Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – 1st to 7th September 2013.

This post is the fourth of a series of trying to correlate the Seven Sins to characters and incidents referred to in the Ramayana.

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed


Please note that there are various versions of this great epic and therefore my post might contradict with what you have heard or read of this particular incident in the Ramayana. This is only an attempt to map the seven deadly sins to incidents or behavior of particular characters in the Ramayana in a given situation and I have taken liberties with my own interpretations of the same. No offense is meant to any version of this wonderful epic.


kumbhakarna fighting

Read my earlier post about Kumbhakarna’s sloth to get a background of why Kumbhakarna had to continuously sleep for a six month period.

As per the modified terms of the boon, Kumbhakarna was supposed to sleep for six months and then wake up for one day to satiate his hunger. So far the day the he woke up was the day all the servants and cooks in his palace dreaded as this was the day that he would eat almost anything and everything that was prepared in the palace. And in case he didn’t find enough food to satisfy his hunger, then he would start eating anybody that he could lay eyes on, whether they were human or asura did not matter to him on that particular day.

When Rama and his army managed to get an upper hand during the first days of the great war with the asuras, then Ravana had no choice but to try and wake Kumbhakarna up. Although he knew that he would be breaking the terms of the boon granted by Lord Brahma, his situation was so desperate that he was willing to take that chance. This was the only choice he had in the face of the dire circumstances.

It took all of 1000 elephants walking over the gigantic frame of Kumbhakarna accompanied by drum beats and various other assortments of noise making instruments to wake him up. And as was the norm, as soon as he woke up, his hunger took control of him and he wanted food.

When he was informed of the war with Rama and the circumstances under which it was fought, he tried to convince Ravana of the mistakes of his action. However, due to Ravana’s entreaties of brotherhood and loyalty, he chose to fight in the battle. After becoming drunk with somarasa, Kumbhakarna entered the battle and caused unusually large devastation. The army of Rama was at a loss as to how to stop the marauding giant rakshasa. They tried everything in their arsenal but did not manage to even deter him.

Finally, it took Rama himself and his divine powers with his astras to fall the giant.

Although Kumbhakarna did not necessarily die to his gluttonous habits, the fact remains that this memorable character of the Ramayana suffered greatly due to this one deadly sin that he was inflicted with due to the boon granted by Brahma.


Image courtesy: Google Image search

27 thoughts on “Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

  1. Kumbhakarna’s war with the army of Rama was very well depicted in the Ramayana series of Dooradarshan. I had thoroughly enjoyed it. As I read the post I could vividly remember every scene. Lovely post.

    • @Paddy, yes that part of the serial was quite memorable given that this was the first time we were seeing anything like that on Indian television 🙂

    • @Usha, I wouldn’t call it mastery, it is more of an interest in Indian mythology which makes me want to read multiple versions of the same story, that’s all. I am way too far from being a master in these epics…

  2. He must have been a righteous man given that he tried to convince Ravana of the mistakes of his actions!! I think his greed for power, for the control of the heavens led to his state of sloth and gluttony….
    I’m really enjoying this series of yours!

    • @Aditi, yes, he did try to convince Ravana of the mistakes of his actions and finally only due to his loyalty to his King did he enter the battle…enjoy the rest of the series as well

  3. That one poem from Kamba Ramayan stuck in my mind “Aaru Nooru sagadtthu adisilium; Nooru nooru kudam kallum nunginaan; eruginra pasiyinai ezhuppinaan” – He ate 600 cartloads of food and drank 10000 pots of liquor for an appetizer 🙂 That, in short, depicts Kumbhkarn’s ,gluttony to me 🙂

    • @Suresh, trust you to come up with a comment like that and enhance this post itself 😀 And that is quite some food and drink for one person, don’t you think…wonder what Raj Babbar will have to say about the cost of one square meal for Kumbhakarna 😉

    • @Suzy, I can imagine him towering over the rest of the army, morsels of food dripping from his mouth, scary thought, ain’t it…

    • @Karan, yes, the choice of seven sins within the Ramayana was quite a deliberate one which would give me an opportunity to pick and choose selected episodes from the epic, glad you enjoyed it…

  4. The fact that he tried to convince Ravana and to make him see the fault in his actions tell a different story about Kumbhakarna. But yes, he suffered greatly because of the boon he got. What an irony!

    • @Bhavya, that boon was more of a curse, courtesy Indra’s play when Kumbhakarna asked for this boon. Funnily enough most people don’t realize that Kumbhakarna was somebody who actually did the ‘right thing’ but was also extremely loyal to his elder brother Ravana, and in the end Ravana played the ‘loyalty’ card to ensure that he actually fought in the war

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