The Ramayana

Vali Character Analysis

Vali is the initial king of the monkeys in Kiskinda. He's a very powerful being in his own right, but he also has the special power of being nearly invincible. When someone wishes to fight Vali, they give up half their power to Vali, making him even stronger. However, this power makes Vali an unwilling listener. He banishes his brother, Sugreeva, because he was unwilling to listen to Sugreeva's truthful account of a past event, and instead Vali chose to believe that Sugreeva wanted to usurp him. This lack of rational and considerate thought leads Rama to side with Sugreeva and kill Vali without listening to Vali's version of events. However, as Vali dies, Rama convinces him that even though he's a monkey, he is capable of accessing and using a more nuanced and human system of conduct and thought. This allows Vali to find eternal peace in the afterworld.

Vali Quotes in The Ramayana

The The Ramayana quotes below are all either spoken by Vali or refer to Vali. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heroism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Ramayana published in 2006.
6. Vali Quotes

The perfect man takes a false step, apparently commits a moral slip, and we ordinary mortals stand puzzled before the incident. It may be less an actual error of commission on his part than a lack of understanding on ours; measured in Eternity, such an event might stand out differently.

Related Characters: Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Vali
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
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"We should not become too analytical about a friend, nor look too deeply into original causes; but accept only what appears good to us in the first instance, and act on it."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Vali, Bharatha
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
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"Creatures in human shape may be called animals if they display no knowledge of right and wrong and conversely so-called animals which display profundity cease to be animals and will have to be judged by the highest standards."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Vali
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
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"In spite of my obstinacy you have helped me attain a profound understanding and opened my mind with your magic. While other gods confer boons after being asked, you confer them on the mere utterance of your name. Great sages have attempted, after eons of austerities, to obtain a vision of God, but you have bestowed it upon me unasked."

Related Characters: Vali (speaker), Rama
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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Vali Character Timeline in The Ramayana

The timeline below shows where the character Vali appears in The Ramayana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
6. Vali
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Hanuman says that Sugreeva's brother, Vali, long ago won immeasurable strength. He also has the power that states that anyone who... (full context)
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Eventually, Vali tried to exit the tunnel and was enraged when he found the tunnel blocked. He... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
...believes that Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu and should therefore be able to defeat Vali. Further, Hanuman was told by his father years ago to dedicate his life to serving... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
...out Vishnu and asked for the privilege of fighting forever. Dundubi was eventually directed to Vali, and the two fought for a year. Vali finally bested the demon and flung his... (full context)
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Hanuman says that they must first do away with Vali so that Sugreeva can be crowned king. The group travels to a mountain in Kiskinda,... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Hidden away from the battle, Rama is in awe of Vali's strength. He and Lakshmana debate whether involving themselves in this fight is proper. Lakshmana questions... (full context)
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Vali pauses, slowly lets go of Sugreeva, and wraps his hands, feet, and tail around the... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Vali asks Rama why he did this, saying that this destroys Rama's virtues. He questions if... (full context)
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Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Rama approaches Vali and explains to the dying monkey what happened after he pursued the demon into the... (full context)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Vali tells Rama he's misjudging everything: it's a legitimate action in the monkey society to take... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
Vali accepts this and asks Rama why he shot him from hiding. Lakshmana explains that if... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Finally, Vali asks Rama to explain to others that Sugreeva brought about Vali's salvation, not just his... (full context)