Shopkeeper who sleeps 300 days a year dubbed real-life ‘demon king’ Indian god

A man who sleeps for 300 days a year due to a rare disorder has been dubbed a real-life Indian demon king reminiscent of Shrek.

Shopkeeper Pukharam Devi's month-long naps due to axis hypersomnia have seen him sleep through most of the Covid pandemic.

He works out how long he has been out and catches up with the world by reading a bundle of newspapers left outside his shop.

Fellow villagers told reporters that they liken the 42-year-old to the mythical bed-loving warrior Kumbhkarna.

Like Dreamworks' surly ogre, Kumbhkarna was also a fearsome man-eater who challenged the authorities.

Pukharam, of Bhadwa village in Parbatsar division, Rajasthan, was diagnosed with the chronic sleep disorder 23 years ago, news agency ANI reported.

He has been left unable to run his grocery shop for more than five days a month and risks falling asleep while he is at work.

Pukharam's family told the agency: "Initially, he used to sleep for over five to seven days in one go.

"Worried about this, we sought medical help, but his disease could not be cured.

"Gradually, his condition aggravated and his periods of sleep increased and now he sleeps for 20-25 days a month."

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Like Kumbhkarna, he struggles to get up when he falls asleep – though doesn't need 1,000 elephants to wake him up for battle as described in the legend.

Kumbhkarna is known as a friendly giant who sleeps for six months at a time and is one of Hinduism's ogres known as rakshasa.

Described in the Hindu epic Ramayana, he is the intelligent and powerful younger brother of Ravana and the only warrior to defeat the king of gods, Indra.

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When he went to claim a prize from the creator god Lord Brahma, his tongue was tied by a goddess on scheming Indra's behalf.

Kumbhkarna was given a bed instead of Indra's throne and sleep instead of the annihilation of Devas – the gods.

His brother Ravana for his reward asked Brahma to undo the curse and Kumbhkarna was left with sleeping for six months at a time, only waking to ease his hunger.

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Although no cure has been found for Pukhram's condition, his wife Lichmi Devi and mother Kanvari Devi hope that he recovers soon and lives a normal life like before.

Axis hypersomnia is a chronic neurological sleep disorder thought to be due to fluctuations in the protein of the brain that is known as TNF-alpha.

His relatives help him bath and eat and his condition leaves him permanently tired.

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Physician Dr Birma Ram Jangid told ANI that hypersomnia is found in very few people and is a psychological disorder.

"Otherwise, if a person has suffered a head injury or had a chronic tumour in the past, then also this condition can occur.

"This condition has only been seen as a psychological disorder in books or medical science. It is possible to treat this condition by diagnosing it at the earliest," Dr Jangid said.

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