Myth Quest - Jatayu - Saviour from the Skies
Anu Kumar
age group: 
7+ yrs
Number of pages: 
value education Mythology

JATAYU, for me, remains the fearless vulture who gave up his life, trying to save Sita from being kidnapped. He remains the large bird in the sky that valiantly fought the might of the demon king, Ravana, unmindful of his aging disposition. But what was the reason behind his loyalty to Lord Rama? Why give up his life to save Sita? What makes Jatayu the King of Vultures? What is his story? That's where Hachette's Myth Quest and Anu Kumar's narrative have proved to be invaluable.
Through carefully chosen snippets presented in quick chapters, we get an insight into Jatayu's life and his place in Indian mythology. We see hitherto unknown sides of his spirit that give him a more rounded personality, as against the one-dimensional, popular view we have of him.
When he races towards the sun, unaware of the possible danger, we see the reckless side of Jatayu, that quickly turns to remorse and guilt when his older brother chooses to sacrifice his own wings to save Jatayu from the wrath of the Sun God. An accidental brush with an arrow during King Dasaratha's hunting expedition forms the beginning of a beautiful and unexpected friendship. Here we see Jatayu's growing signs of loyalty, further deepened in Dasaratha's battle against Lord Shani, and later, as the guardian of Dasaratha's sons in the forest. We also get glimpses of Jatayu the responsible ruler of all birds, Jatayu the wise friend offering timely counsel in times of strife, Jatayu the aged and sensible warrior, continuing to reason with his enemy in the thick of battle, and Jatayu the gentle soul, broken at the news of his friend's demise.
Anu Kumar's simple narrative makes this an easy to read book. The definition of what a myth is and a brief genealogy of Jatayu, sets the tone for the book, giving the stories a context and the myth, life. The Myth Notes at the end of the book gives it a cohesive finish.
Suitable for children aged 6+, Myth Quest's Jatayu is an important reminder for all of us that even characters often relegated to the background in epics, have a story to tell.

Reviewed by Praveena Shivram