Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
October 28, 2016

In the Ṛṣyamūka hill, King Sugrīva held court with his counsellors. Seeing the immense size of two beautiful men, he asked Hanuman to take a look-see. Hanuman assumed the form of a Brahmana.

Hanuman: Greetings to you men looking like Katriyas, one looking black and the other looking fair. Are you the two gods of the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva)? Are you Nara and Narayana?

Rāma: I am the son of Dasaratha. He is Lakshmana, my brother. My wife Sita, daughter of king Janaka was carried away by a demon. Tell us who you are.

Hanuman in the appearance of a Brahmana froze out of disbelief at seeing the Lord of his dreams, Rāma. He prostrated immediately at the feet of Rāma. His spine was tingling and no words could escape his lips.  He regained his composure, addressed his master Rāma and sang his praises.

Hanuman: I am sorry I could not recognize you because the Māyā of yours kept me deluded.

He regained his composure and showed his monkey form to Rāma and Lakshmana. Rāma embraced him with tears wetting the shoulders of Hanuman.

Rāma: You are as dear as Lakshmana is.

Hanuman: My Lord, Sugrīva the chief of monkeys is staying up on the hill.  Please offer your friendship to him. He will deploy a million monkeys in search of Sita.

Hanuman lifted both brothers, put them on his shoulders and walked towards Sugrīva.  Sugrīva recognized both, walked up to them to greet, and paid homage by bowing his head at Rāma's feet. The kingly duo embraced Sugrīva.

Hanuman gave a narrative of what happened to Sugrīva and lit a fire as witness to the friendship between Rāma and Sugrīva.

Sugrīva: When I was holding court with my advisers, I saw a divine-looking woman, carried in the air by the enemy, crying Rāma, Rāma and dropping a scarf when she saw us.

Rāma asked for and was given the scarf by Sugrīva, which Rāma pressed to his bosom.

Sugrīva: O Rāma of Raghu lineage. I will help you to bring back the daughter of Janaka to you.

Rāma: Sugrīva, tell me why are you staying in the forest?

Sugrīva: Vāli and I are identical twins. Demon Māyāvi challenged Vāli for a fight and entered a mountain cave chased by Vāli. Vāli told me if he did not return in a fortnight, I should assume he was dead. I waited for a month and saw a torrent of blood flowing from the mouth of the cave. I assumed Vāli was dead.  I feared the demon and so blocked the entrance to the cave with a rock to prevent the demon from escaping. The ministers of the town installed me as the king.  Vāli returned after killing the demon and held a grudge against me.  He beat me up to a pulp and robbed me of my wealth and my wife Ruma.

Hearing this from Sugrīva, Rāma made a promise to kill Vāli, even if he took refuge with Brahma or Siva.  

Sugrīva: Vāli is very strong and staunch in battle. I need some sort of proof you are as strong as you state. Anyone fighting with Vali loses half his strength immediatley. All his challengers invariably lose. Vāli, once challenged by Ravana, picked him up in the coils of his tail, took him around the world, and bounced him around so much Ravana called for truce.

Rāma took the cue and shot an arrow through seven Sal trees (குங்கிலியம்). The exiting arrow pierced a huge boulder and split it into two pieces.  See in the photo how 7 trees can line up neatly for the feat performed by Rāma .


Sugrīva was pleased that Rāma would help him kill Vāli and restore his kingdom.

The image: Rāma pierces 7 trees in one shot of an arrow. Credit: Philadelphia Musuem of Art.

Hearing that Sugrīva had a friend in Rāma and Lakshmana, Vāli's wife pleaded with her husband Vāli, not to fight the two brothers, Rāma and Lakshmana.

Vali's wife Tara was an Apsaras (divine nymph) who came out of the churning generative ocean (milk ocean). Vāli churned the ocean along with the Devas or gods. Tara emerged from the Milk Ocean.  Vāli married Tara. 

Vāli to his wife: Listen. Rāma is fair. If he killed me, I will go to heaven.

Vāli beat up Sugrīva, who fled from the scene and returned to Rāma. Rāma by his touch made Sugrīva strong and sent him back to fight Vāli. They fought and Rāma was watching them from behind a tree.

Sugrīva was becoming weak. Rāma shot Vāli in his heart with his stealthy arrow.

Vāli got up and sat looking at the feet of Rāma, thinking he would soon be liberated (Moksa).  Wounded, he excoriated Rāma for his ensuing death because he did no harm to Rāma. 

Vāli: You should have come to me first for the rescue of Sita. I once carried Ravana by my tail. The abductor is no match for me. Your father Dasaratha helped my father Indra to defeat the Raksasas.

Vāli  asked Rāma two questions:

1. What was my crime? You made my wife a widow.

2. Where is your right to kill me, even if I committed a crime agaisnt my twin brother?

Rāma asnwered Vāli as follows.

Your twin brother was younger than you and so should be treated like a son.  You should have forgiven him, because he had love and respect for you. When you retook the throne from Sugrīva, you sinned by taking his wife and consorting with her. Your kingdom was taken by Mayavi and you are no more a king. How could you help me?

His wife Tara was wailing. Rāma comforted her. Rāma ordered Sugrīva to perform funeral rites for Vāli, and Lakshmana to install Sugrīva as the king.  Rāma manifested his Visvarupa (His parting gift) to Vāli and gave him moksa.  Vāli asked his son Angada to help his uncle in the reins of his kingdom.

Vāli was dead soon.

When Sugrīva became king and got his wife Ruma back with him, he made Angada  (the son of Vāli and Tara) as the crown prince.