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Soon after his birth, Lakshman kept crying until he was placed next to Ram. Since that day he was always beside Ram, accompanying him to protect Vishwamitras yagna and following him into exile in the forest.
Such was his devotion that he refused to take his wife along with him to
the forest. He even refused to sleep for 14 years so that he could
serve his brother day and night.
Lakshmans wife, Urmila, wanted to follow her husband to the forest as Sita had followed Ram but Lakshman begged her to stay back saying that he will be busy taking care of Ram and Sita and will have no time
He asked her to help him by staying back so that he did not feel guilty or anxious about his wifes wellbeing. So Urmila stayed back, reluctantly, wondering how she could help her husband help Ram.
Click on this to know what made Lakshmans wife Urmila sleep for 14 long years
On the first night in the forest, Lakshman kept watch while Ram and Sita went to sleep. That is when Nidra, the goddess of sleep, approached him. He begged the goddess to leave him alone for fourteen years so
that he could guard his brother and sister-in-law night and day.
The goddess, impressed by his act of filial devotion, agreed. But the law of nature demanded that someone bear the burden of Lakshmans share of sleep. Go to my wife, Urmila, and inform her of the situation,
said Lakshman. Nidra went to Urmila. Urmila bowed her head and replied,
Give me my husbands share of sleep for fourteen years so that he can
stay awake all that time without any fatigue. So it came to pass that
Urmila slept for fourteen years night and day while her husband stayed
awake in the service of Ram and Sita.
This had an impact in the war against Ravana. Ravanas mighty son, Meghnadh, was invincible. Only a man who had not slept for 14 years could defeat him. Thus Lakshman was able to kill him, all thanks to
The story of Urmila comes from folk Ramayanas or Ram-kathas and is not part of Valmikis Sanskrit narrative or Tulsis Avadhi narrative. But the way the story is presented, especially in the Ram Kathas of
South India, is even more interesting. It reminds us how vast and
imaginative and provocative the tradition of Ramayana is in India, and
how we are often deprived of this variety in our quest for uniformity.
After Rama defeats Ravan, rescues Sita and returns to Ayodhya, the day of Rams coronation dawns. As the hymns were being chanted and the crown is brought before Ram, Lakshman started to laugh, startling
Everyone wondered why was Lakshman laughing: who was he mocking? Every person in the court Rama and Sita included was consumed by doubts and guilt, for each was embarrassed of some misdeed in their
life. Each one remembered an event in their life, which they were not
particularly proud of, and felt Lakshman was laughing at them.
Finally someone asked Lakshman why he was laughing and he replied, I have waited for this moment for the past 14 years and just when I am about to witness Ram being crowned king, the goddess of sleep, Nidra,
reminds me of our agreement 14 years ago, and demands that I submit to
her this very moment, and go to sleep and let Urmila awaken. I find the
irony of the situation hilarious. So Lakshman dozed and Urmila woke up
to see Rama crowned king, and everyone heaved a sigh of relief.