Curated by Ranjana Dave
Kumbakarna and Lakshmana, the brothers of the two protagonists of the Ramayana, are connected by boons that dramatically alter their cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Kumbakarna along with his brothers, Ravana and Vibhishana performed a major yajna and penance for Lord Brahma. When the time came for asking a boon from Brahma, his tongue was tied by goddess Saraswati (acting on Indra’s request). So instead of asking for Nirdevathvam (annihilation of the Devas), he asked for Nidrawathvam (sleep) and his request was granted. Laxmana, on the other hand, was allowed to give up his sleep completely and bequeath it to his wife, Urmila, for the fourteen years of his exile. In the course of time, both boons seem to acquire the dimensions of a curse, as they each have an uncomfortable outcome.