Tughlaq: Play Scene 4 - Summary & Analysis

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      In this scene Shiab-ud-din, the Prince of Sampanshahr is seen reading few letters in the palace. Muhammad Tughlaq had invited him to look after Delhi in his absence.

      Meanwhile, the step-mother enters the stage whom Shiab-ud-din welcomes heartily and receives commendations from her for managing the affairs so well. Just then Sardar Ratansingh (Shiab-ud-din’s adopted brother) breaks the news that Muhammad is already in Delhi. He has gone to meet Vizier Najib as he is much distracted to see the Sheikh killed in the battle. He will be back soon.

      After some time, Muhammad appears on the stage accompanied by Najib and Barani. On being asked by his step-mother about Sheikh Imam-ud-din the Sultan expresses his intense grief “It was a terrible sight”. Then how he felt-upset “as though it was I who was lying dead there and that he was standing above me looking at me. I should have been there-in his place”. What a dramatic outburst of a hypocrite.! As for Ain-ul-Mulk he says he was pardoned and was given back the kingdom of Avadh.

      To Barani the Sheikh’s departure was indeed “a great loss to Islam but why “such special treatment” given to Ain-ul-Mulk, is the curiosity of the step-mother. “I had to forgive him” says Muhammad as he was deeply impressed with Ain-ul-Mulk’s special knack for playing chess. When the Sultan boasted of having solved the famous problem set by al-Adli he showed him where he had gone wrong. And chess is a mind game.

      Ain-ul-Mulk is an intelligent player. He thus deserved to be forgiven. However, Muhammad’s decision has a mixed reaction-if Barani admired greatness and calls it “more valuable than vengeance”, Najib is apprehensive of fresh lawlessness and disorder in Avadh and comments on the political short-sightedness of the Sultan.

      All others leave the stage now, except Shihab-ud-din and Ratansingh. Their conversation reveals Muhammad’s character. Having observed personally the scene of the battle Ratansingh seems to believe in himself when he calls the Sultan “an honest scoundrel”, who kills a man, yet maintains his integrity, honor, honesty and greatness. He has the skill to manipulate things in such a manner that he always emerges a savior when he is otherwise a great sinner. Sheikh Imam-ud-din’s murder in cold blood is the latest example. He created a situation in which the Sheikh had to agree to be his emissary of peace.

      The striking resemblance between the two was used for dramatic end of the Sheikh. Once the Sheikh is dressed in royal robes with head-dress on his head “he looks exactly like the Sultan. He will be mistaken for the Sultan easily and be killed by the enemy (the rebellions). Exactly the same happened. His death is the success of the Sultan who was hidden behind the hills, behind the scene.

      Ratansingh quotes another example of the Sultan’s treacherous and hypocritcal behavior in dealing with famine-stricken farmers of the Doab who were forced to pay taxes to the state without mercy, and of course without partiality: “Hindus as well as Muslims are dying with absolute impartiality.” Ratansingh’s sarcastic words show to what extent the Sultan is impartial.

      Another revelation that has something to do with the development of plot! Ratansingh informs Shihab-ud-din that the nobles and the important citizens are going to meet soon to discuss, God knows what. They also approached him to attend the meeting when they knew the Sultan had tried to kill him. Thus he wins sympathy of his adopted brother and invites him too. Shihab-ud-din agrees.

Critical Analysis

      This scene tells us more about Muhammad Tughlaq’s complex character. At this point of time Ratansingh remarks that he is “an honest-scoundrel” seems to be convincing in view of the examples given by him how the Sultan is treacherous in dealing with famine-stricken poor farmers of the Doab who were forced to pay taxes to the state. The devious way he manages to get the Sheikh killed in the battle is another example. His attempt to kill Ratansingh is also well-known to the public and surely it is going to have some impact on the plot. Yet he maintains his honest image and is called ‘great’, good and savior of his people. His so-called impartiality also finds sarcastic treatment. His favorable treatment of the Hindus is a part of his diplomacy, an appeasement policy.

      The stir in public to meet and discuss the political affairs is a significant move which is likely to contribute to the development of the plot.

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