When Lakshmana reached the spot where Maricha lay dead, both Rama and Lakshmana at once knew that Sita was in danger. So they hurried back to Panchavati but were shocked to find it empty. They searched and searched for her. Rama went to the Godavari bank but could not find her there.
Rama was heart-broken. Life seemed meaningless without Sita. With tears rolling down his cheeks, he recalled the way in which Sita would stroll in the garden, how happy she was in Panchavati and so on. At times, he turned his wrath on
Lakshmana for leaving Sita alone. Lakshmana tried to explain to Rama about how reluctant he was to leave Sita alone and about how Sita insisted that he go in search of Rama.
But this did not console Rama in any way. He roamed through the forests like a madman, calling out her name so often, talking to plants and animals about Sita. All their efforts to trace Sita were in vain. Rama and Lakshmana did not give up their efforts to find Sita. They kept on walking and suddenly they noticed latayu, who was wounded and was bleeding profusely. Rama at first thought that this was a Rakshasa in the form of a bird and drew out his .irrow to kill Jatayii. Just then he heard Jatayu say in a feeble voice, Kama, I am Jatayu. I tried to prevent Havana from abducting Sita and just look at my condition! I am about to die any moment now. Sri Rama, are you going to kill me?”
Rama kept aside his weapons, picked up the bird in his arms and gently touched his body. Jatayu told Rama, “Rama! I tried my best to save Sita. Please kill Ravana, free Sita and lead a happy life.” He died in Rama’s arms, contented that he had the good fortune of rendering some service to Rama.
Rama performed Jatayu’s last rites as a son would do for his father. Then Rama and Lakshmana continued their journey westwards.
On their way, they were stopped by a cruel looking Rakshasa. He had arms which were several miles long. With one sweep of the arm, this Raksfmsa, whose name was Kabandha, lifted Rama and Lakshmana up in the air. He was about to gobble them up when both of them chopped off his arms. Screaming with pain, Kabandha wanted to know who they were. When Rama revealed his identity, Kabandha bowed before him and narrated his story.
Kabandha was once very handsome. But he would turn himself into a terrifying creature just to scare I he Rishis and kill them. Once a Rishi cursed him, “May this hideous form lay! Only when Rama comes to this forest and chops your arms will you be able to regain your good-looks.”
Kabandha got back his good looks md commanded a flying-machine to l. i ke him to heaven. Before departing, In’ wished Rama and Lakshmana well , md said, “Rama, Sugriva is a monkey king who lives in the hills of Kishyamukha by the side of Pampa l ike. Make him your friend. He will help you to know the whereabouts of Sita.”
So the two brothers proceeded towards Rishyamukha. Tired and hungry, they walked on and in the midst of a forest, they noticed an Ashram. Sabari, a Sanyasini lived here. She was very old and could hardly see or walk. But still she had gathered nuts and fruits hoping to feed them to Rama. Hence when she saw Rama along with his brother at her doorsteps, her happiness knew no bounds. She extended her hospitality to them.
Sabari’s love and devotion towards Rama earned her a place in heaven.
From Sabari’s Ashram, Rama and Lakshmana reached the hills of Rishyamukha and rested for a while near Pampa lake.