The great combat between the two Vanara brothers Sugreeva and Vali has great spiritual significance, especially because of the Supreme Lord Sri Rama’s involvement.
Hence, the mystery of Sri Rama’s involvement in the duel is an impactful and interesting read.
The story goes like this.
Sugreeva teams up with the Lord.
First he invites his powerful brother Vali (वाली) for one-on-one combat.
The Lord hides behind the trees waiting for an opportune moment to realise his arrow and thus end Vali’s life.
This was the clandestine agreement between Sugreeva and the Lord.
Spiritual Significance of Vali-Sugriva Fight
Now, we shall simultaneously look at the spiritual aspect of the event, as we explore this anecdote.
Symbolism of Trees
The trees that are spoken off during the course of the event are our very Karmas which occur many in number and are widespread on the land of the jungle.
The vast land is our own life.
Why does Lord Rama hide behind the trees?
The fact of our life is that the Supreme Lord is hiding behind the tall and broad trees of our Karmas.
It is natural that we are not able to see the beautiful Lord who is hiding behind the trees, alternately changing positions behind these trees.
Well, we see the trees (karmas) but we cannot see the Lord.
This means that Karmas appear and affect us physically and mentally, which is why they are evident.
However, the Lord seems to be non-existent as we explore our Karmas; as we encounter them at various stages of our life.
What is evident from the above explanation is that unless the Lord comes out of his hiding place (behind our Karmas), our toiling and wrestling with our Karmas are never going to end.
Subsequently, the Lord is watching the jeev, from behind the tree like Karmas.
In the case of the dual combat between Vali and Sugreeva, it is clear that Vali is more capable than Sugriva. Therefore, it is clear as to who shall win, if the weak combats the powerful.
It is common sense.
In the initial combat, the Lord watches Sugreeva combat Vali.
Vali beats Sugreeva and the latter runs to the Lord in a very sorry condition.
This is a point of contemplation. Why did Lord Rama mutely watch Sugreeva being beaten?
The role of Jnana
This can be seen from the perspective of Jnana.
Jnana says that Truth is knowledge.
Truth is to see everything as equal without any distinction. While Vali fought with Sugreeva, both the brothers looked identical.
There was not an iota of difference between them, their features and physiognomy were alike. Hence, the Lord could only view them as “equals” being unable to differentiate between the two brothers.
This statement is an oxymoron of types.
But what could differentiate Sugreeva from Vali?
The Lord is Jnana personified. From this perspective, Jnana sees no difference among individuals.
Therefore, when the Lord takes the position of Jnani, he shall be an impartial witness. He shall see the powerful defeat the weak without uttering a word.
This is how Jnana works.
Consequently, the defeated Sugreeva cries to the Lord- “You promised to protect me, but here I am totally devastated. How can I trust You?”
Lord Rama teaches a lesson to Sugriva
Sugriva becomes a ‘fake’ Jnani
In an earlier instance, when Sugreeva met the Lord he spoke as follows-
“After meeting you, I have developed an equal vision.
I am unable to see any differences between people- all because of your Grace.”
Hence, the Lord said coolly hinting at his prior statement-
“I could not see any difference between you and Vali.
I was afraid that the arrow would hit you by mistake.”
Immediately, Sugreeva realized the fallacy of his earlier statement.
He humbly said- “Oh Lord, I now realize what you are hinting at and I admit my mistake. I am incapable of being a Jnani. I realize my hypocrisy of denying the Truth and falsely aping a Jnani.”
Immediately, the Lord accepted Sugreeva and blessed him.
Thereafter, Sugreeva once again challenged Vali. In the combat that followed, the Lord distinguished between the two brothers and slayed Vali.
Role of Bhakti
Therefore, Bhakti belongs to a different dimension. Here it is to become so committed to the Lord that, with your love, the Lord is forced to be partial towards you.
Your love for the Lord is so deep and unchallenged that the Lord immediately makes himself available to root out your entire opposition.
This is the Bhakti partisan.
It was only after the Jnana conversation that Sugreeva totally surrendered to the Lord and got His Grace.
Once the devotee surrenders to the Lord, the Lord can identify the devotee in the mood of Bhakti.
Developing the mood of surrender
In normal circumstances the Lord is never partisan. He is equanimous or Sama-darshi. He has an equal eye and treats everyone with the same mood.
However the moment you surrender completely, you become very special to the Lord. You cannot forget Him and so can’t He. You shall always remain His favorite.
With the eyes of Bhakti, the Lord becomes overwhelmingly partial. He protects and safeguards your interests even in the most dreadful of circumstances.
This represents the Lord coming out of his hiding from behind the trees. Indeed, after you witness the Lord, you can never witness the trees of Karma again!
Thanks for reading!