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 loses his wings
Jatayu and his elder brother Sampati, once under a bet flew up towards the sun. 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 got his wings burnt and fell down on the heights of Vindhya where he lay unconscious for six days. 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.
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.
Sampati in Ramayana
Sampati attacks Ravana
All the victory marches of Ravana were in this Puspaka. Once Ravana was going in his Puspaka with a Yaksa beauty kidnapped from Alakapuri when the girl cried loudly attracting the attention of Sampati, a vulture King. Sampati attacked Ravana with his fierce beak and powerful claws. Ravana's weapons proved futile against Sampati and the bird broke the Puspaka into pieces. But the Vimana was a divine one and it regained the original shape and utility soon. All the weapons of Ravana were destroyed, the great weapon Candrahasa was thrown away. The crown of Ravana was struck down and trampled upon. With his sharp beak and piercing claws Sampati made bruises on the face of Ravana. Unable to bear the attack of the mighty bird Ravana begged for peace. Sampati asked Ravana to release the Yaksa girl which Ravana did at once. Ravana then returned to Lanka in the Puspaka.
Sampati shows directions to find Sita
Nisakara maharsi, who could foresee things told Sampati about Sri 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. 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, 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 health.
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, Canto 60
- Valmiki Ramayana, Kiskindha Kanda, Chapter 58
- Valmiki Ramayana, Kiskindha Kanda, Sarga 58, Stanza 4
- Valmiki Ramayana, Kiskindha Kanda, Canto 59, Verse 8
- Kiskindha Kanda, Kamba Ramayana
- Page 635-636, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi
- Page 173, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi