Tughlaq by Girish Karnad Questions and Answers
- Why are the Muslims and Hindus critical of the Sultan?
Mostly Muslims and a few Hindus are waiting outside the chief court of justice for the trial to conclude and the people to come out. They are discussing about Sultan’s administration and its faults. Few are happy with him. Some accuse him for the deterioration in administration. They say that Sultan has exempted the Hindus from paying “Jiziya” and he meets common people personally. He is making himself cheap. He is called anti-muslim though he orders to pray 5 times a day. Even the Hindus call him hypocrite. Thus both sides are critical of him.
- What was the case filed by the brahmin and its result?
One Vishnu Prasad filed a case alleging that his land was confiscated illegally by Govt. officials. So, he has demanded a compensation for this and the suffering resulting from the trouble. Now, Kazi-ul-Mumalik declares that the claim of the brahmin is just and as a compensation he must get 500 silver dinars from Govt. treasury and he would be given a post in civil service to ensure a regular income for himself.
- What is the rumour about the Sultan?
It is rumoured that the Sultan came to throne after murdering his own parents and that too at prayer time. It was given out that an elephant had gone must just at prayer time. There was a great confusion as large number people were killed and injured. His brother was also killed being unarmed. The Sultan’s own mother didn’t talk with him from that day. But, his step-mother was very anxious about Sultan’s welfare but, she too suspected him.
- Why does the Sultan want to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad?
Sultan demands the support of his people for his scheme of shifting his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and brotherhood. He says that this step is taken with the consent and approval of his ministers who are fully convinced that his large empire needs a capital at its heart. And, the new capital would not be subject to the raids of the enemy as Delhi is. He invites all to accompany him up to the new capital which will be the envy of the world.
- What is the real identity of the brahmin Vishnu Prasad?
The brahmin was asked to leave the court after the verdict was given. But, Azam waits to meet him. As Vishnu Prasad comes out, he is called by Azam, a pick-pocket. Azam recognises him to be Aziz, the dhobi who had been his fast friend, Azam can’t believe the act of his friend so easily but Aziz tells him that he was to test the sincerity and truthfulness of the Sultan. So, he disguised himself as a brahmin and field a case in the court.
- Why is the Sultan worried ?
The step-mother of Sultan asks him why he is passing sleepless nights. He replied that he is worried about the prosperity and well-being of people. He wants to do what no king had done so far. He will work for Hindu-Muslim unity, brotherhood, justice and peace in the country. He wants to die fighting for the cause of his ideals and his country. He is not worried about his enemies but about his subjects.
- Who revolted against the Sultan?
Sultan Muhammad’s troubles are mounting due to the treachery of two persons-Sheik Iman-ud-din and Ain-ulMulk, who revolted against the king. The former is turning the people in Kanpur against the Sultan and his boyhood friend Mulk whom Sultan made the Governor of Avadh is marching on Delhi with an army of 30 thousand soldiers while the Sultan hardly has 6 thousand soldiers to face him. But, the sultan decides to go to Kanauj and to face his opponents in a peculiar way.
- How does the sultan play his intrigue?
Being a crafty politician, Muhammad declares publicly that the great saint Iman-ud-din would address the people of Delhi and Sultan himself would be present in the meeting. But, none turns up as Sultan’s people forced common people for not coming to this meeting. Rather, he persuades the Imam to be his envoy to Mulk to prevent fighting and bloodshed. He says that the Muslim blood is precious and it should not be shed. Muslims must not be killed in the hands of Muslims. Like all muslims, Mulk also respects him too much. The Sheikh falls in the royal trap and becomes the royal envoy. But, the Sultan wanted to bring an end to the life of the Imam in this way.
- How is the Imam murdered?
The battle takes place at Kanauj. As soon as Ain-ul-Mulk comes to the front, the Sheikh dressed in royal dress standing on a gorgeous elephant and looking almost like the Sultan, gets ready to go to the other as royal envoy to make peace. But, before he can do so, symbol is given for attack by sounding the trumpet. Now, Sultan’s soldiers attack Ain-ulMulk and his army. In return, they take the Sheikh to be the Sultan and shoot so many arrows at him that soon he is dead and looks like a gory porcupine. Mulk didn’t give the call of attack but the Sultan. There was a lot of confusion and bloodshed.
- What plan was hatched against the king and how was it falsified?
The Sheikhs, the Amins and the Syyads were able to see the Sultan’s crafty nature. Ratan Singh invited Shihab-ud-din to this meeting of rebels. It was fixed that during prayer time when the entire hall will be unarmed, they will jointly kill the Sultan. The call of the muezzin would be the signal for attack. On the other hand, Sultan decides not to go any mosque but pray in a room. As soon as the rebels rise to attack him, 20 Hindu soldiers hidden behind the curtain attack the rebels and there is a great massacre. Actually, Ratan Singh cheated Shihab-ud-din as the latter’s father killed Ratan’s father and usurped his kingdom. The Sultan was mad with fury for Shihab’s treachery and killed him in no time.
- Describe the exodus to Daulatabad.
When the exodus from Delhi to Daulatabad begins, Muhammad tells, “Najib, I want Delhi vacated immediately. Every living soul in Delhi will leave for Daulatabad within a fortnight. I was too soft. I can see that now. They’ll only . understand the whip. Everyone must leave. Not a light should be seen in the windows of Delhi. Nothing but an empty graveyard of Delhi will satisfy me now”. He further says, “There will be no more praying in the kingdom, Najib. Anyone caught praying will be severely punished.” However, he says that praying will be allowed after the arrival of Abbasid whose presence will purify the kingdom. Then, only prayer could be granted.
- Describe the suffering of the people on the way to Daulatabad.
The people move on to Daulatabad according to the order of the Sultan. Thousands die on the way and there is much suffering. Cries of lamentation echo in the air. Rogues like Aziz and Aazam thrieve on the suffering of people. They make a lot of money. They get tired of their roguery and decide to make money in a big way. They will no more pinch any coins, they will now make them. They will make counterfeit copper coins and exchange them for silver coins. Such exchange shall be strictly in accordance with the orders of the Sultan
- Describe the big-fort in Daulatabad.
At the age of 21, Tughlaq built a big fort at Daulatabad, a fort so large and strong that it could only fall from within No enemy reach it from without. As an old man puts it, “Yes, it’s a long passage, a big passage coiled like an enormous hollow python inside the belly of the fort. And we shall be far, far happier when that python breaks out and swallows everything in sight-every man, woman, child and beast”. Muhammad has now his palace in this fort.
- Describe the spiritual loneliness of Sultan.
The Sultan is already spiritually lonely and tortured within. Barani is told by Sultan, – “It isn’t as easy as leaving the patient in wilderness because there is no cure for his disease. Don’t you see–this patient, racked by fever and crazed by the fear of the enveloping vulture, can’t be separated from me? Don’t you see that the only way I can abdicate is by killings myself ? I could have done something if the vulture weren’t so close. I could have crawled forward on my knees and elbows. But what can you do when every moment you expect a beak to dig into you and tear a muscle out? What can you do? Barani what vengeance is driving these shapes after me?”
- How is the Sultan frustrated?
The vultures are his ideals and his aspirations. That people call him mad Muhammad constantly haunt him, but he can not leave the path of tyranny and bloodshed, for that would indicate admission of his mistakes. This frustration is deepened when the death news of Najib is brought to him. But, later he knew that his step-mother poisoned Najib for she thought that Najib was misguiding the Sultan. So, the step-mother of Sultan, who loved Sultan the best was arrested and stoned for adultery.
- How did the Sultan pray to God?
Being heart-broken, the Sultan prays – “God, God, in Heaven please help me. Please don’t let go off my head. My skin drips with blood and I don’t know how much of it is mine and how much of others. I started in your path, Lord, why am I wandering naked in this desert now? I started in search of you. Why am I become a pig rolling in this gory mud? Raise me, clean me, cover me with your infinite mere I can only clutch at the hem of your cloak with my bloody fingers and plead. I can only beg have pity on me. I have no one but you now. Only you. Only you…you…….you…you…..”
- Describe the arrival of Abbasid.
Barani comes with the news that Abbasid has reached the Sultan’s kingdom and will soon be in Daultabad. In real he is Aziz in disguise with Aazam as his follower. When he does reach Daulatabad, he is given a royal welcome and public prayers are resumed from that moment. The people are starving and they badly need food and not prayers. There is a lot of shouting. Soldiers try to silence them and are attacked. A large scale riot began at Daulatabad. People are killed in thousands.
- How is Aazam murdered?
Aazam is tired of the idle life at Daultabad with Aziz disguised as Abbasid and he wants to go out and run away. One night, he saw the Sultan behaving like a mad, like a witch. Aazam tells Aziz not to feel afraid but to go to any safe place. He has already bribed two persons who will shortly come with two horses. He has already tied their belongings to a large bundle. Twice he has been through the secret passage that goes out through the castle. Aziz refused to do so. Aazam goes alone and is murdered as soon as he comes out of the secret passage. The horses and murderers disappear before anybody can see them.
- How does the play end?
After Aazam is murdered, Aziz is made the Governor of Deccan due to his unquestionable truthfulness to his Sultan Actually, it was Aziz who killed Aazam. However, the exhausted Sultan falls asleep on the throne. In time of public prayer, a servant tries to awaken him but soon gives up the effort. The play ends as Muhammad suddenly opens his eyes and looks round dazed and frightened as though he cannot comprehend where he is.” Has he gone mad ? It is for us to conjecture for the author has provided no answer to the question