As soon as Rama heard Mareecha's
cries, he felt that something was wrong. He hurriedly retreated and met Lakshmana on the
way back. Rama's suspicions grew and sensing something bad, asked Lakshmana:
"Brother, What is this? Why did you come? What about Sita's welfare? What could
happen to her by the time we get back to our place? May we see her again alive?"
They rushed to the hermitage and Rama cried out: "Devi, Janaki, where are
you?" There was no answer. The ashram was empty. Rama searched around to no avail. He
wandered uttering Sita's name all over the place. "0 trees, birds, animals, can't you
tell me about Sita's whereabouts?" At one spot Rama found a bunch of flowers Sita had
worn. Nearby lay Jatayu, injured and in agony. It seemed as if the bird was struggling to
keep alive only to inform Sri Rama about the abduction of Sita. It said: "Raghurama,
Ravana, the king of Lanka, has abducted Sitadevi. I fought him to protect her but he beat
me." With these words, the bird died.
Rama and Lakshmana, full of grief, conducted the last rites of Jatayu in accordance
with the tradition.