meets Kausalya and marries her. Jatayu happens to save Dasaratha from a deadly serpent and the two of them become thick friends. Jatayu then prophesies that their marriage had taken place at an auspicious time and that the Lord Himself will be born to them. Jatayu then also expresses a desire that he would be fortunate if this Lord incarnate would perform the final rites for him. Since then Jatayu nurtures this hope and spends his days in devotion to the Lord. When Ravana carries away Sita in his aerial chariot, Jatayu rises to the occasion to retrieve Sita and attacks Ravana with all his might and power. Jatayu fights relentlessly until the point when Ravana cuts off his wings and talons.
The wounded Jatayu battling for life tells Rama about Ravana’s evil deed. The sorrow stricken brothers regard Jatayu as a second father and perform the last rites for him. No wonder Jatayu is considered as the best of bhaktas.