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Today there are a large number of educated Indians who use the English language as a medium of the creative exploration and expression of their experience of life. Their writing has now developed into a substantial literature in its own right and it is this substantial body of literature which is referred to as Indo-Anglian literature. As C.R.Reddy in his foreword to Srinivasa Iyengara’s work Indo-Anglian literature points out, Indo-Anglian literature is not essentially different in kind from Indian literature. It is part of it, a modern facet of that glory which, commencing from the Vedas has continued to spread its mellow light now with grater and now with lesser brilliance under the inexorable vicissitudes of time and history ever increasingly upto the present time of Tagore, Iqbal and Aurobindo Ghosh, and bids fair to expand with ours, as well as humanity’s expanding figure (Tilak 1). Paucity of Indian drama in English is the fact which strikes even a cursory student of Indo-Anglian literature. In this genre Indian writers have lagged behind and despite the fact the first Indian play in English The persecuted was written as early as 1832. Tagore and Aurobindo Ghosh are the only two writers who have made contribution to Indian drama in English. Tagore’s plays have been failures upon the stage because they have great musical qualities but even these qualities have been lost in their English transcreation. In his play like Chitra, Post Office, The King of the Dark Chamber, Tagore has tried to impart new values and symbolic significance to ancient Hindu myths and legends. Whatever may be the literary value of such plays,
they are not successful stage plays. However, plays like Sacrifice have been quite successful on the stage also. Aurobindo’s plays are regular poetic plays, entirely unfit for the stage. In his plays Perseus, The Deliverer;Rodogune;Eric, The Veziers of Bassora he uses the blank verse of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans, which sounds artificial and unnatural in the modern age. It has no roots in the idioms and rhythms of current speech. Hence their failure on the stage. This failure to capture speech rhythms and consequent artificiality characterizes Indian verse drama in general. This is also the besetting sin of G.V. Desani’s Holi and Bharati Sarabhai’s The well of the people. They might have literary poetic qualities, but they do not have dramatic qualities. Dialogue in drama should be graceful and speakable; it should be racy and close to the spoken language. But even such able writers of drama in English as Harindranath Chattopadhyaya in The Proclamation and T.P. Kailasam in The Brahaman’s Curse fail in this respect. Indian prose drama in English also suffers from these very faults. Harindranath’s Five plays, Fyzee Rahamin’s Daughter of India, A.S.P Ayyar’s The Slave of India and Other plays, Asif Currimbhoy’s The Tourist, The Doldrammars and Doomb Dancer, and many other do not rise above ordinary conversation in their dialogue and are dull, drab flat and artificial. There is too much of speechifying, too frequent intrusion of colloquialism and wrong use of Indian phrases and idioms. Such plays are the products of craft rather than of art: The dramatists have no individual vision of life, or at least they fail to communicate it through their works. Pratap Sharma is one of those raw Indo-Anglian dramatists whose play A Touch of Brightness, The Profession, War-Cry etc., are more successful dramatically. They are good acting
plays. But there is too much of verbosity and irrelevance in dialogue. The dramatist fails to exploit the resouces of English as a spoken language and adapts it to his creative purpose. Gieve Patel’s Princess is singularly free from those faults. He succeeds in giving his language a touch of the local idiom which, therefore, is more refreshing and natural. It is a landmark in the history of Indo-Anglian drama, for in it the dramatist has successfully tackled the problem of dialogue. Nissim Ezekiel in his plays Nalinin and The Marriage Poem is successful in his dialogues, and his example shows that success in dialogue can be easily achieved if English knowing characters who will naturally speak English are introduced instead of characters who are not likely to speak English. This limits the scope of the dramatist but it makes for greater realism and authenticity. Princess is Gieve Patel’s first play. The play is about two families in a Parsi village in Gujarat. The conflict and tension in the play arise from the struggle of the two families for the possession of a child who in the play becomes an invalid and later dies but is nevertheless the cause of quarrel in the story. The struggle for the possession of the child is so effectively handled in the play to bring out the ugly selfishness of the two families. A very important feature of the play is the modified English speech which Gieve Patel uses for the dialogue to give it a Parsi tang. Thus it is not merely as a Parsi play realistically portraying Parsi life, but as one of which the play wright tackle the problem of dialogue that Princess is important in the history of Indian drama in English. Another successful play by an Indian writer Santha Rama Rau is A passage to India a close adaption of the well-known novel of that name. She shows great dexterity in the handling of dialogue. Her task was made easier by the
fact that the dialogue in her play closely follows dialogue in the novel. But there is skillful adaption and selection. As Paul Verghese puts it, Santha Rama Rau deserves praise for the careful selection of those pieces of dialogue in the novel that can be effective on the stage and for putting them together with appropriate connection links, wherever required so that the play becomes a truly dramatic rendering of the novel (Tilak 3) Girish Karnad an actor and film director is originally a Kannada dramatist who wrote Tughlaq, Yayati, and Hayavadana. He successfully translated Tughlaq and Hayavadana into English. Tughlaq is a historical play which deals with life and times of Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq of the fourteenth century India. Karnad deviates from history when it is inevitable from the artistic view point. It is a play based on opposites. Hayavadana is based on the Kathasarilesagara tale which Thomas Mann used for his novel The Transposed Head. It is a bold experiment in the use of folk motifs. K.R.S. Iyengar says: “In all his three play-be the theme, historical, mythical or legendary – Karnad approach is modern, and he deploys the conventions and motifs of folk art like masks and curtains to project a world of intentions, uncertainities and unpredictable denouements” (Tilak 3). All the plays of Girish Karnad are conspicuous for the deft employment of irony and crisp dialogue. Tilak and Gupta state: Indo-Anglian literature continues to grow and flourish and this despite all the misguided and prejudiced and politically motivated campaign against English as a foreign language, a language which comes in the way of its growth. More Indians are writing in English than ever before, and the Indo- Anglian writer is
enjoying a much wider market. Indo-Anglian drama has, indeed, a bright future. Drama has been a very effective and powerful art in world literature a medium of expression. The development of drama in Greece, Rome, England and India
emphasizes upon the fact that it has always been an integral part of culture, highlighting and evaluating moral commitments, religious convictions, philosophical approaches, and social and political changes in various countries. Drama is a mimetic representation of life combining in itself the real and fictional, art and reality and presenting the events and characters within a dimension of space and time. It
combines the qualities of narrative poetry with those of visual arts. It is a narrative made visible. Indian-English first Drama is The Persecuted written by K.M.Benerjee in 1813. However, the real, journey of Indian English drama began with M.Madhusudhan Dutt’s Is this called civilization which appeared on the literary horizon in 1871, though it was not followed by a sustainable creative effort for decades together. After a long hiatus of a few decades it was only by the early 20th century that Indian English Drama gathered momentum under the influence of British Drama. The pre-
independence era like Tagore, Shri Aurobindo, T.P Kailasam, A.S.P Ayyar, Harindranath, Chattopadhyaya, B. Sarabhai, contributed substantially to the evolution and development of Indian-English drama. The perspectives of Indian drama in English are bound by our history, lineage, folk-lore, mythology, social customs, rituals and by our servility to the invaders, first
by Muslim and then by imperialist. These links to the past are important, as they are the roots and soil, which provide nourishment and sustenance to the Indian mind. Reminiscences, nostalgia and retrospection have led sometimes to an imitation of the themes adopted by earlier writers, at other times, the same have been recasted with a new outlook. The term de-colonisation is of little relevance in the writing of Indian-English drama, its impact on the Indian dramatic scene was by way of presentation of mostly Shakespeare and to a little extent Shakespeare’s contemporary drama and modern writers like Ibsen, Shaw and Wilde. The western impact gave life to the drying sap of Indian drama leading to the emergence of great writers like Tagore, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya and Sri Aurobindo. These stalwarts made a major contribution to Indian drama. Tagore’s hallmark was philosophical complexity conveyed through lyrical simplicity, Aurobindo, carrying forward the tradition of Elizabethan poetic drama and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya brought to India the Marist theme of the need for economic and social revolution for the upliftment of the dispossessed and the deprived. The importance of T.P Kailasham as a dramatist cannot be over
emphasized in view of the fact that he chose, in one of his plays, to write on the tragic life of Karna from the “Mahabharata”. Post-independence drama in English is at the crossroads where different types of drama stand tall like skyscrapers, posted together but not covering any particular stream. They cannot be labelled together either in theme or style. On the one side, historical themes have been modified and fashioned by playwrights into forms and styles of their own. Karnad’s Tughlaq, Tendulkar’s Ghasiram Kotwal and Aurangzeb
by Parthasarthi, Mohan Rakesh’s heart touching rendering of the Kalidasa and Malika Nand and Sundaris’ stories in Arshad Ka Ek Din and Lebron Ke Raj Hans, respectively, are examples. In other plays, themes are based on the present socio-economic situations, family and marital relations and religious animosities. Vultures & Silence, the Court is in Session by Vijay Tendulkar are about greed, unscrupulous selfishness and the vulnerable position of women. Ghasiram Kotwal though a historical play as it takes historical character and his times as its theme, is also a contemporary play, as Vijay Tendulkar himself claims, because in its culmination it conveys that homicide and genocide, in their most demonic forms, prevail in contemporary society as well. Girish Karnad picks up themes from Hindu Mythology and Kannada folklore. His Naga Mandala, The Fire and the Rain, Yayati and Hayavadana prove his debt to his Hindu lineage and the rich heirlooms that Kannada folklore has left. Though rich in tragedy, the Indian mind does not assess the tragic situation in the manner of the west. Except for Vikay Tendulkar we find none of the nihilism and neuropsychological problems that the Western plays are ridden with. Even Badal Sircar who comes closest to the Absurdist drama does not denounce life as such, the meaning of life can evade an Indian mind, but his unbound capacity to reconcile paradoxes saves him from the path of absolute degeneration. Badal Sircar’s Evem Inderjit may find it difficult to solve riddles and Karnad’s characters may face the dilemma of the final truth, yet they don’t venture into the moral decrepitude and vacuum of Strindberg or Jean Genet. The nearest they come is to Harold Printer’s or Jon Osborne’s characters.
Of all our playwrights, Tendulkar comes nearest to the ‘Mega-Death’ of moral values. While Bhasa and T.P. Kailasham associated mega deaths with too strict a code of morality, Tendulkar’s version is just the opposite. The name of Mhasweta Devi cannot be ignored; she being one of the pioneers in writing drama of commitment. Upon societal issues and drama committed to awakening and arousing public conscience for a willful change. Mahesh Dattani and Padmanabhan must be studied as two outstanding playwrights who belong to another category. Both of them write in English, and their works are therefore available at hand for the readers of English. The challenges faced by Indian-English drama have been often talked about. The distance and disparity between the remote and urban population, lack of sponsorship and opportunities to stage plays amongst others. The main challenges are the nonviability of staging plays and the unpredictable response from its ewers. Moreover, cinema and TV are awesome contenders. An intellectual renaissance in the real sense and not the pseudo-intellectualism of the bourgeoisie, accompanied by a revolution for literacy may establish drama as one of the most provocative genres of literature and a next-door form of entertainment. Playwriting and play staging does deserve an ovation for keeping up its identity amongst a mushroom growth of story telling and poetry. Girish Raghunath Karnad, the leader of the New Drama Movement. He is India’s foremost playwright, renowned media personality and an adept practitioner of the performing arts. He was born on 19th century May 1938 at Matheran near Bombay. Though born in Maharashtra, Karnad spent his childhood in Sirsi a town in Karnataka
where his father Raghunathrao was a Doctor by profession.
experiences have been accountable to his becoming a dramatist in Kannada against his own desire of becoming a poet in English. As a School-going child, Karnad was lucky to enjoy two kinds of theatres in Karnataka one, The Natak company performances staged by the professional actors and second, the Traditional Folk Theatre Yakshagana. He recalls the differences between these two types of performances in their status, stage and techniques. While the former, staged by the professional actors in semi-permanent theatres with wings and drop curtains in the light of Petromax, enjoyed the social prestige, the Yakshagana performances, performed on a platform with a curtain erected in the open air and lit by torches, did not enjoy the attendance of the upper class audience. During his graduation period at Dharwdl, he saw the electricity but not any professional theatre. After graduation, he came to Bombay in 1958 for his further studies. In Bombay, he was exposed for the first time to the Western theatre. He was very much impressed by the psychological cannibalism of the play and the effective use of the light-system. His journey from the world of Petromax lamp, torches and hurricane lamps to the electricity lit world made him realize the new changing world outside him. After watching this single performance, he decided to be a playwright. Meanwhile, he received the most coveted Rhodes scholarship and went to England for his post-graduation studies. There he watched the performances of the various
Western playwrights and developed a keen interest in the performing arts. After returning to India in 1963, he joined Oxford University Press, Chennai. The job offered him an opportunity to read abundantly. He read all kinds of plays during this
period. Again, in 1970, he was awarded Bhabha fellowship to study abroad. It helped him in more than one way. He became the director of Pune based Film and Television Institute of India in 1974. The association with this institute acquainted him with the cinema and TV world and opened another avenue for an actor in him. In 1987, he stayed in USA as a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Chicago. He served the National Academy performing Arts (Sangeet Natak Akadamy) as its Chairman from 1988 to 1993. Recently he has returned from London after serving the Nehru Centre, London – a cultural wing of High Commission of India in England as its director. Presently, Mr. Karnad is the World Theatre Ambassador of the International Theatre Institute, Paris. Karnad’s play Tughlaq is the first ‘New drama’ in India in many ways. It was the first significant history play. It was during a conversation with Kirthinath Kurtkoti, the writer of the “History of Kannada Literature, where Karnad made up his mind to write a history play. Kurtkoti complained that no Indian playwright could do with our history what Shakespeare did with the British history and Brecht did with the history of the West. The innovative treatment of history and striking contemporaneity of the play has shot Karnad into fame. Critics found the play to be a commentary on the deterioration of the politics from the days of Nehru to the present times. It is the sense of absurdity and the presence existential overtones in Tughlaq that make it modern. Absurdity is identified as one of the hallmarks of the modern literature. The major concern of Karnad in exploring the history of Muhammad bin Tughlaq is a probe into his transformation from an idealist emperor, ‘who is of afraid
to be human’ and invites people ‘to confide their worries in him’, into a ‘mad Muhammad’, and ‘the Lord of the skins’. An analysis of his transformation brings out an existentialist in him. Tughlaq shares this element with its European counterparts, for example, Camus’s Caligula, and Osborne’s Look back in Anger, and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The tension emerging from Tughlaq’s determination to discover purpose and order in a world that steadfastly refuses to evidence either makes him an absurd. He lives in an entopic world in which communication is impossible and illusion is preferred to reality. He is left with no scope for action. His recourse to cruelty is the result of the divorce between the mind that desires and the world that disappoints, his nostalgia for unity that fragmented his universe and the contradiction and binds them together (Cruiskshank 145). It reminds Hamlet’s metaphysical reflections on the futility of action. The unbridgeable gulf between aspiration and fulfillment or the impossibility of communication of the futility of human relationship is a feature of the theatre of the absurd. Tughlaq’s suffering emanates from and unbridgeable gap between his
aspirations and the utter failure he meets, from the impossibility of communication, from the realization of futility of human relations and actions. Repeatedly, Tughlaq is made to realize the vast between aspiration and fulfillment, ideal and reality. Cruiskshank puts, “Intellectual awareness of the absurd is the experience of a person who has expected a rationally ordered cosmos, but finds instead a chaos impervious to reason” (145). His failures in the realization of his dreams of building new future for India, his plan of shifting his capital, the introduction of the copper currency and the results of the impossibility of his desires
push him to cruelty. The Sultan’s journey is from idealism to madness via alienation, and cruelty. His readings of ideals reflected in his policies and behavior present him as an alien threat to the time-honoured and acceptable conventions of kingship of his time. His exercise of impartial justice and equal human treatment to Hindus alienate him from the mainstream Muslim subjects and priesthood. He is called ‘an insult to Islam’. His exercise of tyrannical power can be seen as release of his displaced metaphysical anguish. His cruelty arises from his anguish, which he pours his over the scapegoat. His cruelty and tyranny are almost seen as vehicles to help him to
overcome existential alienation and the sense of absurdity of human existence. He begins to console himself that his actions are justified. The realization that his orgy of killing has not solved the problem and his knowledge of people’s anxiety about his death bring him remorse and frustration. His inability to admit that he has gone wrong pushes him on the verge of madness. In fact, the play depicts a conflict between Muhammad within and the world without. His turning to violence can be seen as his self-consolation and as escape from the feeling of guilt. It is, in Freudian terms, a displaced wrath upon the people whom he considers responsible for the failures of his highly noble ideals that were ahead of his times. K.S. Ramamurti comments: The nature of experience in Tughlaq with its emphasis on despair, on the awareness of isolation from others and oneself and on a loss of meaning and
value in one’s world certainly warrants a comparison with the Existential and Absurd drama. (19). Karnad’s interspersing the absurdity in historical figures and their resemblance to the modern man’s alienation and frustration establishes the newness of his dramas and dramatic art. Veena Noble Dass rightly describes the play as, Essentially modern, may be more modern than most Indian plays written in English, despite being called a historical play (95). This play deals about a king Tughlaq, a misunderstand ruler who suffers from sense of alienations.
Karnad’s Tughlaq as an Alienated Protagonist Karnad’s play Tughlaq works out its protagonist’s progressive alienation with existential overtones. This paper is an attempt to interpret the play in the light of certain concepts of alienation. Like Camus’ Caligula, Tughlaq also may be seen as a play which deals with an alienated outsider figure, estranged at various levels, from society and the individuals around him, from traditional religion, from existence and the human predicament in this world and from himself. This paper aims at studying the various levels of alienation in Tughlaq. From the opening scene, Tughlaq is seen as a man estranged from his society, primarily because he is a man ahead of his age. He is not understood by the society around him because his ideas and ideals are far above the comprehension of his contemporaries. In an age of religious fanaticism and hostility between Hindus and Muslims, his broadminded religious tolerance seems foolish to the Muslims and cunning to the Hindus who suspect his motives. They find fault with him for the deterioration in the administration of the State. They accuse the Sultan for having exempted the Hindus from the payment of jiziya and also dislike his meeting. In this way he makes himself cheap. They call him anti-Muslim even though by his orders they are told to pray five times a day. If they break this law, they are punished. The
Hindus call the Sultan a hypocrite. Thus both the Muslims and Hindus are critical of him and they fail to understand him. . He wants to win the confidence of his subjects and build an ideal empire together with them but fails to carry his people with him. Since society is held together by its traditions, any attempt to undermine them meets with a violent reaction. Hence arises the perennial dialectic between the outsider and society. The changes proposed by Tughlaq pose a threat to the time honored conventions and beliefs of the society and so he meets with stiff opposition from all classes of people. His plans regarding the change of capital and the introduction of a token copper currency are sound and reasonable but fail to convince his subjects. He 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. This step is taken by him to have the capital in the centre of India. Further he is of the view of that the new capital will not subject to the raids of the enemy as Delhi is. This declaration by the Sultan creates a commotion in the crowd. People are fed up with his tyranny and madness. His frustration at their non-comprehension is understandable. “But how can I spread my branches in the states while the roots have yet to find their hold in the earth? (Karnad 10). He realizes here that his idealistic dreams can never reach the stars unless they are rooted in the firm support of his people. But despite all his efforts he is unable to win the confidence of his subjects – both the aristocrats and the commoners. He fully realizes the tragedy of his predicament. “But how can I explain tomorrow to those who haven’t even opened their eyes to the light of today?” (39). It is the alienation of Tughlaq from his people which is responsible for proposing these schemes, he too fails to foresee their reactions to them. He does not take into account
the emotional attachment of people to their native soil when he proposes a change of capital involving not only the shift in the administrative machinery but also of the people, lock, stock and barrel. Neither does he foresee and take precautions against the possibility of counterfeiting when he introduces token copper coins. The repeated failure of Tughlaq to win the confidence of his people paves the way for his gradual disillusionment and fall from his ideals which ultimately ends in a state of existential alienation. Not only is Tughlaq alienated from the society in which he lives, he is also estranged at the interpersonal level from the individual around him. His interpersonal alienation manifests itself in two ways. First of all, he is shown to manipulate people for his own purposes, treating them as objects and not persons. Secondly, he is unable to establish meaningful communication with others and is seen to be play-action continually. Erich From has defined alienation as a form of relationship among men who see each other not as human beings but as objects, which can be used to achieve their own goals. In scene three Tughlaq is seen as an ace-schemer who manipulates Sheikh Imam-ud-din to act exactly according to his own pre-arranged plans. The Sultan makes a clear distinction between religion and politics and tells the Sheikh that politics is not for religious people. The Sheikh bitterly suggests that these verbal distinctions are destructive. The Sultan agrees with him and informs him that he knows the fate of Socrates who was given poison and also of Plato but he is determined to be a visionary, like Buddha and Zarathustra. He shall teach his people to think for themselves and not to be like dumb cattle who can be driven easily this way or that. The Sultan then tells the Sheikh that there is not even a fly to listen to
him because they suspect him to be a spy and greeted as a spy in the market place. It is useless to think that they are Muslims and will have faith in him anymore. The Sultan then asks the Sheikh to help him by going to Ain-ul-Mulk and plead with him for peace. He says that if he does not accede to his request a lot of Muslim blood will be shed. He remarks; I’m willing to make peace but how can I do it? I don’t even know why he has turned against me. He won’t even see my official envoys (pause). But he will see you. He respects you as every Muslim in India does. He will trust your word. That’s why I’m asking you-will you please go as my envoy and dissuade him from this folly. Please Sheikh saheb I am not asking you only for my sake but for all the Muslims who will die at the hands of Muslims if there is a war. You can’t deny that this war will mean a slaughter of Muslims at the hands of fellow-Muslims. Isn’t that enough for the great Sheikh Imamud-din? You have attacked me for inaction. You can’t turn away, now when you are offered a chance. You can’t (21). So to save the Muslims the Sheikh must take upon himself the duty of an envoy and ask Ain-ul-Mulk to stop war. The Sheikh knows that there is no alternative and so he agrees to the Sultan. The Sultan does not waste any time. He orders for the royal robes for the Sheikh which he has already got ready. He places the head-dress on the head of the Sheikh. He dispels his doubts that Ain-ul-Mulk will also call him a spy. He says that he will be a messenger of peace and in the meanwhile he will keep his soldiers ready at Jalaun to face any emergency. Imam-ud-din now recognises that Muhammad is the cleverest man in the world.
. By a diabolically clever strategy he gets rid of both his enemies Sheikh Imam-uddin and Ain-ul-Mulk at one stroke. Tughlaq sees others through an alienated vision, not as persons but as pawns in a political game of chess, objects to be used and discarded. In Tughlaq’s relationship with others there is very little genuine communication. Most of the time he seems to be play-acting, thus revealing his alienation from others at the interpersonal level. He seems to be giving a performance all the time, stroking a serious of histrionic stances and poses. Tughlaq tries his best to impress his people by playing the role of a just and impartial ruler. At the end of the episode the Guard dismisses the crowd, saying, “What are you waiting for? The show’s over Go home” (5). These words suggest that the Guard has almost seen through the theatricality of the entire performance which had been staged by Tughlaq to win popular support. Not only in public does Tughlaq indulge in role-play, even in private conversation with his stepmother he seems to be acting, though he says that she is one of the three people in whom he can confide. When she asks him why he does not sleep at night, he launches into a long piece of inflated rhetoric. He replies that he is worried about the prosperity and well-being of his people. He wants to do what no king has done so far. He will work for Hindu and 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. It is so obviously theatrical that the stepmother bursts into laughter with the amused comment, “I can’t ask a simple question without your giving a royal performance” (10-11). According to Erving Goff man, “To the degree that the individual maintains a show before others…he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self” (Gomez 34).
Though at first Tughlaq distances himself from others by adopting a role, later the inability to communicate becomes a matter of anguish for him. Later when Tughlaq unburdens his soul to the young guard at Dualatabad, he meets with gross incomprehension. I don’t understand what your majesty is saying” responds the Guard. This infuriates Tughlaq who rages at him, “You don’t understand! You don’t understand! Why do you live? Why do you corrupt the air with your diseased breath? (Karnad 54) It is the alienated outsider’s rage at the insider’s lassitude and drifting through life without thinking. But anger is followed by a philosophical acceptance of the fact that the listener cannot help his incomprehension. “I’m sorry. It’s my turn to apologize. It isn’t your fault. You are also one of them”(54). Alienated from society and the individuals around him, Tughlaq is also estranged from the religion followed by those around him. Tughlaq’s alienation from traditional religion arises primarily from the fact that he is an existentialist in his religion and therefore inevitably comes into conflict with the orthodox believers and fundamentalists in religion. This conflict is vividly presented in scene three in the debate between Sheikh Imam-ud-din and Tughlaq. The Sheikh believes that the Koran is the only guide and that “if one fails to understand what the Koran says one must ask the Sayyids and the Ulema.” (20). Tughlaq asserts his allegiance to the Koran as the word of God. “I have never denied the Word of God, Sheikhsahib, because it’s my bread and drink” (20) but he refuses to depend only on God and prayer and believes in his own strength and resources. “But why should I call on God to clean the dirt deposited by men?” (20). He believes that “no one can go far on his knees” (20) that is through prayer alone. To the Sheikh
this sounds like blasphemy and a desire to reject the Koran and God, setting oneself up as God. “Beware Sultan, you are trying to become another God” (21) says the Sheikh to the Sultan. The Sheikh sees Tughlaq as one who aspires to omnipotence and godhead, usurping God’s power and position. The fact that Tughlaq is an existentialist in religion is seen from his refusal to accept the Koran as the sole receptacle of truth. He cannot reject Greek philosophy and the truth contained in other religions like that of Zarathustra or the Buddha. A fundamental principle in existentialism is that existence precedes essence that a man’s experiential knowledge draw from existence is superior to any principle or philosophy in its theoretical essence. From his own experience, Tughlaq finds it impossible to deny or kill that part of him, which had appreciated the Greeks. He finds the Koran and Islam too narrow to hold his comprehensive spirit. He therefore experiences fragmentation, torn between his allegiance to the Koran and his appreciation for other forms of truth. Islam requires that he should kill that part of him which had responded to the Greeks. Tughlaq speaks ecstatically of the charm that Greek philosophy and literature had held for him. He feels the thrill of a brave new world opening before him. I can still feel the thrill with which I found a new world, a world I had not found in the Arabs or even the Koran. They tore me into shreds. And to be whole now, I shall have to kill the part of me which sang to them. And my kingdom too is what I am torn into pieces by visions whose validity I can’t deny. 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 lead which led Zarathustra or the Buddha. (21) The microcosm within the king is reflected in the macrocosm of his kingdom.
Tughlaq is not alienated from human existence right from the beginning of the play. The first scene reveals him as an idealistic reformer who hopes to lead his people into a utopia. It is only when the idealist becomes disillusion, on seeing the unbridgeable gulf between aspiration and reality that he moves towards existential alienation. Though all the innovative measures of Tughlaq like giving equal rights to Hindus, change of capital and introduction of copper currency are excellent in principle, they fail because of two main reasons his inability to win the people’s confidence and his failure to foresee the flaws in his schemes. His social alienation from the people thus paves the way for his existential alienation. Scene two reveals. Tughlaq’s longing to be accepted by his people As their Saviour-manorch. “come, my people, I’m waiting for you” (10). He also realizes the helplessness of the individual and the brevity of human life. “I have only one life, one body and my hopes, my people, my God are all fighting for it” (10). In Scene three there are brief intimations of the beginning of existential alienation in Tughlaq. This is seen when he tells Sheikh Imam-ud-din about the surrounding void which sometimes pushes itself into his soul and starts “putting out every light burning there” (20). The turning point in Tughlaq’s life, the boundary situation of existential philosophy, which sends him hurtling down the abyss of existential alienation, comes in scene six. The treachery of Shihab-ud-din, whom Tughlaq genuinely liked and trusted, turns Tughlaq against the world. His anguish at not being understood by his people, at being betrayed by those whom he loved and trusted is revealed in his tortured question to Barani, “Why must this happen Barani? Are all those I trust condemned to go down in
history as traitors?... will my reign be nothing more than a tortured scream which will stab the night and melt away in the silence?” (43). This reveals an intense awareness of the futility and absurdity of human existence, similar to that of Mecbeth who sees human life as ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.’ The absurd is the encounter between the individual’s longing for order and rational explanations. Tughlaq just cannot find a rational explanation for the treachery of Shihab and his courtiers incomprehension of his idealistic measures. The absurdity of human existence impresses itself upon him in this totally unreasonable act of treachery. He thus has a vision of the absurd, the meaninglessness and chaos of existence. Like Caligula in Camus’ play, Tughlaq also tries to control and release his metaphysical anguish by an exercise of tyrannical power. His cruelty in the play arises from his anguish. Anguish, in existential philosophy, is the reaction of the man who has had a vision of the absurd and realizes the nothingness, the void that is at the centre of all existence. The repeated frenzied stabbing of Shihab even after he is dead, the order that the bodies of the conspirators should be stuffed with straw and exhibited through out the kingdom and the insistence on the immediate vacating of Delhi are acts of cruelty and tyranny arising from his existential anguish. In camps on the Delhi to Daulatabad route many people and children is dead but the Sultan does not bother about anything his target is to reach Daulatabad. He decides to give up the method of rational explanation and persuasion which he had hitherto tried with his people. Instead he is now determined to rule them with an iron hand. “I was too soft, I can see that now. They’ll only understand the whip” (44).
In his movement form idealist to tyrant, Tughlaq resembles Camus’ protagonist Caligula, whose existential alienation drove him to a deliberate choice of tyranny. Tughlaq’s existential alienation is made all the more poignant by juxtaposing it with his earlier idealism. Karnad uses the flash back technique to give us glimpses of the youthful idealism of Tughlaq. In an idyllic scene on the ramparts of Dualatabad, Tughlaq shares his youthful aspirations with a young guard. He also recaptures a magical moment from his youth when he felt fully in harmony with the world around him. It was a moment of total communion with nature, the elements and man’s works, a beautiful fusion with the things of this world. Tughlaq recalls nostalgically, One night I was standing on the ramparts of the old fort here. There was a torch near me flapping its wild wings and scattering golden feathers on everything in sight. There was a half-built gate nearby, trying to contain the sky within its cleft. Suddenly something happened as though someone had cast a spell. The torch, the gate, the fort and they sky all melted and merged and flowed in my blood stream with the darkness of the night… I was the earth, was the grass, was the smoke, was the sky. (53) . Tughlaq had been trying to recover that experience though out his life. Bur in vain. Instead he found himself wandering aimlessly in existential alienation as an Outsider, searching for the end of estrangement from the universe around. The hopelessness of his search for that lost moment of communion is also revealed. (Gomez 38). I have searched for that moment since then and here I am still searching for it. But in the last four years, I have seen only the woods clinging t the earth,
heard only the howls of wild wolves and the answering bay of street dogs. (Karnad 54). The despair and agony felt by him are brought out in the images of discord - the howl of wild wolves and the bay of street dogs. The speech reveals an outsider estranged from the universe, totally out of harmony with it. Towards the end of the eighth scene, there is yet another juxtaposition of Tughlaq’s earlier idealism and present degeneration. Such a contrast becomes an important structural device and is repeated once more in scene ten. At the end of scene eight, it is Barani who eloquently evokes Tughlaq’s idealistic past and appeals to him to recapture the ideals once again, eschewing tyranny and cruelty. Barani submits that Muhammad is known for his learning and scholarship all the world over. History is not made only in statecraft; its lasting results are produced in the ranks of learned men. Mohammad is known for his knowledge of philosophy and poetry. He must stand for the ideals of love and peace. But he was not doing anything of the kind. He must change. He must stop doing the wrong thing. Barani tells Tughlaq: “Your majesty, there was a time when you believed in love, in peace, in God. What has happened to those ideals?... Why this bloodshed? please stop it.” (56). Barani pinpoints the disease and diagnoses it as arising from a rejection of God and fellowman by Tughlaq. He suggests that Tughlaq should renew his bonds of relationship with God and neighbur. But if Tughlaq were to accept this prescription, it would mean acknowledging that he was wrong all these years, which he is not prepared to do. (Gomez 39). But for that I’ll have to admit I’ve been wrong all these years. And I know I haven’t. I have something to give, something to teach, which may open the
eyes of history, but I have to do it within this life. I’ve got to make them listen to me before I lose even that. (Karnad 56). Again and again in the play, Tughlaq is made to realize the vast gulf between aspiration and fulfillment, ideals and reality. As Cruickshank puts it, Intellectual awareness of the absurd is the experience of a person who has expected a rationally ordered cosmos, but finds instead a chaos impervious to reason. Tughlaq is forced to admit that his innovative measures like the change of capital and the introduction of a token copper currency have proved themselves to be hopeless failures. Counterfeit coins frustrate and confuse Mohammad. He accepts his mistakes. He says that if he doesn’t withdraw the coins, the whole economy will be in shambles. But he cannot do so, for it was his own orders. It is no doubt legalized robbery but he cannot help it. The carts of counterfeit coins are heaped in the rose garden. Now I don’t need a rose garden. I built it because I wanted to make for myself an image of Sadi’s poems. I wanted very rose in it to be a poem. I wanted every throne in it to prick and quicken the senses. But I don’t need those airy trappings now. A funeral has no need for a separate symbol. (61). The rose garden which he envisages as a visible symbol of his visionary hopes to create a utopia becomes a rubbish dump where useless copper coins are piled up. This degeneration symbolizes the reduction of his kingdom to ‘a market of corpses’ instead of becoming a Utopia. In scene ten, in the conversation with the step-mother on the rose garden, there is again the juxtaposition of the past idealism with the present corruption. The step-mother tells Tughlaq; “It’s only seven years ago that you came to the throne. How glorious you were then, how idealistic, how full of hopes. Look at your kingdom now. It’s become a kitchen of death.” (65). When his
stepmother taunts him with killing his father, brother and Sheikh Imam-ud-din, Tughlaq claims to have killed them for an ideal, perhaps the ideal of building a Utopian empire, which he considered to be his life’s mission. “I killed them-yes-but I killed them for an ideal” (65). In this conversation, Tughlaq confesses that eschewing violence is no longer under his control. Once he has tasted the exhilarating power under his control, once he has tasted the exhilarating power of killing, it has become a compulsion. He traces the turning point to Shihab’s murder. Further he has found that the most powerful argument lay not in words, but in the sword, in cruelty, violence and murder. He has therefore adopted tyranny as a way of life, a means to an end, a vehicle to fulfill his mission in life. I couldn’t (hold back the sword). Not now. Remember Shihab-ud-din of Sampanshahr? He was the first man I killed with my own hands. And I had a glimmer then of what now I know only too well. Not words but the sword that’s all I have to keep my faith in my mission.(66). Soon after this Tughlaq insists that none of the deaths which he brings about are futile. “No, they were not futile. They gave me what I wanted power, strength to shape my thoughts, strength to act, strength to recognize myself.” (66). This speech reveals a startling attitude to murder. Murder is seen as a definitive act which leads to selfrecognition and self-identity. Murder has given him power and self-realization through independent thinking and action. Cruelty and tyranny are seen almost as vehicles to help him to overcome existential alienation and a sense of the absurdity of human existence. This is close to the Nazi mentality exposed by Camus in Caligula.
Self-alienation has been defined in philosophy as alienation of self from itself through itself. It is a state of a division of self into conflicting parts which become alien to each other. When the self-division becomes extreme, the person suffers from various psychological disorders and may even be driven beyond the border of sanity into the total self-estrangement of madness In Scene Ten, soon after condemning his Stepmother to death, we find Tughlaq experiencing intense self-estrangement. Left alone, he falls to his knees, clutches his hands to his breast and desperately pleads with God to help him: “God, God in Heaven please help me. Please don’t let go of my hand… I started in your path, Lord, Why am I wandering naked in this desert now?” (67). The tone of despair, helplessness and bewildered incomprehension are unmistakable in this prayer. Yet when Barani enters, he jests at his own praying gesture in self-mockery. But a note of anguish is recognizable at the end. “I was trying to pray. Think of that no one in my kingdom is allowed to pray and I was praying. Against my own orders! But what else could I do Barani? My legs could not hold me up any longer.” (67). One can almost hear the break in the voice when he says, “But what else could I do Barani?” (67). He now realizes that his own strength is not enough to sustain him and so he needs to kneel and pray. Though his prayer sounds genuinely desperate, he says that it was merely from the lips and memory and not from the heart. “I was trying to pry but I could only find words learnt by rote which left no echo in the heart.” (68). He realizes his own self-alienation and knows that he has reached the extreme edge of self-estrangement, which is madness. “I am teetering on the brink of madness, Barani, but the madness of God still eludes me” (68).
Tughlaq again indulges in play-acting and self-dramatization. He strikes a pose of humility and dramatically falls at the feet of Aziz Ghiyaz-ud-din. This histrionic gesture has its effect on the crowd which gasps and kneels down. Aazam reports the nocturnal vigil of the Sultan in his proposed rose garden-turned-rubbish-dump. Aazam calls it madness, while Aziz puts it down to insomnia. But to Tughlaq, it is an expression of his anguish at the trick played on him by life – it had promised him a rose garden and gave him a rubbish dump. He wanted to rule a Utopia, but ended up ruling a ‘kitchen of death’ as the ‘lord of skins’. This contrast between man’s expectation and the harsh reality of existence is indeed the experience of the absurd. At the end of the play as Barani passes out of his life, Tughlaq reaches a dead end in complete exhaustion. Barani, all I need now is myself and my madness – madness to prance in a field eaten bare by the scarecrow violence. But I am not alone, Barani. Thank heaven! For once I am not alone. I have a companion to share my madness now – the omnipotent God! (85). Tughlaq claims that his madness is a divine frenzy, dancing in a world torn by violence, a kind of Rudhra Thandava. But it has left the man exhausted and he falls asleep just as prayer is restored in his kingdom after a ban of five years. As far as the theme of alienation is concerned, the play is open-ended and inconclusive. Many of the other characters in the play serve as foils to the protagonist. Najib Barani Aazam and Aziz highlight certain elements in the character of Tughlaq seen as an alienated existential outsider. In a moment of self-revelation, Najib reveals himself as a former idealist, who has now become an existentialist, grasping the present moment as it is. He has given up Hinduism because it speaks only of the salvation of
the individual soul and not of society. The social consciousness of Islam therefore attracts him and so he became a Muslim, hoping to bring in the kingdom of Heaven on earth through Islam. But his youthful idealism met with disillusionment when he realized that scheme to bring in a golden age do not work out practically. So finally Najib concludes that all that matters is the present moment of existence, which must be grasped firmly and utilized fully. “I became a Muslim. Islam worried about this world, I said it’ll bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. But I know now- it won’t work. There’s only the present moment and we must grasp it firmly.” (14). Thus an experiential encounter with life had transformed Najib also from being an idealist to becoming an existentialist. Barani is a close confidant of Tughlaq who frankly and fearlessly points out the Sultan’s degeneration fro idealist to tyrant. But in the last scene of the play, Barani pays a tribute to Tughlaq that though he is in the midst of violence, he is not drawn into it. Barani, the gentlest and mildest of men, imagines with relish the most tortuous deaths to be meted out to Aziz. But Tughlaq stops him with a mild rebuke which brings Barani to a shocked self-realization of his fall from grace. He says, “I am a weak man your Majesty, I don’t have your strength to play with violence and yet not be sucked in by it. Your Majesty warned me when I slipped and I am grateful for that. I ask your Majesty’s permission to go while I’m still safe.” (85). This speech of Barani throws light on Tughlaq’s detached use of violence for a specific purpose – to fulfill a mission in life. Though he is in the whirlpool of violence and bloodshed, he is able to maintain his objectivity and is not sucked into the vortex. Aazam and Aziz the comic pair derived from the Akara-Makara tradition in Kannada drama and reminiscent of Vladimir and Estragon in Becket’s Waiting for
Godot , present an interesting parallel to Tughlaq’s existential alienation in a lighter vein. In Scene Nine Aazam assumes a worldweary mood which is almost a parody of Tughlaq’s existential alienation and experience of futility and meaninglessness in the previous scene. It’s so hot I’m fed up, I’m fed up of life, I’m fed up of the whole bloody world” says Aazam. But Aziz totally unsympathetic and does no encourage him in self-pity. Aziz asks dispassionately, “why don’t you just go and commit suicide?” Actually this flippant suggestion is one of the ways in which the alienated individual may strive to escape from the problem of the absurd. Camus in The My of Sisyphus speaks of ‘physical suicide’ as one of the ways out of the absurd impasse. Since the absurdity is a relationship between the individual and the world, suicide tries to negate the absurd by destroying the individual. Aziz reveals some starting similarities to Tughlaq. He too had a moment of revelation when the futility of human life was revealed to him in an existential vision. This is revealed in flashback in the last scene. Aziz recalls his career as a servant of officers, when he is engaged in stuffing corpses with straw for exhibition. Such famous kings, warriors and leaders of men passed through our hands then! Beautiful strong bodies and bodies eaten up by corruption all, all were stuffed with straw and went to the top of poles…. One day, suddenly I had a revelation. This was the real meaning of the mystery of death – straw and skin! With that enlightenment I found peace. (82). Thus Aziz had his encounter with the absurd in the market of corpses – an existential vision of the futility and meaninglessness of life. Soon after that Aziz had run away to the hills and started his career as a highway robber. It is remarkable that in Aziz too, as in Tughlaq and Caligula, the absurd vision of
life is followed by a plunge into violence and cruelty. In scene nine, Aziz speaks of crime as an assertion of power, as a means to acquire power. (Gomez 45). The game of chess and the rose garden are two important recurring images which are part of the inner structure of the play. Both are metaphors of alienation and may be related to Tughlaq’s alienation. Chess symbolizes Tughlaq’s chess game approach to life wherein he regards other people as pawns to be manipulated for his own advantage. The rose garden which becomes a rubbish dump is a perfect objective correlative of Tughlaq’s idealistic aspirations meeting with defeat, frustration and disillusionment. It becomes an image of the absurd, the unbridgeable gulf between man’s expectations of orderliness and the chaos and irrationality which confront him in the universe. Thus, in Karnad’s play, Tughlaq is presented as an alienated protagonist who experiences interpersonal and social alienation, existential alienation and selfestrangement. Many of the other characters in the play are also seen to experience alienation, which serves to highlight Tughlaq’s predicament. The recurring images of chess and the rose garden also reinforce this theme of alienation at a subliminal level.
Conclusion Tughlaq is a sensitive and intelligent ruler who sets out to do the best for his people, Tughlaq is misunderstood and maligned, suffers an increasing sense of alienation and is forced to abandon his earlier idealism and end up as a tyrant. Karnad delves into the legend and makes it a vehicle of a new vision. He tries to show the absurdity of life with all its elemental passion. Thus the play deals with the theme of alienation with existential overtones. Karnad’s Tughlaq has been compared by critics to Camu’s Caligula and Eisentein’s Ivan the terrible, where in the play he is seen as a deracinated monarch whose absolute individualism alienatd him from his people, from society and from himself. He emphasizes on the personal reality of individual existence and so as a man, he is doomed to suffer the corrosive impact of alienation. Edmund fuller views, “man suffers not only from war, persecution, famine and ruin, but from inner problems, a conviction of isolation, randomness, and meaninglessness in his way of existence” (Srivastava 75). The pervasive sense of alienation has corroded human life from various quarters and the man has shrunk in spirit languishing in confusion, frustration, disintegration, disillusionment and alienation. The concept of alienation is not quiet new and it has been in vogue in philosophical, theological, sociological and psychological writings for a long time. The sufferings from an acute sense of rootlessness, which may manifest itself as “the alienation from oneself, from one’s fellow men and from nature; the awareness that
life runs out of one’s hand like sand….” (Srivastava 75). It is seen that there is always a struggle between what the individual aspires for and the harsh reality of what he achieves, what he professes and what he practices, what he really is and what he would like to be taken for, has crumpled his life leaving an insidious effect on his life and on his inner being. The injuries inflicted and the scars left on his psyche make him realize only of his helplessness. Painfully aware of his precarious position, man experiences severe limitations arising out of randomness and alienation. The plight of an individual as discussed by Melvin Seaman in five interrelated operational conditions, powerlessness, meaningless, normlessness, isolation and selfestrangement which are nothing but different manifestations of alienation. The most obvious repercussion of alienation can be seen in a person’s fractured consciousness and his fractionated function. There can be several layers and kinds of alienation. Taviss mentions two different kinds of alienations, “Social alienation” and “selfalienation”. Social alienation results from the sense of estrangement brought out by the sudden discovery, that the social system is either oppressive or incomplete or incompatible with their desires and ideals. Self-alienation, however, means the loss of contact of the individual selves with any inclinations or desires that are not in agreement with the prevailing social patterns as a result of which the individuals are forced to manipulate in accordance with the social demands or feel incapable of controlling their actions. To be socially alienated thus means man’s dehumanization, his loss of freedom and his estrangement from other human beings. Man is an alienated outsider figure, estranged at various levels from the individuals around him and the society, from existence of self and the human predicament in this world.
Broadly speaking, man’s social-alienation implies his estrangement from his family, his community, his society and eventually from his own self. He is estranged from the society because he is a man ahead of his age and is not understood by the society around him because his ideas and ideals are far above and very different from an ordinary human being. Man upholds that he can transcend reality in his own consciousness and can assert for himself despite his limitations and failures. This results in the social alienation of the protagonist from traditions, society and from individuals around him. This play explores the paradox of the idealistic king Tughlaq who does not have a single moment of peace and rest, as he is always suspicious of the motives of the people close to him. The number of imposters, betrayers, rebels and treacherous people around him never lent him any real support. The people thought him mad and the Amirs termed him tyrannical. He is a formidable ruler who would not let anybody or anything come in his way of power and the answer to his resistance is his sword. Tughlaq is a usurper, comes to the throne after getting his father and brother murdered during prayer time, having committed heinous crimes and his unpopular schemes created many foes for him, and the transformation of the character of the ruler from a sensitive and intelligent ruler who sets out to do his best for his people ends up into pieces. This was due to both his idealism as well as his shortcomings within him, which led him to further alienation. Tughlaq is traced as a man who is estranged from the society around him because of his different ideas. He has been denounced by the historians as a mad king. It is seen that he was a ruler in search of human beings, not Hindus or Muslims. He tries
to show justice to his people without any partiality for any particular community but his broadmindedness seems foolish to the Muslims and cunning to the Hindus who suspect his motives. Tughlaq is deprived of the clerical party of its monopoly of the administration of justice. He makes himself the highest court of appeal and is prepared to punish even the Shaikhs and Saiyyads who are considered to be sacred by the Muslim rulers. He believes that he is the shadow of God. Some of the inscriptions on his coins read as “Sovereignty is not conferred upon every man, but is place on the elect. He who obeys the Sultan truly obeys God. The Sultan is the shadow of God and God is the supporter of the Sultan” (Karnad 21). Tughlaq wanted to command by the power of trust and understanding but the vitiated atmosphere of a court dominated by the communalization of politics makes him ask Barani sadly: “Are all those I trust condemned to go down in history as traitors? Tell me…will my reign be nothing more than tortured scream which will stab the night and melt away in the silence? (43). Tughlaq considers every conceivable unscrupulous means to be justified in acquiring and sustaining power and authority. Tughlaq takes continuous recourse to the methods of coercion to legitimize the power that he wields. Tughlaq has learnt the art of transforming every adverse situation to his advantage. He invites the charismatic religious leader Imam-ud-din to address a public meeting and gives him the freedom of denouncing the policies of Tughlaq in public. The act may appear to exemplify Tughlaq’s courage and integrity in allowing freedom of expression to prevail in his kingdom. This façade of impartiality and supreme objectivity comes to the fore when we learn that his soldiers have been sent from door
to door to prevent them from attending the said meeting. His plan to eliminate Imamud-din projects him as a brilliant intriguer. Being made aware of his close resemblance with Imam-ud-din, he uses the latter as his emissary for peace against the approaching army of Ain-ul-Mulk, the Governor of Awadh and once a friend of the Sultan. Dressed as Tughlaq in his exact likeness, Imam-ud-din approaches Ain-ulMulk and before he begins to speak, the charge is sounded. Now Imam is killed by Tughlaq and Ain-ul-Mulk is defeated cunningly and now Tughlaq feels that he has achieved something great. Tughlaq’s folly lay in his failure to understand the political pulse of his time. Embittered by the troubles and disorders engineered and nursed by interested pressure groups, Tughlaq resorts to merciless killings. Lacking the prudence and moderation of an emperor like Akbar, Tughlaq found coercion to be a better device than appeasement. His appreciation of Hinduism and his free and unrestrained association with Hindu ascetics offends the fundamentalist religious order of Islam. As a result, every project he plans fails and brings in its train, a series of new troubles. His campaign for the discovery of truth and his anxiety to stop the evil at its source, and administer justice an equity, brought him into conflict with a body of people whose fault was unpardonable in his eyes. Tughlaq has abundant sympathy for downtrodden and the weak but such generosity and compassion were suitably exploited by characters like Aziz. Aziz not only deceives Tughlaq in the garb of Vishnu Prasad but also towards the end of the play kills the holy man Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid and appears before Tughlaq in the guise of the deceased. He has the audacity to tell the Sultan: “I admit I killed Ghiyasud-din and cheated you. Yet I am your Majesty, true disciple. I ask you, your
Majesty, which other man in India has spent five years of his life fitting every act, deed and thought to your Majesty’s word?” (82). Though annoyed by the insolence of Aziz, Tughlaq does not punish him for his crimes. On the contrary, he allows Aziz to masquerade as His Holiness Ghiyas-ud-din. He is even prepared to send him to Deccan as an officer of the State. The historian Barani warns him against committing such folly. He suggests that criminal like Aziz only deserves to be killed since he cannot see any logic in the Emperor’s kindness for Aziz. Like Khalil Gibran’s Madman, Tughlaq seems to have found both freedom and safety in his madness the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood. The glorious ideals that he has visualized in attempting to make his empire, the envy of the world remains at the end, mere optical illusions. The blinding madness of the day characterized by events of political expediency has relegated all logic into a corner. The only refuge left for Tughlaq at the end is in the haven of his own loneliness. He is logged by the despair of his own failures and is disillusioned by tragic sense of idealism. Tughlaq comes fully alive with all his plus and minus points, with his ideals and shortcomings and his dreams and daydreams. It is a story of a torn self, oppressed by the burden of his own misdeeds. Chandervaker states “Karnad’s Tughlaq and Shakespeare’s Richard II are temperamental and whimsical. The actions of both plays centre around the eccentricities of the monarchs, both characters have complexities of various kinds and have objective appeals, with their characteristic weakness” (Jaydipsinh 76). While shifting of the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, unaccountable people died. People do not have food, so they start eating barks of trees or the burnt strips of the
skin of animals. Truly speaking, Delhi is no more secure. Therefore, the Sultan wants to shift his capital to Daulatabad, a safer place. But he lies to his people and attributes it to the noble cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. The Sultan is a liar and hypocrite. Many people die and those who survive die while returning to Delhi. Roads are lined with skeletons. Many historians and thinkers feel that it is Sultan’s unwise decision. Seven to eight major characters are killed and countless people die during the exodus. Kharat states, “The play is thus packed with intrigues, machinations, bloodshed, terrible murders, violence and horror. There is a long chain of deception and violence” (Sinha 83). Muhammad identifies his step-mother also as his arch rival. She is ordered to be imprisoned and to be executed the next day morning. Tughlaq’s attitude to women reminds one of Appanna’s attitudes to his wife Rani in Karnad’s Nagamandala: Do as you are told, you understand?” (Karnad 7). In Sircar’s play Evam Indrajit also it remains almost the same: “Girls must follow the rules. Men can do what they like but women must be obedient” (21). The moment the step-mother is dragged away, Tughlaq becomes nervous and prays to God. Tughlaq is tyrant who has no qualms in murdering his own people. Thus his father and brother are killed during prayer time. Life is corrupted in all possible ways and Tughlaq himself is a master intriguer. The Sultan is never at peace with himself and it is after more than five years that a semblance of sleep comes back to him. He is a betrayer of his life brings only restlessness and mental agony. That he has no concern for human relations is clear from the fact that the near and dear ones fall a prey to his evil designs. He cannot tolerate criticism and thinks that he can never go wrong. He does not mind incurring
the wrath of the religious heads. His desire is just to climb up: “…how can I spread by branches in the stars while the roots have yet to find their hold in the earth?” (Karnad 10) Murders never worry him and he can easily joke about killings without any prick of conscience. His general attitude is that! a historian does not need an invitation to watch history take shape. He thinks that generations of Sultans have twisted their minds and it is his responsibility to mend their minds. Even when he ensures the killing of the Sheikh he has no difficulty in stating that at the sight of the dead body he feels as though it is he who is lying dead. The schemer in Tughlaq reminds one of Macbeth who kills or gets killed King Duncan, Banquo and others who stand in the way of his establishing himself as the King of Scotland in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. In order to get his passion realized, Muhammad Tughlaq broadly takes five decisions, (I) prayers five times a day and punishment if one fails to do so. (II) The provision to raise voice freely even against His Majesty. (III) The shifting of the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, (IV) the circulation of copper coins along with the silver dinars. (V) Liquidating all those coming in the path of his passion. And all these decisions prove highly disastrous. Since deep seated innate passion, grip increases on the person with its growing hold, the person in its grip almost overlooks and even refuses to see the other sides and consequences of his actions in the chosen direction. The surrounding sensible people see the slips of the actions and even try to caution him about them. But the grip so hard that he does not heed to any suggestion. This happens with Muhammad, too. The futility of his decisions is perceived by the
alert people. They have even tired to bring the slips to his knowledge. But the Sultan being possessed by that passion stubbornly refuses to accept any suggestion. Tughlaq who is the chief protagonist of drama is an idealist aiming at HinduMuslim unity, at secularism and also at building a new future for India. He is a learned man and is known for his knowledge of philosophy and poetry all over the world. Like Marlowe’s Dr.Faustus; he is ambitious; and like Macbeth, he is ambitious as well as a murderer; he is divided within himself. The crafty and murderous Tughlaq piles murder on murder to retain his kingship. He commits parricide, fratricide and wipes off the religious and political leaders like Imam-ud-din and Shihab-ud-din. In his great passion, he orders his step-mother to be stoned, dragged and killed. But these murders do not bring him peace. They tear him from within. Like Marlowe’s Dr.Faustus he stands penitent. Only God can save him from misery and the ghosts of the murdered. Tughlaq has many good qualities. However, he has one weakness which is pinned down and labeled as “abhinivesa”. This abhinivesa makes the Sultan think and act in only one direction. He is so much over taken by this passion that he remains unconcerned about the other possible sides of his actions and thoughts. This closed undirectional way of life leads him to his all-round failure and suffering. The whole presentation is such that in its final shape the theme transcends Muhammad Tughlaq of specific period and encompasses man of all time. And finally the play ends affirming the ages old truth that the God alone is supreme and not man: “Alla-hoAkbar! Alla-ho-Akbar! Ashahado La Elha Illilah”.
Tughlaq wants to rule a Utopia but ended up ruling a Kitchen of death. This contrast between man’s expectation and the harsh realities pushes him into alienation from self as well as the society. Thus, Karnad in his play presents Tughlaq as an alienated personality who experiences social and interpersonal alienation and selfestrangement. He is alienated from the society in which he lives and in his quest to prove his superiority he forgets that he himself is a living being. He wants to be different from other and in this he dehumanizes himself and intensifies his alienation.
Bibliography Primary Sources Karnad, Girish. Tughlaq. Oxford University Press, 1971. Secondary Sources Gomez, Christine. New Directions in Indian Drama: With Special Reference to the Plays of Vijay Tendulkar, Badal Sircal and Girish Karnad. New Delhi: prestige Books , 1994. Mukherjee, Tutun. Girish Karnad’s Plays: Performance and Critical Perspectives. Delhi, Pencraft International, 2006. Bedre, R.T. Critical Essays on the Plays of Girish Karnad. Nanded: Creative Publications, 2009. Clement, A. Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq and Hayavadana: A Study. Madurai, Thiagarajar College,1996. Dhawan, R.K. 50 Years of Indian Writing: Golden Jubilee Volume. New Delhi, Indian Association for English Studies, 1996. Dodiya, Jaydipsihn. The Plays of Girish Karnad: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi, Prestige
Books, 1999. Dodiya, Jaydipsinh K. and K. V. Surendran Indian English Drama: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi, Sarup & Sons, 2000. Geetha, B. J. The Phase of Tyranny in Macbeth, Tughlaq and Galigula. Madurai, Madurai Kamaraj University, 1999. Pandey, Mithilesh K. Recent Indian Literature in English: (A Culture Perspective). New Delhi, Anmol Publications private limited 1999. Surendran, K. V. Indian Writing: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi, Sarup & Sons, 2000. Tandon, Neeru. Perspectives and Challenges in Indian-English Drama. New Delhi, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2006. Mahle, H.S. Girish Karnad: Religion and Politics in Tughlaq, Indo-Anglian Fiction: Some Perceptions. New Delhi, Jainsons Publications, 1985.
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