Lakshman and Urmila

            Lakshman saw at the sleeping form of his beloved elder brother and mata sita. They seemed tired as they slept in the rough forest ground. Looking at them Lakshman felt a strange agony in his heart. Ram and Sita who were going to rule Ayodhya, one of the greatest kingdoms in the world, sleeping unprotected in the bare forest ground….If Lakshman had not been there in the forest with his brother, he would never have believed that this was even possible.

            Urmila (Laxman’s wife) whom Laxman had left behind. Her anguished face on seeing him leave, she requested Laxman ‘Please…. Sita is going with her husband, Ram! Why can’t I do the same?‘ Urmila had demanded angrily.

            Lakshman had taken her aside and made her sit down on the bed. ‘I know it is very wrong to leave a wife and go away alone. But I want you to be here.

Why?‘ Urmila asked looking confused.

I want you to stay here and look after father and our mothers‘ Lakshman said quietly.

But…‘ Urmila looked angrily.

            ‘Please…hear me out! I am going to the forest, because I want to take care of Ram. Taking care of him is my life’s purpose….’ Lakshman said with a quiet pride in his eyes. ‘If I take you along with me….How can I take care of my brother all the time?

            Lakshman saw his wife as she angrily opened her mouth to protest. But she closed her mouth and properly saw him….Probably she realized that Lakshman could not exist without Ram and that there was no point in stopping him…. Out there in the forest, where there were wild animals, dangerous monsters, Urmila realized that her husband would need to have his wits around him if he were to protect himself and the others. If Urmila went along, her husband will not concentrate & his attention would be divided and he would have to take care of her safety also.

            Urmila looked at Lakshman and mutely nodded her head. ‘Fine‘ She said in a chocked voice. ‘I will stay behind…

            It was at that minute Lakshman realized that his wife was also special….She had a quiet strength in her and he did not doubt, not for one second, that she would wait for him till the end of the fourteen years, here in the palace. He smiled as he looked at her tear-filled eyes….

            There was a slight change in the breeze and Lakshman saw Ram move in his sleep. His brother looked so….. Lakshman just could not find a proper word for his brother…..A man born to be king….It was at that minute that Lakshman made a fierce promise to himself. The armies of Ayodhya are not there to look after them, but I am there. And I will look after them through day and night….

            Lakhsmana felt his vision blur as he looked around panicking slightly. He turned and saw a fierce bright light. He was about to pull out his weapon when his vision started getting more burred. Alarmed, he saw a beautiful Goddess stand before him.

How will you do that warrior?’ The Goddess asked.

Do what?’ Lakshman asked looking confused.

Look after them day and night!’ The Goddess said clarifying.

            Lakshman looked totally confused not understanding the question of the Goddess. He was feeling extremely blissful, the same state he felt before every sleep…He squinted as he stared at the Goddess.

            The Goddess smiled. ‘I am Nindra (sleep), the Goddess of Sleep! How can you hope to protect Ram and Sita, day and night? You are a human…you also need to sleep!

            Lakshman fiercely fought the growing sleeping sensation in his eyes. ‘No! I won’t sleep! I need to….’

            The Goddess smiled sadly. ‘Every living creature needs to sleep….There is no exception!’ The Goddess looked sad. Suddenly her eyes brightened. ‘Unless…!’ The Goddess was however looking skeptical.

            Lakshman grabbed at any chance he had. ‘Unless what….Whatever it is I will do it….
            Nindra Devi shook her head. ‘It is not something you can do….It is something that needs to be done for you.’

            Lakshman frowned looking at the Goddess. Goddess continued ‘You have to find someone who can sleep for 14 years on your behalf.’  ‘Someone who is willing to sleep for you….all the fourteen years that you are in the forest….That person would sleep for you and you will never feel the need to sleep or get tired….But whom would you find who would be willing to do that….

            Lakshman smiled without meaning to. Even before the Goddess had finished the question, Lakshman knew the answer to that question.’Urmila!‘ He breathed heavily.

            The Goddess looked enquiringly at Lakshman. ‘Urmila would be willing to do this for me!‘ Lakshman did not doubt it, not even for one minute, that Urmila would do this for him….’Please go and ask her. She would be willing to make this….sacrifice!‘ Lakshman knew that that was exactly what Urmila was doing and she would do it for him happily….

            Goddess Nindra went to Urmila to ask her that whether she is ready for this. Lakshman had correctly judged his wife…Urmila happily accepted the responsibility given to her. It is said that Urmila slept her husband’s share of sleep through the fourteen years that her husband spent in the forest. That is why almost very little is said about her during the fourteen years of exile.

            However Urmila’s acceptance had far more reaching consequences than just help Lakshman protect Ram.

            Ravan had a son Meghanand (he is called Indrajit, because he had defeated Indra, the king of the Devas) Meghanand was almost invincible in battle because he had a boon that only a person who had not slept for fourteen years could defeat and kill him….When Urmila had agreed to the condition of Goddess Nindra and took her husband’s sleep, she had given her husband a powerful chance to defeat the invincible Meghanand.

            And during the battle between Ram and Ravan, Lakshman was the one who killed Meghanand (Ravan’s son), which truly turned the battle in favour of Ram and his army, in their fight for getting back Sita.

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