tughlaq | Hindu | Postcolonialism

Historical Fictions and Postcolonial Representation: Reading Girish Karnad's Tughlaq Author(s): Aparna Dharwadker Source: PMLA, Vol

. 110, No. 1, Special Topic: Colonialism and the Postcolonial Condition (Jan., 1995), pp. 43-58 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/463194 . Accessed: 11/04/2013 04:41
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1995). also qtd. instead of defining it as . Such essentialism.111. My argumentis that in colonial and postcolonial contexts. and Global Voices (Blair.a resultantof the vection of the forces operatingin the field of historicalevolution"(108..44 on Thu. 1994). Essays of hers are forthcoming in Mod- ern Dramaand The Sourcebook of PostcolonialEnglish and CulturalTheLiteratures ory (Greenwood. in Said 97). The subaltern position thus relatesneocolonialist discourse in Britain to neonationalist discourse in India and impliIndianhistoriansin furthermisrepresentations cates postindependence of theirhistory. largely elides the interpenetrationof "true" and "fictive"modes in historical writing. particularly emerged since the appearanceof EdwardW. 'the object' of study.restructuring.however. The Pen- guin New Writing in India (Viking. been instrumental which ascribes a similar ahistoricity to Indian civilizations and makes similarclaims to a privilegedknowledge of the Orient. seventeenth-century HE COMPLICITY between historical discourse and colonialist of domination and self-legitimation has cultural strategies as a majorpreoccupationin postcolonial studies. Said's conceptionof orientalismas "a Westernstyle for and having authorityover the Orient" has also dominating. She is completing a book-length study of the politics of comic and historical forms in latedrama.'Subalternhistorianshave extendedthe antiorientalist argument by comparingthe "colonialist elitism" of British historians with the "bourgeois-nationalist elitism" of Indian historians."a type of synchroniceslargely a displacementof "history" sentialism that denies the Orientboth historicity and historical agency. "transfixes the being. Said's Orientalismin 1978 and the launching of subalternstudies as a collective project in 1982. within its inalienable and non-evolutive specificity. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Dharwadker Aparna Historical and Postcolonial Girish Reading Representation: Karnad's Tughlaq Fictions asAPARNADHARWADKER. Said describes the Westernhistoricalenterprisein Egypt and the Middle East as by "vision. Her collaborative translations have been pub- lished in The OxfordAnthology of ModernIndianPoetry (Oxford UP. both of which groups enforce the prejudiced view thatthe developmentof nationalconsciousness and the making of the Indian nation were "exclusively or predominantly elite achievements" (Guha 1).184. legitimized histories coexist and often 43 This content downloaded from 115. a product. and modern drama. sistant professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. contemporary Indian writing.. works in eighteenth-century British literature. 1995). The antiorientalistand subalterncritiqueof colonial and neocolonial historiography. 1994). in Anouar Abdel-Malek's words. in Indiain dismantlingBritishcolonial historiography.

which works "without any consideration of might or weakness.Finally. This reasoning so alienates provincial Muslim noblemen and religious leaders that they plot to assassinateTughlaq.3 I focus next on the problem of historical knowledge by identifyingstrategiesof mediationin the medieval and orientalisthistories that form the basis of Karnad'sfiction.In postcolonial India. In this essay I use a contemporary Indianhistorical play. he reconceives the move to the Deccan as an act of vengeance on the This content downloaded from 115.because "Daulatabad is a city of the Hindus.althoughTughlaq foils the coup in his palace. and portions of his text. those associated with leaders like MahatmaGandhi. where the past now appears to be largely an orientalist(mis)construction. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .In the first scene (set in Delhi in 1327). religion or creed" (3). I first describe the narrativeand outline the paradigmatic qualitiesof Tughlaq-as an ironic fiction linked to European and Indian modes of representingIndianhistory and as a historical parallel capable of engaging at multiple levels the memory and experience of postcolonial Indian audiences.fictions involving history must inevitably draw attention to the inheritedproblems of historicalrepresentation. and as the capital it will symbolize the bond between Muslims and Hindus which I wish to develop and strengthen in my kingdom" (4). Using Barani's basic narrative. I consider the congruence between the historical narrativeof Tughlaq and the crisis of secular na- tionhoodin postindependence India. since a serious historical "fiction" both emerges from and returnsto "history". Karnad's primary historical source is the Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi (1357). argument. I then show how the action of Tughlaqsequentiallyinvokes the most powerful modern Indian models of political action. As HaydenWhite argues. his attitudes. spent seventeen years at Tughlaq's court but died in self-imposed poverty the year the work was completed. to chart the complex textual and cultural ramifications of postcolonial historicalfictions. though. Karnadarrangesthe thirteen scenes of Tughlaq as a sequence of self-canceling actions that articulateboth political and psychological ironies. Tughlaq invites his subjects to celebrate a new system of justice. historical fictions can work precisely to neutralizeor to repudiatethe figurationsof institutional history and can serve as alternativesources of historical knowledge for audiences ideologically resistant to the dominantnarratives. and IndiraGandhi. my analysis of the postcolonial uses of history should apply to historical fictions in a variety of genres. overtly fictional forms of historical writing that perform complex epistemological and cultural functions and intervene significantly in the discourse of history.44 on Thu.2My object is not to fit the play to a predetermining theory of historical dramabut to demarcate the textual traditions and cultural-politicalcontexts in which the play is implicated.indeed. a chronicle history whose author. and ideological implication. But the only characterto benefit from this utopian move is a low-caste Muslim washerman. Tughlaq announces his decision to shift his capitalfrom Delhi to Deogir (which he renames Daulatabad). history is a narrative prose discourse ordered through various modes of emplotment. Zia-ud-dinBarani.111.184. Aziz. historyserves as a narrative The Narrative of Tughlaq and the Effects of Historical Representation The protagonist of Karnad's play is Muhammad bin Tughlaq.44 Reading GirishKarnad'sTughlaq collide with nonhistoriographic. JawaharlalNehru. a brilliant but spectacularly unsuccessful fourteenth-century Islamic sultan of Delhi known popularly as Mad Muhammad. At anotherlevel. Later in the first scene. Politically. the play shows Tughlaq's futile attempts to be just and liberal toward a majority Hindu population that he is obliged as an Islamic rulerto persecute. The two kinds of narrativesare fundamentallyintertextual. Girish Karnad'sTughlaq(1964).While the particularobject of analysis here is a play. and the historianperforms an "essentiallypoetic act"in prefiguringand explaining historical events (x). even as they re-present history and invest it with new (but not necessarily ideal) meanings. since the problems of received history and the possibilities of contemporaryreference are present whenever source. at one level they can be regardedas alternativeforms of figuralrepresentation. who assumes the identity of a poor Hindu Brahman to win a false judgment against the sultan and secure a position at court. a city eight hundred miles away on the Deccan plateau.

as the outsiderwithdrawsfrom directpolitical control This content downloaded from 115. a descendant of the Baghdad khalifas (caliphs). it has been effectively marginalized by the later periods of Mughal and British imperialism.In a last. these ironies show Tughlaqjockeying for position among such friends and adversaries as an incestuous stepmother. to visit and sanctify his new capital." Karnad'srefiguration of history and his use of the doppelganger motif create complex verbal. because Aziz is his only futurecompanion. In the colonial period the satiric mode is practiced by British modernizers and Indian reformists.Vinay Dharwadker describes these antithetical.or sentimentalstance for the purpose of celebration. Developed mainly in scenes 2-4. The satiric mode employs irony. and when the action resumes in Daulatabad after a five-year interval (sc.murdersGhiyas-uddin and supplants him in the palace. AnanthaMurthyanalyzes in his introduction to the English translation of Tughlaq (viii-ix). 8). Tughlaqretrieves and makes current the relatively unfamiliarphase of Islamic imperialism in India known as the sultanate period (twelfth to early sixteenth century). disease. Sheikh Imam-ud-din. Tughlaq participates in the dialectic of "heroic"and "satiric"discourses that has shaped Europeanand Indian constructions of India since the late eighteenth century. Karnad'splay reinscribesthe narrativeof Tughlaq in the audience's memory. social and political institutions. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is Aziz.however. respectively. The heroic and satiricmodes of representation are broad strategies for. Aziz becomes a counterfeiter. The second-level ironies in the play uncover Tughlaq's sadistic. and the heroic mode by European culturalrelativists and Indian nationalists. who after his initital coup pairs up with his childhood friend Aazam to subvert every one of Tughlaq's well-intentioned moves. however. At the end of the play. The sultanateis historically importantin the record of Islamic conquest. and economic chaos that signal the collapse of his empire (scs. a hauntedand exhaustedTughlaqacknowledgesthat he cannotpunishAziz. reading. structural. and ridicule for the purpose of attack. thinking. invective. however.refininglegend and oral traditionthrougha detailedhistoricalreenactment.111.Aparna Dharwadker 45 people of Delhi (sc. At the end Tughlaq is left to contemplate in dismay the famine. 9-13). First. In both modes of representation. and the unprecedented complication of religious interests. Tughlaq invites Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid. and introducedIslam as a dominant political and cultural force on the subcontinent. punishment. R. The collective journey to Daulatabad becomes a nightmare of starvation. and interpretation"that emerge from the mutuallytransformative encounter between India and the West in the colonial period and continue into the present (2: 224). now a highway robber. 5). rebellions. through the tropological resources of irony. But Aziz.and catharticviolence. manipulativeimpulses and undercuthis image of himself as an exemplary ruler. But the play's paradigmaticqualities as a historical fiction and its culturalvitality derive principallyfrom the multifold engagementwith history that lies behind the words. and Barani has used his own mother's death as an excuse to leave the court. 6-7).which U. which ended the hegemony of classical Hinduism. and death (scs. Tughlaq'ssubjects are hardenedto a life of loneliness. praising and denigrating the historical traditions. whereas the discourse of the Indian insider is largely self-reflexive. In postcolonial times.44 on Thu. and culturaland civic practices that constitute India as subject. despairing attempt to bring peace and legitimacy to his reign. Tughlaq's real nemesis and inverted double (and Karnad'sprincipalfictional invention) in this psychodrama. and a powerful but credulous religious rival. particularly in northernIndia. religious and philosophicalsystems. Second. the discourse of the European outsider is directed at the native other. During the journey to Daulatabad Aziz reappearsin his Brahmandisguise to extort money from sick and dying travelers. the evolution of political institutions. constantly interacting discourses as "two intricatelyconstitutedbodies of knowledge. romantic.184. the historian Barani. Tughlaq has been left entirely alone by the time he confronts the imposter: his stepmother has been stoned to death for poisoning Prime Minister Najib. When Tughlaq attempts to revive the imperial economy by issuing copper coins with the same token values as gold and silver. writing. and psychological patterns.his "trueand loyal disciple.the heroic mode adopts an idealistic. In the collective memory of contemporaryIndian audiences.

multigeneric body of modernIndianwriting-represented metonymically by Tughlaq-draws on history and myth as narrative sources precisely to reappraise and deidealize the past. attemptto rediscover in history the ideal narratives with which to supplant the colonists' denigratory accounts and mobilize cultural opposition to British colonial dominance. 27-34). and the historical plays of Jaishankar Prasad in Hindi. of legendary "Easternemperors" like Marlowe's Tamburlaine and Dryden's Aureng-Zebe.184." gives legitimacy to the new nation. such as James Mill's History of British India (1817) and Vincent Smith's Early History of India (1904). The continued dialectic of heroic and satiric modes in postindependence Indian writing. however. but their effect is to problematize. the golden age of classical Hinduism serves as a rhetorical frame of reference or as a fictional setting to neutralizethe indignitiesof colonial subjection. As Ronald Inden suggests. The hegemonic orientalist texts of Indianpolitical and economic history. The nationalistcounteroffensive against orientalistreductionsof Indianhistory and culture is most intense between about 1890 and 1940 and produces philosophical and polemical as well as literary texts. historiography. At the same time.111.and appropriated the history of Tughlaq and to question institutionalized history as a source of knowledge. this literature fills "the epistemological gaps [in] the non-science of history.6 This content downloaded from 115.history is like a row of pickle jars on a shelf.44 on Thu. a multilingual. which portray the reign of the seventh-century Hindu emperor Harshavardhanaas the apex of India's greatness. precludes a unilateral appropriationof history. for instance.5As Saleem Sinai (the hero "mysteriously handcuffedto history")warns at the end of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. not to perpetuate. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . It includes. transmitted. the received history of Tughlaq. often cynical reflexivity undermines heroic nationalist and neonationalist constructions of history and urges the culture as a whole to revise (and modernize) its self-perceptions (Dimock et al. This interaction of discursive modes is especially relevantto a historicalplay like Tughlaq.creating a complex ideological and intertextualconnection between history. national integration. in fact. To adapt a comment by Doris Sommer. The end of colonialism naturallyintensifies this interest in history by giving the new nation's "free" citizens the opportunity to repossess their past. and his own fiction. the English-languagelecturesand essays of Swami Vivekananda. Karnad revives the paradoxical Tughlaqof history and occasionally constructshis dialogue verbatimfrom historical documents. as the antithesis. "waiting to be unleashed upon the amnesiac nation" (549).4 In all these works. the insider increasingly shapes the historical and contemporary understanding of the culture with heroic self-praise or satiric self-criticism (Dharwadker 2: 241). The text of the play urges the reader (particularly the contemporary Indian reader) to scrutinize the premodernand colonial institutions that have recorded. these texts present the traditions of oriental civilizations as "irrationalmalformations"in order to justify "theremoval of humanagency from the autonomous Othersof the East and [its placement]in the hands of the scholars and leaders of the West" ("Orientalist Constructions" 421). which assert the power of Hindu "spiritualism"(as embodied in Vedic texts and Vedanticphilosophy) to resist Western"materialism". The play presents a protagonist whom medieval Muslim and nineteenth-century British orientalist historiographershave constructedas an exceptionally intelligent yet incapable ruler. Bal GangadharTilak's commentary on the BhagavadGita in Marathi. and directs its history towardsa "futureideal" (76). The third level of engagement with history in Tughlaqis linked to the second: Karnad'sironies may appearto replicate the satiric stance of orientalist texts. parallel Hegel's philosophical defense of Europeanimperialismin Asia. A sizable literature of nationalism. Such skeptical. The works of Indian culturalnationalists.and nation worship (desh-bhakti)creates and sustains a view of the past very similar to that of the earlier cultural nationalists.which advocatesthe ideals of practical action and spiritual discipline embodied in an ancient epic warriorhero. in contrast. particularly in India.because "history" is central to the dialectic in both the colonial and the postcolonial periods.46 Reading GirishKarnads Tughlaq of the colony and attacks or praises his or her object from a distance.

so that the meaning of a parallel is accretive as well as open-ended. and the acts of Islamic rulers. 1400-34) assign a didactic religious purposeto historical writing and make the Islamic cause a basis for judging all political events and actions (Hardy 17-19. This criterion cannot be universal. Islamic tradition (hadith). IndiraGandhi. Tughlaqgrounds the problematic unity of the nation in historically inheritedpluralities of religion and community that thwartthe construction even of a national perspective.and the larger sociopolitical situation that contains author. A decade later. the play appeared to be an uncannily accurate porand opportrayal of the brilliant but authoritarian tunistic political style of Nehru's daughter and successor. The Historical Intertexts of Tughlaq The "history" of Muhammad bin Tughlaq is the product primarily of medieval Muslim and colonial British traditions of historiography. Tughlaq is resonant as a historical parallel because it incorporates the problemsof historicaldiscontinuity and mediation yet creates a convincing synchrony between premodernand contemporary India.Peter Hardyidentifies two levels of mediationin the institutionalized historiographyof medieval India. for instance. For the audience of the 1960s.Aparna Dharwadker 47 Finally. Shams-ud-din Siraj Afif (b. expectations. 113-21). self-sufficient historical narrativethat a contemporaryaudience can apply to its own situation.111. text. 1356).as a form of knowledge essential for the salient aspects of Islam: the life understanding of the Prophet. because in the Indiancontext "the audience's knowledge" of history is both discontinuousand heavily mediated.184. the synchronic force of parallels seems to depend on a sense of "the continuity between past and calls a "cenpresent. Tughlaqinvokes significant elements in modern Indian political and culturalexperienceby presentingan ostensibly unpolemical. At a particularhistorical moment this meaning depends collectively on the author's manipulation of history. Bhabha speaks of a movement from "the problematic unity of the nation to the articulationof culturaldifference in the construction of an internationalperspective" (5). 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . whose modes of ideological implication have only recently begun to be scrutinized.The second is the politics of power relations between groups that are separatedby religious or racial difference. "one of the simplest ways a writercan achieve such continuity is to play on the audience'sknowledge of what has happenedin history since the time of the play" (5). This content downloaded from 115. At the first level. 1357).and twentieth-centuryorientalists. the audience's knowledge. as Hardy comments. Karnad's play expressed the disenchantment and cynicism that attended the end of the Nehru era (1947-64) in Indian politics. Lindenberger's position also does not stress sufficiently that an audience or interpretive community possesses both knowledge of and attitudes towardhistory that change over time. In Western conceptions of historical drama. Barani's overall purpose.44 on Thu. and audience.Now (yet anotherfifteen or so years later) Tughlaq seems concerned less with specific figures than with two general political issues that have become dominantin the public sphere. In the Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi. and interpretiveinclinations. one characteristic of the medieval Muslim historians. Zia-ud-din Barani (d.Its social and political applicationshave also evolved over the past three decades as postindependence Indian politics have taken unpredictable directions. in a society that is poised between secular and fundamentalist ideologies.The first is the untenabilityof the idealistic and visionary politics that Nehru and Mahatma Gandhipracticedas nationalleaders and valorized in their respective meditations on political action-The Discovery of India and The Story of My Experimentswith Truth. The context of an emergent but precarious twentieth-century Indian nationhood is thus an effective point of convergence for past and present experience in Karnad'spostcolonial fiction. is "to educate Muslim sultans. Muslim historians like Amir Khusrau Dehlawi (1253-1325).the other of nineteenth.Baranidefines history as a source of instructive examples that promote virtue and discourage vice but. more significantly." According to Lindenberger. in a move that is characteristic of the historical parallel as a genre."which HerbertLindenberger tral assumption in history plays of all times and styles. however. and Yahya ibn Ahmad Sihrindi (fl. Whereas Homi K.

duringthe reign of his orthodox." causing Muslim graveyardsto spring up "all aroundDeogir. This content downloaded from 115. were disgusted with their ruler" (161). .7He observes that thoughthe intrinsicvalue of these works may be small . [and] pined to death. the executionof truebelievers."especially since Barani belonged to the class of ulema (Islamic scholars) whose political role Tughlaq attempted to curb.111. . and science. . high and low. privileges everconcededto a conquered nation. After noting briefly Tughlaq's accomplishments in the (politically useless) arts of calligraphy.Baranideliberately selects materialthat portraysTughlaq as a foolish apostate who ruined his empire by pursuing the wrong beliefs and following the wrong advice (Hardy37). These judgments may have been in part politically expedient. and the Hindus of the various provinces coined crors [crores] and lacs [lakhs] of copper coins" (164. a lakh is a hundredthousandunits of currency. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which is an infidel land" (163). . since the Tarikhappeared several years after Muhammad Tughlaq'sdeath." because Tughthe house of every Hindu into a laq's edict "turned mint.with him becamea practice and a passion. Most of the uprooted population died during the long journey. those who arrived "could not endure the pain of exile . whichareproductive of indifference andhardness of heart. . and the decay of the people. Thepunishment of Musulmans.explained as a result of his lack of religion. . In short." and a series of rebellions in the provinces that indicated that "the minds of all men. Tughlaq is by far the most unsatisfactory. Not a day or week passed stroyedthe flourishingIslamic capital of Delhi and cost thousands of Muslim lives. We shouldno longerhearbombastic Baboos. they will make our native subjects more withoutthe spillingof muchMusulman blood. in their duty towardsIslam"(25). N.rantaboutpatriotism andthe degradation of theirpresent position. In this perspective the move to Deogir was disastrous because it de- sensibleof theimmense to them advantages accruing under the mildness and equity of our rule. Tughlaq'sindiscriminatecruelty.. and thy of attention.a croreis ten million units). . But the religious grounds for Barani's position are unambiguous:Tughlaqis a repugnant subject who disregarded the Qur'an in dealing with both the faithful and the faithless and attempted to limit Islam's influence in the political andjudicial processes. "ideally"Islamic successor Firoz Shah (ruled 1351-88). a four-volume "guide" to premodernhistorical accounts compiled by the colonial administrator HenryElliot.enjoying under ourGovernment thehighestdegreeof personal andmanymorepolitical thanwere liberty. Of the eight sultans whom Barani judges according to these principles (covering the political history of the Delhi sultanatefrom 1266 to 1357).andthe utterances culcatebenevolenceandhumilityandhold out the of future werenotdeemed worprospect punishment. hada powerful influenceover him. therefore becomes a central concern in the Tarikh. Peter Hardy is the first modern historian to argue on the basis of such evidence that Barani's religious orthodoxy shaped his "history. and the running of streams of gorebeforethe entrance of his palace. but he is harshestwhen he believes Tughlaq acts against the interests of Islam or of the sultanate's Muslim subjects. the introduction of copper currency (in itself a progressive move) "increasedthe daring and arroganceof the disaffected in Hindustan. Chaudhuri has agreedthatBaraniwas "stronglycriticalof any public policy not in harmonywith the religious traditions of Islam"(83). as a sign of the necessity and superiority of British colonial rule. Surprisingly. The classic statement of this position is the prefaceto the Bibliographical Index to the Historians of MuhammedanIndia.Early in the work Baranicomplainsthat the dogmasof philosophers. But the declarations of the holy of the Prophets. More recently.and augmentedthe pride and prosperity of all the Hindus.44 on Thu.orientalisthistorians treat the turmoil of Islamic rule in India teleologically.. Barani focuses on two major signs of the ruler'spolitical failure:a series of misthat "effectedthe ruin of the Sulguided "projects" tan's empire.48 Tughlaq Reading Girish Karnad's and in particularthe sultans of Delhi. At the second level of mediation. Similarly. poetry.metaphor. K. whichinbooks.. (160) Barani is also opposed to antipopulistmoves in general.184.

Tughlaq and Modern Indian Models of Political Action Karnad. The problem. is increasingly evident in the work of Indian historians. the play intervenes actively in the controversyby presentingan explanatorypsychological profile of its enigmatic hero and by thematizing the issues of culturaldifference inherentin the historicaldebate.111. 'counterpoiseof Indians against Indians.184. Chaudhuridescribes Tughlaq's experiment with token currencyas a serious innovation. In the inauguralvolume of a projectedannualseries entitled Medieval India." and so. Romila Thapar comments in her History of India that the era of Islamic conquest. H. anticipating by half a century the introduction of papercurrencyin China (83). but with the severerdiscipline of molten lead or (1: xx-xxi) empalement. he remarks that the twenty-year period of to the Tughlaq'sdecline offereda "striking parallel" This content downloaded from 115.in the days of thatdarkperiodfor whosereturn theysigh. Christianityand Westernconceptions of monarchy would presumably have developed Tughlaq's moral sense along with his intellect. Irfan Habib ("Formation") and I. The acts of cruelty that Barani attacks as unIslamic Elliot views as confirmations of the absolute supremacyof Westernover Easternpolitical institutions-a supremacythat rendersthe pseudorepublican aspirationsof English-educatednative baboos ridiculousat best. since many institutionsof present-dayIndia began to take enduring shape during this period" (1: 264).Aparna Dharwadker 49 mentioned If theywoulddiveintoanyof thevolumes andPhoherein. Vincent Smith finds it "astonishing that such a monster should have retained power for twenty-six years.'" evolved by the British Army Commission (21)." According to Lane-Poole. stresses the "contemporaneity"of the play's history-that is. as Nizami points out. is that Elliot's work has been "thebasis of countless textbooks on Indianhistory. Siddiqui use extensive documentaryevidence to discuss neglected subjects like the formation of the ruling class in the thirteenth century and social mobility in the Delhi sultanate. This historiographicinitiative must be recognized as partof the culturalcontext of Tughlaq. the sultan made no allowance for the "nativedislike of innovations. Since independence. Nizami comments that in presentingthe historical literatureof medieval India Elliot "blackenedthe Indianpast to glo- rify the British present and used medieval Indian history as an instrumentfor the implementationof the formula.even the bare utteranceof their ridiculousfantasieswould not with silence andcontempt. A. Mohammad Taghlak was a transcendent failure" (125). excellent ideas. "with the best intentions. but in the absence of these civilizing influences he surrendered to tyrannyand madness. In a 1971 interview.44 on Thu. and then have died in his bed" (OxfordHistory 254). .in his occasional comments on Tughlaq. The ideological resistance to orientalist positions. havebeen attended. the resemblanceto particularphases in the political experience of postcolonial Indiawhile maintaining thatthe play is not an allegoryof any one political figure or event. far from being "the darkage. MountstuartElphinstone acknowledges Tughlaq as "one of the wonders of the age" but ascribes to him a "perversion of judgment which . no sense of proportion. but no balance or patience. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Muslim historiansin India have presented a stronger form of Hardy's argument about Britain's appropriation of medieval India and have charged the orientalistswith a systematic misconstructionof pre-MughalIndianhistory for imperialist ends.it wouldtaketheseyoungBrutuses cions a very shorttime to learn. K. .that. Stanley Lane-Poole sees in Tughlaq's career the tragedy of a man of ideas whose "greatmistake-a capital errorin an eastern country-was that he could not let well or ill alone. As visionary interpretation I show in the following sections.and the virus so imperceptibly injected by Elliot has dangerously affected the ideology of threegenerations" (22).since the object of reis the same in the play. leaves us in doubt whetherhe was not affected by some degree of insanity"(1: 59). which marksthe move toward a revisionary history of medieval India. After the mid-nineteenthcenturyorientalisthistorians who write about medieval India thus draw on both Barani and Elliot to cast Tughlaq as the brilliant but unprincipledoriental despot." is a "formativeperiod which rewardsdetailed study.

tolerant. and othersduringthe 1920s and 1930s. Westernpolitical comparatists describeIndiaas the "firstgreatpost-colonialstate"(Lyon). Nehru.44 on Thu. then. the violent Sikh and Muslim separatist movements in the northernstates of Punjaband Kashmir(continuous and unresolvedsince the late 1970s). At another level. Abul KalamAzad. has acquired new urgency. have turned into militaryregimes or one-partystates (Low 270-74). that the most interesting feature of the politics of the 1960s was "the way the newly enfranchised electoratewas slowly becoming awareof the power placed in its hands for the firsttime in history. with visionaryleaderThe nation'sdisenchantment and the ship consequent emergence of a populist thus politics appear to be. The demandfor a separatePakistanundercut this idea tragicallyand led to the traumaof partition in 1947. and how they respond to the idea of equality. which has now approached a condition of pervasive crisis while still retaining-almost inexplicably-its constitutive democratic features. for Karnad. the play acts out a polaritythathas fundamentallyshapedmoder political consciousness in India: the distinction between politics as the selfless extension of individual spirituality (Mahatma Gandhi) and vision (Nehru)and politics as the self-serving. but by embodyingboth impulses within Tughlaq. as a pluralistic society that is exemplary in the Commonwealth Third World because it has ethnic rivalry(Mayall and successfully "contained" and as a tenacious Payne 9)."neither of which tendency "augur[s] well for long-term stability" (Kohli. and. At one importantlevel.multiformpolitical entity was centralto the nationalistthinkingthat emerged under the leadership of Gandhi. for instance.SanjayGandhi. The suspensionof "Majority democratic processes during the national emergency of June 1975 to March 1977. Assessments of currentIndianpolitics. democracythathas remained a multipartystate while most postcolonial nations in Africa. Tughlaq offers an ironic. Muslim.8 The commentary on leadership begins in the play's opening scene with a stronginvocationof the Gandhian paradigm of political action. Sikh. In a 1989 essay on Indian theater Karnadobserves.secularsociety in India. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . emphasizea "steadyweakeningof well-established institutions and the increased mobilization of diverse political groups. the play's narrative emphaseshave shifted significantlyto accommodate the evolution of Indian postcolonialism. In this situation. The "idea of India"as an assimilative. Karnad'sportrayal of how differentreligious groups coexist.These two models of political action in turnimply radicallydifferentrelationsbetween leaders and citizens. The fundamentalist and secessionist movements of the last fifteen or so years have severely tested the concept of a pluralistic.50 Reading GirishKarnad'sTughlaq first two decades of Indian independence under Nehru's idealistic but troubledleadership and that Nehru was remarkablylike Tughlaqin the propensity for failure despite an extraordinaryintellect (Paul). to MinorityRule"21). however. Enmeshed in this experience. sometimes demonic expression of individual fantasies of power (evidencedin IndiraGandhi. One of Tughlaq's subjects remarksthat Tughlaq is a king who "isn'tafraidto be human. and Hindu fundamentalistleaders). again in the context of Tughlaq. Democracy). Karnadalso suggests a radical identity between them. Tughlaq now invokes not merely the loss of political innocence in the of the largerpolitical 1960s but the gradualattrition and cultural processes that created the "imagined community" of India as an independent nation in the mid-twentiethcentury.184."while anotherwon- This content downloaded from 115. clearly prophetic commentary on the ideology of secularism and the forces that subvert that ideology. In the course of thirtyyears. the most compelling contemporaryreferentsfor his historical fiction. in contrast.111. as a country whose postindependence regimes have derived their political legitimacy from "a long-standing heritage of overarching political authority"(Low 299). more recently.The other equally visible movement was the gradual displacement of pre-independence idealism by hard-nosed political cynicism" ("Theatre"342). the assassinations of IndiraGandhi(October 1984) and her son Rajiv Gandhi (May 1991). and the brutal confrontations over religious and communal issues (especially since 1989) are key stages in the sociopolitical decline that has brought about India's "crisis of governability"(Kohli. Yet the play was not meant to be either an "obviouscommenton Nehru"or an "exactparallel" of the present.

and at the beginning of Karnad'splay Tughlaq is seeking exactly such a state. public meeting launchedthe movementprematurely.and by institutinga judicial process in which he can be sued by his subjects. to borrow Erik H. and a capacity to impose on his time what most concerns him-which he does so convincingly that his time believes this concern to have emanated 'naturally' from ripe necessities" (395). this sense of intense identity with the people is closely linked with both a desire for cultural modernity and an acute selfconsciousness abouthistory.111. For Tughlaq. for instance. "I was not interested in making some political arrangement which would enable our people to carry on more or less as before. Gandhi comments thatin 1919. particularlyin his role as the so-called architectof independentIndia. Tughlaq has shocked his subjects-Hindu and Muslim alike-by abolishing thejiziya. but only if they have complete faith in him.as Nehruwas throughout ure as prime minister. ForI havealwaysheldthatit is only whenone sees one's own mistakeswith a convex lens. however. anddoesjust thereversein the case of othof the ers. that almost from the beginning these paradigms of purity and wholeness are undercutby Tughlaq'ssecond persona-that of the masterpolitician-which marginalizesthe ethical and turns the most serious public crises into This content downloaded from 115. The presence of the historianBaranias a character in the play also ensures that Tughlaq is always conscious of his role as historical subject and his tenshaperof history.Aparna Dharwadker 51 ders why the emperor has "to make such a fuss aboutbeing human. he also describes to the courtier Shihab-ud-din his "hopes of building a new future for India" (40). Tughlaq expresses to his stepmotherthe same desire for a transformativeunion with his "people. "full of dislike for the present as well as for many of the relics of the past. Tughlaqsimilarly announces that he has to mend his subjects' ignorant minds before he can think of their souls (22). 56).which is "essentially a weapon of the truthful.." so that he may share with them the heady knowledge that "[h]istoryis ours to play with-ours now!" (10).. and I wanted to release these and make them feel young and vital again" (50." It is in terms of Erikson's assessment of Gandhi that Karnad's early characterization of Tughlaqcan best be understood:"The great leader creates for himself and for many others new choices and new cares. a discriminatory poll tax on Hindus prescribedin the Qur'anfor nonbelievers. My confession broughtdown upon me no small amount of ridicule. A few scenes later. He wants his people to follow him.I further believethata scrupulous andconscientiousobservance of thisruleis necessary forone who wantsto be a Satyagrahi..184. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In Karnad'splay. as for Nehru.perhapsmost memorablyin his address of 15 August 1947. Erikson'sterm for Gandhi. in which the leader experiences intense love for the people and expects to be loved in turn.Nehru's approachto public action is best describedas the romanceof leadership." is a state of complete spiritualpreparednessin the leader as well as in his followers. (424) The precondition for political action in Gandhian satyagraha. a shocking originality."Nehru observes.The humilityand self-questioningnecessary for such public confessions of errorare fundamentalto Gandhi'spoliticalpractice. I was eager and anxious to change her outlook and appearance and give her the garb of modernity"(50). At this stage Karnad's hero is.I felt they had vast stores of suppressedenergy and ability. [and]announcehis mistakes to the whole world" (1)."I approached[India] almost as an alien critic. Unlike Gandhi's strictly disciplined spirituality. ButI haveneverregretted having madethatconfession." The complexity of Karnad'sapproachto the political ensures. afterthe civil disobedience removementhad turnedviolent in the Ahmedabad he that he confessed at a had gion. the revolutionary urge toward action and self-purificationcharacteristicof Gandhi shades imperceptiblyinto the urge toward modernity and renewal characteristic of Nehru. These he derives from a mighty drivenness. thatone is ableto arriveat a just estimate two. . an intense and yet flexible energy.. "India was in my blood and therewas much in her thatinstinctively thrilled me." Nehru writes.In TheStory of My Experiments with Truth.44 on Thu.a "religiousactualist"whose "very passion and power make him want to make actual for others what actualizes him. when he spoke of independentIndia's "trystwith destiny. only a little better.

Alkazi by presented theOld Repertory Company. unhamperedby moral to rape. To rape a Tughlaq'smadness and tyranny-the only qualities his subjects attributeto him-are thus forms woman only out of lust is a pointless game. strengthto shape my thoughts. represbetween Hindusand Muslims?If on the otherhand siveness. in his of powerlessness posing as power. As Aziz claims in Tughlaq's prespolitical successors) reverse this emphasis and ence. come the BrahmanVishnu Prasad: "What would The analogies with Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru thus foreground the more or less wellhappen to the King's impartialjustice? A Muslim intentioned idealism of Tughlaq-Barani in the plaintiff against a Muslim King? I mean. Aziz conducts his micropolitics a Muslim. stands perfectly the political situation in which Tughlaq's self-reflexivity never produces this ironic clarity..184. and while Tughlaq is lost in epochTughlaq is trying to realize a fantasy of equitable government.44 on Thu. he has indeed "studiedevery order.strength to act. for Aziz is also a kind of licensed evil that need not be naturalized through discourse. Najib. Repertory By the end of the play.9 More pervasively. and cunning of Tughlaq-Azizin the secthe plaintiff's a Hindu . not from Tughlaq..followed bring the two halves of the play together. however.because considered measure of what Romesh Thaparcalls her "mercurial. the will to power. KarPrimeMinister andAazamat Abbasid). The so much despair and confusion that he offers his world of politics Aziz discovers in Delhi is full of starving subjects prayers instead of food and repeople "withoutan idea in their head"(50). While the suspicion of patricide against the historical Tughlaq is a matter of speculation.111.Aziz (posingas Ghiyas-ud-din nad's character admits that the fortin Daulatabad. you saw the ond.." and ulative. or psychological complexity. so his fuses to punish Aziz because of the very enormity cunning compensates for his low origins.then . Hence he explains to Aazam why. Schoolof Thisproduction of Tughlaq. instruction. where's the question of justice there?Where's the equality play's first half and suppress the cruelty. by the National he killed his father and and at Drama was directed E.. he could not sue the king but had to bewith singularsuccess. to be a real king is to "rob a man and form. Fortin Delhiin 1974. The analogies with Indira Gandhi (and her crowds" (8). 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . appears in a purer Similarly.) Company. strengthto recognize myself" (66). Power of Aziz's crimes. In the character view: "Firstone must have power-the authority of Aziz.it enables him to rationalize murder and large-scale brutality: "they gave me what I wanted-power. Then everythingtakes on meaning!"(57). His first appearanceconfirmsthat he under. well. Tughlaq's obsession with his failuresand his own culpabilityhas caused propriately from him. brother-"for an ideal"(65). conspiratorial.52 Reading GirishKarnad'sTughlaq occasions for his emotional theatrics. as making gestures.(Courtesy Schoolof of GirishKarnad andthe National Drama New Delhi. every every manipYour Majesty's with the greatest attention. punish him for getting robbed" (58). "Politics" in this framework is partly like a chess game that brings Tughlaq the intellectual pleasure of eliminating his adversaries with finesse. brilliant" style of leaderthe play's absolutistdiscourse of power comes apship replicates the contradictions and tensions This content downloaded from 115.

however. British historians were wrong in describing them as a ruling class and that no Indian empire could ever have been built without the cooperation of all significant social groups (4). a more durable analogue for the public violence and privatemadnessin Tughlaq thanNehru'sromanceof discovery is. though I didn't want to" (Moraes 220). inevitably. It was my duty to the country to stay. emasculating widow and nurturingmother (Gupte 18-22). 22). "is one in which the politics of the entire situationare all-important and the violence of the second half of the play evident. and attempted to rule and to administer justice along what are now called secular humanist lines. in journalistic and scholarly writing she is a "mixtureof paradoxes. Gandhi] privately felt-her demurrals notwithstanding-was not quite capable of handling the clangor of an open society" (Gupte 18). and a pragmatist "political to the very soul" (Malik and Vajpeyi 13. or canon law. sultan of Delhi from 1296 to 1316. In the political mythology of the nation Mrs.184. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In doing so he antagonizedthe sayyids and the ulema. It is for this purposethat all the murdersmerely mentioned in the script are presented on stage" ("Tughlaq"). ironically."the note states. Despite the attempts of Indian historians to dislodge orientalist constructions of "medieval" Indian political and social life. Gandhi declared a national emergency instead of resigning from office: "What would have happened if there had been nobody to lead [the country]?I was the only person who could. that throughout the medieval period Hindu society "deteriorated morally and materially. whose influence in political and administrativecircles diminished considerably. believes that even though the Muslims of the sultanate period held most of the positions at court. the emergencyappearsnot only as a majorcause of the rapid erosion of constitutional structuresin India but also as "an ill-conceived experiment in introducing a form of controlleddemocracyto a country that [Mrs. is that of irreducible social inequalities and religious difference. a Hindu scholar. Nizami. "Our interpretation of the play.At the same time. the nature of premodern Indian society remains a controversial issue because. K..111. but a constantreminder that despitetheirpolitical there were over power spheresof life in the country This content downloaded from 115. Srivastava. But she is closest to Karnad's protagonistin her propensityfor choosing evil out of a compulsion to act for the nation and in the Thus self-destructiveness of her authoritarianism."and that as a people the Hindus "suffered a great deal of moral and intellectual degradation" (27). As my account of Barani suggests.a Hindutemplewas not only a symbolof a paganreligionandits false gods. To the Muslim. Muhammadbin Tughlaq ignored Islamic shari'at. L.. three months after the suspension of constitutional rights.44 on Thu.Aparna Dharwadker 53 within Tughlaq to an extraordinaryextent (qtd. theinfidels calledthem barbarians. This historical situation is symptomaticof a culturalcrisis that dominatesthe play's analogicalpotential. In contrast. these problems make the historical reign of Tughlaq an extremely suggestive parallel for modern Indian experience. Gandhi's dynastic tragedyis suggested by a programnote to a productionof Tughlaqmounted in Delhi in September 1975. Romila Thapargives a more complex but no less discouraging account of communal relations duringthe sultanateperiod: Hindus andMuslims Orthodox alikeresisted anyinfluencefromtheother in thesphere of religion. however. A. in Gupte 123). Gandhi appearsas both demon and goddess. a Muslim scholar. maintains that Islamic rule was tyrannical.. Although theMuslims ruled theinfidels. after a state supremecourt set aside her election to parliament in June 1975. The macabreend of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty is." a sign of the "amoral politics" of the late 1960s. The centralcrisis in the play. Following the example of Ala-ud-din Khilji. Tughlaq and the Crisis of Secular Nationhood Karnadtraces the political failure of the nation in Tughlaqto a complex ambivalence in the personality and intentions of the leader and to the un- governablenessof the people. he was inevitably alienatedfrom most of his subjectsbecause he represented the Muslim ruling elite in a predominantly Hindu culture. The extent to which the emergency underscored political violence and foreshadowedMrs. Mrs. In serious political assessments. A. the religious leaders and scholars.there are now conflicting Muslim and Hindu interpretations of history.

as though in collective communalrevenge against an alien king. Anyone who disturbsthis balance arouses suspicion and hatredinstead of becoming a liberatingforce..Indeed. "[W]hen a Sultan kicks me in the teeth and says. But the moment a man comes along and says. although since 1989 communal politics in the country have been more destructive than at any other time since partition. This content downloaded from 115. the effective source of secular thinking again seems to be Nehru. since these soldiers are not requiredto participatein the prayers. As the Hindu says in the crowd scene at the beginning of the play.his relationwith his subjects remains that of oppressor and oppressed. merely a "verbal dinstinction. he'll turn Islam into anothercaste and call the prophetan incarnation of his god" (2). Karnad'sprotagonist initially refuses to impose a monolithic order on his people.44 on Thu. because the Greek philosophers have instilled in him a troublingpluralityof vision: "My kingdom too is what I am-torn into pieces by visions whose validity I can't deny. but you are also a human being'-well. The assumption behind Tughlaq's refusal is that modern leaders must define their roles in terms broaderthanthose of religion. but it can't be done" (21). the society within the play is not an enlightened one.selfhood lies not in unity and equality but in difference. in the imam's view.184. Karnad enforces this irony by meticulously maintaining the distinctions of religion and community throughout the play. in fact. when the sultan and his Muslim soldiers would be unarmed." but one thatwill destroythe sultan(21). was the only weapon whichorthodox Hinduism coulduseto prevent assimilost its (1: lation. He decides on the move to Daulatabadbecause it would be exemplaryfor a Muslim sultan to have a Hindu capital. Tughlaq is most concerned about being just to his Hindu subjects (ratherthan to all his subjects) because he wants his treatmentof the oppressed majority to be exemplary. As with Tughlaq's politics of humility. As a secularhumanistwho ignores the Qur'anicinjunction to proselytize actively. An older Muslim seconds this response because the Hindu who prefers to be treated badly is Islam's best friend. Karnad both presents and ironically undercutsthe secular ideal.. I'm sorry. every Hindu household becomes an illegal mint for producingcounterfeitcurrency. While Tughlaq's quest is for harmony. and despite his egalitarianism. having political Tughlaqpresentsa full-blown version of the crisis of leadershipandbelief thatoccurs within a culture divided along the lines Thaparsuggests. Karnadshows that communities markedby political inequality and religious difference survive through a negative equilibrium. Presentingthe orthodox position (and using Barani's words from the Tarikh).111. Tughlaq succeeds in persuading Sheikh Imam-ud-dinto act as mediatorwith Ain-ul Mulk because peace would prevent the shedding of Muslim blood. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Before you know what. . you Hindu dog. Exclusion.As in Barani's history.. since politics and religion are separatespheresof action. that makes me nervous"(2).the theologian Imam-ud-dinreminds Tughlaqof the duties that the Qur'an specifies for an Islamic ruler:to found a strongMuslim dynasty and to further the cause of Islam in the wider world. hatred and oppression are not wholesome. "Bewareof the Hinduwho embraces you. The separationof religion and politics is.54 Reading GirishKarnad'sTughlaq denied whichtheyruled to whichtheywerestrictly access.So Aziz has to masquerade as a Brahman rather than appear as a poor Muslim. is that they despise Tughlaqequally. In contemporary terms. The only thing that unites Muslims and Hindus in the play.. Despite Tughlaq's enlightened policies. but they are predictable and hence safer.' I'm happy. this impasse is an ironic reflection on the secularist ideology that dominated Indian nationalist thinking in the two decades before independence. For Karnad's communally divided characters. You are asking me to make myself complete by killing the Greek in me and you propose to unify my people by denying the visions which led Zarathustraor the Buddha . Tughlaq's countermove is to employ Hindu soldiers to seize the conspiratorsin his palace. 'I know you're a Hindu. 279) ascendancy. it continues to dominate liberal political thinking. 'Pay up. I know I'm safe. the terms of difference"Hindu"and "Muslim"-are the keys that unlock the literal and symbolic action of the play. Only a Hindu like Ratan Singh could think of a plan to assassinate Tughlaq during prayers. in turn. For Karnad'spurposes.

"nationalist"leaders like Nehru. [because] the words Hindu and Mohammedanare only meant for religious distinction" (345)....Rajiv Gandhiwas assassinated with relative ease by Tamil extremists in the southern state of Tamilnadubecause. Following one of India's worst years of communalviolence and two elections fought on unabashedly communal lines.] . "[E]ven in the best years of communal peace.and even racial. is "the dominant featureof Indiancultural.10 As ShekharGuptasuggests. the communal motivations of his subjects find much strongercorrespondencesin the events of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But Nehru regards M. He approves of the argumentof Syed Ahmad Khan (founder in 1875 of the Mohammedan Anglo-OrientalCollege-later the AligarhMuslim University-and one of the majorculturalmodernizers of Islam) that "religious differences should have no political or national significance[. secularism looks more and more like an unattainable utopia"(47). development. In practice. convinced that their personal loyalty to her would outweigh their religious feelings. Nehru." but he admitted candidly in The Story of My Experimentswith Truththat his South African experiences had convinced him early that "therewas no genuine friendshipbetween the Hindus and the Musulmans . despite the fact that it is firmly enshrinedin the constitution. resonates strongly in the religious politics of Tughlaq. or indeed can be preventedfrom becoming. and others could not prevent the "fundamentalist" Jinnahfrom establishing a separateIslamic nation on the Indian subcontinent." for in demanding a separate Pakistan he "condemned both India's unity and democracy"(389).VallabhbhaiPatel. Mrs.But like Tughlaq'spolitical impulses.44 on Thu. the Indian army had entered the Golden Temple in Amritsarand capturedor killed heavily armed Sikh militants. The Muslim and Sikh separatistmovements in the northand the conflict between Hindus and Muslims over a holy shrine in the city of Ayodhyaare the most serious indicators that culturalplurality has become intensely problematic in Indiansociety. "despite his external modernism. true secularism was a futuristic ideal. which split one imagined community into two. he belonged to an older generationwhich was hardly aware of modernpolitical thoughtor development.. [and] it would be on the question of Hindu-Muslim unity that my ahimsa [nonviolence] would be put to its severest test" (398).. Nehru responds extremely negatively to leaders who link religion and politics. Karnad's choice of This content downloaded from 115. Gandhi almost willed the bizarre manner of her death because she refused to remove the guards from her personal staff after the June crisis.. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Moreover. Jinnah went "furtherback." and this feature has succeeded in absorbing each "incursion of foreign elements" (76). for example. thereby desecrating the Sikhs' holiest shrine. as not a modern leader at all but a "willing prisonerof reactionaryideologies. concluding that religion "tends to close and limit the mind of man"(513). MaulanaAzad. the primary basis of nationhood.. however. the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984 by two male Sikh bodyguards was an act of retributivejustice: in June of that year. A. his play creates the odd sense in the presentpolitically volatile climate that life is imitating art (and history) to underscorethe irony of good intentions. after months of precautions against death threats.This sharpideological rift within the nationalist politics of late colonial India."Insteadof advancing from his early ideological positions.was so deeply committed to the idea of Indian culture as assimilative and pluralisticthatin TheDiscovery of India he interprets all Indian history in that light. he became impatientwith elaboratesecurity arrangements and wished to get close to his people while campaigningfor nationalelections. Similarly. in contrast. Hence he associates organized religion with meaningless ceremony and cultural stagnation." since." he argues. Jinnah. For supporters of Sikh separatism. An "inner urge towards synthesis. the founder of Pakistan. Since Karnad is concerned with the effect of such divisions on conceptionsof leadershipand on the lives of leaders.184.111. These examplesfurtherconfirmthatthe religious issues in Tughlaqpose a question importantto all "traditional" or "diverse"societies experimenting with democratic structures:whether religion can be.Aparna Dharwadker 55 Gandhi sought to foster what he called "HinduMuslim unity. Gandhi. Religious orthodoxy is undesirable in Nehru's view because it impedes assimilationand progress. As a consequence.

Hayavadana.but it is importantto reiteratethe "analogical structure" of historical fictions. Mohan Rakesh's Aashadh ka ek dina (Hindi. As JohnM. 3A historical parallel is a fictionalized representationof history that allows an audience to "read"the narrativeabout the past as an analogue of its own situation. Gandhi.56 Reading GirishKarnad'sTughlaq a medieval historical narrative enforces the idea that in India the incompatibilityof religion and nation is not just a modern problem. The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis opened its 1993-94 season with Naga-Mandala. which Peter Brooks broughtto the Western stage and to Westerntelevision.the language spoken in the southernIndian state of Karnataka. versatile. 1961). DayanandaSaraswati(52-61). 1938) has been an innovative. and Australia. Karnad'searly plays-Yayati (1961). and influential presence in Indian theater. his Lahron ke rajhans (Hindi. England. He writes plays and screenplaysin his native Kannada. The most substantial recent discussion of the parallelas a genre appearsin Wallace. documentaries. 1967) is about the ancient Buddhist emperor Ashoka. G. Nand. S.and the historical Tughlaq as it is aboutpostcolonial nationalidentity and political modernity. 1964) and Vijay Tendulkar's Ghashiramkotwal (Marathi. 5In drama. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For otherexamples of nationalisttexts in the heroic and satiric modes. and one charactercan never substitute completely for another" (273). 4Vivekananda(1863-1902) represented India at the World Parliamentof Religions in Chicago in 1893 and became a celebrated spokesman for Vedantic Hinduism in the West. and television for over thirtyyears.The firsttwo of these plays have also been translatedinto every major Indian language and several Europeanlanguages and have been performed extensively in Europe.and television serials in Kannada. c. 1958) de-romanticizes Kalidasa. complete. V. and sometimes he evokes only himself. an audience can always reduce history to a topical allegory. In recent years. M. Tilak (1856-1920) was the first nationalist leader to proclaim complete independence from British rule as every Indian's birthright. Tughlaq (1964). serving as directorof the Film and Television Institute of India (1974-75) and chair of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (1988-93). H. a dramaaboutthe powerful nineteenth-centuryMarathacourtier Nana Phadnavis. Hindi. the first contemporaryIndian play to be producedby a major professional Americantheatercompany. Serious theater criticism in India is scanty. film. in 1982 the company performedthe play in London as partof the Festival of India. Karnad's Tughlaq (Kannada.1 Notes 'See Inden's "Orientalist Constructions" for an extended criand his ImaginingIndia 7-48 tique of orientalisthistoriography for a discussion of the productionof "imperialknowledges" in colonial India. and Syed AhmadKhan (180-94). and folk materials and traditionalmodes of subrepresentation. Vatsyayan's Uttar priyadarshi (Hindi. Karanth's1966 Kannada productionof Tughlaqin Bombay. historiography. Alkazi's direction. since "past examples and presentpredicamentsare never identical. He has also been an important nationallevel administrator. and Habib Tanvir's Duryodhana (Chhattisgarhidialect of Hindi. directs feature films. 1955). and Naga- Mandala have been published by Oxford University Press in India. 1963) deals with the life of the Buddha's younger brother. The historical narrative.44 on Thu.His conscious pursuitof noncontemporary ject matterand nonrealisticconventions has continued in plays like Naga-Mandala (1988) and Tale-danda (1990).1973). and their political heirs. see the following selections in Hay: RammohunRoy (15-35). 2GirishKarnad(b. the subjects of Indian television megaseries have included the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and historical figures like Chanakya(a statesmanand strategist of the fourth century BC) and Tipu Sultan (the lateeighteenth-century king of Mysore). Bankim ChandraChatterjee(130-39).The National School of Dramain Delhi has revived this acknowledged modernclassic regularly since the first productionin 1966. Karnad's English translations of Tughlaq. This content downloaded from 115. The fictional Tughlaq evokes Nehru. Major plays that draw on this epic include Karnad's Yayati (Kannada. but he does not evoke any one contemporaryfigure consistenly. In 1974. historical. North America. the celebrated classical Sanskritpoet. Dharmavir Bharati's Andha yuga (Hindi. however. 1979). Prasad (1890-1937) wrote his seven historical plays between 1921 and 1937.184. and Alyque Padamsee's English production in Bombay in 1970 are considered landmark events in postindependenceIndiantheater. and has played leading roles in both noncommercial and commercial films in Kannada and Hindi.111. A historical poem or play is textually complex and culturally vital precisely because its narrative originates in other (often problematic)narrativesand possesses meaning independentof specific topical contexts. is also particular. the school's repertory company mounted a memorablerevival at the Old Fort in Delhi under E. and Hayavadana (1970)-radicalized urbanIndian theater through their use of mythic. and English. a principal focus of radical reappraisalhas been the Mahabharata. Om Shivpuri's Hindi productionin Delhi the same year. Ranade (102-12). are the two outstandingmodem Indianplays dealing with postclassical history. expressing a nostalgiafor classical antiquitythatwas an important partof Hindunationalistfeeling in the militant 1920s. but reviews and notices published in the English-language theater magazine Enact indicatethatB. Wallacearguesin the context of seventeenth-century English historical writing. and significant in itself: Tughlaqis as much about history.

that seems a difficulttask indeed. This essay belongs to Raman's memory.44 on Thu. Boulder:Westview. Placed on the defensive. 2nd ed. 1988.K. Atul Kohli. the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Cambridge: CambridgeUP. My thanks also to anothercolleague.Tughlaq'smost charismaticreligious opponent. is virtually a of my argument: journalisticparaphrase What was challenged at the mosque was not merely a Muslim presence on a piece of ground held sacred by two religions. Naim in particular for the invitation that reintroducedme to Tughlaq.Tughlaq stabs Shihab to death in a paroxysm of rage. Tughlaqinvites the sheikh to addressa public meeting outside the principal mosque in Delhi. 1990. Bouton.secular state of many ethnic identities. J.for example. 'lThe situation in Ayodhya. ed. 144-68. communalism. a sixteenth-centurymosque believed to stand over the birthplace of Rama.One example will have to serve as a metonymfor this practice. and he read successive drafts with enthusiasmand foresight."India's Democracy:An Analysis of ChangingState-SocietyRelations. This content downloaded from 115. 11 Apr 2013 04:41:06 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . middle.. What India needs is a quick revival of the ideals of its founding Prime Minister. but these responses remainfor the moment undocumentable. which deals with cultural division. and Philip Oldenburg. Second. but the notion that India.First. 421-24 for comments on the audience of modernIndiandrama. and its spiritual leader. althoughaudiencesfor the various kinds of Indian theater-classical. Das Gupta. the standardEnglish text of Barani's Tarikhis still the translation by Elliot. 9The strongestexamples of such politics are the episodes involving Sheikh Imam-ud-din.111. Trans. WorksCited Abdel-Malek. "Orientalism in Crisis. Anouar. Jeffrey and Akbaron the secessionist movements in the northernstates of Punjab and Kashmir. Vol.eds. India: The Siege Within. exploded early in December 1992 when a mob of four thousand fundamentalist Hindu kar sewaks 'holy workers' demolished Babri Masjid. Henry M. the leader of the assassinationplot.Ed.andDevelopment in India:Assam in a GeneralPerspective. Hardgrave on regionalism. must arouse diverse responses in viewers. Zia-ud-din.JawaharlalNehru. the sheikh (who resembles Tughlaq) accepts a peacemaking mission in the provinces and dies a gory death on the battlefield because Prime Minister Najib tricks him into dressing like Tughlaq. Elliott and John Dowson.. Democracyand Discontent. Chaudhuri. Barani. and Shihab-ud-din. I owe my fascination with the interpretabilityof contemporaryIndiantexts in partto the example of two boldly inventive poet-scholars-my husband. India Briefing.Jyotirindra. Ed. "Earlier versions of this essay were presentedat a Humanities CenterConference at the University of Chicago in December 1990 and at a meeting of the Faculty Workshop at the University of Oklahomain March 1993." Diogenes 44 (1963): 103-40. playwrights as well as drama and theater critics in India invariablyassume uniform expectations and responses in this audience. The event was immediately peras a particularly ceived. London: Routledge. 7Ironically.As Toldby Its Own Historians.and Das Guptaon ethnic politics in the northeastern state of Assam. which had already caused several thousand deaths since about 1984. even the primary texts of medieval historiography are easily accessible only in orientalist versions. and a decade of magical conversations in Chicago. folk. Elliot. 1990. Thus. 14 of The History of India. Weiner on the problems of maintaining democratic institutions in India (21-37... and caste violence as sources of social unrest (25-45).. see Kohli. intermediary. our friendship.a modern play like Tughlaqis almost always performedbefore an urban. M. 1985.Aparna Dharwadker 57 Indian authis essay. Marshall M. then orders his soldiers to keep people away from the meeting on pain of death. and A. The Timemagazine report.. Karnadnotes that the tradition of mythological and historicalplays has great potentialin India because "the element of myth and history is common to most audiences. Calcutta: Gupta. devotional. I appreciatethe contributions of both audiencesand want to thankC. a Third World superpower. Akbar. Tarikh-iFiroz Shahi. New York: Penguin. 29 vols. 1859. for good advice at a difficultmoment. Democracy. Partof the effect [of a historical play] comes from the fact that the audience alreadyhas a set of responses to the particularsituation I am dealing with" (Paul). Nation and Narration. not only nationallybut internationally.and modern-differ from one another. educated. I am deeply gratefulto him. Lall on the "stormy" politics of the postNehru period (190-249). religions and languages. M. Bhabha. then announces that Shihab died defending him from the assassins and will receive a state funeral. 1953. 1990. There are two majorreasons for this construction. George Economou. K. See also Richmond et al. For discussions of the issues addressedin this essay. I treat the "contemporary 6Throughout dience" as a relatively homogeneous entity to which various collective responses can be ascribed. 319-30). My colleague RobertCon Davis urged me to rescue the essay from the limbo of work in progress. Homi K.After the failed assassination attempt. 8Theproblems of nationalintegrityand communalpeace are so central to current Indian politics that "documenting"them would requirea recordof daily political events. N. After last week's car(Serrill) nage. can remainwhat its 20th centuryfoundersintendedit to be: a tolerant.. 1990. Princeton: PrincetonUP.184. ominous episode in the unfolding dramaof secular nationhood in India. More than eleven hundredpeople died in the week of nationwidecommu- nal violence that followed. "Ethnicity. MahatmaGandhi.and upper-middle-class audience whose members share important political and cultural assumptions. Ramanujan(1929-93). Asia before Europe: Economy and Civilization of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750. Vinay Dharwadker. Certainlya play like Tughlaq.

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