Vaali Vadam: Halebidu : Part 1 Members of Anaadi Foundation had visited Belur, Halebidu and Sravana Belagola earlier this month. In this blogpost, we narrate the story of Vaali Vadam as depicted in Halebidu. This is part 2 of the narrative where Rama proves his prowess.
Rama too is eager to do so. He says to all of them,”Let us go.” And they move towards Kishkindha where Vali lives. Roaring and shouting, Sugriva challenges Vali to come out. Vali, who is undoubtedly of superior strength, is surprised at this audaciousness and comes out to meet the challenge of Sugriva. Quickly, they join hands in a duel.
The two brothers, Vali and Sugriva, strike each other and kick each other. The fighting is fierce. Rama, Lakshmana and the others watch this terrible fighting from behind trees which are at a distance. Though Rama stands with his bow in readiness to shoot the most deadly arrow, he does not shoot because he cannot make out who Vali is and who Sugriva is! They resemble each other so much that Rama is undecided. Naturally, Sugriva is severely wounded and he flees from the place and rushes up Rishyamuka hill. Vali chases him right up to the foot of the hill and then withdraws.
Rama seeks the presence of Sugriva immediately. Sugriva is terribly disappointed and disheartened. He says to Rama,”O Rama, you have let me down terribly. You could have told me earlier that you did not wish to kill Vali, and I would not have ventured to go to him.”
Rama explains,”I could not make out who was who! I did not want to discharge my arrow lest I should kill you. To kill one to whom I have given asylum would be a great sin. Please go again. But this time wear something to distinguish you from Vali! In this way, I may know who is who when both of you close in on each other to fight the duel.” At Rama’s instruction, Lakshmana gathers some wild flowers known as Gajapushpi, makes a garland out of them and puts this garland around the neck of Sugriva. All of them go to Kishkindha once more.
Armed with their weapons, Rama, Lakshmana and the Vanaras enter Kishkindha. Sugriva is itching for a fight. He advances towards the palace of Vali and roars. The sound is so powerful and heart-rending that the birds and the beasts are scattered by it. Hearing Sugriva roaring once again, Vali is terribly annoyed. His vanity is hurt and his anger aroused. He rushes out of his apartment, unable to tolerate this insult.
Tara, his wife and a very wise woman, however, intervenes and politely says to him,”Lord, I wish you would not rush out to met Sugriva like this. It is better to reflect over this new development and take stock of the situation and then fight if necessary after some time. Sugriva was badly wounded and made to flee just a little while ago. He has now returned. Surely, he has someone to help him. Sugriva is clever. He would not trust an ally whose strength he has not cleverly tested. This should be considered.” She further discloses that their son, Angada, got intelligence reports from spies that the sons of Dasharatha, Rama and Lakshmana, had arrived and entered into a friendship with Sugriva. She says,”Rama is mighty, and he is also the abode of dharma. Therefore, I consider that hostility with Rama is unwise. Let there be no enmity between you and your brother Sugriva, and let there be friendship with Rama too. Let Sugriva be prince regent and let love be restored between you brothers. Surely, your brother deserves your love and affection.”
This wise counsel does not please Vali. He says sternly to Tara,”Thank you for your advice. You have done your job. You have shown me enough affection. Now you may return home. I shall return after subduing the arrogant Sugriva. I cannot tolerate his insulting behavior.” Tara could only invoke the blessings of God on Vali.
The two mighty brothers immediately join in the fiercest battle. Vali hits Sugriva; and Sugriva vomits blood profusely. Sugriva hits Vali with a big tree, and Vali reels under the impact. However, soon Vali gets the upper hand and begins to belabour Sugriva with all his might. Thus tormented, Sugriva continues to fight, looking around, as if seeking help.
Rama knows that the time has come for him to intervene. He fixes a dreadful arrow to his bow and fires it. The arrow, when fired, leaves his bow with the sound of thunder and strikes the chest of Vali. Hit by Rama’s arrow, Vali, the mighty warrior who is radiant with valour, falls.
But, Vali does not die. He wears a celestial chain which was given to him by Indra, the king of the devas, and which preserved his life energy, radiance and charm. But the arrow of Rama, with which he is hit, illuminates his path to heaven and brings him to the supreme state.
Rama and Lakshmana go forward to where he lay on the ground. Looking at them, in courteous words but with a harsh tone, Vali addresses Rama,”You who are born of the great emperor Dasharatha, Rama, have committed an adharmic act. You shot me while I was fighting someone else. You shot me from a place of hiding. People glorify you that you are the abode of dharma, devoted to truth and compassionate. I thought all this was true. So, though Tara, my wife, had heard that you were here as an ally of Sugriva, I fought with him. No one would expect you to strike me in an unchivalrous manner.
Rama, I have given you no offence at all. I did not encroach upon your territory, nor invade your capital, nor did I commit an act of aggression against you. Yet, you sought to kill me, while I was fighting another person! Yet, again, you appear in the guise of a dharmic person, wearing a matted lock and deer-skin and bark of trees. Peaceful negotiation, charity, forgiveness, dharma, truth, firmness, valour and punishment of criminals – these are the qualities of kings. We are primitive jungle folk living like animals on fruits and roots. People usually fight for land, gold and beautiful women; but we have none of these here! Yet you have sought to kill me, for no apparent reason. You have transgressed the bounds of dharma; you have broken the code of morality.
My wife Tara did tell me about your arrival here, and of your friendship with Sugriva to achieve your mission. Had you told me of your misfortune, I would have brought your wife back in no time! I would have roped Ravana alive and brought him to you. I suppose my end is near, no one can escape death. But, what is your justification for bringing about my end?”
Rama replies to Vali,”You do not know dharma, or worldly affairs, or the laws governing enjoyment, nor the people’s behavior in different conditions and circumstances, and yet you blame me. The whole earth belongs to the kings descended from Manu and therefore my father Ikshvaku. The present ruler in the dynasty of Ikshvaku is my noble brother Bharata. He is the supreme monarch of the whole earth, and I derive my mandate from him, to ensure that all the subjects of that noble emperor observe dharma.
I consider that you are the worst among sinners. I shall tell you why. According to the code of righteousness, one’s elder brother, father and one’s teacher are to be treated as one’s father. In the same way, one’s younger brother, son and disciple should be treated as one’s son. Yet, here you are: you are living with your younger brother’s wife who is like a daughter to you! Dharma is extremely subtle and difficult to understand; and the conduct of the virtuous is difficult to understand; only the Self dwelling in the hearts of all knows what is right and what is wrong.
The first and foremost reason why I struck you down was, you are living in sin with your younger brother’s wife, and I as a representative of the emperor consider it my duty to mete out this punishment to you. In connection with this, there is the well-known commandment – ‘By undergoing the just punishment meted out by the king, the criminal is purified and goes to heaven. If the criminal goes unpunished, the king is guilty of the crime.’ Even mighty ones have thus been punished, and others have carried out expiatory actions to get rid of sins.
Secondly, Sugriva is my friend, even as Lakshmana is. I have given him my word of honour that his kingdom and his wife shall be restored to him. It is my duty therefore, to honour this promise.
You might ask, why I did not fight directly with you and kill you. I say: people kill wild animals or animals which serve as meat from a place of hiding or without any provocation. Hence, it was right on my part to kill you whether you are fighting with me or not, for you are of the same species as forest-dwelling animals. Thus relieved of your sin by accepting the rightful punishment, you will ascend to heaven, Vali.”
Listening to Rama’s reasons and understanding how he is a man who is ever centered in dharma, Vali retracts his accusation and apologises for his harsh words. He then begs of Rama,”Please, let my son Angada be properly looked after. I know that Sugriva, who has your guidance, will rule efficiently and justly. But my only anxiety concerns Angada.” Rama reassures him in this regard.