Valmiki Ramayana 5.53.3

कपीनां किल लाङ्गूलमिष्टं भवति भूषणम् | तदस्य दीप्यतां शीघ्रं तेन दग्धेन गच्छतु ||

Certainly the tail is a darling ornament to a monkey. Therefore let his tail be set on fire anon; and this having been consumed, let him go away.

The verse number is from the Gita Press edition (English). I have provided the English translation from Manmatha Nath Dutt's edition. Gita press translation also says the same thing.

Bhushanam indeed means ornament, embellishment or decoration.

  1. भूषणम् bhūṣaṇam from Apte: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary (p. 1208) भूषणम् bhūṣaṇam [भूष्यतेऽनेन भूष्-करणे ल्युट्] 1 Ornamenting, decoration. -2 An ornament, decoration, an article of decoration; क्षीयन्ते खलु भूषणानि सततं वाग्भूषणं भूषणम् Bh. 2.19; R.3.2;13.57. -णः N. of Viṣṇu. -Comp. -वासस् n. pl. clothes and ornaments; Ms.8.357.

Now, if the tail is an ornament, it can't be the body part! So, do the Vanaras really have tails (biological organ)?


Online Sanskrit Dictionary
Ramayana translated by Manmatha Nath Dutt

  • This is metaphor. please delete the question. India was the "jewel in the crown" - doesn't mean the colossal country of India sat on the Queen's head. @amritendumukhopadhyay
    – S K
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 14:34
  • 1
    @SK I don't think it is a metaphor. There can't be any metaphor saying that the fingers of my hand are my ornament. The rings that I wear on my fingers are ornaments. Just because you don't have a logical answer, you cannot ask me to delete the question. You can downvote it. You can delete the question by voting. Don't ask me to do it. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 15:11
  • @SK There could be an equally likely explanation that the Vanara males (human beings) used to attach tails as an embellishment out of respect for their venerated animal. This is called totemism. There are a lot of tribals around the globe who decorate their bodies with different animal body parts. This is a very ancient practice. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 15:17
  • @SK Can you cite a single verse from Valmiki Ramayana that suggests that Vanara females have tails? You can't. Because there is no such verse! Only males had tails, not females! I do not think that is logical. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Hanuman himself admits hia apishness

मया खलु तत् एव इदम् रोष दोषात् प्रदर्शितम् | प्रथितम् त्रिषु लोकेषु कपितम् अनवस्थितम् || ५-५५-१५

  1. roSadoSaat = due to culpability of my anger; idam = this; kaptvam = apishness; tat = that; prathitam = is famous; anavasthitam = for instability; pradarshitam khalu = was indeed shown; mayaa = by me.

"Due to culpability of my anger, I have indeed shown this apishness that is famous for instability in the three worlds."

यत् वा दहन कर्मा अयम् सर्वत्र प्रभुः अव्ययः | न मे दहति लान्गूलम् कथम् आर्याम् प्रधक्ष्यति || ५-५५-२६

  1. yadvaa = or; iyam dahana karmaa = this fire; sarvatra prabhuH = which is a spread everywhere; avyayaH = and imperishable; nadahati = is not burning; me laaNguulam = my tail; katham = how; pradhakSyati = can it burn; aaryaam = the venerable Seetha?

"This fire, which spreads everywhere without any hindrance, is not burning my tail. How can it burn the venerable Seetha?"

he was a monkey and it was his real tail.

Ina addition, here is what Rama says to Vali after fatally wounding him from a distance:

यान्ति राजर्षयः च अत्र मृगयाम् धर्म कोविदाः | तस्मात् त्वम् निहतो युद्धे मया बाणेन वानर | अयुध्यन् प्रतियुध्यन् वा यस्मात् शाखा मृगो हि असि || ४-१८-४०

"In this world even the kingly sages well-versed in virtue will go on hunting, and hunting is no face to face game, as such, oh, vanara, therefore I felled you in combat with my arrow because you are a tree-branch animal, whether you are not combating with me or combating against me. [4-18-40]

  • Thanks for this answer. Kapitvam or apishness is a well-known and frequently used metaphor even in today's society in India. In Bengali, we have an exact word for it - "bandrami". I have only heard humans saying it. "Don't do bandrami" or "I have done a little bandrami" etc. I have yet to hear it from a real monkey! In Hindi also people often say "bandar jaisa uchal kud mat karo" etc. Thanks for proving my point. Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 3:01

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