The Tiger King By Kalki Krishnamurthy
About Kalki Krishnamurthy
Ramaswamy Aiyer Krishnamurthy (9 September 1899 – 5 December 1954) was a Tamil Nadu-based South Indian writer, journalist, poet, critic, and activist for Indian independence. He wrote in Tamil under numerous pen names, but became best known under the name Kalki. He was named after “Kalki” Vishnu’s tenth and last avatar. Over 120 short tales, ten novellas, five novels, three historical romances, editorial and political works, and hundreds of film and music reviews comprise his oeuvre.
Introduction | The Tiger King
The story ‘The Tiger King‘ is a political satire on those in positions of authority and their arrogance and stubbornness. The author transports us back in time to the era of autocratic and eccentric kings. These kings lived under the British’s thumb rule, which is why they fear them. The majority of the time, monarchs were not interested in helping the people or working for the general good; instead, they engaged in frivolous pastimes. They broke all laws and twisted them to suit their own selfish ends. The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram attempted to defy his destiny. The chief astrologer had predicted that a tiger would be the cause of his death. The King made every effort to refute the prophecy. His tiger-hunting campaign was a great success. All of his strategies and well-thought-out plans worked until he slaughtered 99 tigers. However, he eluded the hundredth tiger until his demise. The irony of fate results in the Maharaja’s untimely demise. The hero who killed ninety-nine tigers was unable to eliminate the lone survivor. He discovered that the tiger he believed was dead had survived. The King’s gunshot had been deflected. Ironically, the hundredth tiger that killed him was not a ferocious bloodthirsty beast. It was a tiger made of wood. One of the slivers of wood pierced his right hand, resulting in infection and the development of a suppurating sore. This ultimately resulted in his demise.
Summary of The Tiger King
The Tiger King is a brief political satire on the arrogance and ego of monarchs in particular, and all people in positions of power in general. Additionally, it brings attention to animal cruelty and advocates for actions to protect the tiger, which is on the verge of extinction.
Kalki begins on a lighthearted note by informing the reader that the Tiger King he is about to introduce has already died. To begin his account of his demise, he begins with the date of this king’s birth. Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, Maharaja of Pratibandapuram, was the Tiger King’s birth name. Astrologers predicted the king’s demise. Recognizing the inevitable, a voice addressed them and asked them to be more precise rather than speak the obvious. Everyone was taken aback to discover that the ten-day-old Jung Bahadur had not only talked but communicated intelligently. The chief astrologer then predicted that the Maharaja would meet his demise at the hands of a tiger. Once more, the child spoke, terrifyingly, “let tigers beware” Of course, Kalki the author acknowledges that this could be a rumour, but it did correspond to what occurred.
Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur assumed the throne at the age of twenty. He quickly became aware of the prophecy and set out to slay his first tiger. He joyfully announced this to the chief astrologer, only to discover that the hundredth tiger would prove to be his downfall. As a response to this, the king declared that only he would be allowed to hunt tigers in his domain. He killed seventy tigers in 10 years, some easily and some after a fight, but he did kill them all. However, this resulted in the extinction of the tiger population in Pratibandapuram.
He overcame this obstacle by marrying into the royal family of a state renowned for its tigers, quickly raising his score to ninety-nine. Now it appeared as though locating the hundredth tiger would be impossible. Following a deterioration in the monarch’s mood, the Dewan arranged for the capture of a tiger from a nearby park, and the king accomplished his objective by shooting the tiger. However, he was unaware that his shot did not kill the tiger, and hence his score stayed at ninety-nine. The tiger was slain by one of his men and buried in accordance with the king’s instructions.
The monarch purchased a wooden tiger as a gift for his son’s third birthday. While the monarch and prince were amusing themselves with the wooden tiger toy. The king’s hand was punctured by a wooden splinter. This minor injury developed into a significant sore, necessitating surgery. During the operation, the Tiger king perished. Thus, the king was finally assassinated by the hundredth tiger in a spectacular and ironic manner.
Gist of The Tiger King
• “Tiger King” was the title given to Maharaja Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bhadur. When he was ten days old, he inquired intelligently of the astrologers and was informed that he would be murdered by a tiger. “Let tigers beware!” he exclaimed.
• No further miracle occurred; the infant developed normally, sipping white cow’s milk, being educated by an English tutor, being cared for by an English nanny, and watching English films.
• He was anointed king at the age of twenty. It was then that the astrologer’s prediction of his demise at the hands of the tiger reached the Maharaja’s ear, and in order to protect himself, he killed a tiger. Overjoyed, he informed the astrologer, who replied that he could kill 99 tigers but should exercise caution with the hundredth.
• From then on he started killing tigers and none was allowed to hunt tigers. A high ranking British officer visited the state that was fond of hunting tigers and his wish was declined.
• The officer requested for getting a photograph with a tiger killed by Maharaja and this request was rejected.
• So to please the officer’s wife he sent fifty diamond rings expecting that she would take one or two instead she kept all the rings costing three lakh rupees and sent ‘thanks’ to the Maharaja. But his state was secured.
• In ten years he killed seventy tigers and didn’t find any in Pratibandapuram so he decided to marry a girl from the royal state who had more tigers to complete his target whenever he visited his in-laws he killed five to six tigers. So he killed ninety-nine tigers and was feverishly anxious to kill the hundredth but couldn’t find news about the presence of a tiger near a village proved disappointing.
• Now the Dewan was warned of his danger so he visited ‘People’s Park in Madras’ and brought an old tiger and placed it in the forest and informed the Maharaja.
• The Maharaja shot the tiger with great care and triumphantly left the area. The bullet did not hit the tiger, but the tiger had collapsed out of fear. Now the crew had killed the tiger and brought it in magnificent procession; it was the Maharaja’s son’s third birthday, and he desired to purchase a gift from the toyshop. He purchased a crudely carved wooden tiger.
• While the Maharaja was playing with the prince, a shard of the wooden tiger punctured his right hand, eventually killing him. As a result, the hundredth tiger exacts his final vengeance on the “Tiger King.”
Justification of Title ‘ The Tiger King
The Tiger King is an excellent title for the narrative for a variety of reasons. To begin, the king is so obsessed with tiger hunting that he marries a princess whose father’s realm is home to a sizable tiger population. He slaughters one hundred tigers to keep his commitment. Second, the monarch is as terrible as a tiger in his frenzy, anger, and cruelty. Thirdly, he perishes as a result of a silver puncture from a wooden toy tiger. Finally, the prediction that a tiger will kill the king is fulfilled. Because the plot concentrates upon the king and the hundred tigers he slaughters, the title “The Tiger King” is perfect.
Theme of The Tiger King
Animals and birds are an integral component of nature just as much as humans are. Not only would the indiscriminate killing or destruction of one species result in its extinction, but it will also have a detrimental effect on the ecological balance. If predatory beasts are eradicated, those animals that provide food for wild animals will rise dramatically in number. Each species, regardless of how vicious, lethal, ferocious, or poisonous, plays an important part in preserving nature’s ecological equilibrium.
Questions and Answers
Very short questions answers
Q. 1. Who is the writer of the story The Tiger King?
Ans: Kalki is the writer of the story The Tiger king.
Q. 2. Who is the Tiger King?
Ans: The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur is the Tiger King.
Q. 3. Why does the Tiger King get this name?
Ans: As the king was mad about killing tigers and even had killed a hundred tigers he got his name.
Q. 4. What is the natural desire among men regarding the Tiger King?
Ans: The natural desire among men regarding the Tiger king is to meet him for his indomitable courage.
Q. 5. Why can the natural desire to meet the Tiger king not be fulfilled?
Ans: The natural desire to meet the Tiger King couldn’t be fulfilled because the king was dead.
Q. 6. What does the astrologer foretell about the king?
Ans: The astrologer foretold that the king would be killed by a tiger.
Q. 7. What did the chief astrologer caution the tiger king after he had killed his first tiger?
Ans: After the Tiger king had killed his first tiger the chief astrologer cautioned that the king might kill ninety-nine tigers, but he should have to be careful with the hundred tigers.
Q. 8. What did the chief astrologer profess to do if the Tiger king killed the hundred tigers?
Ans: The chief astrologer professed that if the Tiger king killed the hundredth tiger he would cut off his tuft, crop his hair short, tear up and set fire all his books on astrology and he would become an insurance agent.
Q. 9. What was the price of the wooden toy tiger?
Ans: The price of the wooden toy tiger was only two annas and a quarter.
Q. 10. How much did the Maharaja pay for the toy?
Ans: The Maharaja paid three hundred rupees for the toy.
Q. 11. Who were Khader Mian Saheb and Virasami Naiker?
Ans: Khader Mian Saheb and Virasami Naiker are the Tiger King’s courtiers who were famous for their ability to eat a whole sheep at a time.
Short questions answers
Q. 1. What did the royal infant utter in his little squeaky voice?
Answer: The royal infant utters in his little squeaky voice that no one needs any prediction for death for we all know one who takes birth is going to die one day, But astrology will make some sense if that could tell him the manner of his death.
Q. 2. What explanation was given by the chief astrologer to the query of the little tiger king?
Answer: The explanation that the chief astrologer gave to the query of the little Tiger King was that the Tiger King was born in the hour of the bull. As the bull and the tiger are enemies hence the king’s death would come from the tiger.
Q. 3. What did the Tiger king pronounce when he heard that his death would be caused by a tiger?
Answer: The Tiger King on hearing that his death would be caused by a tiger, had a deep growl and with terrific words, he asked the tigers to beware.
Q. 4. What was easier to find than tigers, after the Tiger King killed the ninety-ninth tiger?
Answer: The Tiger king carried on with his vow. To prove the prediction of the chief astrologer wrong, he started killing tigers. After killing the ninety-ninth tiger, The Tiger King became restless to complete his vow. He was searching for the hundredth tiger. At that time he told that it was easier to find a tiger’s milk than a live tiger.
Q. 5. What was the happy news for the Tiger King after a long time?
Answer: The Tiger king waited for the hundred tigers for a very long time. But sometime later he got the good news that in his own state sheep began to disappear frequently from a hillside village. And everyone suspected it to be a tiger.
Q. 6. Why was there no objection to the killing of the tiger?
Answer: Tiger King was born in the hour of the bull. As the bull and the tiger are enemies hence the king’s death would come from the tiger. When the Tiger King was born, the chief astrologer had predicted that he would be killed by the tiger. And when the king grew up and came to know about it, he thought for his defence and security and then he decided to kill the tigers so that the tigers could not kill him. He also knew the old saying that one may kill even a cow in self-defence. So he thought that there could certainly be no objection to killing tigers in self-defence.
Q. 7. What were the various dangers faced by the Tiger king in his hunting spree?
Answer: The Tiger king faced many dangers in his hunting spree. Sometimes when he missed the target leapt upon him and he had to fight with the beast with his bare hands. At one time he was even in danger of losing his throne. A high ranking British officer, who was very fond of tiger hunting, came to visit Pratibandapuram. But the Tiger king did not permit the officer. And for that reason, that high ranking officer got angry with the king and the king was in danger of losing his kingdom.
Q. 8. What did the Maharaja do to appease the British officer whom he prevented from hunting tigers?
Answer: Maharaja had to appease the British officer whom he prevented from hunting tigers in his state Maharaja had deliberation over this issue with his dewan. They dispatched a telegram to a famous British company of jewellers in Calcutta and asked them to send some samples of the diamond ring. Some fifty rings were sent and Maharaja sent all fifty rings to the British officer’s good lady. But the lady accepted all of them. Though the Maharaja lost three lakh rupees but he managed to retain his kingdom.
Q. 9. What will happen to the astrologer when the king thought that the prophecy has been disproved?
Answer: No harm will be done to the astrologer because the king had challenged the astrologer when he was angry. But now as he believes that he had completed his vow, he must be very much happy and would forgive the astrologer. No, the prophecy was not indisputably disproved because the king was not successful in killing the hundredth tiger as his shot has missed. The tiger only became unconscious, but the king thought he had killed it and left the place. It was his hunter only who had killed the tiger.
Q.10. What is the author’s indirect comment on subjecting innocent animals to the willfulness of human beings?
Answer: The author is indicating that the king being mighty, killed so many innocent animals merely to prove the astrologer wrong or to overcome his fear without realizing the severity of his actions. He did not accept destiny which has its own ways as death struck upon him by a lifeless, wooden tiger.
Long Question Answer
Q.1. How did the tiger King finally die?
Answer: The chief astrologer’s forecast came true. On his third birthday, Maharaja desired to give something special to his little son. He looked for something unique in every corner of Pratibandapuram’s shopping complex. Finally, he discovered a wooden tiger in a toy store and immediately thought of it as the ideal gift for his son. He purchased it and gave it to his kid. The toy was manufactured by an inexperienced carpenter and had a rough surface, which punctured the Tiger King’s hand while he played with his son. Thus, the illness spread throughout the king’s hand. Three renowned surgeons from Madras were called in to operate on the king, but he died.
Q. 2. Draw a sketch of the character of the Tiger King?
Answer: Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, the Tiger King of Pratibandapuram, was known by several names. He was, nonetheless, well-known as the Tiger King. The chief astrologer predicted that the king would be murdered by a tiger when he was born.
The king was raised in the palace. He was given milk from an English cow. He was raised by an English nanny. He had only seen the English movie and had been taught English by an English teacher. He gained control of his kingdom when he was twenty years old. He began his tiger hunting effort, and within ten years, he had killed seventy tigers. Then he married a girl from a state with a significant tiger population in order to fulfil his vow of killing a hundred tigers. Thus, he had also slain the hundredth tiger, but it had been killed by his hunters.
The king was likewise concerned about his state. He once paid a bribe of three lakh rupees to a British official in order to keep his kingdom. During his tiger hunting expedition, he offered a three-year exemption from all taxes for locals who informed him of the presence of a tiger in their hamlet. The monarch threatened the Dewan, who had always aided and obeyed the king in everything when he was unable to find the hundredth tiger. The Tiger King had to die as a result of a cut he received from a wooden toy tiger. As a result of the chief astrologer’s prophesy coming true, the hundredth tiger exacted its vengeance and killed the king.
Q. 3. Describe the irony regarding the death of the Maharaja?
Answer: The ending of the storey “The Tiger King” is somewhat sarcastic. While describing the method of the king’s death, the author uses irony to great effect. The Maharaja had slain a total of ninety-nine tigers and was only one step away from fulfilling his vow. His Dewan, on the other hand, captured the king’s, hundredth tiger.
After killing the hundredth tiger, the king believed he had killed one that had fainted and fallen down and had been slain by his hunters. A wooden toy tiger killed the king. Ironically, he had killed 89 tigers, but one fake tiger had exacted retribution on the king. One of the silvers of wood punctured the king’s right hand, causing illness and eventually killing him.
Q. 4. How did the Tiger King meet his end? What is ironic about his death?
Answer: An inexperienced carpenter had carved the king’s wooden toy tiger as a birthday present for his kid. The surface was rough, with tiny slivers of wood rising up like quills all over it. One of those slivers pierced the Maharaja’s right hand, and despite the king’s efforts, his arm became infected. Within four days, it had turned into a suppurating sore that had spread all over the arm. The king died during the operation.
The death of the king is ironic but not surprising to the reader, who is actually looking forward to it. After ‘killing’ the 100th tiger, the king is overjoyed since he has completed his word and defied the royal astrologer’s prediction. He is now at rest because he believes he will not die as a result of a tiger assault. No wonder he has the ‘dead’ tiger carried through town in a procession and a mausoleum built over it. All the time, he is unaware that the 100th victim was not killed by him, but rather by other hunters. That is certainly ironic. Death is circling him, and the king is completely ignorant of it. Again, it is paradoxical that a king who has killed 99 tigers and is brave dies from a sliver on the corpse of a wooden tiger. As a result, death comes to him from a tiger, which is ironic.
Q. 5. Discuss the title of the story ‘The Tiger King’.
Answer: For various reasons, The Tiger King is an apt title for the narrative. First and foremost, the king is obsessed with tiger hunting, so much so that he marries a princess from her father’s realm, which has a considerable population. He slaughters a hundred tigers merely to keep his vows. Second, the monarch is as terrible as a tiger in his frenzy, anger, and cruelty. Third, he dies as a result of a silver prick from a wooden tiger toy. Finally, the prediction that a tiger will kill the king came true. The title is suitable given that the plot concentrates around the monarch and the hundred tigers he slaughters.
Q. 6. The story is a satire on the conceit of those in power. How does the author employ the literary device of dramatic irony in the story?
Answer: The king was full of pride. He thought he could achieve anything, even overpower death. He tried to prove the predictions of the royal astrologer as false. He had predicted death for the king by a tiger. As the king killed one, he cautioned him against the hundredth tiger that he came across.
Ironically, the king killed the hundredth tiger also and overpowered death but as it was destined to be, the tiger escaped the bullet miraculously. He had killed ferocious tigers of flesh and blood but his satirical death came from a wooden toy tiger which he had got as a birthday gift for his son. A tiny piece of wood from the toy wounded the tiger king’s hand and finally killed him. This was an unexpected end of the mighty maharaja ‘the tiger king’.
Q. 7. How would you describe the behaviour of the Maharaja’s minions towards him? Do you find them truly sincere towards him or are they driven by fear when they obey him? Do we find a similarity in today’s political order?
Answer: The king’s minions dreaded him and did everything they could to please him. They wanted to keep him happy, so they spoke in ways that were appealing to the king’s ears. Initially, the astrologer was hesitant to forecast the king’s future. He only spoke when the king asked him to “speak without fear.” The minister did not advise the monarch not to slaughter so many innocent creatures; instead, he looked for a country with a large population of tigers for the king to slaughter. Because they were afraid of losing their jobs, the royal hunters did not inform the monarch that the hundredth tiger was still alive. Because he was afraid of punishment, the shopkeeper sold the toy tiger to the monarch at a great price. Under today’s political structure, we can see that persons in subordination try to satisfy their superiors in order to keep their jobs.