A hibernating mentor

Episode 44: Hanuman learns why Jambhavan sleeps for almost six months of the year.

Updated - August 18, 2023 10:43 am IST

Published - August 18, 2023 10:21 am IST

Hanuman is startled by the story of his birth and his connection to King Dasaratha’s four sons.

Hanuman: Dad, I am surprised by the things I learnt today.

Vaayu: There is a lot more to learn, Hanuman.

Hanuman: Am I really so capable? Is everyone relying too much on me?

Vaayu (smiles): Life always gives one challenges and there will be failures. But, remember, this only makes your stronger. One has to overcome inhibitions and the feelings of inferiority.

Hanuman: How? Does it happen automatically?

Vaayu: Not for everyone. Some need the help of a teacher, mentor, guide, coach… whatever word you feel is suitable. The right teacher can actually reshape your life.

Hanuman: So, are you my teacher? Or is it Nala?

Vaayu: No. I am your father. Nala is your friend. You will learn things from us. But your mentor is someone else.

Hanuman: Who is it, dad?

Vaayu: You will learn during the journey of life.

Hanuman looks sad. Seeing that, Vaayu decides to introduce him to his mentor.

Vaayu: Don’t worry. I will introduce you to someone who is going to help you.

Hanuman: Does that mean he is not my actual mentor?

Vaayu: We never know. But he is a good-hearted person who is a chiranjeevi (immortal). He was a Himalayan king. But, before I introduce you to him, you need to know some things.

Along with Hanuman, Vaayu starts to fly higher and higher. They reach a cold foggy place, with a huge castle in the middle. As they get closer, they hear a rumbling sound.

Hanuman: I can hear a weird noise, like snoring.

Vaayu: It is not like snoring. It is actually snoring.

And Vaayu points. Hanuman sees a gigantic bear sleeping.

Vaayu: Meet your mentor: Chiranjeevi Jambhavan.

Hanuman gives him a look and wonders how this sleeping creature could be his mentor.

Vaayu (laughs): Your face gives you away. Never judge a book by its cover. Let me tell you something interesting about Jambhavan. He sleeps for almost 5-6 months in a year.

Hanuman: Without food or water? How is that possible?

Vaayu: That’s for you to find out.

After saying that, Vaayu disappears. Hanuman wonders what to do and then remembers Nala. So, he goes to Nala’s place and explains his predicament.

Nala: So, you are surprised at Jambhavan sleeping for half the year. Actually, it is common to many animals. In fact, there is a group called Tardigrade, which can stay in this state for more than even 100 years.

Hanuman: What? How?

Animals that hibernate (Clockwise from top left) Bats, Bears, Hedgehogs, Squirrels, Skunks and Bees

Animals that hibernate (Clockwise from top left) Bats, Bears, Hedgehogs, Squirrels, Skunks and Bees | Photo Credit: Freepik and Wikimedia Commons

Nala: Through a process called hibernation. Take Jambhavan, for example. He is a bear. During summer, he is able to get food and it is easy to survive. But, in winter, food is hard to come by. So, as part of the process of evolution, some species developed a system to save themselves. During challenging weather conditions, their body temperature drops to a certain level and their heartbeat and body metabolism also slows down.

Hanuman: Won’t they die?

Nala: No. They lose a certain amount of fat, which they recover when they start eating in summer. In fact, it depends on the place. If food is easily available through the year, they won’t hibernate. In fact, human scientists are trying to use the CRISPR Gene Editing technology to see if humans can also do this.

Hanuman: How will it help them?

Nala: Say, for example, travel to Mars take six months. If humans are able to hibernate, then the travel becomes more efficient and safer.

Hanuman: How interesting! Tell me more.

Nala (laughs): Let’s go and ask Jambhavan.

Hanuman: Won’t he get angry if we wake him up?

Nala: He is not Kumbhakarna, Hanuman. He is one of the greatest teachers, besides being a really cool person.

Hanuman: Well, I am curious to meet him.

Nala: Let’s go then.

The author is the founder and CEO of Vaayusastra Aerospace, an IIT-Madras incubated ed-tech startup that offers Air Science workshops for children between five and 14 years.

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