Sleep has a role to play in the Ramayana, both in the life of the hero’s brother Laxman and the villain’s brother Kumbhakarna.
On the day of his coronation, the crown prince, Rama is sent into exile for fourteen years. His wife Sita and brother Laxman decide to follow him to the forest.
Laxman prays to the goddess of sleep, and asks her to stay away from him for fourteen years, so he can serve his brother and sister in law undisturbed. In return, he says the goddess can claim him once the exile period is over and Rama is safely back in the palace.
So it is that Laxmana stays awake for fourteen long years, and on the day that they come back to the palace and just before Rama’s coronation, the goddess of sleep, claims Laxman and he falls into a deep sleep for many years.
On the other side of the ocean and the war is Kumbhakarna, giant younger brother of the ten headed asura king, Ravana. Kumbhakarna had pleased Brahma with his devotion, sacrifices and penance and was granted a boon. Kumbhakarna wanted to ask for Indrasana (the seat of Indra in heaven) but the gods played a trick on him and instead of Indrasana, what rolled off his tongue was nidrasana (a bed of sleep). The boon, which really was a curse was thus granted. Later it was softened such that Kumbhakarna slept for half the year and stayed awake for half the year. As soon as he got up, he ate tons of food and drank gallons of drinks, to make up for six months of starvation.
It was said, that as long as Kumbhakarna slept and awoke according to his internal six monthly cycle, nothing could hurt him, but if he ever got woken up artificially, before it was his natural time, that would be the day, he would die.
As the war progressed and Ravana lost most of his brave warriors, he could not wait for Kumbhakarna to awaken on his own. So he got a thousand elephants to walk over his brother’s chest, a thousand trumpets and conch shells to be blown and an equal number of drums to be beaten, so that Kumbhakarna would wake up. After many hours of work, Kumbhakarna awoke, ate mounds of food, drank gallons of alcohol and then asked why he had been woken up prematurely.
On hearing, that a war was on, because Ravana had abducted Ram’s wife and held her captive, he tried to reason with Ravana and asked him to let go of the other man’s wife. Ravana would hear nothing of it and so Kumbhakarna went to war.
With his every step, he trampled hundreds of soldiers, and he decimated Rama’s army like no one else had till at last Rama kills Kumbhakarna.
Ha ha, I am feeling a little light headed as I am nearly at the end of this challenge. So this is what I get, irrespective of which side of the war you are on, don’t mess with your sleep 🙂
That bring me to the end of this lovely challenge, it has I think awakened me out of my writer’s block. It definitely has forced me to write regularly and put it out there, without too much of self doubt and questioning of the use of putting ones thoughts out in a public forum. May I not go to sleep again from this awakening.