Rāmāyana | Sundara Kaṇḍa | Chapter 53

Chapter: 53
Hanuman’s Tail on Fire

[Rāvaṇa convinced by the advice of Vibhīṣaṇa orders that Hanuman's tail be burnt and he be dragged round the city. Hanuman thinks that this is a good opportunity to see round the city during daytime and submits to this punishment. Informed about this Sītā prays to God of fire not to harm Hanuman. Hanuman does not feel any pain and after seeing the city loosens himself from the bonds.]

The ten headed one understanding that the words of Vibhīṣaṇa are according to laws of land, told the following to the great one who is his brother. 1

"What you have told is right. To kill an emissary is condemned by all. But for this we have to give some other punishment other than death." 2

"Monkeys consider their tail as their favourite ornament. Let its tail which is its ornament be burnt. Let it return back with its burnt tail. 3

"Let its friends, relations, its favourite ones and its relatives see it being in the sad state of having been with an ugly limb." 4

That King of Rākṣasas ordered "Let him be dragged with his burning tail all through the several road junctions all over the city." 5

Those Rākṣasas whose anger had increased a lot, hearing the orders of Rāvaṇa, tied around Hanuman's tail torn cloths made of cotton thread. 6

When they were tying cloths on his tail, that great monkey increased in size as fast as the forest fire. At that time they poured oil over the cloth and set fire to it. 7

At that time many Rākṣasas among whom were ladies old people and children came there with a wish to see the burning tail of Hanuman. 8

That Hanuman who was like the infant sun became extremely angry and beat the Rākṣasas with his burning tail and made them fall. 9

That monkey chief who was a great warrior was further imprisoned by the cruel Rākṣasas who came in hoards and started thinking as to what is to be done. 10

"I can break these ropes and jump up and kill all of them for even though I am imprisoned, these Rākṣasas are not equal to me. There is no doubt about it." 11

"If I do like this, I who am supposed to take beneficial action to my lord, would not be doing so. Is it not true, that these cruel people have tied me who am supposed to run about because of their King's order." 12

"I am sufficient to oppose in war all these Rākṣasas together but I am tolerating all this because this would be according to the wish of Rāma." 13

"I have not seen the entire city of Lanka in the night properly. It is thus necessary for me to see the city in the daytime so that I know the secrets of its forts. Therefore it has become necessary for me to see the city once again." 14

"Let the Rākṣasas give me, who has been tied and whose tail has been set afire more trouble as they please." 15

Because of this those Rākṣasas, who did not understand his mind dragged the monkey, who is great and who is the chief among monkeys with happiness and came out of the palace. 16

Those Rākṣasas, who were to do cruel deeds made lot of sound by their own action as well as by the sound of drums and conches and walked all over the town dragging Hanuman. 17

Hanuman, who exterminated his enemies, walked on his own accord, followed by the Rākṣasas and understood well the great city of the Rākṣasas. 18

Then that monkey chief saw peculiar palaces, places encircled by tall walls and well divided royal junctions. 19

That monkey who was the son of wind god, saw streets filed with houses, places which provided way to all directions, as also big avenues, small streets, places in between these small streets and big buildings which were like clouds. 20

In the junctions of roads, in the inns and in royal avenues, all the Rākṣasas announced loudly "Spy, spy". 21

Ladies, children and old people came out here and there with a wish to see that Hanuman whose tail was set afire with glee. 22

Once the end of the tail of that Hanuman caught fire, those Rākṣasīs with ugly eyes, ran from there and informed the holy lady about this unpalatable news. 23

"Hey Sītā, that monkey with a red face, who was talking to you, is being dragged hither and thither with his tail being set afire." 24

Hearing the news, which acted as if it was stealing her soul, that Vaidehī, who was caught by sorrow, thought of the god of fire in her mind. 25

That broad eyed lady started praying for the welfare of the monkey chief and at that time with great devotion saluted the God of fire and prayed. 26

"Suppose I had looked after my husband properly, suppose I had observed the rules of penance properly and if I had thought in my mind of husband only, then be cool to Hanuman." 27

"If that great one has little pity on me and not only that if I have at least a bit of luck, then be cool to Hanuman." 28

"Suppose you know me as one as virtuous and only praying always to reach the company of whom who is the soul of justice, then be cool to Hanuman." 29

"If the long armed, truthful and gentleman Sugrīva will help me to cross this danger, then be cool to Hanuman." 30

That God of fire, who had powerful flames, because of that (prayer of Sītā) burnt peacefully and softly so that not to harm Hanuman and as if he was informing the doe eyed Sītā. 31

The God of wind, who was the father of Hanuman, even though Hanuman's tail was set afire starting slowly blowing like snow so that the holy lady is satisfied. 32

When fire was raging on his tail that monkey thought, "why is it that this fire which is burning well, not consuming my entire body?" 33

"This appears to burn with big flames but is not creating any pain to me and it appears to me that they are bathing the end of my tail with snow." 34

"There is no doubt and it is very clear, it is as wonderful an incident like my seeing a mountain in the middle of the sea when I was crossing it because of the grace of Rāma." 35

"Even when the God of the sea and the Mainaka Mountain has so much interest in the welfare of Rāma, how can the god of fire not help at this stage." 36

"The God of fire is not burning me because of the kindness of Sītā, the power of Rāghava and because of his friendship to my father". That monkey chief further thought in his mind the future course of action for some more time 37

Immediately with great speed that monkey jumped up and roared. 38

Then the very famous monkey chief climbed the top of a tower, which was very tall and was without Rākṣasas. 39

That very intelligent one grew as big as a mountain and immediately assumed a very tiny form and unloosened himself. 40

That famous monkey thus got himself freed from the bonds. Then seeing the huge beam on the top of the main entrance grew as big as a mountain. 41

That strong-armed son of wind god, loosening the beam with iron rings, killed all the guards with it. 42

That Hanuman, who was a great expert in war, faced the city of Lanka and the flames in his tail burning like garlands shone like the Sun with great many rays. 43

Thus ends the fifty third chapter of Sundara Kanda in the Rāmāyaṇa which is the first epic written by Vālmīki.