Writer: Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore is a Bengali Indian poet, writer and philosopher. He was born is 1861 and died in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He is famous for his poetic works, philosophical plays, novels and short stories. The poetic play, Malini, is a story of love and hatred. It also deals with topics such as religion, faith, friendship, devotion, sacrifice, forgiveness, loyalty, betrayal, etc.
The play opens with the agitation of the Hindu Brahmins for the banishment of Malini, the princess of Kashi. A Hindu kingdom. Malini has been charged for her acceptance of a new creed, i.e. Buddhism. Having been taught by Buddhist Monks, she was influenced by Buddhism. She does not find any attachment with the worldly beauty and the material world. She thinks that wealth does not cling to whose destiny it is to find riches in poverty. Her mother, the Queen opines that for a woman, husband and children are the objects of worship.
The king and the Queen are worried about her acceptance of Buddhism and request her to give up her new creed. The Queen believes Malini to be a pure flame of fire and thinks some divine spirit has taken birth in her but the king does not want her to take the burden of the world on her shoulders.
Kemankar, a firm and determined youth, is the leader of agitators. Supriya, the childhood friend of Kemankar is also an agitator. Malini is charged as a poisonous snake who is aiming at the heart of Hindu religion. Supriya does not approve the idea to banish Malini in the name of religion. He knows that the truth cannot be determined by the force of numbers. He supports Malimi’s belief that the love and truth as the soul and body of all religions. Though the essence of all religions is the same, Kemankar believes in their different forms. Supriya leaves the assembly assuring Kemankar about their friendship.
All the agitators step back when they come to know that the army is in support of the agitation. They think it as a rebellion and extreme measure. They believe that their faith, not the arms, will give them victory. So make penance and invoke the goddess to descend from heaven to less and give power to them. Malini enters with all in the palace and receives the honour of the ordinary citizens except Kemankar and Supriya. They ask for forgiveness, Malini announces her self exile and wants to make home renouncing the royal palace. Kemankar becomes alone in the agitation. So he makes a plan to go to the foreign land to bring soldiers to fight. Though Supriya does not like this plan, he wants to go with him for their friendship’s sake. Kemankar orders him to remain there to watch and keep him informed.
The first part of the play ends with the conversation about Malini. The king shows the determination to banish Malini as the demand persisted but he immediately changes his mood when he learns about Malini’s missing. But Malini is brought back by the Brahmins and the soldiers with great honour.
The second part of the play opens in the garden where Malini and Supriya are talking. Supriya wants to be led by Malini but she does not think of herself so great to lead him. During the conversation, Malini wants to learn about Kemankar from Supriya. He said that Kemankar’s mind has always been firm and determined while his mind or thoughts are always flickering with doubts. Supriya suddenly reveals that he has deceived his friend by informing his plan to the king.
The king enters. He is very much happy with Supriya and so he proposes Supriya to ask for anything even the princess Malini along with provinces worthy to tempt a king. But he refuses all. He thinks these as rewards for his treachery. He only wants love from Malini, which she has for every creature in the world.
Kemankar has been captured by the king’s soldiers and the king is going to execute him for his treason. Both Malini and Supriya plead the king to pardon him. He is brought before the king who wishes to meet Supriya. Since he wants to know why Supriya has done that or why he betrayed his own friend. Supriya replies he did to keep the faith. He blames Supriya being faithless. Supriya replies that true faith is there is love, where there is the man. He says he got the knowledge from Malini, which he could not get from any sacred books. Supriya wants to make a compromise but Kemankar says falsehood and truth cannot live side by side in friendship.
Supriya assures Kemnakar that he is paying his life for his love as Kemankar knows for the faith. At this Kemankar wants them to be judged in front of the death. Then Kemankar strikes Supriya with his chains and Supriya falls and he dies. Kemankar calls for his executioner but Malini requests the king to forgive him.
Questions & Answers:
1. Would you call Supriya a betrayer? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans: Yes, we can say Supriya as a betrayer because Supriya and Kemankar were two close friends. They used to stay together. Kemankar wanted to go to a foreign land to bring armies to revolt against Malini. Supriya also wanted to go with Kemankar. Kemankar asked him to retain there and inform him. While Kemankar was in a foreign land, he warns Supriya not to betray their old friends because of the new religion. But Kemankar goes to a foreign land and writes his friend about plans then Supriya informs about Kemanker’s secret plan to the king. King captures Kemankar. In this way, Supriya can be said as a great betrayer. He actually deceived his own close friend.
2. Describe the characters of Malini.
Ans: Malini is a beautiful and young girl. She is the princes. She is from a royal family but impressed by Buddhism. She doesn’t follow the traditional old religion. But Brahmins go against Malini because they are a follower of traditional old religion (i.e. Hinduism). She asks for her own banishment. She likes to live among poor people. She doesn’t want comforts, pleasure, treasures, etc. she wants to guide the people who are living in the darkness. The queen calls her a pure flame of fire. The common people regard her mother in the world. When the king wants to punish Kemankar, Malini requests the king to forgive Kemankar. This shows that Malini is a kind-hearted, virtuous girl who always speaks in favour of non-violence and poor people.
3. Why were the Brahmins demanding for the banishment of Malini?
Ans: Malini is a beautiful young princess who was taught by a Buddhist monk. She wanted to bring new creed among people. She doesn’t follow the traditional old religion. Hinduism but follows new religion Buddhist. The Brahmins believe that the members of the royal family should spend their life in pleasures and comforts but Malini doesn’t like this. Brahmins wanted to revolt against Buddhism. They were demanding the banishment of Malini to protect their old religion. Finally, Kemankar brings armies to revolt against the new religion.
4. How is the character of Supriya different from that of Kemankar?
Ans: Kemankar is the blind follower of traditional old religion-Hinduism. When Malini speaks in favour of Buddhism, Kemankar, as well as other Brahmin’s, can’t tolerate it and revolt for the banishment of Malini. Later on, other Brahmins speak in favour Of Malini; he leaves the country to bring armies from foreign country and revolt against his countrymen. On the other hand, Supriya support Malini. Finally, Supriya betrays Kemankar informing the king about secret plans of Kemankar. According to Kemankar, Supriya is lost in the love and Charm of Malini.
5. What is the reason that Malini asks for her own banishment from the palace?
Ans: Malini is a beautiful young prince who is taught by a Buddhist monk. She is impressed by Buddhism. She doesn’t like royal happiness, pleasures and comforts. But the Brahmins who are the followers of traditional old religion believe that members of the royal family should spend their life in comforts. Malini doesn’t like it at all. When Malini goes against traditional old religion Hinduism, at that time Brahmins go to the royal palace for the banishment of Malini. Malini thinks that the outside world wants her. Malini then asks for her own banishment from the palace to go to live among the poor people. She wants to teach the Brahmins the reality and lead them to the truth.
6. At the beginning of the play the King talks about “storm clouds gathering over the King’s house.” What does he refer to?
Ans: The king refers to the agitation of Brahmins. When Malini gets attracted to the new religion (Buddhism), the king thinks that the Brahmins of the kingdom will not digest it. Therefore, there is going to be something bad in the palace.
7. If the demand persisted, would the king banish his daughter? Give reasons.
Ans: Yes, I think if the demand persisted the King would banish his daughter. It is because he could not go against the demand of the people. Except for Supriya, all the Brahmins were unitedly asking for Maliini’s banishment. The prince was not favouring Malini either. The King told the prince that he would do his duty. The army was also going to take the side of the people. All these things show that the King would banish Malini.
8. Draw a character sketch of Supriya and show how he is different Draw from Kemankar.
Ans: Supriya and Kemankar have been close friends since childhood. Both studied, discussed and approached their teacher for the resolution of debate in their schooldays. But we find a sharp contrast in their character.
Supriya is a calm and kind-hearted person. When all the Brahmins go against Malini, he thinks that she is innocent, and is for love and truth. He believes that one should not determine truth by crowd and force. He does not take religious books for granted, so he is not a traditional person. He can change himself if the situation demands. He is equally ready to admit his mistake. He regrets betraying Kemanker when the King arrests Kemanker. He even becomes ready to die with Kemanker if death reveals whether he is wrong or right.
As against this, Kemankar is traditional. He strongly opposes Malini’s new religion. He thinks that his ancient religion gets affected. As he is firm and determined, he leads a group of Brahmins and demands the banishment of Malini. When the Brahmins regard Malini as a goddess, he goes to foreign lands to get soldiers to protect his religion. He is so firm in his mission that he is prepared to die to accomplish it. When the King asks him what he will do if he is forgiven, he firmly says that he will revolt against the king. Thus, Kemanker is firm, determined and traditional.
9. What was the revolt against? Against Malini? Against the King? Against Buddhism?
Ans: The revolt was against Buddhism. Malini, the King’s daughter, got her education from Buddhist monks. She was completely influenced by Buddhist philosophy. The Brahmins thought that she would introduce Buddhism to the Hindu Kingdom. They were worried that their religion would be at risk. Therefore, they got united and demanded her banishment
10. Why does Malini ask for her own banishment from the palace?
Ans: Malini asks for her own banishment from the palace because she thinks that they want her. She likes to help them get rid of their difficulties. She is so much influenced by Buddhism that the luxury of the palace does not interest her. She likes to remain with common people and guide them.
11. Would you call Supriya a betrayer? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans: I would call Supriya a betrayer. He betrayed Kemanker by informing the king of his plans. When the Brahmins regarded Malini as a goddess, Kemankar thought that they would be of no use to him. Therefore, he went to foreign lands to collect soldiers to protect his religion. At that time, Supriya too wanted to go with him. But Kemanker told him to remain there and inform him about the situation of the palace. Supriya promised that he would never betray Kemanker. For Supriya, Malini’s religion was new, but the friendship between them was old. Therefore, Kemanker confidently wrote letters to Supriya mentioning his entire plan to capture the kingdom and kill Malini. Before Kemanker could do so, he got arrested as Supriya told the king everything about his plans. Thus, Supriya was betrayed.
12. The king repeatedly asks Supriya to ask for anything he wished. why do you think he is so insistent?
Ans: The king repeatedly asks Supriya to ask for anything he wishes because Supriya had timely informed the King about Kemankar’s dangerous plan to kill Malini. Because of this, he was able to arrest Kemanker and save both his daughter and his kingdom. Therefore, Supriya deserves to get any reward from the King. Perhaps, the King thinks that Supriya is shy to ask for Malini’s hand, so he insistently says that Supriya can ask for anything he desires.
13. The play ends with Malini’s words. “Father, forgive Kemankar.” Do you think the king will forgive Kemankar? Discuss.
Ans: I don’t think the king will forgive Kemankar. The king earlier was mentally prepared to forgive Kemankar when Malini and Supriya requested the king to do so. He cannot forgive him this time because Kemanker has killed Supriya in his presence. Supriya is the one to save his daughter and his kingdom.
14. Draw the character sketch of Malini.
Ans: The leading character of the play, Malini, is the daughter of a king. She is young and unmarried. The kingdom is a Hindu kingdom. However, Malini gets her education from Buddhist monks. As a result, She is completely influenced by Buddhist philosophy. She wears simple dresses. She takes interest in people’s problems and hardships. Therefore, she says, ‘Let me go out to all men for the world has claimed me from the king’s house.’ She leaves the palace to guide common people and help solve their problems. But when she faces the reality, she feels that it is not easy to do so.
Malini is kind and forgiving. When Kemankar kills Supriya, the king asks for his sword to kill Kemanker, but Malini says,” Father, forgive kemankar”.
In short, Malini is like a nun who is kind, loving and forgiving. The playwright has expressed his massage though Malini. Through Malini, the author has tried to say that love is gained when love itself is given and that it is foolish to expect love from others when one rules with hatred.