Vaali (Sanskrit: वाली, nominative singular of the root वालिन् (Valin), also known as Bali, was king of Kishkindha in the Hindu epic Ramayan. He was the husband of Tara, biological son of Vriksharaja, the elder brother of Sugreeva and father of Angada. He was killed by Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. Vaali was invincible during Treta Yuga. Vaali defeated some of the greatest warriors like Ravana. Vaali was blessed with the ability to obtain half the strength of his opponent. Rama killed Vaali by hiding behind the trees. However, during his first attempt, Rama could not recognize which one is Vaali and which Sugriva due to their similar looks. Thus, during the next attempt, Sugriva wore a garland of red flowers and went to battle with Vaali. This time, Lord Rama could recognize which was Vaali and shot an arrow that killed him.
Vaali was the husband of Tara. As one myth goes, fourteen types of gem or treasure were produced from the churning of the ocean during the time of Kurma Avatar. One gem is that various Apsaras (divine nymphs) were produced and Tara was an Apsara produced from the churning of the ocean. Vaali who was with his father Indra, helping them in the churning of ocean, took Tara and married her.
Vaali was very courageous. This can be understood from the fact that, when Tara tried to stop him and begged him not to go to fight Sugriva, by saying that it is Lord Rama who is helping Sugriva and has come to Sugriva's rescue; Vaali replied to Tara that even if he is fighting against God he cannot ignore a challenge for a fight and remain quiet. He adds that even if the caller for the fight had been his own son Angada, he would still go to fight.
According to Ramayana, a raging demon came to the doors of Kishkindha and challenged Vali to a fight. Vali accepted the challenge. And when he came forth, the demon got terrified and ran into a cave. Vali entered the cave and told Sugrieva to wait outside. When Vali did not return and he heard demonic voices from inside the cave and blood oozing from inside the cave, he, mistakenly, concluded that Vali was dead. He closed the cave with a large boulder and presumed kingship over Kishkindha. However, inside the cave, Vali killed the demon and returned home. Upon seeing Sugrieva act as a king, Vali thought his brother had betrayed him. Sugrieva tried to explain but Vali didn't listen. Sugrieva ran off to Rishyamook Parvat as it is the only place where Vali couldn't come because of the curse of Rishi Matang according to which if Vali set his foot on Rishyamook Hills, he would die.
Vaali was granted a boon by Lord Brahma after sitting in penance. Vaali asked Brahma for a boon such that in any duel, Vaali's opponent would loses half his strength to Vaali. Brahma granted the boon happily. Already Vaali was extremely powerful with his power almost equal to 70,000 elephants. Thus Vaali became invincible. It is said that no one could defeat Vaali in head-on battle.
War with Ravana
Ravana comes to know about Vaali and his strengths through Narada. Hearing Narada praising Vaali, Ravana became extremely arrogant and went to Kishkinda. There Vaali was in meditation. Ravana challenged Vaali to come and fight. First Sugriva fought with Ravana and was defeated. Ravana then reached Vaali and challenged him. Vaali and Ravana then fought a fierce battle. Vaali defeated Ravana and tied him with his tail (carried him on his shoulders in some other versions). Vaali then arrested Ravana. Vaali started carrying Ravana under his armpit for years. Ravana could not bear the insult and asked Vaali for friendship. Immediately Vaali released Ravana, thus demonstrating that Vaali was the greatest and most powerful being on the Earth.
Rama meets Sugriva
Wandering in the forest with his brother [Laxman] in search of his wife Sita – kidnapped by the rakshasa king Ravana, Rama meets rakshasa Kabandha and kills him, freeing him from a curse. The freed Kabandha advises Rama to seek the help of Sugriva to find Sita.
Continuing on his journey, Rama meets Hanuman and is impressed by his intelligence and skills as an orator. This also boosts Rama's confidence in Sugriva. Sugriva tells him the story of how Vaali became his enemy. In Sugriva's version, he is entirely innocent and Rama believes him.
Sugriva is very scared of Vaali and he is full of doubts that Rama could kill him. He tells him many remarkable stories of Vaali's power. As proof, he shows Rama a hole in a saal tree which Vaali had made in one shot. When it is Rama's turn, he penetrates seven saal trees in a row with one arrow. After going through the trees, the arrow even makes a strike on a huge rock and splits it into pieces. Sugriva is happy and says, "O Rama, you are great."
Rama asks Sugriva to challenge Vaali and bring him outside Kishkindha. As Rama explains later, for 14 years he cannot enter a city. Moreover, Rama does not want any unnecessary bloodbath of Vaali's army with whom he wants to maintain friendly relations. Despite this, killing Vaali would not be impossible for Rama as Sugriva and Vaali were identical twins. Just a few days before, Rama had killed Khara and Dushana and their army of 14,000 rakshasas.
Sugriva formed an alliance with Rama. Rama had been travelling the length of India in search of his kidnapped wife, Sita. Sugriva asked Rama's help in return for his help in defeating Ravana and rescuing Sita. The two hatched a plan to topple Vaali from the throne.
Sugriva challenged Vaali to a fight. When Vaali sallied forth to meet the challenge, Rama emerged from the forest to shoot and kill him with an arrow from behind a tree.
The dying Vaali told Rama, "If you are searching for your wife you should have come to me for help and friendship. Whoever took Sita, be it Ravana himself, I would have defeated them and would have brought them to your feet, to your mercy."
Vaali asked the following questions:
- He made my wife a widow and stole my kingdom. What was my crime?
- Even if I committed a crime (with my brother), what is your right to kill me? I would have helped you in getting Sita; your father King Dasharatha helped my father King Indra to fight against rakshasas.
Rama makes the following replies to Vaali:
- The younger brother should be treated like a son. Even if he made a mistake you should forgive him, especially when he promised to respect you for your whole life.
- About his authority, he said he had permission from King Bharata to spread righteousness and punish evils. You lost your kingdom while fighting with Mayavi and you are no more a king, so how can I ask you for your help?
After Vaali's Death
Rama's slaying of Vaali had a special significance. At the beginning, Vaali argued with Lord Rama, why he had to kill him in a cowardly way. Rama explained to him about the various purusharthas and showed him his Vishvarupa and how everything was pre-ordained according to the Kala-chakra and granted him moksha. Vaali was then convinced and also asked his son Angada to stand by his uncle Sugriva and assist in the divine work of Lord Rama.
Reborn as Jara
Because Lord Rama had killed Vali while hiding, he was blessed by Lord Rama to kill him when he took the incarnation of Krishna. Later on born as Jara hunter in Dvapara Yuga to kill Lord Krishna, the next avatar of Lord Vishnu, in same way he got killed by Lord Rama. He was searching for hunt in forest and he saw a deer but it actually was Lord Krishna's bare foot. He shot an arrow with an iron piece of mace attached to it.
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- Valmiki Ramayana Kishkindha Kanda Prose Sagara 11