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Vali (Sanskrit: वाली, nominative singular of the stem वालिन् (Valin)), also known as Bali, was a vanara king of Kishkindha in the Hindu epic Ramayana. He was the husband of Tara, the son of Indra, the elder brother of Sugriva, and the father of Angada.
Having obtained a boon that allowed him to receive half the strength of his opponents, Vali was a formidable fighter. He banished his brother, Sugriva, who had assumed his throne, believing him to be dead. Sugriva sought the assistance of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, to intervene in their conflict. In a duel between the brothers, Rama shot Vali in the chest with an arrow.
Vali was Tara's husband. As history goes, fourteen types of gems or treasures were produced from the churning of the ocean during the time of the Kurma avatar. One gem is that various apsaras (divine nymphs) were produced, and Tara was an apsara produced from the churning of the ocean. Vali, who was with his father Indra, helping him in the churning of the ocean, took Tara and married her.
Vali was 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 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 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 the fight.
According to the Ramayana, a raging demon known as Mayavi came to the doors of Kishkindha and challenged Vali to a fight. Vali accepted the challenge. When he came forth, the demon got terrified and ran into a cave. Vali entered the cave and told Sugriva to wait outside. When Vali did not return and he heard demonic voices from inside the cave and blood oozing from inside the cave, Sugriva 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 Sugriva act as a king, Vali thought his brother had betrayed him. Sugriva tried to explain his actions, but Vali didn't listen. Sugriva ran off to Rishyamuka mountain, the only place Vali would be unable to enter because of the curse of the sage Matanga.
Vali was granted a boon by Brahma after sitting in penance. Vali asked Brahma for a boon such that in any duel, Vali's opponent would lose half his strength to Vali. Brahma granted the boon happily. Already Vali was extremely powerful with his power almost equal to that of 7500000 elephants. Thus, Vali became invincible. It was said that no one could defeat Vali in head-on battle.
War with Ravana
Though not in the original Ramayana, but in the Uttarakanda Ravana is said to have fought with Vali.
Ravana learns about Vali and his strengths through Narada. Hearing Narada praising Vali, Ravana became extremely arrogant and went to Kishkindha. There Vali was in meditation. Ravana challenged Vali to come and fight. First Sugriva fought with Ravana and was defeated. Ravana then reached Vali and challenged him. Vali and Ravana then fought a fierce battle. Vali tied him with his tail (carried him on his shoulders in some other versions) then arrested Ravana. Vali started carrying Ravana under his armpit for years. Ravana could not bear the insult,He accepted his defeat and pleaded Vali to release him. Ravana was impressed with Vali's strength and asked him for friendship.
Rama meets Sugriva
Wandering in the forest with his brother Lakshmana 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 remarkable 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 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 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 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 Vali from the throne.
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.
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 are no more a king, so how can I ask you for your help?
After Vali's Death
Rama's slaying of Vali had a special significance. In the beginning, Vali argued with Rama about his killing. Rama explained to him about the various purusharthas and how everything was pre-ordained according to the kalachakra 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 Rama.
Rebirth as Jara
Because Rama had killed Vali, Rama blessed Vali that he would die of his arrow which he would fire by camouflage when he took the incarnation of Krishna. Later on Vali was born as Jara the hunter in Dvapara Yuga to kill Krishna, the next avatar of Vishnu, in same way as said by Rama. He was searching for hunt in forest and he saw a deer but it actually was Krishna's bare foot.
He shot an arrow with an iron piece of mace attached to it.
The particular location of this event is known as Bhalka Tirtha. It is situated in western India in the state of Gujarat where Krishna’s disappearance takes place and thus marks the end of Dvapara Yuga and the commencement of Kali Yuga.
- As per Kathasaritsagara
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- Mahabharata, Book III: Vana Parva, Section 278: online text for the section of the Mahabharata describing Rama's alliance with Sugriva and the killing of Vali.
- Ramayana, Book IV, Canto 16: online text for the section of the Ramayana of Valmiki describing Bali's death at the hands of Rama.
- Photographs of a bas relief at the temple of Banteay Srei in Cambodia depicting the combat between Vali and Sugriva (archived 29 September 2007).
- Valmiki Ramayana Kishkindha Kanda Prose Sagara 11