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Tughlaq Summary Analysis Essay

“The Year that Changed Everything" is a definition essay is written in a classical style which attempts to persuade the audience to accept the author’s conclusion that 1948 was an important year. The author backs this claim up with three main sub-claims which show how this year was important in the lives of three future Presidents: Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson. Furthermore, he links these presidents and this year by claiming that all of them were involved in either uncovering or covering up secrets.In paragraph 7, he claims that these dramatic secrets were an emblem of this era, which exemplified the uneasiness of Americans about who they were. He gives more examples of secrets in paragraph 8 and examples of great changes in paragraph 9. Morrow concludes with his major thesis that 1948 was a year when three future presidents encountered “formative ordeals” which propelled them toward their presidency but also toward tragedy.

The audience for this article is educated, people.The author expects people to not only understand his references to the Kinsey report, DDT, and Silent Spring but also to be able to deduce how these support his thesis.While dropping these references and allowing the audience to inductively understand his points may be effective for those who lived through this historical period, it makes the article less effective for younger people who, for example, don’t have memories about DDT nor remember pictures about what it did to birds and animals. The author attempts to establish common ground through historical references but these may not be effective for those who don’t know them. What also limits the effectiveness of the article is the fact that the author does not explain how his examples relate to his thesis.The logical connections between his examples are also sometimes weak. Does Nixon’s involvement in uncovering the Hiss case really compare clearly to Kennedy’s cover-up of his medical history and Johnson’s cover-up of his dirty politics?

What is effective about the essay is that it causes the reader to think differently about what sorts of events should be considered important and it also makes the reader think about the connections between personal decisions and political events.

Karnard’s Tughlaq

“The whirlpool of violence and bloodshed” called, Tughlaq, is based on “the life of Muhammad Tughlaq, a fourteenth century Sultan of Delhi,” the most infamous Mughal emperor who thinks himself as “I was too soft, I can see that now. They’ll understand the whip.” According to Karnad, Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was “Certainly the most brilliant individual ever to ascend the throne of and also one of the biggest failures.”. Initially, Tughlaq was  “A man with unshakable faith in himself and his mission, trying to out- reach his own vision, unfortunately with his bare hands.”

“A Faithful slave of the Lord” or Tughlaq is a learned, intelligent Sultan of a vast country, . He has become a victim of passion though all the characters admit that he is not a common man. His step–mother reveals to Barani that “… he is such an intelligent boy”; Sheikh Imam–ud–din, the saint admits:” God has given you everything–power, learning, intelligence, talent.”  Barani, the sensible man, says,

“But you are a learned man, Your majesty, you are known the world over for your knowledge of philosophy and poetry”

But the irony is that such a high and mighty personality has failed to control his passions. He himself gets puzzled as to what has happened to him. He himself reviews, ponders and reveals his tragic tale thus:

“I started in Your path, Lord! why am I wandering naked in the desert now? I started in search of You. Why am I become a pig rolling in this gory mud” .

Through his failures, the Sultan is elevated to a man of wisdom and maturity and this becomes evident when he says to the historian Barani as follows:

“But I am not alone, Barani, Thank heaven! For once I am not alone. I have a Companion to share my madness now – the omnipotent God.”

This “Intelligent, religious, cruel and hard hearted” unsuccessful Islamic or “Mad Muhammad” in the opening scene declares, “I shall build an empire which will be the envy of world.” Acutely aware of the short span of life and the stupendous task before him, like Ashoka the great, he seems to dedicate his life for the well-being of his subjects. He keeps awake during nights and tells his stepmother

“Tell me, how dare I waste my time in sleeping? And don’t tell me to go and get married and breed a family because I won’t sleep.”

He wants to climb the tallest of the trees in the world and call out to his people:

Come my people, I am waiting for you. Confide in me your worries. Let me share your joys. Let’s laugh and cry together.”

The King appears as a “carnivorous animal” and unlike other rulers, he wanted to be an ideal King and thinks “whatever he does is perfect” and foolishly announces, “Later this year the capital of my empire will be moved from Delhi to Daulatabad” and orders “Everyone must leave… Nothing but an empty graveyard of will satisfy me now.” By shifting his capital to the city of the Hindus, he hopes to win the confidence of the Hindus and help foster the Hindu-Muslim unity.

The cruelties of the Sultan find no end. When he comes to know of his stepmother’s killing of the Najib, he mercilessly orders “I want her stoned to death publicly tomorrow morning”. When his stepmother taunts him for killing his father, brother and Sheikh, Tughlaq claims that he has killed them for an ideal. He himself says, “I killed them–yes–but killed them for an ideal” because “They gave me what I wanted power, strength to shape my thoughts, strength to act, strength to recognize myself.”

Tughlaq desecrates prayer by using it as a means for political ends. At first he decrees religious punishment for failure to pray five times a day. Later, he bans prayer itself and punishes those who pray. Again, after sometime, he announces that “henceforth every Muslim will pray five times a day as enjoined by the Holy Koran and declare himself a Faithful slave of the Lord.” Later on towards the end, he admits his mistake and the wisest fool in the empire that he has become, he cries for God’s help:

God, God in Heaven, please help me. Please don’t let go off my hand. My skin drips with blood and I don’t know how much of it is mine and how much of others…. Clean me; cover me with Your Infinite Mercy.

The handling of the theme suggests that it transcends Muhammad Tughlaq of a specific period and encompasses men of all times. Ultimately the message conveyed by the dramatist is that God alone is the Supreme Being and not man:

Alla – Ho – Akbar! Alla – Ho – Akbar!      
Ashahado La Elaha Illilah.


Tughlaq has become the classic of the contemporary age through this eponymous and enigmatic character, the doomed dreamer, very well resembles Martin Luther King whose dreams were also shattered by destiny. Like Marlowe’s heroes namely, Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus and Jew of Malta, Tughlaq, like a megalomaniac, is fully convinced that he alone knows what is good for others and he alone is capable of achieving it for them. The play greatly appealed to the Indian audience because it reflected the political mood of disillusionment, which prevailed in the Nehru era of idealism in the country. 

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