The Tiger King by Kalki is a satire on the conceit of those in power. The story is a good mix of the supernatural, humour and irony. The Tiger King has been magical from his birth. His arrogance take him on a path of destruction of the tiger population.
Important Question and Answers
Q. Why did the Maharaja ban tiger hunting in the state?
Ans. There were various reasons because of which the Maharaja banned tiger hunting in the state of Pratibandapuram. He vowed to hunt and kill hundred tigers to prove the astrologer wrong who predicted that a tiger would be the cause of his death. However, the tiger population of his kingdom was quickly diminishing because of the Maharaja’s hunting spree. This is why he did not want anyone else to hunt or kill tigers.
Q. Why did the Maharaja order the Dewan to double the land tax?
Ans. After hearing about disappearances of sheep, the Maharaja set out on an expedition to find the hundredth tiger, which was supposed to be the reason for the disappearances. However, the tiger could not be found anywhere. The Tiger King was becoming impatient day by day. In his rage, the Maharaja ordered the Dewan to double the land tax.
Q. How did the Maharaja please a high-ranking British official?
Ans. A high ranking British officer visited Pratibandapuram and sought permission to hunt tiger from King. Even though the king declined his request, he did not want to displease the officer. So in order to please the high-ranking British officer, he sent fifty diamond rings to his wife which cost the Maharaja three lakh rupees.
Q. What gave the astrologers the greatest surprise of their life while they were studying the horoscope of the ten-day-old prince?
Ans. The fact that the ten-days-old infant prince spoke clearly and coherently and that he raised intelligent questions about life and death, gave the astrologers the greatest surprise of their life while they were studying the horoscope of the infant crown prince.
Q. Why did the Maharaja decide to get married? OR What considerations influenced the Tiger King to get married?
Ans. So far, the Maharaja had succeeded in killing only seventy tigers when they became extinct in Pratibandapuram. In order to fulfil his vow of killing one hundred tigers, the Maharaja decided to get married to a girl from a royal family of a kingdom with a large tiger population.
Q. How did the Tiger King become the victim of the hundredth tiger?
Ans. The Tiger King gifted his son a wooden toy tiger. The toy was made by an unskilled carpenter because of which its surface was rough; tiny slivers of wood stood up like quills all over it. A splinter from the wooden tiger pierced his hand, caused suppurating sore, resulting into his death. This is how the Tiger King became the victim of the hundredth tiger.
Q. What sort of hunts did the Maharaja offer to organise for the high-ranking British officer? What trait of the officer does it reveal?
Ans. The Maharaja refused to allow the British officer to hunt tigers in his kingdom. Instead, the Maharaja offered to organise a boar hunt or a mouse hunt or even a mosquito hunt. It shows the shallowness and pretence of the British official.
Q. How did the Tiger King stand in danger of losing his Kingdom? How was he able to avert the danger? or Why, do you think, was the Maharaja in danger of losing his throne? OR When was the Tiger King in danger of losing his throne? OR How did the Tiger King manage to retain his kingdom?
Ans. A high-ranking British officer, who was fond of hunting tigers, visited Pratibandapuram. The Tiger King refused to allow the British officer to hunt tigers saying it was banned in his kingdom. He did not even permit the officer to get himself photographed with the tiger killed by the king. This annoyed the high-ranking British officer because directly or indirectly, the king was preventing an important man from fulfilling his desire. Anticipating unfavourable consequences of denying a British officer and to avert the danger of losing his kingdom, the Tiger King sent a gift of fifty expensive diamond rings to the British officer’s wife. Although he thought that the duraisani would only select a couple of rings, he did not mind that she kept them all. In fact, he was happy to know that he was able to retain his kingdom even though he had to pay three lakh rupees to the British jewellers for the diamond rings.
Q. Why was the Maharaja so anxious to kill the hundredth tiger? OR What led the Maharaja to start out on a tiger hunt?
Ans. When the Maharaja was only ten days old, an astrologer predicted that a tiger would be the cause of his death. In order to prove the astrologer wrong and also to save himself from getting killed, the Maharaja vowed to hunt and kill hundred tigers. This is why he was so anxious to kill the hundredth tiger.
Q. What did the British officer’s secretary tell the Maharaja? Why did the Maharaja refuse permission?
Ans. The British officer’s secretary sent a message to the Maharaja through his dewan that the Maharaja could actually kill the tiger and then allow the British officer to get himself photographed with the tiger while holding the gun and standing over carcass. However, the Maharaja did not agree to him and refused permission because he feared that doing so will encourage other British officers to turn up for tiger hunting. The Maharaja wanted to kill hundred tigers himself.
Q. How did the Tiger King’s marriage bring him closer to his target?
Ans. The Maharaja had exhausted the tiger population in Pratibandhapuram but he still had thirty more to kill, so he asked his dewan to find out the tiger populations in different native states. He decided to marry in a royal family with a large tiger population. The Maharaja decided to do this so that he could be allowed to hunt tigers from the state of his father-in-law. The dewan found out the right girl. The Maharaja killed five or six tigers each time he visited his father-in-law.
Q. What made the chief astrologer place his finger on his nose?
Ans. The chief astrologer placed his finger on his nose because he was filled with surprise and wonder on hearing a small baby, just ten days old, speak.
Q. How did the Maharaja deal with a high ranking British officer who wanted to shoot a tiger?
Ans. When the high ranking British officer expressed his desire to hunt tigers in Pratibandapurm, the Maharaja denied him permission. He said to the British officer that the latter could hunt anything, even mosquitoes, but not tigers. Later, when the Maharaja realised that refusing the high ranking British officer could jeopardise his kingdom, he sent fifty samples of diamond rings to the British officer’s wife to choose from. She kept them all; it cost the Maharaja three lakhs rupees.
Q. When he was only ten days old, a prediction was made about the future of the Tiger King. What was ironic about it?
Ans. The chief astrologer predicted that the Tiger King would die one day. The irony was that, hearing this, the ten days old infant Tiger King, then a crown prince, spoke like a wise man and said that everyone who is born had to die one day.
Q. How did the ten-day-old baby (the future Tiger King) react to the prediction about his future made by the astrologers?
Ans. After listening to the prediction about his death, the ten-days old crown prince responded by saying that death is inevitable for anybody who is born. It does not require prediction. He wished to know about the manner of death as it is more important than the news of his death itself. When he learnt that the cause of his death would be tigers, he said with a growl: “Let tigers beware!”
Q. What kind of life was enjoyed by crown prince Jung Bahadur till he reached the age of twenty?
Ans. Crown prince Jung Bahadur drank the milk of an English cow. He was brought up by an English nanny and tutored in English by an Englishman, saw nothing but English movies. Until he reached his twenties, the crown prince Jung Bahadur enjoyed everything which other Indian crown princes during British rule were enjoying.
Q. Who killed the 100th tiger? Why?
Ans. The hundredth tiger was killed by one of the hunters accompanying the Tiger King. The Maharaja missed his mark, but loud bang of the gun shot made the old and weak tiger faint. If the king had found out about this, the hunters would have lost their job.
Q. The manner of his (the Tiger King’s) death is a matter of extraordinary interest. Comment.
Ans. The occasion was the Tiger King’s son’s third birthday, he had not been paying much attention to the crown prince because of his obsession of killing hundred tigers. Since, it was his son’s birthday, he wanted to give something special to the crown prince. He went to the shopping centre in Pratibandapuram and searched every shop, but could not find anything suitable. He then saw a wooden toy tiger and thought it was perfect for his son. The toy had been carved by an unskilled carpenter. The surface was rough because slivers of wood were poking out, of the entire toy. One of the quills pierced the Maharaja’s hand. Although the king pulled it out the wound became infected. The infection spread all over the arm. As the situation worsened, three famous surgeons were called from Madras to treat the king. All three surgeons agreed that the king needed to be operated on immediately. After the surgery, the three surgeons announced that the operation was successful but king had passed away. Ultimately, the Tiger King met his end by the hundredth tiger, ironically not by a real tiger but by a wooden one whose splinter injured him proving deadly.
Q. Giving a bribe is an evil practice. How did the Tiger King bribe the British officer to save his kingdom? How do you view this act of his?
Ans. The Tiger King dispatched a telegram to a famous British company of jewellers in Calcutta to send samples of expensive diamond rings of different designs. Some fifty rings arrived and the king sent all of it to the British officer’s wife. The king and his minister expected that the duraisani would choose one or two rings and send the rest back. However, it turned out that the duraisani kept the entire lot and replied with a thank you note for the gifts. In two days, a bill of three lakh rupees was sent by the British jewellers, to the Maharaja which he was happy to pay. This is howthe Maharaja had managed to retain his kingdom. This act of the king sheds light on the deplorable practice of bribery that perpetuates the vicious cycle of corruption, especially considering the fact that the king had personal interests to protect rather than the welfare of his kingdom.
Q. Even today so many among us believe in superstitions. An astrologer predicted about ‘The Tiger King’ that he would be killed by a tiger. He ‘killed’ one hundred tigers yet was himself ‘killed’ by a tiger. How did the superstitious belief ‘prevail’?
Ans. From the moment the Tiger King heard the prediction that a tiger would be the cause of his death, he made it the aim of his life not to lose to the tigers. The Tiger King vowed to kill hundred tigers and not rest until his vow was completed. While the Maharaja believed that he was fighting to change his destiny, it was the other way round. One may find it superstitious, but it was his destiny, which pushed him to act the way he did and eventually die because of a tiger. The Tiger King took lives of the innocent tigers, one after another, until it became an obsession of his. He was selfish, self-centred and to quite an extent, hot-headed, which influenced each of his actions. He banned tiger hunts in Pratibandapuram for others and threatened to confiscate wealth and property of anybody who dared to hurt the tigers. He gave up his royal duties only to fulfil his vow, without once thinking about the effects it would have on his kingdom. He bribed the high ranking British officer, whom he had denied permission to hunt tigers in Pratibandapuram, so that he, the Tiger King, did not lose his kingdom. The Maharaja even married into a royal family only on one condition, the forests of that kingdom had to have tigers. After killing ninety-nine tigers, the Tiger King’s obsession grew. On his last hunting expedition, when the hundredth tiger was nowhere to be seen, the Tiger King became furious and asked Dewan to double the land tax of the village where he had gone to hunt. The Dewan feared that the king’s decision would prove to be catastrophic, if the hundredth tiger was not found and killed quickly; the dewan’s job was in jeopardy too. These chain of events paved way for the death of the Tiger King. The Dewan arranged for a senile tiger to be killed by the Maharaja. However, the King’s bullet did not kill the beast; the old tiger merely fainted by the sound of the gun shot. It was one of the king’s hunters who finally killed the tiger, leaving the king content with the thought of killing hundred tigers. Therefore, the king’s death due to the infection caused by the splinter from the wooden toy tiger, was a death caused by his own action, proving that the superstitious belief prevailed.