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by Girish Karnad
About the Novel

● Written in 1964,it is Late Girish Karnad’s second play, after Yayati, which brought him
a lot of fame.

● Tughlaq portrayed as a man of contrasts, all embedded in his complex personality,

once as a dreamer and visionary, a man of action, benevolent, cruel, and much more.

● The play has found striking resemblance to contemporary politics

● Tughlaq besides being shown as a reformist is also shown as a shrewd politician as

the play outlines his clever plots to eliminate his opponents.

● In the end we see the kingdom is filled with chaos and misery, the king is helpless, as
all his advisors have left him

Judgement against Sultan
Delhi to Daulatabad
Concerns for Ain-Ul-Mulk
Aziz disguised himself as a Decision to shift the Capital in order Ain-Ul-Mulk proceeds with an
Brahmin to benefit from his to be safer from attacks and promote army against Tughlaq
secularist ideals religious equality

06 05 04
Dealings with Sheikh
Move to Daulatabad Murder attempt on Sultan
The Amirs and Sayyids planned to kill the Sheikh Imam-Ud-din a noble saint, who
The move has led to increased
Sultan with the help of Shihab-Ud-Din, to accused the Sultan of killing his father
violence, riots and eventually the
ensure the capitol remains in Delhi. and brother, was treacherously killed by
Predicting this Sultan has fired back the Sultan
Character Analysis
Character Analysis - Tughlaq

Historical Perspective

● Colloquially referred to as the Wise-Fool

● Described as the most controversial and
enigmatic figure of the 14th Century
● A fierce soldier who is normally humble
and humane but exhibiting occasional
bouts of extreme violence.
● Lived in a constant conflict between faith
and action
Karnad’s Tughlaq

Karnad builds upon the character traits of the

historical Tughlaq to weave a narrative around his
play’s protagonist

● A highly educated and knowledgeable man

● Has high ideals and lofty goals with far-
reaching consequences
● Lonely and finds himself misunderstood
● Blinded by the righteousness of his ideas
● Ready to go to any extents to achieve his end goals, with ends justifying the means
Our Understanding of Tughlaq


Believes that people fail to

acknowledge the rationale
behind his decisions Sanctimonious
Derives a sense of pride
for his idealistic stance
Conceited which in turn makes him
feel morally superior and
Thinks himself to be more satisfies his sense of self
knowledgeable than all others
& hence considers his point
of view to be supreme
Great pride in the righteousness of his Goals
Master of Deception & Public Appearance

Understands the importance of projecting a good public image

Public Meeting Sheikh Shihab-ud-din

Makes a great show of Gets rid of Sheikh Imam-ud-din Kills Shihab-ud-din but
holding a public meeting by getting him killed in the portrays him as a martyr
with Sheikh Imam-ud-din conflict with Ain-ul-Mulk but who died to save the king
but makes sure no one publicly portrays him as a thus preventing a rebellion
actually attends it messenger of peace by Shihab’s father

Can a good public image hold in the face of continuous on ground atrocities and suffering?
Aziz – Tughlaq’s Alter Ego

Aziz, along with his mate

Tughlaq had a dual Azan, benefits most from the
personality. King’s ‘projects’

He masquerades as a
An Idealist and a Power- Brahmin to successfully sue
Hungry Tyrant the king.
They starts making
Aziz represents the power- conunterfeit coins and also
hungry aspect. obtains farm subsidies illegally
from the government
Aziz was a realist driven by pure
lust for power and money without They profit from the move to
being corrupted by ideals. Daulatabad by exploiting the
Aziz was the only one who saw
through Tughlaq and in him Finally he kills the King’s guest
Tughlaq finally finds a person and takes his place before him
who understands him
Traits of Tughlaq
Positive Traits of Tughlaq

Visionary Reformer Intelligence

Many of his ideas in the play is He made reforms in the

His intelligence is seen mostly in
found to be way ahead of his treatment of Hindus even if it
cases where he secretly
time was not supported by many eliminated his critics and
Positive Traits of Tughlaq

Idealist Master Politician

Great ideals – Unified India with no He knew how to play his cards in the
discrimination between Hindus and game of politics. He was a champion in
Muslims deceiving his enemies.
Negative Traits of Tughlaq

Deception Cruel Discrimination

Sending Sheikh Imam-ud-din to Muhammad never thought twice

He killed his step mother for
defeat Ain-ul-Mulk. He even before assassinating his
treachery but spared Aziz and
eliminated two of his enemies. father and brother Ain-Ul-Mulk for the same
Negative Traits of Tughlaq

Impractical Lack of Credibility

Tughlaq was impractical and was not He lost his credibility and reputation as
receptive to feedbacks. Didn’t change the many people realised the way in which he
copper currency even after counterfeits executed his father and brother
piling up
Parallels with
Parallels with prominent personalities

Jawaharlal Nehru Mahatma Gandhi

Both were visionaries Both were Twice born personalities

• Both strived for the modernization and secularism in the • Gandhi adopted unconventional approaches to fight freedom
country • Tughlaq adopted radical approaches to bring the change
Both were impractical idealists Empathy Vs Apathy for followers
• Nehru failed at the stabilization of Kashmir issue • Gandhi was highly empathetic to the difficulties of his
• Tughlaq move of shifting the capital failed followers
• Tughlaq showed no concern for citizens in the pursuit of his
Parallels with prominent personalities

Both have superior intellectual prowess

• Both have extreme interest in religion, philosophy and
arts. They derived their inspiration from them

Ability vs Inability to translate strategy to action

• Detailed and calculated measures adopted by Akbar
• Tughlaq failed to assess the risk and difficulties

Open-minded Vs Opinionated
• Akbar also shifted his capital from Agra to Fatehpur.
But after move miserably failed, he quickly shifted
back the capital
• Tughlaq strongly believed that his actions were
Akbar & Tughlaq
rightful. Hence, blinded himself to the rising problems
Parallels with prominent personalities

Both were Visionary

• Joan wanted independent nation of British
• Tughlaq strived for a unified and prosperous nation

Authenticity and Credibility

• Joan’s transparency gained credibility
• Tughlaq lost credibility – killed father and brother
at prayer

Domination vs Inspiration
• Joan served as the source of inspiration
• Tughlaq dominated his people with power and
violence Saint Joan & Tughlaq
Tughlaq as an
idealist separated
from reality
An Idealist separated
from Reality
Secularism Rule of Law
Separation of Religion & Politics Equality before the law.

Meritocracy Token Currency

A society governed by people selected Money which represents a greater
according to merit. value than its intrinsic value.
An Idealist separated
from Reality
Secularism Rule of Law
Treatment of the religious class and Allowed litigations against
subsequent banning of Prayers himself.

Meritocracy Token Currency

Tolerates Aziz when he espouses this ideal Bankrupts his treasury in exchange
in front of him. for counterfeit coins
An Idealist separated
from Reality
Secularism Rule of Law
Lack of substantive measures to unite his Mostly unscrupulous persons
subjects. Accused of Hindu Appeasement. like Aziz benefit from this.

Meritocracy Token Currency

Appoints criminals like Aziz as Doesn’t anticipate the issue of
government officials Counterfeit coins and ruins his
Prayer as a Political Tool

Muhammed obtains Due to famine, riots and death in

power by killing his Muhammed bans the kingdom, prayer which was
father and brother prayer in his kingdom. an important part of life seems
during prayer like a token gesture.

There is an attempt on He finally allows prayers again

Muhammed’s life when the Caliph’s decendant
during prayer. reaches his kingdom.
Questions to discuss

01 How important is the trust between leaders and his followers, especially
when the leader implements radical ideas ?

02 How much do credibility and transparency contribute to trust?

03 What happens when there is a disconnect between ideals and reality?

04 What should be blamed for the failures of Tughlaq’s ideas? Was it a mere
case of poor implementation?