Malini - Summary | The Magic of Words

Rabindranath Tagore

Malini - Summary | The Magic of Words


Rabindranath Tagore is a Bengali Indian poet, writer, and philosopher. He was born is 1861 and died in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He is famous for his poetic works, philosophical plays, novels, and short stories. The poetic play, Malini, is a story of love and hatred. It also deals with topics such as religion, faith, friendship, devotion, sacrifice, forgiveness, loyalty, betrayal, etc.

The play opens with the agitation of the Hindu Brahmins for the banishment of Malini, the princess of Kashi. A Hindu kingdom. Malini has been charged for her acceptance of a new creed, i.e. Buddhism. Having been taught by Buddhist Monks, she was influenced by Buddhism. She does not find any attachment with the worldly beauty and the material world. She thinks that wealth does not cling to whose destiny it is to find riches in poverty. Her mother, the Queen opines that for a woman, husband and children are the objects of worship.

The king and the Queen are worried about her acceptance of Buddhism and request her to give up her new creed. The Queen believes Malini to be a pure flame of fire and thinks some divine spirit has taken birth in her but the king does not want her to take the burden of the world on her shoulders.

Kemankar, a firm and determined youth, is the leader of agitators. Supriya, the childhood friend of Kemankar is also an agitator. Malini is charged as a poisonous snake who is aiming at the heart of Hindu religion. Supriya does not approve the idea to banish Malini in the name of religion. He knows that the truth cannot be determined by the force of numbers. He supports Malini's belief that the love and truth as the soul and body of all religions. Though the essence of all religions is same, Kemankar believes in their different forms. Supriya leaves the assembly assuring Kemankar about their friendship.

All the agitators step back when they come to know that the army is in support of the agitation. They think it as a rebellion and extreme measure. They believe that their faith, not the arms, will give them victory. So make penance and invoke the goddess to descend from heaven to less and give power to them. Malini enters with all in the palace and receives the honor of the ordinary citizens except Kemankar and Supriya. They ask for forgiveness, Malini announces her self exile and wants to make home renouncing the royal palace. Kemankar becomes alone in the agitation. So he makes a plan to go to the foreign land to bring soldiers to fight. Though Supriya does not like this plan, he wants to go with him for their friendship’s sake. Kemankar orders him to remain there to watch and keep him informed.

The first part of the play ends with the conversation about Malini. The king shows the determination to banish Malini as the demand persisted but he immediately changes his mood when he learns about Malini’s missing. But Malini is brought back by the Brahmins and the soldiers with great honor.

The second part of the play opens in the garden where Malini and Supriya are talking. Supriya wants to be led by Malini but she does not think herself so great to lead him. During the conversation, Malini wants to learn about Kemankar from Supriya. He said that Kemankar’s mind has always been firm and determined while his mind or thoughts are always flickering with doubts. Supriya suddenly reveals that he has deceived his friend by informing his plan to the king.

The king enters. He is very much happy with Supriya and so he proposes Supriya to ask for anything even the princess Malini along with provinces worthy to tempt a king. But he refuses all. He thinks these as rewards for his treachery. He only wants love from Malini, which she has for every creature in the world.

Kemankar has been captured by the king’s soldiers and the king is going to execute him for his treason. Both Malini and Supriya plead the king to pardon him. He is brought before the king who wishes to meet Supriya. Since he wants to know why Supriya has done that or why he betrayed his own friend. Supriya replies he did to keep the faith. He blames Supriya being faithless. Supriya replies that true faith is there is love, where there is the man. He says he got the knowledge from Malini, which he could not get from any sacred books. Supriya wants to make a compromise but Kemankar says falsehood and truth cannot live side by side in friendship.

Supriya assures Kemnakar that he is paying his life for his love as Kemankar knows for the faith. At this Kemankar wants them to be judged in front of the death. Then Kemankar strikes Supriya with his chains and Supriya falls and he dies. Kemankar calls for his executioner but Malini requests the king to forgive him.

Important Questions

1. Would you call Supriya a betrayer? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans: Yes, we can say Supriya as a betrayer because Supriya and Kemankar were two close friends. They used to stay together. Kemankar wanted to go to the foreign land to bring armies to revolt against Malini. Supriya also wanted to go with Kemankar. Kemankar asked him to retain there and inform him. While Kemankar was in the foreign land, he warns Supriya not to betray their old friends because of the new religion. But Kemankar goes to the foreign land and writes his friend about plans then Supriya informs about Kemanker’s secret plan to the king. King captures Kemankar. In this way, Supriya can be said as a great betrayer. He actually deceived his own close friend.

2. Describe the characters of Malini.
Ans: Malini is a beautiful and young girl. She is the princes. She is from the royal family but impressed by Buddhism. She doesn’t follow the traditional old religion. But Brahmins go against Malini because they are the follower of traditional old religion (i.e. Hinduism). She asks for her own banishment. She likes to live among the poor people. She doesn’t want comforts, pleasure, treasures, etc. she wants to guide the people who are living in the darkness. The queen calls her pure flame of fire. The common people regard her mother of the world. When the king wants to punish Kemankar, Malini requests the king to forgive Kemankar. This shows that Malini is a kind-hearted, virtuous girl who always speaks in favor of non-violence and poor people.

3. Why were the Brahmins demanding for the banishment of Malini?
Ans: Malini is a beautiful young princess who was taught by a Buddhist monk. She wanted to bring new creed among people. She doesn’t follow the traditional old religion. Hinduism but follows new religion Buddhist. The Brahmins believe that the members of the royal family should spend their life in pleasures and comforts but Malini doesn’t like this. Brahmins wanted to revolt against Buddhism. They were demanding for the banishment of Malini to protect their old religion. Finally, Kemankar brings armies to revolt against the new religion.

4. How is the character of Supriya different from that of Kemankar?
Ans: Kemankar is the blind follower of traditional old religion-Hinduism. When Malini speaks in favor of Buddhism, Kemankar as well as other Brahmin’s can’t tolerate it and revolt for the banishment of Malini. Later on, other Brahmins speak in favor Of Malini; he leaves the country to bring armies from foreign country and revolt against his countrymen. On the other hand, Supriya support Malini. Finally, Supriya betrays Kemankar informing the king about secret plans of Kemankar. According to Kemankar, Supriya is lost in the love and Charm of Malini.

5. What is the reason that Malini asks for her own banishment from the palace?
Ans: Malini is a beautiful young prince who is taught by a Buddhist monk. She is impressed by Buddhism. She doesn’t like royal happiness, pleasures, and comforts. But the Brahmins who are the followers of traditional old religion believe that members of the royal family should spend their life in comforts. Malini doesn’t like it at all. When Malini goes against traditional old religion ­ Hinduism, at that time Brahmins go to royal palace for the banishment of Malini. Malini thinks that the outside world wants her. Malini then asks for her own banishment from the palace to go to live among the poor people. She wants to teach the Brahmins the reality and lead them to the truth.

Questions for Practice

  1. Write a character sketch of Supriya.
  2. Were Brahmins demanding the banishment of Malini?
  3. Draw a character sketch of Kemankar.
  4. Why does Kemankar kill his dear friend Supriya?
  5. Draw a character sketch of Supriya. (Malini)
  6. Why does Malini ask the king to forgive Kemankar at the end of the play?
  7. The play “Malini” ends with Malini’s words” “Father, forgive Kemankar.” Do you think the king will forgive Kemankar? Discuss.
  8. What was the revolt against? Against Malini? Against the king? Against Buddhism? Explain. (Malini)
  9. Why do you think Malini asked for her own banishment from the palace?
  10. Why does Malini call upon her father to forgive Kemankar? Do you think the king will forgive Kemankar? Discuss.

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