Ethical & Moral Issues in Kishkinda Kanda

Entire Kishkinda Kanda is reserved for Vali Vadh. Infact Vali Vadh is a divisionary tactic and does not come in the course of the story. As advised by Kabandha, Rama enters into friendship bond with Sugriva and slays Vali. There are many moral and ethical issues that seems to be challenging. The author covers all issues but leaves it to the readers to break the puzzle and understand. It seems the author has everything loaded against the action of Rama. If so why would he do it. It is one thing to overlook some ethical aspect and write the story. But it is another thing to point out everything against an action and still make the hero (of Ramayana) do it. Many people who approach Vali Vadh are not aware of the finer nuances. Just look at following points.

1 Vali is not any criminal. Kabhandha uses the phrase angry Vali 3-72-11 not Bad..
2 The story that Sugriva says makes it clear that Sugriva had misjudged the situation and countermanded the instruction of Vali. The punishment that he recd. was only banishment.
3 Sugriva did not ask for slaying of Vali. 4-5-30 Instead asks that do whatever you may deem it fit so that I am not troubled by my Brother. By this time Rama has already promised to Sugriva in sloka 4-5-25 itself, that he will eliminate Vali. Why?
4 In sloka 4-5-30 Sugriva wishes to regain his wife and Kingdom. The word used is regained. When did Sugriva lawfully own it. When did it become his kingdom
5 Both Rama and Sugriva are said to be in same position due to separation of Wife. But Sugriva himself says, I did not despair like this for my wife 4-7-6. That being the case then what for is Vali Sinful. And why should he be sentenced to death
6 In 4-8-3 Sugriva says with the help of Rama “getting my kingdom is sure”. When did it become (his) Kingdom?
7 Rama promises death to Vali but very late 4-8-41 asks the reason for enmity between Vali and Sugriva. So what could be the reason that Rama passes death sentence to Vali?
8 Then depending upon the cause of enmity Ram said he will decide on the method of disposition 4-8-42
9 Vali made Sugriva swear that he will not move from the Hole where he was going to chase Maayaavi
10 4-11-3 Sugriva requests Rama to know about the valiant Vali and then decide on the method of disposal.
11 Dundubhi says Killing drunken one, unvigilant one, defeated one, or one without weapons, or an atrophied one, gets the sin of feticide. Exactly what Rama did by killing a non vigilant Weaponless Vali.
12 Sugriva asks Rama, how it is possible to eliminate Vali in War? 4-11-68 So strategy is yet not set.
13 When Tara warns Vali about Rama, Vali clearly says Rama will not sin by killing him when he is fighting with Sugriva 4-16-5

These are all ethical issues highlighted by Valmiki in Kishkinda Kanda. And then the killing of Vali ensues!!!

The difference between ethics and morals is multidimensional. But before going further let us know what is Ethics & Morals.

Sanskrit English
श्रूयताम् राम वक्ष्यामि सुग्रीवो नाम वानरः |
भ्रात्रा निरस्तः क्रुद्धेन वालिना शक्र सूनुना ||
Oh, Rama, listen what I tell… a vanara is there by name Sugreeva, who is vengefully reneged by his brother Vali, the son of Indra Back
तव प्रसादेन नृसिंह वीर
प्रियाम् च राज्यम् च समाप्नुयाम् अहम् |
तथा कुरु त्वम् नर देव वैरिणम्
यथा न हिंस्यत् स पुनर् मम अग्रजम् ||
By your grace, oh, lion among men, let me regain my wife and kingdom too… oh, god of humans, as to how he does not suffer me again, thus you may please make happen… let not my elder brother turned as an enemy of mine suffer me again… Back
उपकार फलम् मित्रम् विदितम् मे महाकपे ||४-५-२५
वालिनम् तम् वधिष्यामि तव भार्य अपहारिणम् |
A friend is the resultant factor of helpfulness… that I know… oh, great monkey I intend eliminate that Vali, the abductor of your wife… Back
मया अपि व्यसनम् प्राप्तम् भार्या विरहजम् महत् |
न अहम् एवम् हि शोचामि धैर्यम् न च परित्यजे ||
Upon me too this yearning caused by the separation of wife has chanced, but I did not despair this way, nor I have forsaken my courage… Back
शक्यम् खलु भवेत् राम सहायेन त्वया अनघ |
सुर राज्यम् अपि प्राप्तुम् स्व राज्यम् किमुत प्रभो ||
Oh, merited one, with your help it will be possible to achieve kingdom of gods, oh, lord, then why tell about one’s own kingdom… Back
श्रुत्वा एतत् च वचः रामः सुग्रीवम् इदम् अब्रवीत् |
किम् निमित्तम् अभूत् वैरम् श्रोतुम् इच्छामि तत्त्वतः ||
Hearing all that is spoken by Sugreeva, Rama asked, “What for chanced the enmity? I am interested to listen, in its reality. Back
सुखम् हि कारणम् श्रुत्वा वैरस्य तव वानर |
आनन्तर्यद् विधास्यामि संप्रधार्य बलाबलम् ||
On knowing the cause of your enmity, oh, monkey, and after a proper thought, and deciding upon the strength and weakness of the cause of enmity, or of the enmity itself, I will do the needful very easily. Back
वालिनः पौरुषम् यत् तद् यत् च वीर्यम् धृतिः च या |
तन् मम एक मनाः श्रुत्वा विधत्स्व यद् अनन्तरम् ||
That which is impetuousness of Vali, that which is his bravery and courageousness are there, they may be listened from me single-mindedly, and later you impose that which need be imposed Back
एतत् अस्य असमम् वीर्यम् मया राम प्रकाशितम् |
कथम् तम् वालिनम् हन्तुम् समरे शक्ष्यसे नृप ||
Oh, Rama, I am apprising all this to tell about the unequalled vitality of Vali, and oh, king, then how is it possible for you to eliminate Vali in war.” Thus Sugreeva enquired with Rama. Back
न च कार्यो विषादः ते राघवम् प्रति मत् कृते |
धर्मज्ञः च कृतज्ञः च कथम् पापम् करिष्यति ||
Also, you need not bother about Raghava’s doing some harm to me, as I wonder how a diligent man and knower of virtue can commit sin. Back

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All Sloka Translations are from the site Valmiki Ramayana


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pramod Kushwaha
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 11:30:36

    One can’t simply compare Godly actions to human actions.
    The human actions are done selfishly whereas the Godly actions have no selfishness.
    What selfishness the God can ever have who can neither dethrone Himself from His supremacy nor can be dethroned by anyone else? Still all His powers are aimed at pleasing the non-satiating need of the other humans, while He never uses the powers for Himself.


    • mghariharan
      Mar 18, 2011 @ 11:48:42

      Rama is not a god. He is human being. If Rama is god,then Ramayana has no meaning, and he could not have killed Ravana.


      • m.k.subramanian
        May 14, 2011 @ 13:06:04

        Rama is an incarnation (Avatar) of god as rightly pointed by you. But please refer to Shloka6 in Chapter IV of Bhagavat Gita. The Incarnated Lord is endowed with entire potency of God Himself! There no dilution.
        So Rama, in the form of a human being, is God Himself in potency (Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence). Although Rama tries to conceal His Prowess during this Avatara, there are occasions when the Divinity gets revealed. e.g. During Jatayu Moksha, Sarabhanga Moksha, Sabari Moksha, and when in anger He explodes and avers to destroy the entire Creation, while looking for Sita (Aranya Kanda). Similarly Divinity is revealed when Sea God delays presenting Himself for permitting construction of passage to Lanka!
        In view of above, Rama cannot be considered at par with ordinary mortals! Ordinary mortals are born due ‘Prarabhdha Karma’ – not God Incarnations!
        Avatars have a divine purpose. God, when he plays a role as mortal, He is not only an Actor but also Director of Events.

  2. Pramod Kushwaha
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 20:46:58

    “Rama is not God.”
    Does it mean that the option “Rama is God” is closed? Or is it still open? A wrong conclusion can be a dangerous thing.


    • mghariharan
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 13:22:46

      There are many points to this.
      1. I am not competent to make any comments regarding this
      2. Hear Valmiki. He says Rama is avatar of Maha Vishnu who is god.
      3. But in Ramayana Rama does not have any godly powers and he behaves exactly like a human. Thereby he teaches us how to attain godliness. He is shown to have fears, suspicions, sadness, tears, sympathies, weakness (to golden deer) etc as any other human. He fights against demons who have demonic powers.


    • pravin
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 15:07:18

      ShriRama is the only god who is favorite amongst all the gods.
      Mahadeva, ganapati, sun-god, krishna all other gods prays god rama. Rama name is the only name which is stronger than any god or 1000 names of vishnu, 3 times name of other gods…………you don’t have enough knowledge………..if rama is not a god and he is a man then nobody in this world is god, krishna, mahadev are also humans and not god………jai shriram


  3. Sakuraa
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 18:08:24

    Firstly i must say you never should leave the faith on whom u believe
    n my comment would be yes i do believe rama was a human being so as we and for existence he know will have to play politics(Rajneeti) Raj k liye aaneeti


    • mghariharan
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 18:36:44

      First you must get faith. You can get faith only if you understand. Once you have understood faith is imminent then you cannot loose faith. So this blog is to understanding Ramayana – Rama. Let us all join in that process. Faith will follow.


      • m.k.subramanian
        May 14, 2011 @ 12:38:50

        I disagree with your explanations on these concepts.

        You can TRUST a person and have a FAITH in a ‘Concept’. Trust is not a synonym for faith! ‘Understanding’ leads to ‘Trusting’ (or ‘Mistrusting) a person.
        ‘Belief’ wrought by ‘Experience’ is ‘FAITH’. ‘ Belief’ is a superstition. Faith is a conviction. Faith may follow Belief – Understanding may develop Trust.


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