When the king of Pratibandapuram and his queen had their first baby ten day old the astrologers made a prediction that the child would grow up and one day meet his death. While others heard them sadly, the baby prince asked a very wise question as to what was new in such a prediction as it is a universal truth that everyone should die.

When the child grew up and became the new king, he was nicknamed The Tiger King because he went on a tiger hunt to kill the hundredth tiger to remove his fear of death. Gradually the tiger population in his country went dry. To hunt further tigers he married a princess whose father’s forest had tigers in it.

The hundredth tiger was not very easy to hunt down. The king became furious and mad and dismissed many of the officers. Being a wise man, the devan knew the country would pass into the hands of Indian National Congress and that he too would lose his position, he decided to bring an old tiger from the People’s Park in Madras.

Instances of Satire

  • The courtier’s feeling sad on hearing that the child would one day die; the king’s marrying a girl for tiger-hunt;
  • The king’s decision to hunt tigers;
  • The king’s spending three hundred thousand rupees to please the British officer;
  • The king’s doubling the land tax for the villagers.
  • Finally, the king’s ultimate death just because of a wooden sliver and the doctors’ considering his death as a matter of no importance.

Characters

The King – The maharaja of Pratibandapuram deserves to be called a maharaja in every case. He was strong enough to kill the wild tigers with his bare hands. He was brave enough to think about killing not one, but hundred tigers. He was bold enough to stand against a British officer by refusing him permission to hunt in his forest. He was wise enough to please the officer by pleasing his wife and was rich enough to send fifty diamond rings to the good lady of the officer. He was even cunning enough to arrange his marriage with a princess whose father’s forest had the maximum number of tigers. Yet he appears to be the opposite of what he had done and what he was because this powerful king was finally killed by the sliver of a worthless wooden tiger! His death brought him great shame. His boldness, cunningness, strength and bravery failed miserably at the hands of an insignificant wooden tiger. He can also be laughed at for his blindly believing the astrologers, for the dereliction of duty as a king, for imposing tax on the villagers out of rage, for forgetting the sanctity and meaning of marriage and for dismissing his officers for no official reason.

The First Astrologer – A great astrologer (or very much fake!). He had deep knowledge in astrology and was a master at that. Logical but a little foolish at predicting people’s fate.

The Second Astrologer – Probably the son of the late astrologer. Equally great or fake as his ancestor was. He accepted a bet from the king and agreed to abandon his profession to become the most infamous insurance agent – a weird parallel for astrology.

Devan or Prime Minister – The Diwan, king’s chief minister, is the comedian in the story. He was a man of tactics and availed the benefits of his brain only under emergency such as the loss of his office. He was well aware of the king’s fury. While standing in front of the king’s brandished gun, the old man imagined a bullet piercing his heart and out of this fear he was thrown into a state of imbecility.

The British Officer – No such a British officer as gentle as he could be met. You call him John Tigerwoods or Peter the Photographer, he was gentle and a peacemaker. Like tigers had their sway on him, his wife had powers on him.

Let’s Start – The Birth of the Tiger King

A prince was born to the king and queen of Pratibandapuram, probably a place in Tamilnadu, erstwhile British India, before 1900 AD. His astrological sign was Taurus, the bull, the enemy of tiger. When the prince was only 10 days old, astrologers predicted that a tiger will one day kill the prince at the height of his glory. Because the prince’ life was associated with a tiger, he was given the name Tiger King!

Questions & Answers
  1. What extraordinary event happened when the Tiger King was merely ten days old?
    When the Tiger King was only ten day old the astrologers made an incoherent prediction that the child would grow up and one day meet his death. While others heard them sadly, the baby prince asked a very wise question as to what was new in such a prediction as it is a universal truth that everyone should die.
  2. What were the two hurdles that the maharaja had to face during his tiger hunt?
    The two hurdles that the maharaja faced during his tiger hunt for ten years were the extinction of tiger population in his own country and the arrival of the British officer who wished to kill tigers.
  3. What was the rationale behind the astrologer’s prediction that the Tiger King would be killed by a tiger?
    According to the astrologers, the Tiger King was born at the hour of the bull-star. Anyone who is born at the time of the bull is killed by tiger because tiger and bull are enemies.

Here Starts the Hunt

Years rolled by. The little tiger-prince grew up and became the king, succeeding his father. The new astrologer reminded him of the prediction made by his predecessor, the old astrologer. The king laughed at him and decided to kill a tiger. Having hunted a tiger down, the king brought the dead tiger to the palace and sent for the astrologer. “Now, see who died and who killed.” The astrologer said with a smile that the king could likewise kill 99 tigers but he would never kill the hundredth tiger. The hundredth tiger is the King’s murderer. Whether he refrains from killing another tiger to keep the bar down or not, fate is determined. To overcome his fate, the Tiger King began a series of tiger hunt in his forest. Several tigers were butchered by the king, with his gun or, when the gun misfired, by his mighty hands. Everytime it was the tiger that died.

Questions & Answers
  1. Why did the Tiger King decide to marry?
    The Tiger King went on a tiger hunt to kill the hundredth tiger to remove his fear of death but the tiger population in his country went dry. To hunt further tigers he married a princess whose father’s forest had tigers in it.
  2. Why did the Tiger King exempt the hillside villagers from their taxes for three years?
    During his tiger hunt, the Tiger King was left with just one tiger to be killed. After his desperate search for a single tiger there came news that there was a tiger in a village in his country. Pleased to hear that, the king announced exemption of tax for that villagers.
  3. Why did the Devan decide to bring a tiger from the people’s park?
    The hundredth tiger was not very easy to hunt down. The king became furious and mad and dismissed many of the officers. Being a wise man, the Devan knew the country would pass into the hands of Indian national congress and that he too would lose his position, he decided to bring an old tiger from the people’s park in madras.
  4. “At another time he was in danger of losing his throne”. How?
    While the maharaja went on killing tigers one after another and thus reaching his tally of the hundredth tiger, an English officer landed Pratibandapuram with an intention to hunt tiger. But the maharaja was not happy with this and denied permission for the officer which roused the latter’s ill will. The maharaja was firm to his decision and stood at risk of losing his crown by not yielding to an English officer.
  5. What was the compromise the British officer was ready to make with the king? Why did the king refuse this?
    The British officer was ready for a compromise when he heard that the maharaja was unwilling to let him hunt in his forest. The officer sent his messenger to the king and informed him that he could take the photograph after the tiger was killed by the king. Even though this appeared to be the best solution, the king refused the suggestion fearing that soon other officers also would come to his forest with similar requests.
  6. How did the maharaja get out of the clash with the British officer?
    By denying permission to the British officer to hunt tigers or at least to get photographed with the carcass of the tiger killed by the maharaja, the king aggravated the fury of the officer. In order to pacify the officer and thereby retain his throne, the Maharaja sent a gift of fifty diamond rings to the officer’s wife and pleased her and got out of the spat.
  7. What threw the dewan of the Tiger King to a state of imbecility while standing in front of the king’s hunting gun?
    The Dewan, king’s chief minister, is the comedian in the story. He was a man of tactics and availed the benefits of his brain only under emergency such as the loss of his office. He was well aware of the king’s fury. While standing in front of the king’s brandished gun, the old man imagined a bullet piercing his heart and out of this fear he was thrown into a state of imbecility.
  8. What did the state astrologer say he would do if the maharaja killed the 100th tiger? (3 marks)
    accepting the Tiger King’s challenge, the astrologer said that he would burn his books on astrology and stop practicing astrology at all. He further said that he would become an insurance agent and cut his traditional tuft of hair that adorns a royal astrologer.
  9. What is the irony in the surgeon’s statement, “the operation is successful, the king is dead?”
    The Tiger King is a satire that blames a king’s whims and madness that led him to kill hundred tigers to defeat his fate foretold/predicted by astrologers. In order to satirize the king’s pathetic death, the author has made the surgeon announce the king’s death in the most comical way. By this, the reader, who expects a grand ‘operation success’ by the surgeons, is made to laugh at the king’s death.

The British Officer

During his tiger hunt the king faced several obstacles, among which the arrival of a British officer is noteworthy. This high ranking officer was greatly fond of hunting tigers and then getting photographed with the dead tiger for popularity. On reaching Pratibandapuram forest the officer was informed by the King’s men – no hunting here; tiger hunting is reserved for the king. The officer was either a coward or was non violent in nature, he didn’t punish the king. He sent his secretary with this compromise – let the king hunt and the officer is happy with his photograph taken. Everyone hoped the king would comply, but he didn’t.

Having turned down the officer entirely, the king stood in big trouble but he knew how to get out of troubles. He sent message to a Calcutta diamond dealer to send 50 diamond rings to the officer’s wife. The king expected the good lady take one or two of the rings and return the rest but the lady sent the king a note of thanks, accepting all the 50 rings. Guess the price! Thus he neutralized such a hazardous pratiband. Having killed a large number more of tigers, touching a tally of 70, the king found him in another crisis – extinction of tiger population in his forest. You may think that he would now attack his neighboring nation and hunt in that fresh forest. No, he had brains. He simply married a girl whose father’s forest had the required number of tigers.

Only one last to Go!

The story comes to the biggest of the crises – the king has killed 99 tigers and what he needs is just one more. You can imagine the depth of his anxiety and madness. Having determined to have killed the hundredth tiger before returning to his palace, the king and his men remained in the forest waiting for the last of the tigers. After a while, everyone in the palace began to feel the King’s wrath. Many officers lost their jobs and the others cursed the king for their impending disaster.

There is a Tiger!

They just hated the king, wished if the hundredth tiger had killed the king. Not surprisingly, it was what the Diwan, prime minister of the king, himself wished. When he saw that his own office was at stake, the old Diwan planned a funny ending to the story. He brought an aged, infirm tiger from the People’s Park, Madras and secretly heaved it out of his car in the jungle where the king was hunting. The king shot the tiger and triumphantly went home.

Questions & Answers
  1. Why did no one of the king’s officers care to bring to the king’s notice that the tiger wasn’t dead?
    It sounds strange that none of the king’s officers cared to bring to the notice of the king that the tiger was not killed. One of the reasons was that they were afraid of telling the king of this. They feared the king’s sudden reactions on hearing this bad news. Another reason was that they had all developed extreme hatred for the king. The king had, out of anger, dismissed many officers during his tiger hunt.

In fact the tiger was not killed by the king’s gun. The king’s bullet had missed the target and the tiger fell to sound of the the gunshot. See what had happened, the king’s men shot the tiger and decided against informing the king of the nature of the tiger’s death. The king never killed the hundredth tiger. He was killed by a wooden toy tiger.

Operation Successful – the King is Dead

He thought that he had annihilated his enemy and rejoiced as one who got his life back. A few days later, while playing with his three-year old son, the king’s finger got pierced by the sharp, needle-like sliver of the wooden tiger toy they were playing with. Though the king ignored the sliver, soon he fell ill. The king’s health quickly fell, puss filled his body and three surgeons were called from Madras. After an extended surgery, the three surgeons emerged from the operation theatre and announced that the operation was successful but the king died.

Questions & Answers
  1. Why did the Tiger King buy a tiger toy for his son’s birthday?
    The Tiger King’s life was closely connected to tigers. Nothing in the toy shop pleased him as the toy tiger did because he hoped that the toy tiger could remind his son of his father’s bravery and determination. Besides, for the tiger king, the mere sight of a toy tiger brought a feeling of triumph because he had spent a decade in the forest looking for tigers.
Questions & Answers
  1. How could the Tiger King’s destiny have been different if he had not been influenced by western culture and lifestyle?
    If prince Jung Jung Bahadur had not been influenced by western culture and education… he could have believed the astrologer… could not have hunted tigers… he could not have gone to forests… could not have bought a tiger toy for his son… the sliver could not have pierced his finger…. He could not have fallen ill…
  2. How did the Devan help the Tiger King to kill his hundredth tiger?
    Having seen that the king would lose the country and the Indian national congress would take the control of Pratibandapuram, the Devan brought an aged and infirm tiger from the people’s park, madras. He and his wife drove the beast to the edge of the forest where the king had been hunting and heaved it out of the car. This way the Devan brought an end to the king’s anxious wait for his hundredth tiger.
  3. Why is the author very rude with the Tiger King?
    The author is rude with the Tiger King for a couple of reasons. In the first place, the king abandoned his kingly duties
  4. Do you sympathize with the Tiger King? Why?
  5. Why did the Dewan bring an aged tiger from the People’s Park to the forest where the king was waiting for his last tiger?
  6. Who was Khader Mian Saheb? Why did the king’s men ascertain that he was not at work?
    Khader Mian Saheb was one of the two men who stole the villagers’ sheep. The king’s men ascertained that he didn’t steal sheep to make sure that there was really a tiger involved in eating the sheep. This way, they could establish the fact that there was a tiger in that village.
  7. It is neither fear nor respect that one feels for the Tiger King; it is just pity! Discuss. (6 marks)
  8. At the end of the story of the Tiger King, one can see that neither astrology nor the king was wrong. Explain. (6 marks)
  9. Though the author makes a desperate attempt to make the readers laugh, he scarcely achieves that end. Explain. (6 marks)
  10. At a time when killing a tiger was not considered as a crime against ecology and wildlife, the Tiger King cannot be blamed for environmental reasons. Discuss. (7 marks)
  11. From what point of view can one justify the king’s tiger hunt? (6 marks)
  12. How did the hundredth tiger take revenge? (6 marks)
  13. Why did the Maharaja decline the British officer’s suggestion of getting a photograph with the carcass of the tiger killed by the king? (3 marks)
  14. How did the Maharaja’s behavior change when there remained only one single tiger to be killed? (3 marks)
  15. How did the Tiger King grow up to a young man?
    Tutored by an English tutor – drank the milk of English cows – watched only English movies.
  16. How could Jung Jung Bahadur’s destiny have been different if he had not been brought to the influence of Western education and Western culture?
  17. How does the maharaja appear to be a satirical character?
    The maharaja of Pratibandapuram deserves to be called a maharaja in every case. He was strong enough to kill the wild tigers with his bare hands. He was brave enough to think about killing not one, but hundred tigers. He was bold enough to stand against a British officer by refusing him permission to hunt in his forest. He was wise enough to please the officer by pleasing his wife and was rich enough to send fifty diamond rings to the good lady of the officer. He was even cunning enough to arrange his marriage with a princess whose father’s forest had the maximum number of tigers. Yet he appears to be the opposite of what he had done and what he was because this powerful king was finally killed by the sliver of a worthless wooden tiger! His death brought him great shame. His boldness, cunningness, strength and bravery failed miserably at the hands of an insignificant wooden tiger. He can also be laughed at for his blindly believing the astrologers, for the dereliction of duty as a king, for imposing tax on the villagers out of rage, for forgetting the sanctity and meaning of marriage and for dismissing his officers for no official reason.
  18. Bring out the satirical way Kalki presented the Tiger King’s death.
    The author has deliberately attempted assault/attack upon the Tiger King by getting him murdered by a toy tiger. To reciprocate/avenge the Tiger King’s inhuman killing of the ninety nine tigers, for forsaking/abandoning his kingly duty, for overspending the public’s money, for dismissing his minions/servants out of rage/anger, Kalki thus brought the king’s reputation down. The surgeon’s declaring that “the operation was successful and the king is dead” makes anyone laugh instead of feeling sorry for the king. The fact that it was a wooden sliver that caused infection also adds to the satire/sarcasm in the story. In the history of the world no one died because he had been pricked by a wooden sliver/needle and that remains comically mysterious.

How many of the following charges do you put on the Tiger King?

  1. He abandoned his kingly duties and passed his duties to the Prime Minister (Dewan)
  2. He believed in astrology.
  3. He hunted wildlife (when there were so many tigers in India)
  4. He dismissed many of his officers.
  5. He spent Rupees 3 lakhs for the diamond rings (But he retained his kingdom)
  6. He exempted a village from its land taxes for three years.
  7. He doubled the exempted land tax.
  8. He married a girl for killing tigers in her father’s forest.
  9. He threatened the Dewan to resign from his post.

 

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

One Comments

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    • Nisha

    • April 28, 2017

    This is something very new and exciting style of writing and this is so helpful for me

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