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March 4, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 3:55 pmNPR 300
Kumbakarna and Lakshmana, brothers each to 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 Nirdevatvam (annihilation of the Devas) he asked for Nidravatvam (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.
Kumbakarna enjoys his wakeful moments, delighting in each of his actions and catching up with all that occurred during the period of his sleep.Then comes a point when sleep overcomes him again, interrupting this wakefulness. Prematurely roused from his ordained period of sleep and then killed in battle, he is so bewildered that he does not know whether he is dreaming of his death or is in fact already dead.
The Sutradhar presents the dimentions of sleep for both Kumbakarna and Laxmana.
Laxmana’s loss of sleep on the other hand enables him to empower his regular actions with incredible fluid effortlessness.
His conundrum lies in the unspecified nature of his boon and its potential long-term consequences.
As he strives to unravel this mystery, he considers the possibility that perhaps only in the Turiya state – can one be truly aware of pure self- existence, wherein one has a glimpse of the past, present and future.
When Kumbakarna and Lakshmana meet on the battlefield they discuss the unfortunate consequences of their respective boons.
Laxmana as Kumbakarna narrating the story of Kumbakarna.
Kumbakarna asks Laxmana to take some of his sleep so that he, Kumbakarna can stay awake long enough to kill him. Laxmana sees this as an opportunity to plumb the depths of his own dilemma and willingly accepts.
Laxman begins his sleep by taking Kumbakarna’s sleep. But before he completes the process Kumbakarna is slain by Rama.
Consequently, Laxmana is forced into wakefulness before he can find the answers he seeks. He is left unsure of his sleep destiny and uncertain about when he would wake up. For the boon does not specify whether he will sleep for fourteen years at a stretch, or compensate for his long wakefulness with a single night’s sleep.