The flag on Arjuna’s chariot

Author: Gopal Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

The Flag flying on the top of Arjuna’s Chariot.

In all of the pictures of Arjuna’s chariot, there is a Flag flying, and on it is a picture of a monkey.

Most of the flags have a picture of Hanumanji.

But this is wrong. The artists conceptions were inaccurate. This of course is caused by our Hindu society’s misconception, so they add Hanumanji on to the flag.

Many details about Arjuna’s chariot and Flag abound on the web. They say that Arjuna’s chariot is called Kapi Dhwaja.

Another statement on the web states, ” Lord Hanuman on flag signifies sense control and mind control that gives victory to the higher nature over the lower nature.” Unfortunately it is incorrect.

But actually, the flag on Arjuna’s chariot was saffron in colour; and on it is painted a brown coloured monkey. The monkey is of course without clothing.

Let me explain: That person whose flag or banner contains the insignia for monkey, or “kapi”, is called “kapidhvaja”. Arjuna’s banner used to bear the monkey insignia, so one name of Arjuna was “Kapidhvaja”. So Arjuna was given the name “Kapidhvaja”. The name of His Chariot was not Kapidhvaja. Similarly, one name of Rama was “Kapiratha” in the sense of one whose chariot (ratha) is driven by a monkey.

By adding the suffix “i” to the end of the root verb “kap”, we get the word “kapi” whose etymological meaning is “that which continuously leaps”. Colloquially it refers to all those creatures whose lymphatic glands are somewhat strong, or the monkey family of animals. Thus Hanuman is often called, “kapiindra”, (lord of the monkeys) or “kapirája”, (king of the monkeys).

“Kapi + sha = kapisha”. The meaning of the word “kapisha” is “monkey’s body-colour”. The colour of a monkey’s body is generally brown, thus the colour “kapisha” means “the colour brown”.

So the picture of a monkey on Arjuna’s flag is that of a brown coloured monkey, with no clothing on his body, and it is not Hanumanji, as believed by most people. Many artists who are not aware, do put Hanumanji’s picture, but have done so in error.


Gopal — with Kishore Harcharan.