In Ramayana, KHARA, DOOSHANA and KUMBHAKARNA are demons. The area north of Lanka and south of Kosala in India was the free moving zone of demons. The main forest area called Dandakaranya was occupied by the fierce demons and Dooshana was ruling the forest kingdom. He was the close relative of Ravana. His mother was Raka and his brother was Khara and they were born as twins. Janasthana was the capital of Dandakaranya. It was having road access, south up to River Godavary and north up to River Ganga. Dooshana had a chariot of large size and it was driven by eight horses. His country had good military arrangements and he was to take care of the North side of Lanka which was ruled by Ravana.

Kumbhakrna in his sleep
Kumbhakarna in deep sleep

The sister of Ravana, Surpanakha was allowed to wander in the northern part of this forest and was called Tatakaranya. It was within Dandakaranya. She had failed in canvassing Rama to marry her, and when she persuaded Lakshmana, by telling many lies and disguising herself as a young lady, he had not yielded for marrying her. When Lakshmana recognized the ‘x’ mark drawn on her back by Rama, he understood its meaning, as she was a deceiving damsel demon and with his large sword, shaved off the edge of her nose, to drive her away. Then Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were living in Chitrakoota forest area where many Rishis were also performing penance for many years.

Surpanakha had accused with Ravana about Rama and Lakshmana. She compelled him to wage a war against Rama and Lakshmana, but he ordered his brother Kumbhakarna to look into the problems caused to his sister and do the needful for remedy. But Kumbhakarna was somewhat lazy and in turn instructed his younger brothers, Khara and Dooshana to kill Rama and Lakshmana. She was not satisfied, hence firmly induced Ravana to marry Sita by diverting away Rama and Lakshmana from their hermit hut.

Khara, Dooshana and Kumbhakarna were all demons who lived by serving Ravana. They had conducted penance in relay system, by sitting before Kuberapureshwara, in a temple, a place which was previously allotted to Kubera, by Brahma for worshipping God Shiva. But Ravana had encroached his Kuberapura and used it for self and then Kubera shifted himself to the north side of Kailasha Mountain, where his grandfather, Pulastya had vacated some place leaving himself to Umananda temple.

First, Ravana sat in Kuberapura, finished his penance and got a boon to live for a long period and that he would never be killed by any living beings except a human being. Ravana lived in Lanka ruling his country and then only demons were allowed to live in his country.

Next, Kumbhakarna sat in penance in Kuberapura. Brahma appeared in front of him to provide a boon. Kumbhakarna thought many demons have fought Devaloka Devendra in the past but died after the war. So he wanted to sleep comfortably for a long time. Then God reminded him regarding the necessity of eating to live for a long time and hence the boon was modified as, he may sleep for six months continuously and in the remaining six months of that year, he may pass time by eating and enjoying in entertainments, without sleeping. He was a vegetarian and relied on Prasadam after worship for livelihood but he required a huge quantity.

Later, Dooshana started penance, sitting in Kuberapura. He got a boon with a special mace which would fiercely emit fire when used in war. Thereafter, Khara sat and got a boon with a spear which would never be damaged in anyway by anybody. Khara and Dooshana were man eaters and relied on flesh for their livelihood. Ravana, being afraid of his death, by a human being, encouraged their food system of eating human flesh and posted them at Dandakaranya.  Hence they left to Dandakaranya immediately after getting their boons. Their place of penance is called Thanjavur and the area in the surroundings of nine temples, dedicated to nine planets is called Navagraha Temple area, which is containing highly fertile land and irrigated by the Cauvery River water.

After returning to Lanka, Kumbhakarna slept for six months and then awakened. He was a devotee of God Shiva and hence, in the early morning, went to worship God Shiva at Koneswaram Temple. He received Prasadam and holy Shiva Naivedyam from the Temple after completion of the worship. Due to hunger and a huge appetite, he was compelled to request again and again, and eat all the prasadam with the dedicated Rice naivedyam fully for himself. That temple was built by Ravana for his mother Kaikase. Satisfying him became a challenge to Ravana and he directed Vibhishana to settle the hunger problem of Kumbhakarna. Vibhishana first visited his grandfather, Pulastya, the son of Brahma, saluted him and sought an advice to arrange a sumptuous supply of food for Kumbhakarna, as his brother, Ravana has ordered. Then Pulastya was living in the Umananda temple worshipping God Shiva. Umananda temple is in Shonithapura, the present name being Guwahati in Assam. The Umananda temple is on a small Island behind the present High court buildings, surrounded by water.

When Vibhishana approached him with his request to make arrangements for supply of food for his brother, Kumbhakarna, he agreed with pleasure and assured him solutions, considering him sympathetically. Then the river was flooding. Vibhishana went further northeast and declared the people of the villages to help them control the water of that river. The people of those villages became happy to hear his assurances, and with the help of his grandfather, Pulastya brought down the level of the river water within moments.

Since Pulastya was son of Brahma and controlled the level of the river water, people kept his name to the river as Brahmaputra. People thought to give some gifts to Vibhishana but he showed humiliation and informed them if only his grandfather, Pulastya agreed he would arrange to receive their gifts. Pulastya and Vibhishana collected prominent nine persons from those villages (called Hajarikas) and together visited the Kuberapura, in nine planets temple area of Tamil Nadu. They invited Kumbhakarna also to worship God Shiva. Ravana later allowed his brother Kumbhakarna to visit there, as and when he would be awakened from his half yearly sleep.

आचर्य तपसा आम्नाय जपेन नियमेन च ।
उत्सवेन अन्नदानेन क्षेत्रवृद्धिस्तु पन्चधा ॥

Pulastya had explained the meaning of the above verse to Vibhishana and the other nine people around him: Penance of the learned person, repetition of the Vedas, following the Dharma rules, celebrating festivals, and donating food; these five systems make an area flourish continuously. That area sometimes got dry in the summer, but the nine people of the villages were to attend then, may collect some food and visit every week there, using horse carts, and offer the collected gifts to the Gods of that particular day by name. As far as this practice prevails, no flood problem would arise around the nine villages, Pulastya assured.

Two persons were not able to visit on weekly basis. So Pulastya instructed them to attend on the days of eclipses marked in the almanac in advance which being procured by them in advance. The villages are marked as nine villages, Navagrama in Sanskrit (currently known as Nagaon of Assam). Thus, from Monday to Saturday, seven people from seven villages would offer their collections. As and when an eclipse happens on that day, instead of the name of the day, Rahu or Ketu offering may be done by the remaining two people. Rahu and Ketu Gods in the temples are also worshipped there, being well arranged by Vibhishana, receiving on the days of eclipses predominating God of that day.

Kumbhakarna got sufficient, good food, received as Prasadam, and lived by worshipping God Shiva, and the place where he lived in night continuously, for the period of six months without sleeping in a year, got the name Kumbhakonam later.

Pulastya returned to the Umananda temple to continue his penance, worshipping God Shiva and also watching the regular supply of food to Kumbhakonam. But at night, passing time was very difficult for Kumbhakarna. He remembered his grandfather’s advice. He knew Sama Veda. Hence, throughout night, Kumbhakarna used to recite Samaveda there.

Some people brought earthen pots from nine villages of Assam with water for Abhishekam to God Shiva. The empty pots were later collected by Kumbhakarna, and during the night, he would keep it upside down and used to hit with his fingers rhythmically along with reciting Sama Veda. Thus, it had become a musical instrument and was later known as Ghatam in Sanskrit. Thus, Ghatam is a contribution of Kumbhakarna of Ramayana. Only for sleeping, he was returning to Lanka and the practice continued for many years, making Ravana and everyone happy.

Dooshana had sent six demons to kill Rama and Lakshmana. The war was very terrific and all the Rishis have been morally supporting them. Lakshmana and Rama fought them. They were experts in using various types of war weapons and Lakshmana had also faced them with more vigor. Rama was having a celestial bow, and had uncountable number of arrows in his inexhaustible quiver. But in others’ view, he had a facial expression of calm and quiet, agreeable to anybody possessing large hands and handsome body.

On knowing the death of the six demons, Dooshana sent an army containing six thousand demons. Jatayu could see the coming troops from the very distance, and signaled to Rama. Rama instructed to hide Sita inside a cave and Jatayu waited outside watching her cave. Jatayu would eat up all the dead bodies after the war and kept the premises neat and clean for Rama. The entire six thousand demons died by the return striking of Rama and Lakshmana. The Rishis and Munis felt happy.

Then Dooshana himself started towards Rama in his chariot. He used his mace in the war. The mace emitted fire which caused burning of many trees and the Rishis had to run away to escape fire mishap. He was able to strike with both hands. Hence, against his two hands, Rama and Lakshmana started returning his blows. Rama had understood, about the unbeatable mace of Dooshana, and arrowed into his both hands cutting them down. When his hands were cut, he could not lift his mace and the next arrow of Rama cut off his head and finally he died.

Then, Khara himself started towards Rama in his chariot. He used his spear in the war. The spear forcefully targeted Rama and Lakshmana which caused returning to his hand many times and the Rishis have stood witness for the wonder. He was able to strike with both hands. Hence, against his two hands, Rama and Lakshmana started returning his blows. Rama had understood, about the unbeatable spear of Khara, and arrowed into his both hands cutting them down. When his hands were cut, he could not lift his spear and the next arrow of Rama cut off his head and finally he also died.

Makaraksha was the son of Khara. Ravana crowned him as the ruler of Dandakaranya. Ravana with the help of his uncle Maricha planned for the kidnap of Sita. Then Rama, Sita and Lakshmana shifted their residence to Panchavati area.

Most of the original verses from the Valmiki Ramayana have been lost in due course of time since the protection of the bundles of palm leaves required space and time provisions. Anyhow, the epic had remained part by part in different locations or corners of the world. Even though the epic is very old, the names of certain rivers and places remained unchanged, like the River Brahmaputra, the place Kumbhakonam and the God Rama, himself. Hanuman and Vibhishana would always be living on this earth as they have been blessed with the boon to be Chiranjeevis, but invisible to ordinary human beings.

Kumbhakarna had been awakened in the middle of his sleep and was compelled by Ravana to fight with Rama and Lakshmana, during the Rama – Ravana war.  Being a loyal brother to Ravana, he fought against Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman and got killed.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Rama upon us.

Next post, being of Jabali Rishi of Ramayana, may not be missed. Readers may provide feedback and share this story with friends and family.

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