Slaying of Vaali
Singing the glories of Rama truly benefits us. Gandhiji derived great mental strength by chanting Sri Rama Mantra. He has said that this belief was inculcated in him by his nurse Rambha when he was a child. Nothing could take Gandhiji away from the rock of his faith in Truth, and RamaNama was the line anchoring him unto it. Up early in the still very dark, early hours of the 25th, Bapu wrote to a friend in Gujarai:
"no one can harm a person who is sustained by Ramanama. I believe firmly in this principle. It is by the grace of that God that I am able to remain calm even though there is conflagration all around. Had it not been for Rama Nama, I would have broken down by now. That is why I proclaim at the top of my voice that I dance as Rama wills. We are all in this world to do our duty. I believe that not a leaf moves without his command. Look at the pride of man: he thinks he does every thing! But God is magnanimous and only laughs at man's ignorance. Now you will understand where I stand. "
Gandhi's was not blind faith but a dynamic one and he proved its effectiveness in his own life. He proved also the famous (anonymous) Indian saying about the art of weaving the cloth of our life: 'Weave in Faith; God will provide the thread',
That is where the importance of Faith comes in as an aid in cultivating the spiritual mind. But it is a very difficult task since we are always assailed by logical doubts which someone likened to the horns of a charging Rhino. One such instance is the killing of Vali by Sri Rama who hid behind a tree and dispatched the deadly arrow. This was to overcome Vali's boon that all the strength of an enemy facing Vali shall be drained away and Vali shall be victorious against any enemy.
The Ramayana story is viewed by many as the account of the awakened spiritual seeker, in search of the divinity within hidden by our ignorance. Our efforts to remove this ignorance, to remove the great veil of Maya may be attributed to our inability to overcome the sensory temptations to seek power, pelf and pleasure. The only way to go beyond this apparently invincible enemy is to turn away completely from every temptation and thus weed it out through spiritual practices.
Perhaps, the story of the encounter between Vali and Rama is symbolic of this confrontation which we all experience in our daily life.
Attempting to judge Rama with our present knowledge based on logic, perhaps, might never succeed. It is in this context that Shri C.Rajagopalachari's wise observations will be instructive:
Slaying of Vaali - Rajaji's comment:
"All who are born must die. This is the law. I do not therefore grieve for my death. Still, your sin is great in killing me in this treacherous way."
Vaali, son of Indra, reproached Rama thus with his dying breath. And all this is fully set out by Valmeeki, the divine poet, as well as by Kamban. Against this accusation, what defence could Rama offer?
Vaalmeeki has it that Rama gave some explanation with which Vaali was satisfied. But I am omitting all this as pointless and pray that the learned may forgive me. What I think is that an avataar is an avataar and that among the sorrows that the Lord and His consort had to endure in their earthly incarnation, this liability to have their actions weighed on the earthly scale is a part.
Earlier, while narrating the Soorpanakha episode (where Lakshmana disfigures her face), Rajaji observes:
"Let those who find faults in Rama see faults. If these critics faultlessly pursue dharma and avoid in their own lives the flaws they discover in Rama, the bhaktas of Sri Rama will indeed welcome it with joy. If they exhibit the virtues of Rama and add to these more virtues and greater flawlessness, who can complain?" ................................................. Raama erred in running after the magic deer to please his wife. Consequent to this, difficulties and sorrows and conflicts of duty pursued him. If we keep in mind that when God takes a lower and limited form by His own ordinance, limitations follow and we should not be confused thereby. This is my humble view as against other explanations propounded by the pious."
It has been said that Ramayana is a treasure house of
lessons from which we can greatly benefit in our lives.
There has been considerable discussion on the merits/demerits of Shri Rama's action in hiding himself behind a tree and shooting the arrow at Vali while he was engaged in a fight with his brother Sugreeva. Is there a deeper mystical significance which we can ascertain and benefit from hearing this narration?
According to Shri Chinmayananda, Vali, the immoral and vicious brother represents lust, the lowest nature of human beings. Sugreeva, the moral and virtuous brother, represents our higher and noble nature. Vali had earned through the power of Tapas a boon by which half the strength of his enemy was transferred to him as soon as an enemy confronted him in battle.
Similarly, the power of lust becomes invulnerable the moment we come in direct contact with the object of lust. The sense objects overpower us with their temptations and leave us powerless to resist. To overcome this, we have to stay away physically from the sense objects. For, so long as we are not spiritually advanced and remain in the midst of sense objects in the mistaken belief that we can exercise self control, we are bound to fail since the power of the sense objects is almost invincible.
To indicate to us this great truth, Rama is described as hiding behind a tree - that is, physically keeping away from Vali, and shooting at him from a distance.
Our ancestors had the courage to present accounts of the Lord's exploits in a manner that do create doubts about such conduct in our ordinary minds. These are like the little sand particle in the oyster shell that helps through friction in the creation of the multi-hued, priceless pearl. Only absolute faith will enable us to ponder over these matters in greater depth and, through cogitation, grasp the lessons that the Masters intended for us to find out and learn.
Blessed indeed are those who have great faith and plod on until they get the pearl of wisdom that is contained in the Puranic accounts.