Indologist Nrisinghaprasad Bhaduri wrote in his book "Valmikir Ram o Ramayan" that it was told to Vanaras that Kumbhakarna was a "Yantra"(machine). Nrisinghaprasad Bhaduri argued that Rakshasas were very advanced in technology. So, it was quite possible for them to build such a robot.

Two verses in Valmiki Ramayana are very interesting. Both these verses are from Yuddhakanda, Canto LXI (Gita Press English Edition).

When Brahma saw Kumbhakarna, he said this to him -

ध्रुबं लोकबिनाशाय पैलस्त्येनासि निर्मित:। तस्मात् त्वमद्यप्रभृति मृतकल्प: शयिष्यसे॥

"Undoubtedly, you were created by Paulastya for the destruction of the world. Therefore you shall sleep from this day forward as if you were dead" - Valmiki Ramayana VI.61.24

Here the word that should be noted is "created". The Sanskrit word that was used is "nirmitah". It means built or created. We hardly use this term for a living being. We built non-living things, such as machines.

The other verse is even more suggestive. When the Vanaras saw Kumbhakrana, they fled. Then none other than Vibhisana told Rama the following words -

उच्यन्तां वानरा: सर्बे यन्त्रमेतत् समुच्छ्रितम्। इति विज्ञाय हरयो भविष्यन्तीह निर्भया:॥

"Let’s tell all the monkeys that it is just a giant mechanical device. Once they accept that, they will lose their fear of him." - Valmiki Ramayana VI.61.33

In my opinion, the narrative of Kumbhakarna used to sleep for 6 months and wake up for a day fits well if he was a robot.

Thus, my question is whether Kumbhakarna was a robot.

  • 14
    you do know that Khumba karna was born and got boon from Lord Brahma, married and had kids right??
    – user22253
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 11:54
  • 8
    Suggesting that Kumbhakaran was a yantra was only a decoy to assuage Vanars to continue fighting Rakshash. Ramayan is full of life history of Kumbhakaran from birth to death. Such analysis trying to fit into imaginary logical construct is outright lie.
    – sbharti
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 17:01
  • 9
    when we say 'Modi is a machine', does it mean he is literally a lifeless robot, or that he works non-stop like a machine without distractions ? It's a similie/metaphor/upamana/analogy.
    – ram
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 17:30
  • 4
    Pls change your accepted answer @Amritendu
    – sbharti
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 5:41
  • 1
    You could argue Martanda and Andhaka are robots/cyborgs due to the references to their "dead" body parts (and thus everyone the same race as them). Robots explain why their dead parts move quite nicely. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


Let’s take a look at how Kumbhkaran is described in general

Pg 269 from the book you shared

Sarga 48

He sleeps (not because he is machine and needs maintenance but because of curse given by Lord Brahma. If you think he sleeps because of machine then how would you justify curse. You can’t.

  1. That raksasa sleeps for six, seven, eight, even nine months at a time. Nonetheless, you must awaken mighty Kumbhakarna immediately.

Kumbhakarna breathes. Like any living creature.

18–19. As they passed through the huge gates into Kumbhakarna’s lovely cavern, which extended a league on every side and was redolent with every fragrance, the immensely powerful raksasas were driven back by the force of his breath

He has body hairs. Breathes from nostrils

22-23. …tiger among raksasas, sons of chaos, as ahe lay there, his body hairs bristling, hissing like a great serpent, and terrifying them with his stertorous breathing. With his fearsome nostrils and his huge mouth as wide as the underworld Patala, he was fearsome to…

He was offered meat to eat. That’s what would be offered to living creature. Not a robot.

  1. Then those mighty raksasas placed before Kumbhakarna a supremely gratifying heap of meats as huge as Mount Meru.
  1. Those tigers among raksasas, sons of chaos, set down massive quantities of deer, buffalo, and boar—an astonishing heap of food.

He stretches his arms after waking up and yawns. That pretty much tells that it is not yantra or machine.

  1. Stretching wide his arms, which were as strong as mountain peaks and resembled two mountain peaks or great serpents, that night-roaming raksasa yawned grotesqu

Under Sarga 49

Kumbhkarna is “son” of Visravas. Not yantra of Visravas.

  1. ‘‘That is Kumbhakarna, the valorous son of Visravas, who defeated both Vaivasvata and Vasava in battle

Note the word born.

  1. ‘‘No sooner had this huge raksasa been born than, tormented by hunger, he devoured many thousands of living beings.

Srimad Bhagvtam

4.1.37 says he was born along with Ravana and Vibhishana. Not like robot.

Viśravā had two wives. The first wife was Iḍaviḍā, from whom Kuvera, the master of all Yakṣas, was born, and the next wife was named Keśinī, from whom three sons were born-Rāvaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa and Vibhīṣaṇa.

Like others have commented as well there are more evidences to show that he is NOT yantra. For eg Kumbhakarna got married to daughter of Bali and had sons.

  • 2
    Yes... "And in that extensive forest those exceedingly energetic ones, Kumbhakarna and the Ten necked one grew up, and became the sources of anxiety to people"... sanskrit-hindi version also says the same.. so he was not a robot..
    – YDS
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 12:03
  • 2
    Also that he did tapasya and married. Why would a robot do tapasya and marry? :-D
    – sbharti
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 5:40

I tried using site search to find every instance of yantra in the Valmiki Ramayana to see if this has any merit:

Every verse mentioning Yantra in Valmiki Ramayana:


atha bhuumi pradeshaGYaaH suutra karma vishaaradaaH | sva karma abhirataaH shuuraaH khanakaa yantrakaaH tathaa || 2-80-1 karma antikaaH sthapatayaH puruShaa yantra kovidaaH | tathaa vardhakayaH caiva maargiNo vR^ikSha takShakaaH || 2-80-2 kuupa kaaraaH sudhaa kaaraa va.nsha karma kR^itaH tathaa | samarthaa ye ca draShTaaraH purataH te pratasthire || 2-80-3

1; 2; 3. atha = then; bhuumipradeshajJNaH = those able to advise on the nature of soils; suutrakarmavishaaradaaH = those skilled in thread-holding for levelling purposes; shuuraaH = those who were energetic; courageous; svakarmaabhirataaH = interested in doing their own jobs; khanakaaH = excavators; tathaa = and yantrakaaH = mechanics; karmaantikaaH = labourers; sthapatayaH = engineers; puruSaaH = men; yantrakovidaaH = skilled in machines; tathaa = and vaardhakayaH = carpenters; margiNaH = road- menders; vR^ikshatakSakaaH = wood-cutters; kuupakaaraaH = hallow-makers; sudhaakaaraaH = men skilled in plastering and white washing; tathaa = and vamshacharma kR^itaH = basket-makers and tanner; yet = those who; samarthaaH = were skilled; draSTaaraH = supervisors; pratasthire = sallied forth; purataH = in advance.

Then, those able to advise on the nature of soils, those skilled in thread-holding for leveling purposes, those who were energetic courageous and attentive in doing their jobs, excavators, mechanics, labourers, carpenters, road-menders, wood-cutters, hollow-makers, men skilled in plastering and white washing, basket makers, tanners and skilled supervisors of work sallied forth in advance.

हरि वागुरया व्याप्तम् तप्त कांचन तोरणाम् || ४-१४-५ प्राप्ताः स्म ध्वज यंत्र आढ्याम् किष्किन्धाम् वालिनः पुरीम् |

5b, 6a. hari vaagurayaa vyaaptaam = monkey's, by snares, she who is spread out [Kishkindha]; tapta kaancana toraNaam = burnt [purified] golden, [decorated with] having arch-ways; dhvaja yantra aaDhyaam = flags, machinery, impregnated with; vaalinaH puriim kiSkindhaam praaptaaH sma = Vali's, city, at Kishkindha, arrived, we are.

" She whose arch-way is decorated in gold, who is spread out with snares of monkeys, and who is impregnated with flags and machinery, we arrived at such city of Vali, Kishkindha. [4-14-5b, 6a]

kavaaTatoraNavatiiM suvibhaktaantaraapaNaam | sarvayantraayudhavatiimu petaaM sarvashilpibhiH || 1-5-10

  1. kavaaTa toraNa vatiim = (she [city of Ayodhya] had) gateways with triumphal arches, [arc de triomphe], suvibhakta antaraapaNaam = shops with well laid out interiors, sarva yantra aayudha vatiim = she had all the required weapons and machinery, upetaam = consisted of, sarva shilpibhiH = all kinds of craftsmen. That capital city Ayodhya had arched gateways with splendid doors. She had markets with well laid out interiors. She also had all required weaponry and machinery, along with various craftsmen such as artisans, artists and sculptors etc

sa tu dR^iShTvaa rudan diinaH papaata dharaNii tale || 2-77-9 utthaapyamaanaH shakrasya yantra dhvajaiva cyutaH |

  1. diinaH = miserable as he was; dR^IshhTvaa = to see; (the spot); saH tu = that Bharata; papaata = fell; rudan = weeping; dharaNiitale = on the ground; yantradhvajaH iva = as a flagstaff fastened by any mechanical contrivance; chyutaH = would drop; utthaapyamaanaH = while being raised; shakrasya = in honor of Indra the god of celestials.

Miserable as he was to see the spot, Bharata fell weeping on the ground, as a flag staff fastened by any mechanical contrivance would drop down while being raised in honor of Indra the god of celestials.

tām ratna pūrṇām bahu samvidhānām | prāsāda mālābhir alamkṛtām ca | purīm mahā yantra kavāṭa mukhyām | dadarśa rāmo mahatā balena || 6-39-29

  1. raamaH = Rama; mahataa balena = with the great army; dadarsha = saw; taam = that; puriim = city; ratna puurNaam = full of precious gems; bahusamvidhaanaam = having various kinds of facilities; alamkR^itaamcha = adorned with; praasaada maalaabhiH = rows of mansions; mayaayantrakavaaTa = mukhyaam = having excellent doors with huge mechanical appliances; mahataa = and with a large; balena = armed forces (protecting the city)

Rama with his great army saw that City, full of precious gems, having all kinds of facilities, adorned with rows of mansions, having excellent doors with huge mechanical appliances and with a large armed forces protecting the City.

Thus, I have no idea where even the idea that Kumbhakarna was a Yantra comes from. Although apparently huge mechanical doors are a thing in Rāmāyaṇa, so there is advanced technology.


The ślokas relevant to the OP's question, are as follows -

kumbhakarṇaṁ samīkṣyaiva harayo'dya pradudruvuḥ /
kathamenaṁ raṇe kruddhaṁ vārayiṣyanti vānarāḥ //
ucyantāṁ vānarāḥ sarve yantrametat samucchritam /
iti vijñāya harayo bhaviṣyantīha nirbhayāḥ //

~ Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa (6.6.32-33)

As per the commentary Tilaka, (6.6.32) is a question interjected by Rāma into the midst of Vibhīṣaṇa's speech (punā rāmaḥ pṛcchati - katham enam iti). And (6.6.33) is spoken by Vibhīṣaṇa in response to that question of Rāma (vibhīṣaṇa uttaram āhocyatām iti).

As per comm. Tilaka, Vibhīṣaṇa is saying (in 6.6.33) that let it be said to the vānaras that Kumbhakarṇa is nothing more than a mere yantra, samucchrita by Rāvaṇa out of māyā, for the purpose of vibhīṣikā (ucyatāmiti / samucchritaṁ rāvaṇena / māyayā vibhīṣikārthaṁ nirmitaṁ kiñcid yantramātram /), which implies he is not the younger brother of Rāvaṇa (na tu rāvaṇa anujatvādikam ityarthaḥ). So, when Rāma told Vibhīṣaṇa that vānaras were running away out of fear, at the arrival of Kumbhakarṇa, this (false representation of Kumbhakarṇa as an animated mannequin designed to frighten vānaras) is what Vibhīṣaṇa suggested to Rāma, is to be told to vānaras (ucyatāmiti ; ato na kiñcid etad iti eva vānarā u cyantāṁ mayā svāmibhiśca), so that it can destroy the fear of vānara-senā towards Kumbhakarṇa, and boost their plunged morale, which aligns with what Vibhīṣaṇa says in (6.61.33) - iti vijñāya harayo bhaviṣyantīha nirbhayāḥ.

Clearly, Vibhīṣaṇa didn't imply nor did he have any such belief that Kumbhakarṇa was really a yantra, because that would contradict with Kumbhakarṇa's description told by himself in preceding ślokas (6.61.8-31), prior to the question of Rāma (in 6.61.32). Taking Kumbhakarṇa as yantra, would conflict with the rest of the passages in Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa too, which show Kumbhakarṇa as a proper jīva, not a yantra. Literal interpretations are welcome, but not literal to the point that they go against the entire śāstra, as well as the very śloka which is the subject of interpretation. That is foolishness & an act of superimposition of personal opinion over śāstra.

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