Sampati (Samskrit : सम्पातिः) and Jatayu were born to Aruna. Their mother, Syeni was a bird. The vulture king, Sampati helped Rama and his army to find Sitadevi.
Sampati's mother was Mahasveta and father was Surya. His brother was Jatayu, who fought against Ravana while he was abducting Sita from Dandakaranya.
Sampati's son is Suparshva who tended to him and maintained him for a long time.
Sampati Burns his Wings
Jatayu and his elder brother Sampati, once in an impetuous deed of rashly following the sun in his course flew up towards the sun(to challenge against Indra). Jatayu outflew Sampati, and in the exuberance of youth entered Surya's orbit at noon time with the result that, due to the excessive heat his wings were scorched. In his attempt to shield Jatayu from the scorching heat of the Sun, Sampati flew up higher than Jatayu, and spread out his wings like an umbrella over Jatayu. Sampati's wings were burnt and fell down from the aerial heights on to Vindhya and Jatayu had fallen down somewhere near Janasthana.
पक्षाभ्यां च मया गुप्तो जटायुर्न प्रदह्यते। प्रमादात्तत्र निर्दग्धः पतन्वायुपथादहम्।।4.61.15।।
After their tragic meeting in Suryamandala Sampati and Jatayu never again met in their life. It was at the time of killing of Vrtra by Indra, that Jatayu and Sampati made bets and flew up to the region of the Sun.
पुरा वृत्रवधे वृत्ते परस्परजयैषिणौ। आदित्यमुपयातौ स्वो ज्वलन्तं रश्मिमालिनम्।।4.58.4।। (Valm. Rama. 4.58.4)
Nisakara maharsi heard Sampati crying and he saved the bird, which lived in the asrama for eight thousand years as the maharsi's slave. Suparsva was the son of Sampati who looked after the aged and weak Sampati.
तं मामेवं गतं पुत्रस्सुपार्श्वोनाम नामतः। आहारेण यथाकालं बिभर्ति पततां वरः।।4.59.8।।
Sampati gives Sita's Information
Nisakara maharsi, who could foresee things told Sampati about Shri Rama's incarnation which was to happen in the future. He entered Samadhi after finally telling Sampati that monkeys would go there then in search of Sita, that Sampati would point out to them where Sita was and that on that day his wings would automatically reappear and his legs would become strong. Afterwards for eight thousand years Sampati led a solitary life in the asrama. It was during this period that monkeys, in the course of their search for Sita got information about her from Sampati.
The monkeys went southward reached Mahendragiri and descending on its southern side, came to shores of the southern sea. They could advance no further to the south. They were suffering from great hunger and thirst and if they returned with no tangible information about Sita, Sugriva would kill them. They preferred death by fasting on the seashore to death by the sword of Sugriva. Having decided thus the monkeys spread darbha grass on the extensive plain of Mahendra mountain and lay on the grass to die. In a large cave in the mountain was living Sampati.
सम्पातिर्नाम नाम्ना तु चिरञ्जीवी विहङ्गमः। भ्राता जटायुषः श्रीमान्विख्यातबलपौरुषः।।4.56.2।। (Valm. Rama. 4.56.2)
Meaning : While the monkeys were preparing to fast unto death on the plateau of the mountain, Sampati, the prosperous king of vultures, the longlived elder brother of Jatayu widely known for his strength, appeared there.
The huge bird Sampati was starving without food and was not able to fly as it had lost its wings. But it dragged itself to the mouth of the cave and saw the monkeys lying there awaiting death, and it thought of eating the monkeys one by one. The monkeys, who understood this idea of Sampati cursed their fate and sang the praise of Jatayu. Hearing the word 'Jatayu' Sampati approached the monkeys, who related to him the object of their journey. Being told about the death of Jatayu. Sampati shed tears and told the monkeys as follows :- “Jatayu was my younger brother. Our mother was Mahasveta and father Suryadeva. On account of the boon of our parents I was King of all the birds and Jatayu the crown Prince."
Sampati Relates Sita's Abduction by Ravana
It was Suparsva who recounts the abduction of Sita by Ravana, to his father Sampati. Sampati relates the event to Hanuman, Jambavan and the monkey army.
अहं तात यथाकालमामिषार्थी खमाप्लुतः। महेन्द्रस्य गिरेर्द्वारमावृत्य सुसमास्थितः।।4.59.12।।
एव मुक्तस्ततोऽहं तैस्सिद्धै: परमशोभनैः। स च मे रावणो राजा रक्षसां प्रतिवेदितः।।4.59.19।।
हरन्दाशरथेर्भार्यां रामस्य जनकात्मजाम्। भ्रष्टाभरणकौशेयां शोकवेगपराजिताम्।।4.59.20।।
रामलक्ष्मणयोर्नाम क्रोशन्तीं मुक्तमूर्धजाम्। (Valm. Rama. 4.59.19-20)
Summary : Once Suparshva goes out in search of food and stood blocking the entrance of Mount Mahendra. Obstructing many creatures, he observed a dark person carrying a lady whose brilliance was like that of the rising Sun. Resolving to seize them for food, he goes towards them, but the person courteously asked him to make way for him as he was blocking the aerial way. Thus having made way for him, he was greeted by the aerial bound creatures and they informed him that it was Ravanasura, the Asura Raja and the lady was Janakaputri whom he was forcibly carrying away.
Sampati, with the monkeys' cooperation, performed the obsequies of Jatayu. Then the King of birds (Sampati) raised its head and surveyed the ocean and he saw the following : Mountain Subela in the heart of the southern sea; the plain at the heights of the mountain constituting the base of Lanka; in the centre of Lanka there was Ravana's capital; nearby the ladies' quarters; near the quarters the asoka garden; at the centre of the garden the simapa tree and under the tree Sitadevi. As soon as Sampati had finished telling the monkeys the above details he regained his wings (Kishinda Kanda Sarga 63)
Why Sampati didn't fight Ravana in Lanka?
Sampati told the monkeys another story also as follows: - Ravana once abducted a Yaksa beauty from Alakapuri and carried her away in his Puspaka Vimana. Sampati clashed with Ravana on his way and destroyed his plane. But the plane, which was self-generating came again into existence. Sampati threw away by its beak the Candrahasa (Ravana's sword) and kicked his crown down. At last, at the request of Ravana, he and Sampati signed a non-aggression pact. That was the reason why Sampati could not fight Ravana in person.
Angada said that for the search for Sita in Lanka as told by Sampati, some one should jump across the ocean. Though many a monkey tried to do so it was Hanuman, who succeeded in crossing the sea. At one jump he reached the heights of Mahendragiri whence he took another jump forward.
According to Valmiki Ramayana, rsi Candramas imparted spiritual knowledge to Sampati and advised Jatayu to give directions about the way to the monkeys in their search for Sitadevi.
- Adi Parva, Chapter 66, Verse 71
- Valmiki Ramayana (Kiskindha Kanda, Sarga 59)
- Valmiki Ramayana (Kishkinda Kanda Sarga 61)
- Valmiki Ramayana (Kishkinda Kanda, Sarga 58)
- Valmiki Ramayana (Kishkinda Kanda, Sarga 60)
- Valmiki Ramayana (Kishkinda Kanda Sarga 56)
- Page 635-636, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi
- Page 173, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi