Everybody wondered how Lakshamana could fall off to sleep in broad daylight. And why did he smile before dozing off?

Rama had returned to Ayodhya in triumph after spending fourteen years in the forest. He was to be crowned the King of Ayodhya. Kings from other states, sages and scholars had gathered to see the coronation ceremony.

Just before the start of the coronation ceremony, Lakshmana, who was seated in the front row, smiled. He then closed his eyes, and feel asleep in an instant.

Everybody wondered how Lakshamana could fall asleep in broad daylight. And why did he smile before dozing off? The mystery was unbearable. Everybody wished Lakshmana would explain.

Hanuman shook Lakshmana vigorously. Lakshmana opened his eyes. “Why,” demanded Hanuman, “did you smile?”

The entire court held its breath to hear Lakshmana’s answer. “When Rama decided to go to the forest accompanied by Sita, I was determined to go. I wanted to guard my brother and Sita.”

“The first night Rama and Sita were asleep under a tree. I was standing guard. My eyes drooped and I realised I would soon fall asleep. I prayed to the goddess of sleep. ‘Oh, Nidra Devi, do not cast your spell on me for the next fourteen years. Let me guard my brother and his wife 24 hours of the day for all the days of the week. When my brother returns to Ayodhya safely, you may come to me. I’ll surrender to you.’”

“Nidra Devi agreed to my request and left me. All these years she stayed away from me, allowing me to guard Rama. Today, Nidra Devi has cast her spell on me and I’m falling asleep. That’s why I smiled to thank Nidra Devi.”

The whole assembly heard Lakshmana with rapt attention. Rama and Sita looked at Lakshmana with affection. “But Lakshmana, wait till the coronation is over,” said Hanuman.

Sita intervened. “Let him sleep, Hanuman. Let him sleep.”

Hanuman bowed. The coronation ceremony continued, and Lakshmana slept blissfully.

Retold from the Krittibas Ramayan in Bengali.

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