|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
Birth and marriage
Lakshmana and his twin brother Shatrughna, were born in Ayodhya to Sumitra and king Dasharatha. In Puranas, Lakshmana is described as an incarnation of Ananta Sesha, the multiple headed Naga upon whom rests Lord Vishnu in the primordial ocean of milk (Kshirasagara). Lakshmana is specially attached to Rama, and when Rama marries Sita, Lakshmana marries Sita's younger sister Urmila. Later, when Rama goes on exile for fourteen years on the insistence of Kaikeyi, Lakshmana leaves his wife Urmila and joins Rama.
He serves Rama and Sita reverently during the exile. Lakshmana cuts off Ravana's sister Surpanakha's nose in anger when she tries to covet Rama and insults Sita. He plays an important role in the war with Ravana and slays Ravana's son Indrajit. Lakshmana is the one who leaves Sita in the forests near sage Valmiki's ashram after Rama banishes her from the kingdom. Lakshmana remains loyal to his brother and fights against Rama's sons Lava and Kusha later.
When Sita asks Rama to fetch a magical golden deer for her, Rama asks Lakshmana to stand guard as he sensed danger and evil. The golden deer is in fact the demon Maricha, who distracts Rama. When Rama kills Maricha, he cries out in Rama's own voice for help. Although Lakshmana knows that Rama is invincible and beyond any danger, Sita panics and frantically orders Lakshmana to go to Rama's aid immediately. Unable to disobey Sita, Lakshmana draws a perimeter line (Lakshman Rekha or Lakshmana's line), which Sita must not cross and goes in search of Rama. Sita however, out of compulsion of religious duty and compassion for Ravana disguised as a poor brahmin crosses the line to give him alms following which she is abducted. Lakshman Rekha has become a metaphor in situations where a certain limit must not be transgressed by human beings in any circumstance whatsoever.
Abandonment of life
Sage Durvasa appears at Rama's doorstep and seeing Lakshmana guarding the door, demands an audience with Rama. At the time, Rama was having a private conversation with Yama. Before the conversation began, Yama gave Rama strict instructions that their dialogue was to remain confidential, and anyone who entered the room was to be relieved of their life. Rama agreed and entrusted Lakshmana with the duty of guarding his door. When Durvasa made his demand, Lakshmana politely refused. The sage grew angry and threatened to curse all of Ayodhya if Lakshmana did not immediately inform Rama of his arrival. Lakshmana, in a dilemma, decided it would be better that he alone die to save all of Ayodhya from falling under Durvasa's curse and so interrupted Rama's meeting to inform him of the sage's arrival. Rama quickly concluded his meeting with Yama and received the sage with due courtesy. Inorder to fulfill his brother's promise, Lakshmana went to the banks of the river Sarayu resolved on giving up the world through penance.
Lakshmana is personified by Rama as a man with unswerving loyalty, love and commitment to his elder brother through times of joy and adversity alike but also criticized for leaving his wife Urmila alone for the sake of serving his brother.