There is a very famous myth propagated by the author of a Ramayana comic book that is “Vali re-incarnated as Jara to Kill Lord Krishna due to his incarnation Rama Killed Vali from behind a tree”. Surprisingly many, many people (especially the Advaitavadis) followed it. Believers say that it is mentioned in some Vedic text, but till the date, no one has ever able to show that secret mention from secret scripture 🙂. Some even says it was Angada..but no one has any shastric evidence.
But, the truth is different as per Valmiki Ramayana and Srimad Bhagavatam. As per Valmiki Ramayana, the death of Vali was not a Adharmi activity by Lord Rama. Lord Rama even convinced Vali of his death and he got fully convinced by Sri Rama.
Vali when he is hit by Lord Rama’s arrow, which is capable of rending the earth, falls in pain and he looks around and sees Lord Rama coming there with a smile on His face. In a fit of rage amidst his agony, he says, “I thought you are a virtuous person. How could you have done such a vicious act? I think it is because of your association with this vicious person Sugriva that you have also become spoiled.” Lord Rama smiles and He says, “O Vali, it seems that with the deterioration of the body even the intelligence gets deteriorated. You are accusing me of immorality without understanding the intricacies of dharma.” Lord Rama further says that I am the servant of Bharat who is currently the ruler of the world. Lord Rama’s consciousness can be seen here. He is not saying I am God. He is saying I am the servant of His own younger brother who is the king and I am serving on his behalf. So He says as a member as a servant of the king and the member of the royal Kshatriya class, it is my duty to protect the virtuous and to punish the unrighteous or the vicious. You, O monkey, have for no reason what so ever grievously wronged your faithful younger brother Sugriva. Although there was no fault of his, you attacked him, you insulted him, you exiled him and you threatened to take his very life. Not only that you even took up his own wife as your wife. And because of this you are an aggressor, an aatatai. Aatatai is aggressor. In the Vedic scriptures, it is described that person coming as an aggressor with the malevolent intention, he deserves to be killed and there is no sin in killing such a person by whatever means. So if somebody comes to kill, somebody comes to abduct one’s wife to exploit and abuse her, somebody comes to steal away one’s property, somebody tries to destroy one’s property with arson, in all these cases, the aggressor can be killed, not just by anyone but by the Kshatriyas. By those who are meant to be upholders of law and they incur no sin for killing such aggressors. Just as the policeman when they arrest and execute criminals who are serial killers, they get no punishment by law for doing so. The Kshatriyas are like the policeman and aatatai are like the criminals. So Lord Rama says that because you for no good reason wronged your brother so viciously, it is my duty to kill you and to give justice to your brother. And that is why I have killed you. This is the first and foremost reason.
And then the Lord says further that you know you are a monkey and as a hunter can kill ananimal without necessarily confronting it, a hunter can kill an animal while being in a tree, while being concealed in the bushes, so the Kshatriyas codes allows one to do that. That’s why I have killed you and I have done nothing wrong. And then Lord Rama goes further and says, “O Vali, if you still feel that I have wronged you than I can give you back your life right now.”
Actually I explained things briefly, but there are pages and pages of this in Valmiki Ramayana and subsequent acharyas give thiselaboration about Lord Rama’s further conversation.
So when Vali hears all the answers that Lord Rama is giving and he hears His powerful and sweet voice, he becomes purified. Ultimately Vali is not evil; Vali is not a demon like Ravana. He is a powerful person and his power to some extent went to his head and he seriously misunderstood Sugriva’s intentions. But at heart Vali is actually Indra is a Devotee. So the arrogance which has come because of his power now was removed by the arrow that burned through his body, through his heart. So actually Lord Rama’s arrow and Lord Rama’s words purified him and they brought forth his natural devotion. And Vali at that time said, “My dear Lord, lives I’ll get many, but a death like this when will I get again. To die in Your presence is the greatest fortune and it is a perfection of life. I seek only that I can behold Your face and die in your presence.” And Vali being completely purified, he gave his own necklace which was given to him as a source of his power and as long as he was wearing that necklace he could not die. That’s how he was able to stay alive even after being pierced by Lord Rama’s arrow to talk with him for so long. He took that necklace and he gave it not to his own son but he gave it to Sugriva. Now, it’s natural for him to give it to his son. And nobody could have blamed him because that would have made his son invincible. But actually Vali himself was so convinced and transformed by Lord Rama’s answer that he realized that I have wronged Sugriva and to seek forgiveness to Sugriva, he gave him his own necklace. And before giving that necklace he told Angada, his son; don’t bear any animosity against Sugriva or Rama because they have not killed me. It is my own bad deeds that have caused my death. Please serve Sugriva as you have served me and please serve Lord Rama as The Supreme Lord.
Then he turned to his own wife, Tara, and told her that after I go, please assist Sugriva and serve him. And then he told Lord Rama that please let the hatred that the Sugriva and his associates may have had against me, not be expressed against Tara or Angada. Lord Rama smiled and said, not at all. In fact when Sugriva saw Vali’s change of heart, Sugriva became remorseful. And if we see, Sugriva was not at all eager to go for the kingdom. After receiving that necklace from his brother Vali, Vali felt dead. While dying he uttered the names of Rama and attained the exalted spiritual destination. Sugriva felt remorseful and he said, “I have killed my own brother. How can I become the kingand take care of the kingdom.” Then Lord Rama told him that- follow the instructions of your brother that is the way you can please him. He wants you to become the king.
When Lord Rama answered Vali’s question, Vali was convinced but unfortunately people who read the Ramayana are not convinced. Vali was convinced and the conviction was demonstrated through his transformation.
Still the question may remain, why did Lord Rama have to kill Vali like that? Why He didn’t kill him directly in the battle. He could have. Vali had earlier performed tapasya and got blessings from the gods. He wanted immortality but he could not get immortality from any of the gods; because only Lord Vishnu, by the performance of pure devotional service, can give us immortality. So he had asked for immortality in an indirect way by saying that whenever I have to fight with anyone let half of that person’s powers come to me. If Vali has power of hundred units, and even some enemy has power of hundred units, equal to him. Then what would happen with Vali’s benediction? That he would have hundred and fifty units power and his opponent would have fifty units. Even his opponent had thousand units of power, if half of his power would come to Vali then his opponent could have left five hundred and could have five hundred plus hundred- six hundred. So Vali has by this tricky benediction ensured his victory always. Lord Rama is the supreme Lord, and He could still have killed Vali anyway, but he honored the benedictions of the devtas, just as Lord Narsimha Dev came in a special form. Neither man nor lion and killed Hiranyakashyipu in a special way, neither at day time nor at night time but in twilight. Like that Lord Rama in order to honor the benediction of the devtas, arranged to have Vali killed in a way in which he was not facing Him. Vali was looking away from him. This is not told in the Valmiki Ramayana but in the subsequent retellings of the Ramayana.
Regarding the hunter who attacked Lord Krishna’s foot, actually the hunter could have never attacked Lord Krishna. If we look at the eleventh canto carefully that when the hunter shot an arrow at Lord Krishna’s feet he realized that He was Lord, he was aghast. He came there but there is no description that he removed the blood or he treated the wound over there. The arrow just touched the lotus feet of Lord Krishna as he and his body is non-different and fully spiritual. Hunter was actually very repentful and he was very prayerful, begging forgiveness. So actually it was just a Lila by the Lord to leave this material world.
When Lord Rama killed Vali, He liberated Vali. So if he liberated Vali, it’s unlikely that Vali would again come back to the material world. And certainly it is completely against the philosophy that the Lord will have to suffer the karmic reaction to be killed by the person whom He had killed in earlier life.
Although Vali’s coming back again may seem to be some sort of poetic karmic justice. It is not philosophically consistent. It is not being mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana. It has not been mentioned by the subsequent acharyas; therefore it is not to be considered bonafide. At the same time they don’t have go on a campaign, if some people believe that we don’t have to go on a campaign against themselves that they are deviating and they are wrong. It is not an absolutely important detail. But we should be able to reflect and be able to persuade others about the morality and the correctness of Lord Rama’s killing Vali on its own right. What was that? Aggressor can be killed in any way. Vali was an aggressor so he was killed. That itself was good enough for Vali and that it should be good enough for us. We don’t have to go into any fanciful past life connections to justify Lord Rama’s behavior.
Thank you for reading, Hare Rama!