| Why did Rama, the epitome of moral conduct, and a brave warrior, hide behind
the trees and kill Vali, whom he had never met before, and who had done him no
© K. L. Kamat
Rama, hiding in the woods, shoots Vali during a duel of brothers.
Rama, the hero of Indian epic Ramayana is often described as the "Perfect Man".
"Possessing strength, aware of his responsibility and obligations,
truthful in an absolute way, firm in execution of his words, compassionate,
learned, attractive, powerful, free from anger and envy, but terror-striking
-- Quote from 11th century Ramayan by Kamban
The story of Ramayana is full of incidents and events depicting
Rama's character. But today I want to point out an episode when Rama's judgment is
questionable. Rama seems to have acted "out of partiality, half-knowledge,
and haste, and shot and killed, a creature who had done him no harm, not even
I am talking about the story of Vali and Sugreeva. This is one of the
most controversial topics of Ramayana (along with Sita's Trial by Fire, and
Abandonment of his twins; more on Rama's Character Flaws in a future entry).
Brothers Vali and Sugreeva are caught in a domestic dispute, one of which is
the heart of a woman. Sugreeva persuades Rama to take sides with him and
eliminate his brother. Rama agrees, his judgment weakened by his enormous grief
(of kidnapping of his own wife). It is said that Vali's wife foresaw a conspiracy
between Sugreeva and Rama, and Vali is said to have assured her -- "Why
would a virtuous man like Rama conspire against me?! All I have done is fight
evils and protect the righteous in my life."
I believe that Rama could have found an amicable solution to the brother's dispute, and the inclusion of Vali would certainly have stengthened his own fight against Rawana. But we see that Rama values loyalty, and a promise to a friend, much more than the need to be fair or just.
Definitely something to ponder, at a time of crisis...
- Source: R.K. Narayan, The Indian Epics Retold
- Vali, the strongman is said to have been the key figure in churning of
Meru mountain and extraction of the amrut. He is also credited with
killing of such demons as Mayavi and Dundubhi. Vali was a devotee of Lord
- Link to Kishkindha Kanda chapter of Valmiki Ramayana.
Tales and Pictures from the Ramayana
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Sunday, September 24, 2006|
Last Modified: 9/26/2006 4:40:09 PM
Tags: ramachandra, vali and sugreeva