• Vijeta Gawdi

Storyteller: What made Kumbhakarna sleep?


Lately, we have been having some very sleepless nights with the 5 month old. My poor baby is down with a mild cold and is fussy in the nights. So my husband and I are living in a completely different time zone. As if being zonked was not enough, the sweltering heat, with the soaring temperatures is just adding to our woes. As I sit writing this one down, it is 9:30 pm and I am dreading the hours ahead.

When I found out, I was expecting my baby no 3, I was ecstatic. Yes, my husband and I always wanted 3 kids. In retrospect, as joyous as I was, I was a little bit amnesic too. Actually we all are, and if we weren't, we would all be once bitten twice shy-parents to just one kid only. We forget the late-night feedings, the diaper changes, the burping, the colic and the twenty other things that are a part of the baby's daily routine.

If it were not for this amnesia, I would never witness this amazing bond that the girls share with each other and the immense amount of love they have for their brother, fussing over his diaper changes and sprinting off to get the baby powder or the baby cream every once in a while because they want him to freshen up before bedtime as well. So a big touchwood to 3timesover!!

Yes, now reality hits me. I have a gruelling 5 hours to get through before I hit the sack. I am praying he sleeps like a Kumbhakarna today.

Now if you remember Kumbhakarna was the gigantic demon brother of Ravan, who slept for six months and ate for the next six. It is no wonder that we often use the euphemism "Kumbhakarna की तरह सो रहा है"


Did you know that Kumbhakarna was not born with this eccentricity? He was born, a normal demon being just like his brother Ravana.

When Brahma created the world, he looked into the minutest of all details. He must have ticked off every element on his checklist, every little being anatomized, every detail scrutinized. However after he was done creating, he wasn't too pleased, there was everything and yet something was amiss. That is when he created Saraswati from his mouth. Saraswati was Brahma's consort. She brought meaning to his creation by filling it with knowledge, wisdom and music.

I would like to share a mantra, that I have taught my 8 year old, for the attainment of good knowledge and wisdom, something you can teach your children too-

Saraswati Mahabhage Vidye Kamalalochane

Vishwaroope Vishaalaakshi Vidyam Dehi Namosthuthe

Meaning: Oh great Goddess Saraswati, the lotus-eyed personified knowledge. Oh, I request you to shower me with all the powers and glories of all knowledge that exist. She has large eyes, taking the form of the whole universe.

Now, Saraswati is known to reside on our tongues. It is a common practice across many sects of Hindus to pray to Saraswati for मधुर वाणी, meaning to be polite and courteous in speech.

One day, Lord Kuber had come to Lanka to oversee some administrative work. Now, Lord Kuber is known to be flamboyant in his mannerisms. He has an endearment for all things beautiful. So it was no surprise that his flying car, The Pushpak Viman was resplendent.

Lord Kuber, if you remember well, was Ravana's half brother. Their father was Vishrava, who had two wives Illavida and Kaikesi. The former was Lord Kuber's mother and latter Ravana's. Kaikesi was always envious of Lord Kuber's flamboyance. She called her three sons and instructed them to perform a strict penance to Lord Brahma in exchange for various boons. After days of sitting in reverie, lost in meditation, Lord Brahma appeared in front of the three brothers. Each one took turns at asking for whatever boon they wanted. When it was Kumbhakarna's turn he knew he wanted the Indraaasan-the throne of Lord Indra, God of the Gods. Lord Indra being the omniscient, knew of Kumbhakarna's intentions. He approached Saraswati to help him out since she was the only one who could influence the speech of any individual. Saraswati agreed and sat on Kumbhakarna's tongue. When Lord Brahma asked Kumbhakarna for his wish, he opened his mouth to say Indraasna, Saraswati cleverly twisted his tongue at that precise moment and the word Nidrasana fell out of Kumbhakarna's mouth. Lord Brahma smiled. "तथास्तु!", he said and Kumbhakarna fell into a deep state of slumber.

It was only later that Ravan learnt of this trickery. This naturally infuriated him. He made Lord Indra his captive and marched to Lord Brahma asking him to reverse the effect of the boon. Brahma could not reverse but he modified the boon so that Kumbhakarna would sleep for half the year and stay awake for the other half.

Well of late, the 5 month old has been more like the Kumbhakarna from the other half of the year, awake and alert into the wee hours of the morning.

Dear Lord Brahma, the creator of everything celestial and terrestrial, I so want to be in Nidraasana right now :) As I finish this one the baby is deep in sleep, I wish there was some penance that we mothers could perform in exchange for the boon of a restful night's sleep.

तथास्तु- To a good night:)

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