Bali ruled the kingdom of Kishkindha. He was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who came before him lost half his strength to Bali, thereby making him invulnerable to any enemy. Once Ravan called Bali for a fight when he was doing his regular Shiva Puja. He took Ravan in his tail and took him around all the world. Humbled, Ravan called for a truce. Before dawn he used to go from the Eastern coast of sea to the Western coast and from the Northern coast of the sea to the Southern coast to pay his homage to Surya – the sun-god. He was so brave and powerful that on his way to pay homage to Surya, he used to toss the mountain peaks upward and catch them as if they were play balls. Also after completing the tedious task of paying homage to the Sun God in all the four directions, when he used to return to Kishkindha he did not feel any tiredness .
Bali was the husband of Tara. As one myth goes, fourteen types of gems were produced from the churning of ocean. One gem is that various Apsaras (divine nymphs) were produced and Tara was one of them ( Apsara). Bali who was helping devas in the churning of ocean, took Tara and married her. .
Bali was very courageous . When Sugriv challenged him for fight, Tara tried to stop him and begged him to not to go to fight Sugriv, by saying that it is a God (Ram) who is helping Sugriv and has come to Sugriv’s rescue. He replied to Tara that even if he is fighting against a God he can’t listen to a challenge for a fight and remain quiet. He added that even if the caller for the fight had been his own son Angada he would still go to fight.
Bali had been known as a good and pious vanara-king, but had been too outraged to heed his brother Sugriv after his brother had sealed the entrance to a cave in which he was fighting a rakshasa named Mayavi. Sugriv had mistaken the blood flowing out of the cave to be his brother’s, blocked the entrance to the cave with a boulder and left for Kishkindha, assuming that his brother was dead. When Bali had emerged victorious over the rakshasa, he had found that the entrance to the cave was blocked. He journeyed back to kingdom to find Sugriv ruling in his place. Sugriv humbly attempted to explain himself, Bali would not listen. As a result, Sugriv was ostracized from the kingdom, he forcibly took Sugriv’s main wife, Ruma, and the brothers became bitter enemies.
Sugriv challenged Bali to a fight. When he sallied forth to meet the challenge, Ram emerged from the forest to shoot and injured him with an arrow.
Ram faced the injured Bali. Ram could have killed him instantly with one arrow or he might have even shot another arrow to avoid facing him. But he choosed to keep him alive for some time so that he could ask questions which he was ready to answer. He told Ram if you were searching your wife you could have come to me for help and friendship. Whoever took Sita even if it is Ravan I have defeated them and would have taken them at you feet and at your mercy.
Ram’s slaying of Bali had a special significance. At the beginning Bali argued with Lord Ram, why he had to kill him in a cowardly way. Ram explained to him about the various purusharthas and showed him his Vishvarupa, and granted him moksha. Bali was then convinced and also asked his son Angada to stand by his uncle Sugriv and assist in the divine work of lord Ram. Angada, was made yuvaraja. Angada, joined Sri Ram’s army against Ravan
It was also said, Ram promised Bali to give him a chance to avenge his unjust murder. Bali was reincarnated as the hunter and archer Jara in Mahabharata (Dwapar Yug). Jara was the cause of the death of Shri Krishna (the reincarnation of Shri Ram) when he struck His feet by an arrow taking them to be a deer.