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ENDOCRINOLOGY AND THE ARTS
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 433-434

Kumbhakarna : Did he suffer from the disorder of the hypothalamus?


1 Department of Endocrinology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Medicine, SBKS Medical College, Pipalia, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Correspondence Address:
Om J Lakhani
Room No. 1407, 4th Floor, Department of Endocrinology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi - 110 060
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.152795

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Kumbhakarna was brother of the evil Raavana in the mythological tale of Ramayana. According the legend, Kumbhakarna had an insatiable appetite and thirst and used to sleep for great lengths of time. He also had an uncontrollable temper, which was feared by many. It is our assessment that Kumbhakarna possibly suffered from hypothalamic obesity. Hypothalamic obesity can be defined as significant polyphagia and weight gain that occurs because of structural or function involvement of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus bilaterally. The characteristic features are obesity associated with polyphagia. Somnolence is present in 40% of cases. Sham rage is a characteristic behavioral abnormality seen in these patients. All these symptoms are described in the mythological text while describing Kumbhakarna. The episodic nature of Kumbhakarna's symptoms can also be explained by another hypothalamic syndrome called Klein-Levine syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by with periodic episodes of somnolence, hyperphagia and hypersexuality along with other behavioral and cognitive difficulties.


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