Class 12- Vistas “The Tiger King” Full Explanation

The Tiger King,Kalki,Maharaja Jung Jung bahadur,Stuka Bomber,Maharaja of Pratibandapuram

Chapter 2, Vistas, Kalki’s “The Tiger King” Summary, Theme, Important Passages, Character Sketch and Question Answers.

Next on Vistas: Journey To The End of the Earth” by Tishani Doshi


  • Abdicate – To renounce one’s throne or position of power.
  • Babble – To talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way.
  • Bafflement – A state of confusion or bewilderment.
  • Carcass – The dead body of an animal, especially one slaughtered for food.
  • Catastrophic – Involving or causing sudden significant damage or suffering.
  • Convulsion – A sudden, violent, irregular movement of a limb or body caused by involuntary muscle contraction, especially associated with brain disorders.
  • Durai – A title of respect or address for a man, particularly in South India.
  • Emergency – A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.
  • Exemption – Freedom or immunity from a particular obligation or duty.
  • Flout – To openly disregard or disobey a rule, law, or convention.
  • Grandiose – Impressive or magnificent in appearance or style, often to an excessive degree.
  • Hurdle – An obstacle or difficulty to overcome.
  • Incoherent – Not logically or clearly expressed, difficult to understand.
  • Indomitable- Impossible to subdue or defeat.
  • Jubilation – Exuberant joy or celebration, often associated with triumph or success.
  • Obstinate – Stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.
  • Proclamation – A formal or official announcement.
  • Prowess – Exceptional skill or ability, often in a specific area.
  • Stuka bomber – A type of dive bomber used by the German Luftwaffe during World War II.
  • Suppurating – Producing or discharging pus.
  • Wanton – Deliberate and unprovoked, often referring to reckless behaviour.

Summary “The Tiger King”:

In “The Tiger King” by Kalki, Maharaja Jung Jung Bahadur earns his title through his obsession with hunting tigers. Born under a prophecy foretelling his demise by a tiger, he embarks on a mission to kill a hundred tigers. Despite challenges and risks, he achieves ninety-nine kills. But the last tiger eludes him until a deceitful scheme brings it before him. In a twist of fate, a wooden tiger toy gifted to his son injures him, leading to a fatal infection. Surgeons’ efforts to save him end in tragedy, fulfilling the prophecy. Thus, the Tiger King meets his end, as the hundredth tiger avenges its fallen kin, completing the cycle of fate.

Theme “The Tiger King”:

Irony of Fate: 

The theme of “The Tiger King” contains the irony of fate, the pursuit of power and control, and the consequences of hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence). Throughout the narrative, the protagonist, the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram, strives to defy his predicted fate of death by a tiger through relentless tiger hunting. However, despite his efforts to control his destiny, he ultimately meets his demise unexpectedly and ironically, highlighting fate’s unpredictability and human agency’s limitations. The story also explores themes of ambition, obsession, and the consequences of unchecked power.

Through the Maharaja’s tragic fate, the narrative explores human agency’s limitations and fate’s inevitability. It serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of hubris and the importance of humility in the face of life’s uncertainties. Ultimately, “The Tiger King” highlights the irony that sometimes, the harder one struggles against fate, the more firmly it traps them.

Character Sketch: 

Maharaja “The Tiger King”: 

In “The Tiger King,” the titular character, often referred to as the Tiger King, is the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram.

Full Title: Maharaja (Jamedar-General, Khiledar-Major, Sata Vyaghra Samhari, Maharajadhiraja Visva Bhuvana Samrat, Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, M.A.D., A.C.T.C., C.R.C.K.)


  • Ambitious: The Maharaja is driven by a strong desire to defy his predicted fate of dying at the hands of a tiger. This ambition leads him to embark on a relentless quest to hunt tigers.
  • Superstitious: Despite his outward display of courage and power, the Maharaja is deeply influenced by astrologers’ predictions regarding his fate, which instills fear and drives his actions.
  • Authoritative: As the ruler of Pratibandapuram, the Maharaja wields significant power and authority over his kingdom, making decisions that impact the lives of his subjects and his fate.
  • Determined: Once the Maharaja sets his mind on a goal, such as hunting tigers, he pursues it with unwavering determination, even in the face of obstacles and risks.


  • Tiger Hunting: The Maharaja’s primary focus is on hunting tigers, driven by his belief that eliminating these creatures will secure his safety from his predicted fate. He devotes considerable time and resources to this pursuit.
  • Conflict with British Officer: The Maharaja refuses to allow a British officer to hunt tigers in his kingdom, jeopardising his rule and highlighting his determination to control his destiny.
  • Tragic Fate: Despite his efforts to avoid his predicted fate, the Maharaja ultimately meets his demise in a tragically ironic manner when he contracts a fatal infection from a wooden tiger toy meant for his son.

The Maharaja is a character marked by ambition, superstition, and ultimately futile struggle against fate, making him a compelling figure in “The Tiger King.”

Important Lines/ Passages “The Tiger King”: 

1. “At that very moment a great miracle took place. An astonishing phrase emerged from the lips of the ten-dayold Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, ‘O wise prophets!’’ The excerpt describes a miraculous event where the infant Jilani Jung, Jung Bahadur speaks, acknowledging the wisdom of the prophets who had foretold his fate. It marks a significant moment in the story where the prophecy surrounding the Tiger King begins to unfold.

2. ‘‘The prince was born in the hour of the Bull. The Bull and the Tiger are enemies, therefore, death comes from the Tiger,’’ he explained.” Here, the astrologer interprets the significance of the prince’s birth hour, linking it to the prophecy of his eventual death. The astrologer suggests that because the prince was born in the hour of the Bull, which is an enemy of the Tiger, his death will ultimately come from a tiger.

3. “Many continued to discuss the matter. Slowly it came to the Maharaja’s ears.” This line indicates that the discussion surrounding the prophecy and the fate of the Tiger King spreads throughout the kingdom, eventually reaching the Maharaja’s attention. It highlights the significance and widespread interest in the prophecy within the story’s context.

4. ‘‘Your majesty may kill ninety-nine tigers in exactly the same manner. But…’’ the astrologer drawled.” The astrologer suggests that the Maharaja’s success in hunting tigers is not enough to avoid the fate foretold by the prophecy. Despite killing ninety-nine tigers, the astrologer hints that the hundredth tiger will still pose a threat to the Maharaja’s life.

5. ‘‘Which idiot would call you a tiger?’’ ‘No, and I’m not a gun!’’ The exchange between the Maharaja and the dewan highlights a humorous moment in the story. The dewan, likely feeling insulted by the comparison to a tiger or a gun, denies being either. It adds a touch of fun amidst the serious discussion of the prophecy and the Maharaja’s fate.

6. ‘‘The Maharaja’s anxiety reached a fever pitch when there remained just one tiger to achieve his tally of a hundred.’’ The mention of the Maharaja’s anxiety reaching a fever pitch indicates the intense pressure and anticipation he feels as he approaches the milestone of killing his hundredth tiger. It highlights the significance of fulfilling his vow and achieving this symbolic goal.

7. ‘‘I have killed the hundredth tiger. My vow has been fulfilled,’’ the Maharaja was overcome with elation.” Upon believing that he has killed the hundredth tiger, the Maharaja experiences overwhelming elation. His proclamation of fulfilling his vow highlights the deep sense of accomplishment and relief he feels at what he perceives as completing his mission.

8. ‘‘The operation was successful. The Maharaja is dead.’’ Following a successful operation to treat an infection in his hand, the Maharaja’s unexpected death is revealed. This sudden turn of events highlights the irony and unpredictability of fate, as the very treatment intended to save his life ultimately leads to his demise.

8. “In this manner the hundredth tiger took its final revenge upon the Tiger King.” The phrase suggests a symbolic interpretation of the Maharaja’s death. It implies that the infection caused by a wooden tiger toy served as the culmination of the prophecy, representing the final act of revenge by the hundredth tiger.

9. ‘‘The child will grow up to become the warrior of warriors, hero of heroes, champion of champions. But…’’ they bit their lips and swallowed hard.” This line describes the initial prophecy about the Tiger King, highlighting his destined greatness as a warrior and hero. However, it also hints at a looming but unspoken aspect of the prophecy, suggesting that a tragic fate will await him despite his greatness.

10. ‘‘The Maharaja knew the old saying, ‘You may kill even a cow in self-defence’. There could certainly be no objection to killing tigers in self-defence.’The mention of the old saying about killing in self-defence reflects the Maharaja’s justification for hunting tigers. It emphasises his belief that killing tigers is a necessary self-defence, echoing the societal norms and attitudes prevalent during his time.

11. Because he prevented a British officer from fulfilling his desire, the Maharaja stood in danger of losing his kingdom itself.” This passage highlights the delicate political dynamics and power struggles between indigenous rulers and colonial powers during the period depicted in the story. The Maharaja’s action reflects his determination to uphold his authority and protect the interests of his kingdom, even at the risk of facing significant consequences from the colonial administration.

Selected Passages on Prophecy: 

1. “The manner of his death is a matter of extraordinary interest. It can be revealed only at the end of the tale———————————————————————An astonishing phrase emerged from the lips of the ten-day-old Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, ‘O wise prophets!’’ This passage sets the stage for the story’s unfolding by hinting at the mystery surrounding the Tiger King’s death, which will only be revealed later. Additionally, it introduces the theme of prophecy through the surprising utterance of the infant Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, acknowledging the wisdom of the prophets.

2. “The oracle had whispered tales of glory and conquest into the ears of the young prince since his infancy. It was a whispered promise of greatness that hung like a shroud over his cradle, an unspoken prophecy that would shape the destiny of the kingdom.” Here, the oracle’s whispers symbolise the prophecy of greatness surrounding the young prince from his earliest days. It suggests that this prophecy will significantly shape the prince’s destiny and the kingdom’s fate.

3. “From the moment he drew his first breath, the seers and sages whispered of his inevitable fate. They spoke in hushed tones of a future forged in the fires of destiny, a path laid out by the stars themselves.” The seers and sages whispering about the prince’s fate from birth emphasise his destiny’s inevitability and predetermined nature. This passage suggests that the prince’s path is intricately tied to fate and celestial forces beyond mortal control.

4. “In the ancient scrolls of prophecy, his name was writ large, a beacon of hope in troubled times. But alongside the tales of triumph, there lingered a shadow, a foreboding of the dark days yet to come.” This passage highlights the prominence of the Tiger King’s name in ancient prophecies, portraying him as a symbol of hope amid troubled times. However, the mention of a shadow and foreboding hints at the challenges and dark moments ahead despite the tales of triumph.

5. “The elders spoke of a prophecy woven into the very fabric of the kingdom, a prophecy that foretold the rise of a ruler unmatched in bravery and cunning. But with every mention of his name, there came a solemn reminder of the price that must be paid.” Here, elders speak of a prophecy deeply ingrained within the kingdom’s history, foreseeing the rise of a remarkable ruler. Yet, alongside this prophecy, there is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices and challenges accompanying such greatness.

6. “As the years passed and the young prince grew into a man, the whispers of prophecy grew louder. It was said that his destiny was written in the stars, that he was destined for greatness beyond measure. But woven into the tapestry of fate, there lay a thread of darkness, a reminder that even the mightiest of heroes must one day face their end.” As the prince matures into adulthood, the whispers of prophecy grow louder, highlighting the magnitude of his destined greatness. However, this passage also introduces a theme of inevitability and mortality, suggesting that even the mightiest heroes are subject to the forces of fate and must eventually confront their mortality.

Question Answers “The Tiger King”:

Reading with Insight:

Q1: The story is a satire on the conceit of those in power.How does the author employ the literary device of dramatic irony in the story?

A1: The author employs dramatic irony in the story by revealing certain truths or outcomes that the characters are unaware of. For example, the prophecy surrounding the Tiger King’s death creates dramatic irony as the characters, including the Maharaja, remain unaware of the full implications until the tale’s end. This disconnect between what the characters know and what the reader knows highlights the foolishness or ignorance of those in power.

Q2: What is the author’s indirect comment on subjecting innocent animals to the willfulness of human beings?

A2: The author indirectly comments on subjecting innocent animals to the willfulness of human beings by portraying the Maharaja’s obsession with tiger hunting. Through this portrayal, the author criticises the arrogance and cruelty of humans who exploit and harm animals for their amusement or perceived superiority.

Q3: How would you describe the behaviour of the Maharaja’s minions towards him? Do you find them sincere towards him or are they driven by fear when they obey him? Do we find a similarity in today’s political order?

A3: The behaviour of the Maharaja’s minions towards him can be seen as driven by a combination of sincere loyalty and fear. While some may genuinely admire and support the Maharaja, others may obey him for fear of retribution or loss of status. This dynamic reflects a common theme in political systems where individuals may feel compelled to align with those in power, either out of genuine loyalty or self-preservation.

Q4: Can you relate instances of game-hunting among the rich and the powerful in the present that illustrate human beings’ callousness towards wildlife?

A4: Instances of game-hunting among the rich and powerful illustrate human callousness towards wildlife. For example, trophy hunting expeditions, where wealthy individuals pay large sums of money to hunt and kill endangered animals for sport, highlight humanity’s disregard for these creatures’ lives. Additionally, destroying natural habitats for development or commercial interests further demonstrates humanity’s disregard for the well-being of wildlife and ecosystems.

Q5: We need a new system for the age of ecology — a system which is embedded in the care of all people and also in the care of the Earth and all life upon it. Discuss.

A5: The need for a new system for the age of ecology is evident in the planet’s current environmental crisis. This system should prioritise the well-being of all people and the Earth itself, recognising the interconnectedness of human societies and the natural world. It should promote sustainability, conservation, and responsible stewardship of resources to ensure the health and vitality of ecosystems for future generations. 

This discussion highlights the importance of reevaluating and reshaping political, economic, and social systems to address the urgent challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.

Extra Questions “The Tiger King”:

Short Answer Type Questions:

Q1: Why is the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram referred to as the Tiger King?

A1: The Maharaja earned the title due to his relentless pursuit of tiger hunting. He vowed to kill a hundred tigers, and his prowess and determination in hunting these beasts became legendary in his kingdom.

Q2: How did the astrologers predict the Tiger King’s demise?

A2: At his birth, they prophesied that despite his remarkable abilities, he would eventually face death. This prophecy was based on his astrological alignment, suggesting a tragic fate.

Q3: How did the Tiger King respond to the astrologers’ prophecy?

A3: As an infant, he astonishingly spoke, acknowledging their words. Despite his youth, he showed intelligence by questioning the astrologers’ vague prediction, demanding clarity on the manner of his death.

Q4: What drastic action did the astrologer vow to take if the Maharaja killed the hundredth tiger?

A4: The astrologer pledged to renounce his profession, destroy his astrological books, and drastically change his life by cutting his hair and becoming an insurance agent, signifying the gravity of the prophecy.

Q5: How did the Maharaja’s pursuit of tiger hunting affect his kingdom?

A5: The Maharaja banned tiger hunting by anyone except himself, which caused celebration among the tigers in his territory. His relentless pursuit led to a decline in the tiger population, eventually causing their extinction in Pratibandapuram.

Q6: How did the Maharaja prevent a British officer from hunting tigers in his kingdom?

A6: He cleverly sent extravagant gifts to the British officer’s wife, distracting him from the tiger hunt. Although it cost him financially, the Maharaja retained his kingdom’s sovereignty.

Q7: What obstacle halted the Maharaja’s tiger hunting mission?

A7: The tiger population in Pratibandapuram became extinct, challenging the Maharaja’s goal of killing a hundred tigers. Despite his efforts, finding the elusive hundredth tiger became increasingly difficult.

Q8: How did the Maharaja ultimately encounter the hundredth tiger?

A9: When sheep began disappearing from a village, suspected to be the work of a tiger, the Maharaja embarked on the hunt. Despite challenges, he finally encountered the elusive beast, fulfilling his vow.

Q10: What deception occurred during the hunt for the hundredth tiger?

A10: The tiger, brought from a park in Madras, pretended to resist being caught. Ultimately, it was shot to maintain the facade of the Maharaja successfully fulfilling his vow.

Q11: How did the Maharaja’s pursuit of tiger hunting ultimately lead to his demise?

A11: A seemingly innocuous wooden tiger toy, purchased for his son’s birthday, caused an infection in the Maharaja’s hand, leading to his death despite successful surgery, fulfilling the prophecy of the hundredth tiger’s revenge.

Q12: What symbolism is associated with the Maharaja’s pursuit of tiger hunting?

A12: The Maharaja’s relentless pursuit of tigers symbolises his desire for power, conquest, and the fulfilment of destiny. It reflects his determination to overcome challenges and fulfil his perceived duties as a ruler.

Q13: How does the Maharaja’s obsession with tiger hunting affect his relationships and governance?

A13: His single-minded focus on tiger hunting consumes his attention and resources, leading to neglect of governance and strained relationships, as seen in his dismissal of the dewan and imposition of harsh taxes out of frustration.

Q14: What does the deception surrounding the hundredth tiger reveal about the Maharaja’s character and leadership style?

A14: The deception highlights the Maharaja’s desperation to fulfil his vow at any cost, even if it means resorting to deceit. It highlights his authoritarian leadership style, where achieving personal goals precedes honesty and integrity.

Q15: What role does irony play in the Maharaja’s demise?

A15: The Maharaja’s death from a seemingly harmless wooden tiger toy is profoundly ironic, considering his life’s pursuit and the prophecy of the hundredth tiger’s revenge. It highlights the unpredictability of fate and the consequences of one’s actions.

Q16: How does the story comment on the themes of fate and hubris?

A16: The story explores the theme of fate through the prophecy of the hundredth tiger, suggesting that destiny cannot be escaped, regardless of one’s actions. The Maharaja’s hubris, evident in his disregard for the prophecy and relentless pursuit of tiger hunting, ultimately leads to his downfall.

Q17: What social commentary does the story offer regarding colonialism and power dynamics?

A17: The Maharaja’s defiance of British authority in denying tiger hunting to a British officer reflects resistance against colonial dominance. However, it also reveals the complex power dynamics and compromises made to maintain sovereignty, highlighting the challenges of ruling under colonial rule.

Q18: How does the Maharaja’s relationship with his son symbolise his legacy and priorities?

A18: The Maharaja’s gift of a wooden tiger to his son represents his legacy of tiger hunting and the burdens he passes on. It also symbolises his belated realization of the importance of family and his failure to prioritise his son’s upbringing amidst his pursuits.

Q19: What lessons can be drawn from the Maharaja’s story?

A19: The story warns against the dangers of obsession, hubris, and neglecting personal relationships to pursue power or personal goals. It highlights the inevitability of fate and the consequences of ignoring wisdom and prophecies.

Q20: How does the Tiger King’s relationship with his subjects evolve throughout the narrative?

A20: The Tiger King’s subjects initially admire his bravery and prowess in tiger hunting. However, as his obsession consumes him and governance suffers, discontent grows among the people. His eventual demise highlights the consequences of neglecting the welfare of his subjects.

Q21: What role do superstition and tradition play in shaping the Tiger King’s actions and beliefs?

A21: Superstition and tradition, exemplified by the astrologer’s prophecy and the Maharaja’s vow to kill a hundred tigers, heavily influence the Tiger King’s decisions and sense of identity. They drive his actions and decisions, ultimately leading to his downfall.

Q22: How does the story employ satire and humour to convey its themes?

A22: Through satirical elements such as the exaggerated titles of the Maharaja and the absurdity of the hundredth tiger prophecy, the story uses humour to critique societal norms, superstitions, and the follies of human ambition. This satirical lens adds depth and complexity to the narrative.

Q23: What role do minor characters, such as the astrologer and the dewan, play in the story’s development?

A23: Minor characters like the astrologer and the dewan serve as foils to the Tiger King, offering insight into his character and motivations. Their interactions with him highlight themes of fate, loyalty, and the consequences of blind ambition.

Long Answer Type Questions: 

Q1: Who is the central figure in “The Tiger King” by Kalki, and why is he referred to as the Tiger King?

A1: The central figure in Kalki’s “The Tiger King” is the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram. He is referred to as the Tiger King due to his genuine pursuit of hunting tigers, driven by a prophecy foretelling his ultimate fate. From a young age, the Maharaja becomes fixated on fulfilling this prophecy, determined to kill one hundred tigers despite warnings of danger. 

His obsession with hunting tigers consumes him, leading to drastic measures and unforeseen consequences. The title “Tiger King” encapsulates his identity and legacy, symbolising his relentless pursuit and eventual downfall tied to the hunt for the hundredth tiger.

Q2: How did the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram demonstrate his commitment to fulfilling the astrologer’s prophecy about hunting tigers?

A2: The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram demonstrated his commitment to fulfilling the astrologer’s prophecy about hunting tigers by embarking on a relentless quest to kill one hundred tigers. He remained steadfast in his pursuit despite warnings and obstacles, even resorting to extreme measures. The Maharaja initiated tiger hunts, banned tiger hunting by anyone except himself, and devoted himself entirely to the task. He faced dangers and challenges but persevered, driven by his determination to defy fate. His single-minded focus on fulfilling the prophecy showcased his unwavering commitment, leading to significant repercussions within his kingdom. Ultimately, his actions underscored his relentless pursuit of destiny, leading to triumphs and tragic consequences.

Q3: Describe the Maharaja’s encounter with a British officer who wished to hunt tigers in Pratibandapuram.

A2: The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram encountered a British officer who desired to hunt tigers in his realm. Despite the officer’s insistence, the Maharaja staunchly refused permission, fearing the consequences of allowing British involvement in tiger hunting. The officer, eager for the thrill of the hunt and a trophy photograph, proposed that he merely be photographed with the tiger’s carcass while the Maharaja did the actual killing. 

However, the Maharaja remained resolute, unwilling to compromise on his principles. His refusal sparked tensions and potential repercussions, risking the loss of his kingdom. This encounter highlighted the Maharaja’s determination to protect and preserve his authority, even in the face of external pressure.

Q4: What unforeseen obstacle arose when the Maharaja was close to achieving his goal of killing one hundred tigers?

A4: When the Maharaja was close to achieving his goal of killing one hundred tigers, an unforeseen obstacle emerged: the tiger population in Pratibandapuram became extinct. Despite his relentless efforts and successful hunts, the tiger population dwindled until no more tigers were left to hunt within his kingdom. This unexpected development thwarted the Maharaja’s plans and left him in despair. 

His single-minded pursuit of fulfilling the prophecy suddenly encountered an insurmountable barrier, forcing him to confront the possibility that his quest may remain unfulfilled. This obstacle underscored the unpredictable nature of fate and the limitations of human ambition in the face of environmental realities.

Q5: Reflecting on the story, what themes or lessons can be drawn from the Tiger King’s journey and ultimate fate?

A5: “The Tiger King” by Kalki offers insights into themes of obsession, fate, and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Through the Maharaja’s relentless pursuit of hunting one hundred tigers to defy a prophecy, the story explores the destructive nature of obsession and the lengths individuals may go to control their destiny. Additionally, the tale delves into fate, illustrating how attempts to defy or manipulate it can lead to unforeseen consequences. 

Ultimately, the Tiger King’s journey is a cautionary tale about the dangers of hubris and the importance of humility in accepting human agency’s limitations. His ultimate fate highlights the inevitability of destiny and the futility of resisting it, emphasising the need for balance and perspective in the face of life’s uncertainties.


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