Tughlaq: Play Scene 11 - Summary & Analysis

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      Before the curtain rises for this scene in which crowds of citizens could be seen on a plain outside the fort of Daultabad an environment has been made to welcome the arrival of Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid in Daultabad. As already known to the audience this would revive the prayers in the kingdom after an interval of five years.

      However, the public conversation on the stage shows that starving people want food and not prayers. How can they pray empty stomach? They also present a very horrible and grim picture of the various parts of the kingdom how in Doab “people are eating barks of the trees,.....and women have to make do with the skins of dead horses.” Futhermore, someone saw “People crowding round a butchefs shop.....To catch the blood spurting from the slaughtered beasts and drink it”.

      The following scene on the stage of a fight between the second Man and Third Man is again very depressing and heart-breaking. The basic question is raised by the First man. - “Why do they need prayer?”

      Against this background enter Muhammad from one side and Ghiyas-ud-din from the other side of the stage. Music follows drawing the attention of the public. The Announcer I welcomes Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq as the slave of the Lord, the upholder of the word of the Prophet, the friend of the Khalif, the faithful. The Announcer welcomes Amir-ul-Mominin Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad as the protector of the ‘faith, the Descendant of the Holy Khalif al-Mustansir.

      The so-called holy man is Aziz disguised followed by his attendant Aazam and other followers. The Hindu woman of Scene Seven recognizes Aziz and steps out of the crowd and stares at him, but her husband pulls her back.

      Muhammad moves forward, embraces Aziz and welcomes His Holiness to the poor land of his kingdom that has been deprived of prayer for five-years and thus become a land of sinful activities. He expresses his satisfaction that now the pious feet of His holiness will surely save him and his kingdom. He falls to his feet. Aziz blesses him.

      Meanwhile, the Hindu woman stares at Aziz and cries out in great despair. Recognizing his eyes she screams and is confident that he is the man responsible for her son’s death as she couldn’t bribe him and get out of the camp for treatment. Others fail to understand what she means. They think that the Sultan had killed her son.

      Confusion and chaos all around. People shouted for food. They didn’t want prayer. A soldier tries to calm them, but they are so aggressive that they beat him. Many more soldiers arrive on the spot and start beating them mercilessly. This is how the riots begin in Daultabad.

Critical Analysis

      The scene describes the horrible conditions prevailing in Daultabad due to poverty, starvation, treachery of Muhammad’s administration culminating into the situation of riots in the kingdom. It had already become poorer, as the Sultan himself confesses before the Holy man, as it was deprived of prayers. The sins of the land had “become the fiery sun and burnt up the crops.” Famine is the ultimate result. Muhammad, though sceptical about the identity of His Holiness, falls to his feet, requests him to purify the land, and to beg in prayer to save them. But starving people want food first they are only shouting, fighting and rioting all day and night. Another significance of the scene is that it reveals more about the complex character of Aziz. He is truly a ‘genius’, as Muhammad himself admits later in the play, an evil genius who has been quite successful in duping the Sultan by masquerading initially as a Brahmin and finally as a saint.

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