Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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  • Parallel Myths in Other Cultures
  • Jatayu and Sampati
  • Phaeton

Jatayu and Sampati

An old Indian epic poem called Ramayana contains a similar tale of what happens when you fly too close the sun. Jatayu and Sampati are two demigods in the shape of birds, who also happen to be brothers. One day, Jatayu and Sampati decide to try to fly to the home of the sun god, Suryalock. They fly higher and higher, until all of a sudden they are really hot, because duh, they were next to the sun.

Realizing the danger of their situation, Sampati shields his younger brother Jatayu from the sun's heat. As a result, both of Sampati's wings are burned off, and he plummets to the ground. (Sound familiar?) Although Jatayu's wings are only partially burnt, he also falls. Eventually, lucky Jatayu is able to recover and have a few more adventures, like trying to save the princess Sita from the lecherous King Ravana. Sampati, unfortunately, never recovers from this incident, and lives a sad, flightless life in the forest.

Just like the Daedalus and Icarus myth, the tale of Jatayu and Sampati warns readers not to be reckless or overstep their bounds. But unlike Sampati, Daedalus never tries to shield Icarus from the sun. Because of this, the Indian myth contains a stronger lesson about the importance of sacrificing yourself for others (especially your family). Maybe if Daedalus had managed to shield Icarus from the sun, the boy might have survived his journey. What do you think?