In the Aranya Kanda of the Ramayana, when Rama meets the great bird Jatayu for the first time, this is how Jatayu introduces himself:

But that eagle with sweet and soft words spoke to them as though to please them, "oh boy Rama know me as your father's friend." Accepting that bird as his father's friend Raghava revered it... Raghava revered Jatayu in his turn by gladly hugging and stood by him with his head bent, and that kind-natured Rama is indeed regardful of the friendship of his father with Jatayu that is repeatedly said by Jatayu.

My question is, how exactly did Jatayu and Rama's father Dasharatha become friends according to Hindu scripture? After all, it's not every day you make friends with a giant bird! The passage I quoted above seems to suggest that Jatayu told Rama exactly how he knew his father, but unfortunately Valmiki didn't see fit to tell us.

There are three potential stories I've heard involving Dasharatha and Jatayu, but I'm not sure which of them has a scriptural basis:

  1. There is the story told in this webpage about how when Ravana asks Brahma for immortality, Brahma refuses, saying that he is destined to be killed by the son of Kausalya. This takes place before Dasharatha and Kausalya are married. To prevent Kausalya from having a son, Ravana kidnaps her and puts her in a wooden box, which he sets afloat in the Sarayu river. Dasharatha sees the box and jumps into the river to retrieve it. He gets swept away in the current as well, but then Jatayu sees him and rescues him. Dasharatha and Jatayu then team up to retrieve the wooden box. They find Kausalya inside it, Dasharatha and Kausalya get married, and Dasharatha and Jatayu become friends.

  2. In the Kamba Ramayana (the Tamil retelling of the Ramayana), when Jatayu hears from Rama that Dasharatha is dead, he laments the loss of his friend, saying this:

    2712.Oh Dasaratha who has a pretty mind without any guilt , When you like the churner which breaks the curd killed Sambarasura , Who was giving sorrow to the beings of the world , you said , Making the world scattered with soft dust and surrounded by the sea that, “You are the body and I am the soul”, and your words will not change , But with soul lying here , the ignorant Yama has taken the body to the heaven.

    Now Sambarasura, AKA Timidhwaja, is a demon that is mentioned in the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana. He lived in the Dandaka forest, and was such a formidable demon that the gods enlisted the help of Dasharatha in defeating him. After the battle Dasharatha was badly wounded, but his wife Kaikeyi drove the chariot and brought him back to safety. Dasharatha was so grateful to Kaikeyi for saving his life that he gave her the infamous two boons which were later used to exile Rama to the forest. The Ayodhya Kanda doesn't mention Jatayu, but it's possible that Jatayu fought alongside Dasharatha in his battle against Sambarasura.

  3. There is the story told in this excerpt from the new Amar Chitra Katha comic "Divine Beings". Once, during Dasharatha's early days as king of Ayodhya, the kingdom suffered a terrible drought. Dasharatha consulted his priests, who informed him that the kingdom was suffering the ill-effects of Shani (god of the planet Saturn). So Dasharatha took off in a flying chariot to find Shani and persuade him to have mercy on Ayodhya. When Shani saw Dasharatha approaching, he feared that his gaze might kill Dasharatha, so he instead directed his gaze at Dasharatha's chariot, which was burnt to ashes. Dasharatha started falling to the Earth, but he was caught by Jatayu, who had been watching the whole thing. In any case, Shani was pleased by all the efforts Dasharatha had gone through, so he agreed to stop Ayodhya's drought. Jatayu flew Dasharatha back to Ayodhya, and they were friends ever since.

So which of these three stories, if any, has a basis in Hindu scripture?

I'm inclined to doubt the veracity of the first story, because in the Yuddha Kanda of the Ramayana, Ravana quotes Brahma as just saying "You know of the threat from men", not indicating which human it was going to be. I'm inclined to believe that the story in the Kamba Ramayana is probably true as far as it goes, because the author Kamaban was very well-researched, but Kamban never claims that this is how Jatayu and Dasharatha first met. So maybe Jatayu fought alongside Dasharatha after they had already become friends. So that leaves the story given in the Amar Chitra Katha comic, which to my mind seems like the most plausible account of how Jatayu and Dasharatha first met.

  • all stories are very interesting and that's why it's called Mythology. I'll wait for right answer
    – xkeshav
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 10:32
  • 4
    @Keshav Well, mythology need not mean false or fictional; see my answer here: meta.hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/293/36 I strongly believe that the stories found in Hindu scripture all really happened. Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 14:35
  • @Keshav Amar Chitra Katha usually has reliable sources. So maybe you could contact them on their website or their Facebook Page.
    – Surya
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 17:18
  • @Surya Does the website have a "contact us" link anywhere? Anyway, I doubt I'll get a response, but it's worth a shot. I can also try contacting Nimmy Chacko, the script writer of that portion of the comic book, if I can find her contact information. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 17:39
  • 1
    @UdayKrishna Yes, I quoted verse 2712 in my question. But first of all, it doesn't say that the battle with Shambarasura is how they met, and second of all, I'm trying to find out which of the three stories mentioned in my question has a basis in Hindu scripture. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


The story of the friendship between Dasharatha and Jatayu is found in the Adikāṇḍa of Śrīrāma Pāñcālī by Krittbas Ojha (Bengali Ramayana) and is the source for the third version quoted in the question i.e. Dasharatha and Jatayu became friends when Jatayu saved Dasharatha from falling. They kindled a fire and affirmed their friendship to each other.

The story goes that when Dasharatha was busy in enjoyment and material pleasures and was unaware that a drought in Ayodhya was troubling his subjects. They were blaming him for it. Narada comes and informs him that the drought is due to Shani aspecting (Drishti) Rohini Nakshatra. Dasharatha heads for Indra’s city and challenges him for war. Being advised by the devas against fighting, Indra comes and offers water at Dasharatha’s feet and on being asked replies that the drought for 14 years has been due to Shani aspecting Rohini Nakshatra. He advises Dasharatha to sort the issue whereafter he would shower abundant rain in the kingdom. (Ref.: Pages 98 to 102).

The main story of the friendship between Dasharatha and Jatayu is described on page 102-103 of the copy. The English translation (by me) of which is as follows:

Dasharatha drove his chariot to the abode of Shani and called him outside his house. Shani came out and due to his gaze the reins of the chariot snapped. The eight horses began to fall, and without support of the reins, the chariot too began descending while spinning around. There was no friend or well-wisher to help the king. At the same time a bird named Jatayu was flying and saw the falling king and the spinning chariot. He thought, “The king will fall to the ground and his body will be crushed. If at such a time I save the king, my fame will spread immeasurably. He is a righteous king and must not a die while I’m here. The king will face pain falling to the floor.” Thinking thus, the mighty bird spread both his wings and made the king still. He joined the horses to the chariot, tied the reins, flag staff, placed the charioteer on the horses’ back and the horses were ready to move in the sky again. Seeing this the king wondered, “Who did a favour by saving my life? Was it my grandfather Raghu or my father Aja himself? Who has prevented this disaster?” He saw Jatayu, took him on his chariot and spoke these sweet words, “My falling body has been saved from destruction by your grace. Who are you form what country have you come and of whose descendent are you? Please introduce yourself.” Jatayu said, “I’m a bird, my name is Jatayu and elder brother’s name is Sampati. I’m the son of Garuda. I was flying around when I saw you falling and spread my wings thus saving you.” Hearing this Dasharatha said, “Oh great bird, you are my friend. You have saved my life wherefore I’m speechless.” The two then lit a fire as witness to their friendship. In this way Jatayu the bird became King Dasharatha’s friend. Taking leave if the king, Jatayu went home. Whoever hears this story of Jatayu, the God Narayana will protect him everywhere. In this way Krittibas sings the Adi Kanda.

Of course after this, Dasharatha heads back to Shani. Shani accedes his request and removes his aspect from Rohini Nakshatra. Indra assures the king of 7 days incessant rain. The water bodies fill up again (pages 106-107). The story of Shambarasura and Dasharatha comes thereafter but I couldn’t find Jatayu’s mention in that. It’s possible that because of their friendship earlier than the war, Jatayu may have had some sort of interaction again with Dasharatha.


I come to the conclusion that Jatayu and Dasharatha became friends in the battle with Sambarasura as mentioned in Kamba Ramayana.

Here is my Justification,

  1. The mentioned event of Dasharatha meeting Lord Sani in Amar Chitra Katha comic differs from the one told Padma Purana. I would consider Padma Purana more reliable than a comic. There is no mention of Jatayu or even Dashartha falling from sky in Padma Purana. Here is how the incident is described in Padma Purana,

Once, the royal astrologer of Dasharath was petrified at the prospect of Shani entering the constellation of Rohini and warned him of its dire consequences. 'If the Shani is not prevented from entering Rohini, then famine would occur lasting for more than twelve years.' said the royal astrologers.

Dasharath went above the sky to subdue the might of Shani well armed with divine weapons. Shani became terrified on seeing Dasharath in such a menacing mood and expressed his willingness to fulfill his desires.

- Section 1.5.3, Dasharatha Pacifies Shani, Padma Purana. [1][2]

  1. The mnetioned story of Dasharatha rescuing Kousalya is present in Anandha Ramayana. There is no mention of Jatayu there too. Again I find Anandha Ramayana to be more reliable than the webpage linked in the question. Here is what Anantha Ramayana tells about it,

It is the time when Dasaratha's marriage with Kausalya is being fixed. Dasaratha is enjoying himself on the Sarayu river in a boat.

Ravana calls for Brahma and asks Him who will cause his (Ravana's) death. Brahma tells him that Lord Narayana will be born to Dasaratha and Kausalya as Rama and will kill Ravana. He also tells him that Dasaratha and Kausalya are going to be married in 5 days.

Ravana gets on his pushpaka vimana with several asuras and goes to Ayodhya, fights with Dasaratha and breaks the boat Dasaratha is in. Dasaratha and Sumantra somehow escape holding on to a piece of the boat and float down the Sarayu river, reach the Ganges and eventually the ocean.

Ravana proceeds to fight Kausalya's father (the Kosala king) and abducts Kausalya. On the way to Lanka, he decides to hide Kausalya in a safe place and leaves her in the custody of a shark, after placing her in a box. The shark carries the box in its mouth. Sometime later, the shark happens to encounter another shark. It places the box in a nearby island and starts fighting. In the meantime, Dasaratha and Sumantra, who are floating in the ocean, discover this box and open it. They are surprised to see Kausalya. Dasaratha marries Kausalya immediately in gandharva vivaha fashion and all the three stay put in the box, exchanging stories. The shark carries the box again into the ocean.

Ravana calls Brahma and boasts that he has killed Dasaratha and abducted Kausalya. Brahma laughs and tells him that they have already been married. The angered Ravana calls for the shark and opens the box; out come the three people. The scared Ravana tries to kill them with his sword. Brahma tries to console him saying, " You put only one girl in the box and now she has become three. Is it not possible that many more will be coming out of the box? Rama could be one of them. Just close the box and send it to Ayodhya".

So, Ravana asks his servants to leave the box near Ayodhya. The box is discovered by the people of Ayodhya. The Kosala king gives his daughter, Kausalya, in marriage to Dasaratha in a formal ceremony.

- Sara Kandam, Chapter-1, Ananda Ramayana.[4][5]

As you can see Ananda Ramayanam has no mention of Jatayu helping Dasharatha in rescuing Kousalya.

As the other two stories in reliable sources has no mention of Jatayu and differ from the ones linked in the question, I say that Jatayu and Dasharatha have met as told in Kamba Ramayana which is as follows,

'தயிர் உடைக்கும் மத்து என்ன உலகை நலி சம்பரனைத் தடிந்த அந் நாள், அயிர் கிடக்கும் கடல் வலயத்தவர் அறிய, "நீ உடல்; நான் ஆவி" என்று செயிர் கிடத்தல் செய்யாத திரு மனத்தாய்! செப்பினாய்; திறம்பா, நின் சொல்; உயிர் கிடக்க, உடலை விசும்பு ஏற்றினார், உணர்வு இறந்த கூற்றினாரே

- சடாயு காண் படலம், ஆரணிய காண்டம், கம்ப இராமாயனம்[6]

Translated version

2712.Oh Dasaratha who has a pretty mind without any guilt , When you like the churner which breaks the curd killed Sambarasura , Who was giving sorrow to the beings of the world , you said , Making the world scattered with soft dust and surrounded by the sea that, “You are the body and I am the soul”, and your words will not change , But with soul lying here , the ignorant Yama has taken the body to the heaven.

- Aranya Kandam, Kamba Ramayanam.[7]

External Links :

  1. Padma Purana - Wikipedia
  2. Padma Purana - Hinduonline.co
  3. 18 Puranas pdf
  4. Ananda Ramayana - Wikipedia
  5. Ananda Ramayana English version - Ramanuja.org
  6. Aranya Kandam, Kamba Ramayanam - Tamil
  7. Aranya Kandam, Kamba Ramayanam - English

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