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Kumbhakarna yawns as he is roused from sleep;.jpg
Kumbhakarna yawns as he is roused from sleep

consort - Vajrajvala, Karkati, children -Kumbh, Nikumbh, Bhim

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Kumbhakarna (Sanskrit: कुम्भकर्ण, lit. pot-eared) rakshasa ( from Neptune and mars planet ) the younger brother of Ravana in the famous Indian epic Ramayana. Despite his monstrous size and great appetite, he was described to be of good character, though he killed and ate many monks only to show his power.

He was considered so pious, intelligent and brave that Indra, the king of the gods, was jealous of him. Along with his brothers, Ravana and Vibhishana, Kumbhkarna performed a major yajna and penance to please Lord Brahma. When the time came for asking a boon (blessing) from Brahma, his tongue was tied by goddess Saraswati, who was acting on Indra's request; because of which, instead of asking "Indraasana" (seat of Indra), he asked for "Nidraasana" (bed for sleeping). It is also said he intended to ask for "Nirdevatvam" (annihilation of the Devas) and instead asked for "Nidravatvam" (sleep). His request was granted. However, his brother Ravana asked Brahma to undo this boon as it was in reality a curse. Kumbhakarna slept for six months, and when he awoke, he ate everything in the vicinity, including humans.


Kumbhakarna Enters Warfront Painting by Balasaheb Pandit Pant Pratinidhi

During the war, Ravana went into battle and was humiliated by Rama and his army. He decided he needed the help of his brother Kumbhakarna, who was awakened with great difficulty. He woke up only after one thousand elephants walked over him (Rāmāyaṇa 6.48.47).

When he was informed of the circumstances of Ravana's war with Rama, he tried to convince Ravana that what he was doing was wrong. However, he chose to fight in the battle due to his loyalty to his brother. After becoming drunk, Kumbhakarna went into battle. He devastated Rama's army, injured Hanuman and knocked Sugriva unconscious and took him as a prisoner but was killed by Rama. When Ravana heard of his brother's death, he fainted and proclaimed that he is truly doomed.

Death of Kumbhakarna

Kumbhakarna had two sons, Kumbha and Nikumbha,from his wife Vajrajvala who too fought in the war against Rama and were killed.

Kumbhakarna is certainly one of the most interesting characters in the Ramayana epic. Whereas most characters perfectly embody either virtue or vice, Kumbhakarna is a more complex figure. Able to realize the mistakes and wrongdoings of Ravana, even trying to intervene and moderate at certain times, he is unable to openly oppose him, feeling bound by his warrior ethics. Fighting on what he knew to be the wrong side, he is killed by Rama and gets salvation.


According to the Shiva Purana, Kumbhakarna had another son called Bheema from his wife Karkati who fled to Dakini - on the ranges of the Sahyadri mountains with his mother. Bheema took an oath to destroy Lord Vishnu and began a campaign of terror based on a boon provided by Lord Brahma. When Bheema defeated a devotee of Lord Shiva and interrupted his penances, Lord Shiva destroyed Bheema and manifested himself at that location in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga - one of the 12 jyotirlingas in existence.

Jain Tradition

Kumbhakarna attained Moksha from Barwani.[1]


Waking up Kumbhakarna

The giant Kumbhakarna from the Ramayana epic, here in a Kecak performance in Ubud, Bali.

See also


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