Tughlaq by Girish Karnad
Scene wise summary of Tughlaq by Girish Karnad.
AD 1321- The Yard in front of the chief court of Delhi. A crowd of citizens-mostly Muslims, with a few Hindus here and there.
The first scene of Tughlaq starts with a conversation between an Old Man, a Young Man, a Third Man and a Hindu man. They are talking about the rule of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq/Sultan. The old man says that Muhammad has ruined the country and is an insult to Islam. The young man defends Muhammad saying that he is a true Islamist and that he made a rule that people should pray five times a day.
The announcer comes out of the court and announces that a Brahmin, Vishnu Prasad has filed a case against the Muhammad because the state officers had seized his land. The claims of the Brahmin was found to be just and in compensation, he would receive five hundred silver dinars and a post in the Civil Service.
The Muhammad comes out from the court. He announces to the crowd that he is shifting the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad as the capital city should be in the centre and not on the border of the country. He says that it will show the bond between the Muslims and Hindu. He says that people should accompany him.
Again, the conversation between the old and the young man occurs. They do not like this plan.The Third man says that Sheikh Immam-ud-din has claimed that the Muhammad is guilty of murdering his father and brother. The Guard comes out of the court and asks them to disperse.
Aazam, a pickpocket awaits to see the Brahmin. He soon finds out it is his friend Aziz. Aziz reveals his disguise and tells him that he cooked up a story and has got compensation. Previously the Muhammad had made a rule that any Hindu can file a case against the Muhammad asking for compensation for the loss caused by his officers. This is the reason why he disguised as a Brahmin. Aziz then suggests that Aazam should accompany him to the Civil Service and he would help him get a job.
A room in the Palace.
A conversation between the Muhammad and his stepmother takes place. Muhammad tells her of his sleepless nights. Muhammad asks his stepmother if she believes the gossip (that Muhammad murdered his father and brother) for which she denies to say a thing. She says she wants to forget it and not to talk about it. He also says that Ain-ul-Mulk with an army of thirty thousand soldiers is marching towards Delhi. The stepmother is shocked as they both are good friends.
Then Najib(Politician) and Barani(Historian) – Muhammad’s most trusted friends enter. Najib is worried that Sheik-Imam-ud-in id is in Delhi and that they should get rid of him. Although Barani expresses that it is unnecessary. They talk about Ain-ul-Mulk and his sudden march towards Delhi. Najib says that he had refused the post as the Governor of Deccan as he already made friends with the Citizens of Avadh and didn’t want to leave. It is also mentioned by Najib that the Sheik has a striking resemblance to the Muhammad. The Muhammad wants the army to be ready to March to Kanauj the day after. He assigns Najib and Shihab-ud-in to lool after the administration when he is absent. Muhammad and Najib exit to see the commander-in-chief.
The stepmother and Barani are having a conversation. The stepmother is worried about Muhammad and his friends who are a bad influence (Najib). Barani agrees with her. The stepmother asks him to never leave the Muhammad and says that she cannot tolerate Najib anymore. Barani is shocked about her remark though promises that he will always be with the Muhammad.
An announcer has an announcement for the public. He asks all the people to be present in front of the Great mosque for a meeting. Sheik-Imam-ud-in will address the meeting and talk about the Muhammad’s administration and wrong measures.
The yard in front of the Great Mosque.
The Muhammad, Sheik-Imam-ud-in and a few servants are present. Nobody turns up to the meeting. The Muhammad had already sent servants to threaten the people that they should not come to the meeting. The Muhammad did this to make a fool out of Sheik-Immam-ud-Din. There is a long conversation where he Muhammad is accused of his wrongdoings. The Muhammad says to Sheik that Ain-ul-Mulk is marching to Delhi and that he won’t see any of Muhammad’s envoys. He persuades the Sheik to go see him as Ain-ul-Mulk will only see him. The Muhammad says that there will be a war and that Muslims will die. The Sheik should go immediately to save the lives of Muslims. He is given royal robes and headdress. Now both of them look alike.
The Palace. Shihab-ud-din is reading a few letters. There is an announcement.
Shihab-ud-din and the stepmother are having a conversation. Sardar Ratansingh (Shihab’s half-brother) enters, announces that Sheikh Imam-ud-din was killed in the battle and that the Muhammad will be arriving soon. The Muhammad enters along with Barani and Najib. The Muhammad says that he forgave Ain-ul-Mulk because he had solved a chess game (that he took days to solve) in a few minutes and even spotted a flaw in his solution. He had asked him to stay in Avadh and look after the people. Barani is happy that the Muhammad is capable of generosity. All except Shihab-ud-in and Ratansingh go. A brief Silence.
Ratansingh now tells Shihab the truth about Sheikh’s death. Ratansingh had also gone along with the army. Muhammad was hiding behind the hills and laying a trap for the sheikh. When they went to propose peace, the soldiers of Muhammad started firing and when Ain-ul-Mulk’s army fired back the Sheikh died. Ratansingh had escaped somehow. Shihab is confused about all the happenings. Ratansinghs says that there is a secret meeting among the nobles of the court and some citizens. Ratansingh asks Shihab also to join.
A house in Delhi.A collection of Amirs and Sayyids. Shihab and Ratansingh.
They are talking about the rule of Muhammad. The Amirs say that the capital city is being shifted to Daulatabad to weaken the Amirs. They have to pay taxes for everything they do. There is a man named Sheikh Shams-ud-in in the meeting, he says that the Sheikh Haidari is in prison and the Sheikh Hood in exile. He says there is a lot of politics going on. An example of Sheikh Imam-ud-din’s life is also discussed. Also, the fact that Muhammad’s soldiers went from door to door threatening the people to not attend the meeting of Sheikh Imam-ud-in. Muhammad faults are displayed in the meeting to convince Shihab to join them in their secret plan, as he is a trusted person of the Muhammad. So they plan that the following Tuesday the Amirs would be seeing the Muhammad for the Durbar-i-Khas, and at that time Muhammad and his soldiers would be unarmed. They plan to kill him during the prayer. Shihab is still confused but is convinced to be a part of the conspiracy by Ratansingh.
The Muhammad, Barani and Najib are present and the Amirs enter. The Muhammad tells them that Abbasid Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad (a member of the Abbasid Khalifs) has accepted his invitation to visit the capital. He also announces that from the following year there will be copper currency along with silver dinars in his empire and that it will have the same value. It is the prayer time, Muhammad unbuckles his sword and settles. Half-way thought the prayer the Amirs draw out their Sword. Muhammad’s soldiers surround the Amirs and drag them away, while Muhammad continues to pray. The Muhammad kills Shihab. Then the Muhammad asks Najib to kill everyone who is involved in this conspiracy. He asks for an announcement to be made saying that Shihab defended and saved Muhammad’s life. He says that everyone should move to Daulatabad immediately.
A Camp in Delhi-Daulatabad route.
Aziz is in disguise as Vishnu Prasad (Brahmin) and Aazam is with him. A Hindu woman is kneeling in front of Aziz, asking for a day leave as her daughter is unwell. Aziz asks her to bribe him to take a day off. But she has no money and her daughter dies. Then a man, his wife and their six children. Aziz tells them that they were supposed to be there before the sunset. The man replies that he got delayed because he was burying the corpses on the way. The man says that he watches over the corpses of the men that Muhammad has killed. If their family wanted the dead bodies, they had to pay. Hearing the rumours of copper currency, Aziz tells Aazam that they should mint copper coins and become rich.
The Fort at Daulatabad.
There are two sentries, one young and the other past his middle age. They are standing near the fort and admire it. The old man says that he lost his father, son and his wife on the way. They talk about a python-like passage inside the fort that swallows people.
The Muhammad enters and asks the old man to bring Barani. A conversation occurs between Muhammad and the young man. The Muhammad says that he supervised the building when he was twenty-one.
Barani enters. The Muhammad tells him that Fakr-ud-din and Bahal-ud-din in Deccan have risen against him in Bengal. He says that at this point he can only trust Ain-ul-Mulk and Shihab’s father.
The old man enters and announces that Najib has been found dead.
A Hide-Out in the hills.
Aziz and Aazam are stretched out on the floor. They are having a conversation reflecting the Muhammad’s life. Aazam is fed up with life. Aziz tries to tell him that he must be able to rob and punish the man for being robbed. That is the real King.
Karim brings a gagged man, thought to be a Turkish Merchant. The Man introduces himself as Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid, a descendant of Khalif Abbasid and the Guest of Honour of Muhammad. He threatens Aziz for treating him like this. Aziz says that the Muhammad has killed many people since he came to Daulatabad. Aziz says that he killed a man, filled the body with straw and strung up in the market place because he pretended to be a descendant of a Prophet. Ghiyas-ud-din says that he has a letter and a ring that the Muhammad sent to him as recognition.
Aziz kills Ghiyas-ud-din and plans to go see Muhammad in disguise.
The Muhammad and the Stepmother are having a conversation. The stepmother questions Muhammad about the copper currency situation and says that it is a foolish act. Then they talk about Najib’s death. She confesses that she killed Najib. Muhammad thinks that she did this to gain control over Muhammad. The Muhammad orders the soldiers to take her to prison and to stone her to death. He says that she is worse than an adulteress.
Barani enters. Muhammad says that he was about to pray against his own rules. Barani says that the Governor has sent a letter saying that they call all begin to pray.
The announcer enters. He announces that Ghiyas-ud-din will be arriving there day after at noon and all the people should gather. The prayers would restart on the following Friday and that Muslims should pray five times a day.
A Plain outside the fort of Daulatabad.
Crowds of citizens have gathered to welcome Ghiyas-ud-din. The people say that they want food and not prayers. Aziz disguised as Ghiyas-ud-din enters and Muhammad embraces him. He falls on the feet of the holy man to wash away all his sins.
The Hindu woman recognizes Aziz. She comes out of the crowd and says that Aziz had killed her child. But nobody listens to her. Riot begins.
Aziz and Aazam are in the Palace. Aazam is afraid of standing with Aziz in doing all the wrong things. So decides to leave the palace. Aazam tells Aziz that he has bribed two servants to bring two horses and that they’ll be ready in half an hour. Aazam says that the city is in chaos and that they have to escape through the secret passage. They talk about the coins heaped outside the palace. Aziz says that many of the coins were made by them. Aazam said that he saw the Muhammad dig his fingers into the coins, let them trickle out and stood there for half an hour. Aazam tries to convince Aziz to come along but Aziz refuses. Aazam leaves the palace.
Another part of the Palace.
The Muhammad and Barani are having a conversation. Barani wants to leave for his mother’s funeral who died in the riots. He is unsure if he will return to the Muhammad.
A soldier enters. He announces that Aazam Jahan has been murdered in the tunnels. The Muhammad asks the soldier to keep this a secret and sends for Ghiyas-ud-din.
Aziz (in Disguise) enters. Aziz then reveals his disguise as he is questioned by the Muhammad. He says that he is a dhobi from Shiknar. He says that he shouldn’t be punished as he has followed every order and instruction with great attention. He says that he has been welcomed publically and called a saviour by the Muhammad. The Muhammad has also fallen to his feet to get blessings. Then he also revealed that the Brahmin-Vishnu Prasad was him. Aziz had taken the silver dinar to Doab and brought some land for farming. He also admits that he had killed Ghiyas-ud-din. He asks Muhammad to make him an officer in the state to show him his loyalty. The Muhammad agrees to send him to Deccan as an officer. The Muhammad asks him to lead the prayer as if he were Ghiyas-ud-din. Aziz Exits.
Barani cannot understand why the Muhammad has not punished Aziz. The Muhammad tells him that when he forgave Ain-ul-Mulk Barani was happy with the decision. Barani replies that he is a good friend and that Aziz is not the same. Ain-ul-Mulk has invited the Muhammad and people to stay at the capital. The Muhammad says that he must return to Delhi with his people. Barani is very upset. Barani asks permission to leave. He doesn’t reply for a while. He says that he is sleepy after five years. He asks Barani to go and before that to pray.