Raama now realized how he had been drawn away a long distance by the crafty Maareecha and he was full of anxiety as to what it all could mean.
He said to himself: "Alas, we have been badly deceived. It would be terrible if Lakshmana is also deceived by this cry and leaves Sita alone to come to my help. It looks as though the Raakshasas have planned this ruse to carry off Sita and eat her. When Sita hears what she will take as my cry of distress, she is sure to insist on Lakshmana leaving her and rushing to my help. "
Saying thus to himself, Raama hurried back to the aashrama. On the way he saw Lakshmana running towards him. "Alas, the worst I feared has happened. How could you leave her and come away, how could you, Lakshmana?" exclaimed Raama.
Lakshmana answered with tears in his eyes:
"What else, brother, could I do? When Sita heard the cry, 'Ha Sita! Ha Lakshmana!' she was frightened. Quivering with fear she urged me to go to you at once; she would tolerate no delay. She persisted, whatever I said to the contrary. I told her again and again not to be afraid and assured her that no foe was strong enough to do you harm, and that the cry of distress was not yours, but she would not listen. She charged me with having turned traitor to you and with having come to the forest with treasonable intentions and, O brother, she found it possible in her anguish to say I would be glad of your death out of sinful intentions to wards herself! I was half dead with horror on hearing those words of hers and then she announced that she would kill herself if I did not go immediately. Mad herself, she maddened me with her words of reproach and I ran towards you, not knowing what else to do."
The two hurried to the aashrama and found it empty, as they had feared. Seeta was not there. The deerskin, the kusa grass, the mat spread as a seat, all lay scattered on the ground.
Raama wept and ran hither and thither in the grove round the cottage. The leaves and flowers on the trees had faded. Seeta was nowhere to be seen. He wandered about like one mad. His eyes were bloodshot. He cried, "Alas, have they eaten her up? Have they carried her away. O, how she must have trembled in terror! I cannot bear the thought of it."
After wandering and weeping in vain for a long time, he fell on the ground moaning, "Ha Lakshmana! Ha Seeta!" He cried like an elephant trapped in a pit.
Lakshmana tried to console him and suggested that Sita might have gone in search of some thing. The two searched again all over the place on hills, by pools and on the river bank. But they did not find her. "Sita is not to be seen, Lakshmana," said Raama. "What shall I do now?"
Lakshmana said: "Do not lose heart. You must be bold and energetic. A resolute mind can conquer fate. But you must first conquer your weakness. Let us make a more thorough search of the forest. Instead of yielding to unavailing sorrow, let us be manly and active."
Rama behaved as a human being, not an avataar of Vishnu. His feeling and behavior are exactly those of any noble and virtuous man who has lost his beloved wife, dearer to him than life itself, and that too in a forest infested with Raakshasas. All the efforts of Lakshmana to console him had no effect.
THE two brothers searched every mountain, forest and river-bank calling Sita's name aloud. But all in vain, and they did not so much as find a clue anywhere. Baffled and grief-stricken, Rama cried out against the river Godaavari, against the gods and against the five elements. Even Godavari, it is stated, remained silent due to fear of Ravana.
After a time, they found some flowers scattered on the way. Raama at once recognised the flowers and cried excitedly: "These are the very flowers I gave her. They must have fallen from her hair." They searched the forest all around the spot where they found the flowers. They noticed the marks of a Raakshasa's big feet and little foot-prints which they knew were Sita's. They found some gold beads spilt from Sita's jewels. Rama cried again: "Look! The Raakshasa has been chasing her like a beast of prey to tear her tender flesh!"
Then they saw several fragments of a chariot and great clots of blood, as also royal headgear and jewels scattered on the ground. They wondered what these things could mean. Soon they came upon a large bow broken, flag torn and armour crushed. A little later they saw the dead bodies of a charioteer and of mules. It was clear that a fierce battle had been fought at that spot. They had not proceeded far when they came on Jataayu, bloody and mutilated, unrecognizable, lying on the ground.
Raising his ruffled and gory head with great pain, Jataayu spoke in a feeble voice that seemed struggling with death.
"I have but a few moments more to live! The dear princess you are searching for has been carried off by Ravana but he could do so only by first robbing me of my life after a fierce battle with me! As I fell wounded to death, he lifted Sita and flew with her into the sky in a southern direction. "
Rama cried, embraced Jataayu and spoke in great grief:
"I am the most unhappy man alive, Lakshmana. Giving up the kingdom, I came to the forest and here, I have lost my Sita. This Jataayu, who was a second father to us, has laid down his life for my sake.
Lakshmana, gather dry faggots. I shall churn the fire. We failed to perform our father's obsequies-let us do it for the eagle-father who gave up his life for us."
When we see any helpless person in danger or difficulty, let us think of Jataayu and with firm mind try to help regardless of circumstance.