English XI: Magic of Words Content
– Rabindranath Tagore
- Malini: Hindu Princess
- Kemankar: Strict, traditional Brahman who is the leader of Brahmin
- Supriya: Very intimate friend of Kemankar
Subject Matter: Clash between Hinduism and Buddhism
Character Sketch of Supriya:
- Serious role: He seems disloyal to his friend Kemankar
- So, he is more betrayer than traitor: Doubtful character
- Calm but at the same time bold also aggressive: Not extremely furious and aggressive
- Meek; humble; modest; gentle: Gullible / trusting / innocent / naïve
- Patience: Thoughtful
- Patriotic: Kindness
- Sympathetic: Forgiving Character
- Broad-minded: World-visioned or cosmopolitan
- Reform-minded: Uses conscience
- Pragmatic or practical or realistic: Not hot-tempered
- Graceful looks: Deep-thinking
- Short built: Slim, Graceful, Serious looking
- Sentimental: Moderate clothing, Brahmin looks
- From the very beginning of the novel, Supriya does not intend to banish the innocent girl.
- He even does not believe that gathering would determine truth and reality.
- He criticizes those scriptures which fitted their own narrow hearts.
- He assures Kemankar that his friendship with him is older than the new religion. Anyway, Supriya deceives his friend Kemankar.
- Supriya is firm and determined in his action but he only doubts when he begins to debate.
- As a whole, Supriya performs the role of betrayer because when Kemankar was warning him telling that his heart might be drawn from him by the novelty of the falsehood, at that time, Supriya assured Kemankar that falsehood may be new but their friendship was old.
- So, Supriya proves himself to be disloyal to his friend Kemankar.
Character Sketch of Kemankar
- Determined, Rigid, Bold, Self-confident
- Well-built or heavily built, Dominant voiced, Stubborn, Aggressive
- Devoted Hindu
- Commanding: Do or die; Devoted to his own religion
- Strong, Ready to die for his belief, Active or furious
- Well-versed in holy doctrines; Discusses theology and god with his friend
- Thinks his religion as full proof and doesn’t need any improvement or modification
- Regards that one should not discard the religion of his/her forefathers simply because some new creed or faith or belief or doctrine or dogma seems noble or dignified or righteous
- When Malini becomes able to influence the people of Kashi due to her novelty, he suspects her, and takes it a direct attack on Hinduism.
- Has a good leading power
- Is not only able to lead the angry crowd for Malini’s banishment but is equally competent to organize army on foreign land
- Thinks that the blood of Kashi is contaminated by the infiltration of new creed
- For this, he is ready to turn from a common man to a commander. Thus, he seems to be a patriot in his own way
- Kemankar is a good friend too but when he finds himself deceived then he takes his friend’s life without any regret as he hurts his belief.
- Kemankar, as a believer, not only takes his friend’s life but is also ready to sacrifice his own life too.
- Like Socrates and Christ, he is also ready to die for his own belief.
Therefore, when the king asks him, what will he do if he excuses him, then he boldly tells that he will complete his incomplete mission, i.e. to uproot the king and the royal family to regain the pure and serene image of Hindus.
Malini was Hindu but she did not like it for the following reasons:
- The tradition of sacrificing animals just in the name of God.
- Traditions being idealistic/impractical/unrealistic
- Brahmins taking Hinduism as the wrong way, i.e. Clash about castes, etc.
Supriya’s view: By the muscles, no one can establish a religion.
Analysis of the play Malini:
Malini is a princess of Kashi who follows the path of Buddhism. Brahmins take her acceptance of new religion as a threat to their religion. Infuriated/enraged/furious by it, they protest against her in front of the palace and demanding her banishment. Kemankar, leader of the protester says that woman as a threat is more dangerous than a man because she cannot be defeated by arms either can be overcome through reason because women do not possess it at all. Warning his fellow Protestants not to bow down in front of her beauty, he says:
Friends keep your resolution firm. The woman, as an enemy, is to be dreaded more than all others. For reason is futile against her and forces all ashamed; man’s power gladly surrenders itself to her powerlessness, and she takes shelter in the strongholds of our own hearts. (132)
Supriya, one of the members of their league does not support their demand for banishing a girl. He believes that she is not a threat to their religion. Moreover, to think of saving the religion by banishing an innocent girl is a sheer stupidity for him. According to him, hating others in the blindness of religion is not what religion teaches. Therefore, he says:
Of all things, the blind certitude /certainty/ assurance of stupidity is hardest to bear. To think of saving your religion by banishing a girl from her home! Let me know what is her offense? Does she not maintain that truth and life are the body and soul of religion? If so, is that not the essence of all creeds/doctrines/faiths? (133)
Amidst their discussion, one Brahmin brings the news that even the king’s army is ready to take their side openly. But, others do not like the idea of using armed force against her but believe that they can defeat her through their faith. Then, they begin their penance and recite sacred verses in order to invoke their goddess in front of the palace. They want to invoke her so that they could destroy Malini through her power. At the same time, the princess appears before them. They mistakenly take her as Goddess herself. They recognize her when she says that she is going to leave the palace. Although people feel annoyed initially, they begin to follow and regard her as Goddess when she expresses her desire to live with them to understand the nature of suffering. Supriya thinks that he has found someone whom he can take as a real God. So, he also decides to follow her. Kemankar is still firm in his decision and tries to persuade Supriya. Kemankar decides to go to a foreign land and brings soldiers to fight against her. Supriya also promises to help Kemankar. Ignorant of the changed mind of the villagers, the royal family makes the preparation of her banishment. When they come to know the reality, they change their mind. Supriya goes to Malini and holds chat about philosophy and religion. Malini asks help with Supriya saying that she has a great responsibility of her followers. So, she needs his guidance in order to lead them to the right path. During the conversation, Supriya discloses the plan of Kemankar. He says:
You made me live again in a new world of birth. “Love for all life” was a mere word, waiting from the old-time to be made real, – and I saw that truth in you in flesh. My heart cried for my friend, but he was away, out of my reach; then came his letter, in which he wrote that he was coming with a foreign army at his back, to wash away the new faith in blood, and to punish you with death. (141)
King enters into the room at the right moment with the news of Kemankar’s arrest and offers a reward to Supriya for his help. It seems that he wants to give the hands of Malini to him. Malini and Supriya want king to forgive Kemankar. Kemankar is brought to their room where he still shows his firm attitude. The conversation between them goes like this:
King: What punishment do you expect from my hands?
King: But if I pardon you?
Kemankar: Then I shall [have] time again to complete the work I began. (143)
Kemankar wants to see Supriya as his last wish. He tells him that only God will decide who were right in their act. After saying this, he hits Supriya with his chain and Supriya dies on the spot. Although Kemankar takes life of Supriya with hate, Malini bestows love in return. She reveals the true sense of religion and truth by saying – “Father, forgive Kemankar”.
What were the Brahmins demanding for?
Ans: Malini was a Hindu Princess but she was much interested in the Buddhist religion. She did not like some of the bad aspects of the Hindu religion. She particularly did not like the fact that the Brahmins misinterpreted the religion. So, her inclination was towards the Buddhist religion. She used to study Buddhist literature and also used to discuss the things with monks. The Brahmins were quite afraid of it. They thought that this would be a great challenge for the Hindu religion. So, they wanted Malini to stop taking an interest in the Buddhist religion. Otherwise, their demand was to banish her from the country. If the King couldn’t banish his daughter, he should be abdicated. In other words, the Brahmins were demanding the banishment of Malini as she was heretic or revisionist of the old religion and if the king wouldn’t banish her then he should leave the throne.
Draw the character sketch of Supriya and show how he is different from Kemankar.
Ans: Kemankar and Supriya were closed friends. They were leading the revolution together. We first meet Supriya with Kemankar when the Brahmins were protesting against Malini. All of a sudden, Malini comes there. The other Brahmins became in her side and Kemankar was left alone. Supriya was with Kemankar. Supriya is a learned man and he is not conservative like his friend. He does not like to prove the supremacy of religion by physical force. He knew that there were many drawbacks of the religion and so we find him in favor of correcting them. He is very bold because he told all these things to the Brahmins. However, Supriya has a certain weakness. His weakness is that he does not have his own standing. Till Kemankar was there, he was influenced by him and when he went in the next country, he was influenced by Malini.
As a whole, Supriya is a nice gentleman. He did not like that there should be bloodshed in the name of religion. So, he showed Kemankar’s letter to the king. He loves his friend so he repeatedly requested the king to forgive Kemankar. He is really genuine because he didn’t become ready to marry Malini.
Though Kemankar and Supriya are closed friends. There are many differences between the two. First, Kemankar is stricter in determination than Supriya. Kemankar is more conservative. Supriya is liberal. He is ready to accept the drawbacks of his religion and the good things of other’s religion. But, Kemankar is blind to his religion.
Describe the character of Malini?
Ans: Actually, Malini was the image of love. Forgiving was the divine virtue of her. She was a mediator and was impressed by Buddhism. She, getting birth in the palace, ignored the gold, dresses, and ornaments. She liked serving people rather than living in a palace. She was beautiful and young. Due to her abnormal character, her mother thought her like a flame of fire. People thought that she had divine power because when she came in front of the Brahmins they were influenced by her and left their demand except for Kemankar. To sum up, Malini was so virtuous that she even asked pardon after Kemankar killed Supriya for his relief.
In 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 means that due to the new creed followed by his daughter in his kingdom, the people protested about it and were going to attack the palace by combining with foreign soldiers. The storm clouds mean the danger that was nearly approaching.
What was the revolt against? Against Malini? Against King? Against Buddhism?
Ans: The revolt was against Buddhism. All the Brahmins were a follower of old creed but Malini followed the new creed which was a threat for their religion and demanded her banishment.
Why does Malini ask for her own banishment from the palace?
Ans: Malini thinks that she is born for the people but not for the palace and for the king. As people demand her banishment, she told the king that her banishment must be granted. She opines that she was made for people and for the sake of people; she is even ready to accept her banishment.
The king repeatedly asks Supriya to ask for anything he wished. Why do you think he is so insistent?
Ans: As Supriya had done a lot of tasks for his country preventing the bloodshed of armies, Malini in the name of religion by showing the letter of Kemankar. So, the king was too much happy having saved his kingdom, his daughter alive and made ready for the attack. Thus, he wanted to give something to Supriya for his deed and he repeatedly asked Supriya to ask something.
The play ends with Malini’s words: “Father, forgive Kemankar”. Do you think the king will forgive Kemankar?
Ans: Kemankar is king’s captive and he’s treason and the king asked him what would he do after his relief then he said that he would go forward for the revolt then he wasn’t set free and inside him, there was fire in his heart and he was bold in his revolt. So, the king wouldn’t forgive him at first but if Malini would request him repeatedly and if Kemankar would be changed then he might forgive Kemankar.