Tara, the Queen of Kishkinda, was the wife of Vali, the Vanara King. She is one of the most under-spoken and definitely one of the most brilliant women in the Ramayana epic.
Her story starts with a buffalo demon by name Dundhubi.
Dundhubi was so arrogant and vain that he believed that he was strongest man in the world. The foolish demon went to the King of the Oceans.
“I will fight you and prove that I am the greatest warrior in the world!” Dundhubi said as he watched the Ocean waters, arrogantly.
The king of the Oceans rose up from the waters and shook his head. “I am not capable of giving you the fight that you want. King Himavan, the king of the mountains is the right person for that task.” The King of the Ocean said.
“Himavan?” Dundhubi asked in a sneering tone.
“Yes!” The King of the Ocean nodded. “He is the father-in-law of Lord Shiva himself and he shelters the sages in his caves and he has power of the mountains. He is the right person for you to fight.”
Dundhubi looked angrily at the King of the Ocean for the few minutes and then without a second glance, turned away from there.
Like an arrow shot from a bow, Dundhubi landed straight in the door steps of Himavan. Yelling hoarsely, Dundhubi pushed himself towards the mountains and pulled up rocks from the mountain.
“Give me a fight, King Himavan!” Dundhubi yelled. “The king of the Ocean said that you were the best person for me to fight with. Which is why I have come here. Fight me, so that I can prove to the world that I am the strongest person in the world.” Dundhubi said haughtily.
King Himavan watched the power hungry demon for a few minutes.
“Go to the city of Kishkinda. There you will find the son of Indra.” Himavan said with shining eyes. “His name is Vali.” Himavan smiled without meaning to and continued. “He will give you a fight.”
Dundhubi had no idea what a huge mistake he was about to make, as he approached the city of Kishkinda.
Meanwhile back in the city of Kishkinda, Vali was in his palace fast asleep with his wives. It was at that time that a loud roar was heard through the entire kingdom.
Being the king of the Vanaras, Vali ran outside of his palace and found Dundhubi there, looking fiercely at him. Vali’s wives followed him as they were standing around Vali to help him in case of need.
“Give me a fight.” Dundhubi yelled loudly. He then saw Vali and his wives and snorted. “I came here thinking that you would be able to give me a fight.” Dundhubi snorted again. “You were asleep. I do not deem it worthy to fight a man who is half asleep.” Dundhubi said trying to walk away.
Vali was enraged as he saw the buffalo headed demon. “You dare make fun of me? You think I need to be awake to fight a pathetic creature like you?” Vali demanded angrily as he pulled the golden pendant he wore around his neck, coming forward.
Vali realized that the foolish demon really did not know much about him. The pendant that Vali was wearing was no ordinary pendant. It was a gift from his father – Indra. The power of the pendant was such that if any person who challenged the person wearing the pendant, the challenger would lose half his strength.
Without further talk, Vali engaged Dundhubi in a fight, then and there. And it was a really gruesome fight. Though Dundhubi tried to hurt Vali, Vali was way more powerful. In no time at all, Vali hurled the badly injured Dundhubi, far back. In a few more minutes, Vali effortlessly won the fight against Dundhubi and killed the demon.
And then Vali proved his actual strength. Vali lifted the dead demon and flung him far away.
And that was Vali’s mistake.
Because Dundhubi’s body landed in the ashram of the Sage Matang.
The sage was angry because that disturbed his meditation. Furious on seeing his hermitage destroyed, the sage used the powers of his meditation and realized who had done this.
“I curse you, Vali. And I also curse any of your friends in this forest.” the sage thundered angrily. “If any of you ever come within one “yojana” (a measure of distance) of my hermitage, you would be petrified.” the sage cursed.
Vali’s Vanara friends were living in the forest and when they heard the words of the sage, they all hurried away from the forest and they told Vali all about the curse of the sage.
Vali tried apologizing to the sage. But it was of no use. The sage was adamant and the curse was not even modified.
Many days after this event, another demon called Mayavi challenged Vali to a fight. And this time Vali was in his court in the kingdom. Not shying away from the challenge, Vali fought the demon and easily defeated the demon.
Facing defeat, the demon fled the kingdom. Vali was however not satisfied and he and his brother Sugriva gave chase to Mayavi.
Mayavi fled into a cave slightly further away from the kingdom.
Vali was about to enter the cave after the demon, when he called upon his brother Sugriva. “Though the demon is tired and has lost a lot of blood, be careful.” Vali told his brother. “If I do not make it out of the cave, close the cave and go back to Kishkinda.”
Sugriva watched his brother, looking scared, as Vali nodded. “Take care of Kishkinda, if anything happens to me.”
Sugriva was speechless but before he could say anything, Vali went inside the cave.
And inside the cave, Vali and Mayavi, fought. Sugriva was guarding the cave outside. The fight went on, not for a day or two but for twenty eight days.
And suddenly on the twenty eighth day, from inside the cave, came a blood curdling scream.
Sugriva was getting nervous outside the cave. And he thought of the worst when he heard the scream. He was sure that his brother was no more. Sugriva closed the mouth of the cave with a huge rock and ran back to the Kishkinda.
He told the people all that had happened there.
And as Vali was no more, Sugriva being the younger brother was crowned as the king of Kishkinda.
As Vali was presumed dead, his widow Tara married Sugriva.