TIGER KING


About the author

 

Ramaswamy Aiyer Krishnamurthy
9 September 1899 – 5 December 1954
Pen name ‘Kalki’

 

Ramaswamy Aiyer Krishnamurthy was a Tamil writer, journalist, poet, critic and Indian Independence activist. He penned 120 short stories, 10 novelettes, 5 novels, 3 historical romances, editorial and political writings and hundreds of film and music reviews.

Introduction

The story ‘The Tiger King’ is a satire on the pride and stubbornness of those in power. The writer takes us to the days of autocratic and eccentric kings. These kings lived under the thumb rule of British, hence they fear them. Most of the time the rulers were not interested in serving the people and working for the welfare of the public; instead they spent their time in foolish pursuits. They flouted all laws and bent them to suit their selfish interests. The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram tried to belie what was written in his fate. The chief astrologer had predicted that the cause of his death would be a tiger. The King tried his best to belie the prediction. His campaign of tiger-hunting was very successful. All his strategies and wise plans worked till he killed 99 tigers. But the hundredth tiger eluded him till his death. The irony of fate brings quite an unexpected end of the Maharaja. The hero who killed ninety nine tigers couldn’t kill the only one that was left. The last tiger he thought to be dead survived. The King’s bullet had missed its mark. Ironically, the hundredth tiger which caused his death was not a ferocious beast of blood and flesh. It was a wooden tiger. One of the slivers of wood pierced his right hand and caused infection and a suppurating sore. It ultimately led to his death.

Theme

Animals and birds are as much part of the nature as human beings. The destruction or haphazard killing of one species may not only lead to its extinction, but it will adversely affect the ecological balance. Those animals which serve as food for the wild animals, will increase in large number, if the beast of prey are wiped out. Each species, howsoever fierce, deadly, ferocious or poisonous has its role in maintaining ecological balance in nature.

 

Characters

  1. The Tiger King: a hero of the story, the Maharaja of Pratibandhpuram, also known as His Highness Jamedar,        General Khiledar-Major, Sata-Vyaghra samhari, Maharajadhiraja Visva Bhuvana samrat, Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, M.A.D., A.C.T.C., or C.R.C.K.

  2. Crown prince: a ten day old baby who later became the Maharaja of Pratibandhpuram.

  3.     Chief astrologer: a royal foreteller of the state.

  4.      Durai: means “chief, leader” in Tamil.

  5.      A British high ranking officer & his secretary

  6.      Dewan: a chief administrative office of the Maharaja.

  7.      Duraisani: the wife of the high ranking British officer, a greedy woman who takes all the 50 or so diamond rings for herself.

 

Gist of the lesson:

  • The Maharaja Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bhadur was called “Tiger King”

  • When he was just 10 days old he asked intelligent questions to the astrologers and was told that he would be killed by a tiger. He uttered “Let tigers beware!”

  •        No other miracle took place, the child grew like any other Royal child drinking white cow’s milk, taught by an English tutor, looked after by an English nanny and watched English films.

  •        When he was 20, he was crowned as king. It was then the prediction of his death by the tiger reached the Maharaja’s ear and he in turn to safe guard himself killed a tiger and being thrilled he told the astrologer who replied that he can kill 99 tigers but should be careful with the 100th .

  •        From then on he started killing tiger and none was allowed to hunt tigers. A highranking British officer visited the state that was fond of hunting tiger 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 50 diamond rings expecting that she would take 1 or 2 instead she kept all the rings costing 3 lakh rupees and sent ‘thanks’ to the Maharaja. But his state was secured.

  •        In 10 years he killed 70 tiger and didn’t find any in Pratibandapuram so he decided to marry a girl from royal state which had more tigers to complete his target whenever he visited his in-laws he killed 5-6 tigers. So he killed 99 tigers and was feverishly anxious to kill the 100th 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 took great care and shot the tiger and left the place with great triumph the bullet did not hit the tiger but out of fear the tiger had collapsed. Now the staff killed the tiger and brought it in grand procession it was the 3rd birthday of the Maharaja’s son and he wanted to buy a present from the toyshop. He bought a wooden tiger which was poorly carved. 97

  •        While the Maharaja was playing with the prince a tiny sliver of the wooden tiger pierced his right hand which later on caused his death. Thus the hundredth tiger takes his final revenge upon the “Tiger King”.

 

Summary

The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram was popularly known as the Tiger king. He had taken a vow to kill one hundred tigers before he did anything worthwhile. There is a story about why he took the vow and how he fulfilled it.

 When the king was born the royal astrologers predicted that one day he must die. The nine-day baby amazed everybody when he said, "O,  wise astrologers, we know that all must die. It is no prediction. Tell me how I will die". Then the astrologers said, " The baby-prince was born in the hour of the Bull. The Bull and the tiger are enemies. So, the Tiger will kill the Bull".
 But this prediction did not frighten the little boy. He said, "Let the tigers beware".

 The little prince was brought up like any other prince of the Indian State. He drank the milk of an English cow, he was brought up by an English teacher, He watched only English films. The young prince came of age at twenty. He became the king of Pratibandapuram.

 Now the king thought of the astrologer's prediction. He decided to kill a tiger. He believed that the tiger was his enemy and he must kill him in self-defense.

 There were many tigers in the forests of the state. He went into a forest and killed his first tiger. He was happy. He proved that he was stronger than the tiger. He also believed that he had proved the prediction wrong. So he sent for the royal astrologer.

 The royal astrologer stuck to his prediction. He said the danger to the king's life was not over. He explained that the king might kill ninety-nine tigers in that fashion but the hundredth tiger could prove dangerous. He must be cautious to deal with the hundredth tiger.

 The king decided there and then to kill one hundred tigers before paying attention to the affairs of the state. He proclaimed that nobody could kill a tiger in his kingdom, only he would kill tigers. Then he began to kill tigers and killed quite a number of them in a few months.

 During those days a high-ranking British officer visited Pratibandapuram. He wanted to go on a hunting expedition, kill a tiger and get himself photographed with the dead tiger. But the king refused to grant permission. The officer was not keen on killing a tiger. So the actual killing could be done by the Maharaja. But the Maharaja did not agree even to this.
 This refusal could the king his throne.

 The Dewan and the king discussed how they could save the throne. So they asked an English company of jewelers in Calcutta to send fifty chosen samples of diamond rings. The rings arrived. They were sent to the wife of the British officer. It was hoped that she would choose one or two out of them. But she accepted them all as King's gift. This cost king three lakh rupees. But now his throne was safe.

 The king continued to kill tigers in his forests. He killed seventy of them. But now no tiger was left. So he decided to marry the daughter of a king whose forests had a large number of tigers. The Dewan found a state that had a large number of tigers and a marriageable daughter. The king was married. Every time he visited his father-in-law he would kill a few tigers. At last, he had killed ninety-nine tigers in all.

 Now the king could find no tiger alive either in his own forests or in his father-in-law's forests. He also knew the astrologer's prediction. He must kill the hundredth tiger to be safe. At last, he learned that sheep were disappearing fast in a hillside village. It was presumed that there was a tiger. So the king went there. He set up his camp and decided not to leave till he had accomplished his mission. But no tiger appeared. The king grew impatient.
 

 The king called his Dewan and expressed his displeasure. This Dewan felt that he might lose his job if the king did not get the hundredth tiger.

 He had an old tiger hidden in his house. At night the Dewan and his old wife managed to get the tiger into their car. Then they drove to the forest where the king was camping. They tried to push the tiger out of the car but the tiger refused to move. With great difficulty, they were able to push him out and leave him behind there.

 Next morning the poor old tiger was sighted. The king shot at it. The tiger collapsed at once. The king was happy. He believed he had accomplished his mission. He ordered that the tiger should be carried to the town in a grand procession. Then he left. But the hunters found that the tiger was alive. The king had missed his mark. The bullet had gone whizzing past the tiger's ears. It had fainted with the shock. But the hunters wanted to keep it a secret from the Maharaja. So one of them shot the tiger dead.

 It was a day of celebration for the king. The king was taken out in a procession through the town. Then it was buried and a tomb was raised over it.

 Now the king felt that he was safe. After a few days, it was the birthday of his son. The king wished to give him a suitable present. He chooses a wooden tiger toy. It was an ordinary toy, carved by unskilled hands. It had slivers all over. The shopkeeper said that it was worth three hundred rupees. But the king took it away as a free gift.

 The king and his son were playing with the wooden tiger. A silver pierced the king's hand. He removed it. But the infection developed into a terrible sore. Surgeons from Chennai operated upon the king. In the end, the surgeons announced, " The operation was successful. The king is dead.

 Ironically, the mighty king who had killed ninety-nine living tigers was killed by a wooden tiger. Thus, the king was killed the way it was predicted.

Short Answer Type Questions (3 Marks, 30-40 words)

Question.1. What gave the astrologers the greatest surprise of their life while they were studying the horoscope of the ten-day old prince?
Answer. When the astrologers were reading the horoscope of the little prince, they were taken by surprise when the ten-day old infant asked about the manner of his death. When the chief astrologer told him that a tiger would be the cause of his death, the baby retorted with arrogance, “Let the tigers beware!”

Question.2. How did the Maharaja please a high-ranking officer?
Answer. A high-ranking British officer visited the state of Pratibandapuram and sought permission for tiger hunting from the Maharaja. The Maharaja declined his request, but as he did not want to upset the officer, he sent fifty diamond rings to the officer’s wife which cost the king three, lakh rupees.

Question.3. Why did the Maharaja ban tiger hunting in the state?
Answer. As the prince was crowned the king, the astrologer’s prediction regarding his (the king’s) death by a tiger reached his ears. This prompted the Maharaja to kill a tiger but the astrologer informed him that he had to successfully kill hundred tigers to escape the prophecy. Thus, in order to reach that mark, the Maharaja banned tiger hunting in the state except for himself.

Question.4. Why did the Maharaja decide to get married?
or
What is the reason lor the Tiger King’s sudden decision to marry?

Answer. In order to defeat the astrologer’s prophecy, the Maharaja had to kill a hundred tigers. He had already killed seventy tigers and the tiger population in his state neared extinction. For this reason, he wished to marry a girl in the royal family of a state with a rich tiger population, where he would kill the rest of the tigers.

 

Question.5. Why did the Maharaja double the land tax?
Answer. The Maharaja had successfully killed ninety-nine tigers but struggled hard to find the hundredth tiger. Once, there came a news of a tiger being spotted at a hillside village but it turned out to be untrue. This infuriated the Maharaja, who ordered the dewan to double the land tax in order to punish the villagers for the false news.

 

Question.6. How did the Tiger King become the victim of the hundredth tiger?
or
How did the Tiger King meet his end? What is ironical about his fate?

Answer. The Tiger King met his end through the wooden tiger, which he had bought as a gift for his son on his third birthday. While he was playing with his son, a splinter of the poorly made toy tiger pricked the king’s hand. The infection turned into a sore, which spread all over his arm. In spite of the best surgeons, the king’s life could not be saved.
The irony is in the fact that in spite of killing nearly all the tigers in the area, he had to face his death by a toy tiger.

 

Question.7. What, sort of hunts did the Maharaja offer to organise for the high-ranking British officer? What trait of the officer does it reveal?
Answer. Tiger hunting was banned in Pratibandapuram. When the British official came with a tiger hunt request, the Maharaja told him that he may conduct a boar hunt, a mouse hunt, even a mosquito hunt, but not a tiger hunt. In reply to this, the British officer said that he only wanted to be photographed holding a gun and standing ewer the dead body; the tiger could be killed by the Maharaja. This shows the shallowness of character of the officer.

 

Question.8. Why was the Maharaja so anxious to kill the hundredth tiger?
Answer. When the Maharaja was barely ten days old, the chief astrologer had predicted that a tiger would be the cause of his death. When the Maharaja was twenty, he killed one tiger. When he asked his astrologer, the astrologer said that he would kill ninety-nine tigers, but he should be fearful of the hundredth tiger. That was the reason why the Maharaja was so anxious to kill the hundredth tiger.

 

Question.9. What warning did the astrologer give the Tiger King when he killed the first tiger? Did the prediction of the astrologer come to be true?
Answer. When the Maharaja boasted about killing the first tiger, the astrologer said that he may kill ’ ninety-nine tigers, but must be “very careful with the hundredth tiger.” Yes, the astrologer was absolutely true in this prediction, because finally the Maharaja was killed by the hundredth tiger.

 

Question.10.How did the Dewan manage to arrange the hundredth tiger for the Maharaja?
Answer. The Dewan had brought a tiger from the People’s Park in Madras and kept it hidden in his house. When the Maharaja threatened him with dire consequences, he understood that the only way to save himself was to ‘plant’ a tiger for the kill. So, he and his aged wife dragged the tiger to the forest where the king was hunting. The king took aim and the beast soon collapsed.

 

Question.11.Why was the Maharaja sunk in gloom even after having killed seventy tigers?
Answer. During ten years, the Maharaja had managed to kill seventy tigers. As a result, the tiger population became extinct in his kingdom. This made the Maharaja anxious because he thought he would not be able to achieve his target of killing a hundred tigers and so his life would be in dangSr.

 

Question.12.What led the Maharaja to start out on a tiger hunt?
Answer. The Maharaja knew the old saying that killing even a cow in self-defence was no sin. So, in order to save his own life and prove the astrological prediction wrong, he started shooting all his enemies, i.e. the tigers he found in the forests of his state and nearby regions.

 

Question.13.When did the Tiger King stand in danger of losing his kingdom?
Answer. Once, a high-ranking British officer visited Pratibandapuram. He was very fond of hunting tigers and being photographed with them. However, the Maharaja refused to give him permission to hunt tigers because he feared that other British officers too would turn up with the same request. It was because of his refusal that the Maharaja stood in danger of losing his kingdom.

 

Question.14.What happened to the tiger provided by the Dewan Saheb?
Answer. The tiger provided by the Dewan Saheb was very old and stood in complete submission. The Maharaja look aim and fired, but-actually the bullet missed the tiger and the tiger only fainted from the sharp sound of the bullet. As nobody wanted the Maharaja to know about it, one oflhe hunters himself shot the tiger later on.

 

Question.15.Describe the efforts made by the Tiger King to achieve his target of killing a hundred tigers.
Answer. The Tiger King made numerous efforts to fulfil his target of killing a hundred tigers. He stayed in the forest for many days. He fired many of his officers for not getting him tigers. He had to spend a ransom of three lakh rupees to impress the British official and discourage him from killing the tigers. He even went to the extent of marrying to kill the population of tigers in the neighbouring state to meet his target. In a way, he did all he could to achieve his goal , of killing a hundred tigers.

Question.16.Did the Tiger King shoot the hundredth tiger? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer. The Tiger King actually did not shoot the hundredth tiger. The tiger being a weak one, fainted from the shock of a bullet whizzing past him and the ignorant king celebrated his achievement. Later, when the hunters took a closer look at the tiger, it woke up as if from a deep slumber.

Question.17.How did the Tiger King celebrate his victory over the killing of the hundredth tiger?
Answer. When the Maharaja thought that he had killed the hundredth tiger, his joy knew no bounds. The elated king returned to his capital and ordered his staff to bring the dead tiger in a grand procession. The tiger was buried and a tomb was erected over it.

Question.18.What was the Dewan’s tiger like? How did he take it into the forest?
Answer. The Dewan’s tiger was old and had been brought from the People’s Park in Madras. It was kept hidden in the Dewan’s house. At midnight, the Dewan with his wife dragged the tiger to his car and thrust it onto the seat. With great difficulty, the tiger was pushed out of the car and planted in the forest to be shot by the Maharaja.

Question.19.Why did the Dewan decide to give up his own tiger to be killed by the Maharaja?
Answer. The Maharaja refused to leave the forest unless he killed the hundredth tiger that had been sighted by the villagers. The Maharaja was funous and sacked many officers. He ordered the Dewan to double the land tax of the village and when the Dewan tried to stop him, the Maharaja asked him to resign. So, to save his job, the Dewan decided to arrange for a tiger to be killed by the Maharaja.

 

Long Answer Type Questions (6 Marks, 120-150 words)

 

Question.20.How did the Tiger King stand in danger of losing his kingdom? How was he able to avoid the danger?
Answer. Once a high ranking British officer visited Pratibandapuram. As he was fond of hunting tigers, he expressed his wish of tiger hunting to the king but the king refused permission. Then the British officer (^quested that he only wanted to be photographed holding gun and standing over the dead body of the tiger; the Maharaja could kill the tiger. However, the Maharaja denied him this permission also, fearing that it would lead to further similar requests from other officers.
As the Maharaja did not want to upset the British officer and risk losing his kingdom, he sent a fifty diamond rings to the wife of the officer. The lady kept all the rings and sent him a note of thanks. In this way, the king managed to save his kingdom.

 

Question.21.The astrologer’s prediction about the death of the Tiger King came to be true. Do you agree with this statement?
Answer. I agree with the statement that the astrologer’s prediction about the death of the Tiger King came to be true.
The astrologer had predicted that Tiger King would be killed by a tiger and he should be wary of the hundredth tiger.
This statement of the astrologer forced the king to go on a killing spree. The hundredth tiger was not killed by the king himself but by the hunters, who found out that the old tiger had not died by the bullet of the king but only fainted by the bullet whizzing past him. .
The hundredth tiger was a wooden toy tiger which the king had presented to his three-year old son. It killed the king merely by a sliver of wood protruding form it that pierced his right hand. The wound developed pus and it soon spread all over the arm. The best surgeons failed to save the king and thus, the astrologer’s prediction about the death of the Tiger King proved to be correct.