Vali (Ramayana)

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Vali, the Monkey King killed by Rāma..jpg
Vali, the Monkey King killed by Rama
Dynasty Vanara
Father Garu

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, vanara Vali was king of Kishkindha, a son of Indra, elder brother of Sugriva and father of Angada. He was killed by Lord Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu.

Vali(Sanskrit: वाली, nominative singular of the root वालिन् (Valin) is also known as Bali in several Indian languages. His other names include Indonesian: Subali, Malay: Balya, Yuan: Bari, Thai: Phali and Lao: Palichan.

Early Life[edit]

Vali was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who fought him in single-combat lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy. Once Ravana called Vali for a fight when Vali was doing his regular Sandhyavandanam. He took Ravana in his tail and took him around all the world. Humbled, Ravana called for a truce. It is said in the Ramayana that Vali was very brave and courageous. Before dawn, he used to go from the Eastern coast of sea to the Western coast and from the Northern coast of the sea to the Southern coast to pay his homage to Surya - the sun-god. He was so brave and powerful that on his way to pay homage to Surya, he used to toss the mountain peaks upward and catch them as if they were play balls. After completing the tedious task of paying homage to the sun god in all the four directions, he used to return to Kishkindha without even being tired.[citation needed]

Vali was husband of Tara. As one myth goes, fourteen types of gems or treasures were produced from the churning of ocean. One gem is that various Apsaras(divine nymphs) were produced and Tara was an Apsara produced from the churning of ocean. Vali who was with the devas, helping them in the churning of ocean, took Tara and married her.

Vali was very courageous this can be understood from the fact that, when Tara tried to stop him and begged him to not to go to fight Sugriva, by saying that it is God(Rama) who is helping Sugriva and has come to Sugriva's rescue; Vali replied to Tara that even if he is fighting against God he can't 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.

Vali had been known as a good and pious vanara-king, but had been too outraged to heed his brother Sugriva after he had sealed the entrance to a cave in which Vali was fighting a rakshasa named Dhundhubi. Sugriva had mistaken the blood flowing out of the cave to be his brother's, blocked the entrance to the cave with a boulder and left for Kishkindha, assuming that his brother was dead. When Vali had emerged victorious over the rakshasa, he had found that the entrance to the cave was blocked. He journeyed back to kingdom to find Sugriva ruling in his place. Sugriva tried to explain the situation to Vali, but Vali, enraged, did not listen. Vali then nearly kills Sugriva, except that Sugriva was able to escape Vali's grasp. Sugriva barely escaped from the kingdom. When Vali chased Sugriva out of his kingdom, he also claimed Sugriva's wife, Ruma. Sugriva fled into the forest where he eventually met Rama and Laxmana.[citation needed]

Rama Meets Sugriva[edit]

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 Vali became his enemy. In Sugriva's version, he is entirely innocent and Rama believes him.

Sugriva is very scared of Vali and he is full of doubts that Rama could kill him. He tells him many incredible stories of Vali's power. As proof, he shows Rama a hole in a saal tree which Vali had made in one shot. When it is Rama's turn, he penetrates 7 trees of saal in a row with 1 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 Vali 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 Vali's army with whom he wants to maintain friendly relations. Despite this, killing Vali would not be impossible for Rama as Sugriva and Vali were identical twins. Just a few days before, Rama had killed Khar and Dushan 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 Vali from the throne.

Rama-Vali Battle[edit]

Vali and Sugriva Fighting Page from an illustrated manuscript of the Ramayana Northern India(Punjab Hills, Jammu area), ca. 1700-1710
A stone bas relief at Banteay Srei in Cambodia depicts the combat between Vali and Sugriva. In the middle, the two brothers are shown fighting. To the right, Rama fires his bow. To the left, Vali lies dying in the arms of another monkey

Sugriva challenged Vali to a fight. When Vali sallied forth to meet the challenge, Rama emerged from the forest to shoot and kill him with an arrow from the back of a tree.

A dying Vali told Rama, "If you are searching 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."

Vali 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 Vali:

  • 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 no more a king how can I take your help?

Killing of Vali Monkey

After Vali's Death[edit]

After death of Vali, Sugriva recaptures his kingdom and regains his wife Ruma. Angada, son of Vali and his wife, Tara, is made Yuvraja, or the crown prince.

Rama's slaying of Vali had a special significance. At the beginning, Vali 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 granted him moksha. Vali was then convinced and also asked his son Angada to stand by his uncle Sugriva and assist in the divine work of lord Rama.

It is also said by some people that Rama promised Vali to give him a chance to avenge his unjust murder. Vali was reincarnated as a hunter and archer Jara in Mahabharata (Dwapar Yug). Jara was the cause of the death of Shri Krishna(the reincarnation of Shri Rama) when he struck his feet by an arrow taking them to be a deer.

Vali's son, Angada, joined Shri Ram's army and was given important responsibilities in Rama's war against Ravana.

The miniature panel in Pullamangai, Pasupathi Koil, Thanjavur captures the scene of Vali's death. Tara his wife, Angada his son, his brother Sugreeva and other Vanaras are lamenting his death.


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