Sita has been abducted by Ravana and is being taken to Lanka in his pushpaka viman. Rama and Lakshmana know the general direction in which the Viman went, but they do not know the exact location. So they go in search of her through the forest.
While on flight, Ravana is blocked by the vulture king – Jatayu. Jatayu is one of Dasaratha’s close friends. He is the son of Lord Aruna who is the son of sage Kashyap, brother of Garuda and the charioteer of Surya, the sun god. He very well knows that Ravana is abducting Sita and tries to stop Ravana by putting up a brave fight. Ravana easily slays Jatayu by cutting both his wings during the fight.
Now that the wings are gone, Jatayu falls down. He is holding his life, for he knows that Rama would come following Ravana. He realizes that he needs to guide Rama in the right direction. Rama comes to the spot where Jatayu is lying and becomes crestfallen after seeing his spate. He embraces Jatayu and starts crying bringing to the fore, his human nature.
He tells Lakshmana that it is because of his luck that all those who are associated with him are facing miseries in their lives inferring to his brother, his father, his wife and now Jatayu, whom Rama considers to be his father’s brother. He goes to the extent of saying that if he sits under a tree, the tree would fall and if he drinks the water from a river, it would dry up. Then he remembers his human duties, as Jatayu, whom he considers his own uncle, is dying in his arms. He embraces Jatayu knowing very well that he is breathing his last. After Jatayu dies, he performs the last rites according to the vedas. He feels that since he could not perform the last rites for his father, he could at least perform them for Jatayu.
After the death of Jatayu in Rama’s arms, he feels, emotes and acts like any other human being would do (on seeing one of his close relatives die). He cries and rues about his fate, feeling very lowly about himself. While what he does after Jatayu died are his humanely duties, he also did something that is astonishing and proves without any doubt what august seers like Vishwamitra knew – that Rama is God in plain clothes!