Ramayana is full of symbolism and through the narrative of Lord Rama & his life, weaves higher concepts of idealism and consciousness.
Even Rama’s enemies are no ordinary people and they represent some of the deepest aspects of human nature.
The demon brothers of Lanka, represent the negative aspects of the three gunas that keep the soul in bondage.
Sattva, Ravana is
Rajas & Kumbhakarna is the personification of
As per Wikipedia,
Tamas is the quality of imbalance, disorder, chaos, anxiety, impure, destructive, delusion, negative, dull or inactive, apathy, inertia or lethargy, violent, vicious, ignorant.
Now if you look closely at Kumbhakarna’s character,
- He would sleep for six months - inactive or lethargic
- And then wake up and eat for six months, before going back to sleep again - imbalance
- On waking up, he had strength enough to smash a full army single handed - destructive
- He is described as pious & intelligent but was carried away by his love for Ravana - delusional
Inactive or Lethargic
By the virtue of the curse from Brahma he would sleep for 6 months and wake up only for a day.
रावस्य वचः श्रुत्वा स्वयम्भूरिदमब्रवीत् |
शयिता ह्येष षण्मासानेकाहम् जागरिष्यति || ६-६१-२८
"Hearing the words of Ravana, Brahma spoke as follows: He will indeed sleep for six months and wake-up for a day."
However, when he would wake up, he would eat like a ravage.
एकेनाह्ना त्वसौ वीरश्च रन् भूमिम् बुभुक्षितः |
व्यात्तास्यो भक्षयेल्लोकान् सम्वृद्ध इव पावकः || ६-६१-२९
"On that single day, this male demon, having starved for six months, will wander over the earth and eat the human race with his month wide open, like an augmented fire."
He had tremendous strength but he used it only to bring destruction on anything that came his way.
पृथिव्याम् केतुभूतोऽसौ महानेकोऽत्र दृश्यते |
यम् दृष्ट्वा वानराः सर्वे विद्रवन्ति यतस्ततः || ६-६१-६
"He alone with a huge body here on this earth, is appearing like a solitary meteror, by seeing whom all the monkeys are running away hither and thither."
He was well versed and intelligent. Even in his drowsiness, he counseled Ravana that they should have listened to Vibhishana and it was Ravana’s actions out of arrogance that has brought destruction to their door step. However due to his love for his brother he joined the war on the side of Adharma.
यो हि शत्रुमवज्ञाय नात्मानमभिरक्षति |
अवाप्नोति हि सोऽनर्थान् स्थानाच्च व्यवरोप्यते || ६-६३-२०
"A king who disregards an enemy and does not protect himself, indeed faces disappointing occurrences and would be removed from his position."
In summary, Kumbhakarna represents lethargy, imbalance, violence and delusion that can cloud the best and brightest of human qualities and lead the soul to darkness (Adharma).