Tughlaq: Play Scene 10 - Summary & Analysis

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      This is the scene of the palace where Muhammad is seen looking out of the window. His attention is diverted by the entry of his step-mother. She asks Muhammad why he has been so rash in his decisions that are responsible for the horrible atmosphere outside. Muhammad finds himself in a conflicting situation - he can’t go against his own orders regarding copper currency and yet he’ll have to withdraw the counterfeit coins or the whole economy, will be ruined. It has already affected it adversely. He assures her that such coins shall not go into the treasury, instead they’ll be heaped in the new rose garden which he had once built to make for himself an image of an eternal creator of something wonderful where rose flowers will be looked at by the beholder as Sadi’s poems leave indelible impressions upon the reader. He fancied he would be as eternal as Sadi, the saint-poet. But he is so much frustrated and baffled due to the failure of his currency policy and also because of Najib’s murder that the idealist in him is almost shattered into pieces and now he knows not what he is doing to find out the culprit. He suspects Amirs and khans.

      The step-mother tells him that he should stop butchering innocent people and converting the whole kingdom into a “kitchen of death”. Najib, she says, was misleading him and it is good that he is dead. She confesses boldly that she is responsible for his death. Furthermore, she reminds Muhammad of his decline, his fall from a glorious and idealistic position, because of Najib. She couldn’t bear it any longer, so she had him murdered.

      This was too much for Muhammad. She is at once arrested and Muhammad orders the soldiers, the very next morning she be stoned to death publicly.

      Muhammad looks stunned. The only recourse left is to pray, though against his own orders-an act of treachery as none was allowed to pray in his kingdom, but he can’t resist the urgency. He prays to god, and begs forgiveness. In a pleading tone he seeks God’s mercy. In moments of crisis only god is remembered. Barani’s entry at this moment gives him some relief when he breaks the news of Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid’s arrival in Daultabad “within the next month or so.” He tells Muhammad that with the Ghiyas-ud-din’s arrival the atmosphere will surely become congenial for prayer.

      Muhammad expresses his inability caused by spiritual agony and mental illness. Past events had shaken him badly. He wanted to pray, but couldn’t. He can’t even repent and beg forgiveness. He is on the verge of madness. He had ordered death punishment for his step-mother without confirming her guilt in Najib’s murder.

Critical Analysis

      This scene shows how Muhammad is gradually getting isolated. He had three confidants: Najib, step-mother and Barani to fall back upon whenever he wanted to discuss the political, social or religious affairs of his kingdom. Although he always prevailed upon them and at times ignored their suggestion, still he would listen to them and tolerate. Now when Najib is gone and his step-mother is going to get death punishment by his own orders Muhammad loses his balance of mind. He stands isolated from the two of the three confidants. Isolation brings desperation which is expressed before Barani, the historian. Thus the theme of isolation finds very dramatic treatment here.

      The scene also dramatizes Muhammad’s spiritual torture and sick mental condition. His rash decisions have given rise to further complications in the plot and he fails to understand what he should do to tackle the currency problem and save economy, or why or who should murder Najib or whether his step-mother is the real culprit in case of Najib’s murder. These questions torment him so much that he himself admits and says to Barani- “I am teetering on the brink of madness, Barani.....(shouting). And why should I deserve that madness? I have condemned my mother to death and I’m not even sure she was guilty of the crime.......”

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