The Tiger King - About the author, Word-meaning, Summary, Theme, NCERT Solutions for 2024-25

The Tiger King 

About the author 

Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy (9 September 1899 - 5 December 1954) who went by the pen name Kalki, was a prominent Indian writer, poet, journalist, and independence activist. He was also a film and music critic and penned lyrics for many songs. R Krishnamurthy used as many as thirteen pen names, including the best-known "Kalki", the tenth and last avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu. Kalki's works dealt with important social issues, such as caste, gender discrimination, untouchability, and child marriage, while also advocating for women's liberation and scientific progress. His humorous and satirical writings won him a large following, as he deftly wielded his pen to entertain, educate, and inspire. Some of Kalki's most notable works include Sivagamiyin Sapatham, Thyaga Bhoomi, Parthiban Kanavu, and Kalvanin Kadhali. Ponniyin Selvan, a historical fiction novel set in mediaeval South India, is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Tamil literature. Its intricate plot, richly drawn characters, and historical accuracy have earned it a large number of fans, and it is currently being adapted into a highly anticipated film series. Kalki's contributions to Indian literature were widely recognized during his lifetime, and he was the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Alai Osai and the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award from The Indian Fine Arts Society. Today, his legacy continues to inspire writers and readers alike, and his works remain relevant and influential, providing a window into the cultural and social fabric of India's past and present.


The narrative revolves around a King whose fate of dying at the hands of a tiger had been predicted by astrologers at the time of his birth. The King attempts to alter his prophesied destiny, but his efforts prove to be futile, ultimately leading to his tragic demise. Throughout the story, the author employs thinly-veiled satire to guide the reader through the King's misguided attempts, adding an element of humour to the narrative. The underlying message of the story highlights the theme of fate and the inability to change it, which is effectively conveyed through the use of satire, making the story both entertaining and thought-provoking.


The protagonist of this story is the Maharaja of Pratibandapuram who is commonly known as the Tiger King. Upon his birth, astrologers predicted that the Tiger King would eventually face death. However, a miraculous event occurred when the ten-day-old Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur spoke with exceptional clarity that left everyone stunned. He expressed that everyone is destined to die, and astrologers should predict the manner of death instead of stating the obvious. The chief astrologer then revealed that, since the prince was born in the hour of the Bull and the Tiger and the Bull are mortal enemies, the prince's death would come at the paws of a tiger. Upon hearing this, the prince growled a warning to all tigers to beware.

Upon reaching the age of twenty, he inherited the Pratibandapuram State from the Court of Wards, but the people still talked about the astrologer's prediction that he would die at the hands of a tiger. The Maharaja remembered the saying, "You may kill even a cow in self-defence," and decided to go on a tiger hunt. He enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and killed his first tiger, which he proudly presented to the State astrologer. The astrologer acknowledged the Maharaja's success but warned him to be careful with the hundredth tiger.

The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram declared a ban on tiger hunting in his state and set a personal goal to kill one hundred tigers himself. However, his resolution caused a clash with a visiting British officer who wanted to hunt tigers.The Maharaja refused to allow the officer to hunt, fearing that it would set a precedent for future British hunters. To avoid a potential loss of his kingdom, the Maharaja sent the officer's wife an extravagant gift of diamond rings, hoping to appease her and avoid further conflict. Despite the costly gift, the Maharaja felt relieved that he had upheld his principles and safeguarded his land.

The Maharaja had made it his personal mission to hunt down one hundred tigers in his state of Pratibandapuram. His dedication and skill led to the successful killing of seventy tigers in just ten years. However, his quest hit an unexpected roadblock when the tiger population in the forests of Pratibandapuram became extinct. The Maharaja announced his intention to get married and tasked the Dewan with finding a suitable bride from a royal family with a large tiger population. With the dewan's help, the Maharaja found the perfect match and married into a family that allowed him to continue his tiger hunts. As a result, the walls of the palace reception hall were adorned with the skins of ninety-nine tigers.

The Maharaja became extremely anxious when he needed only one more tiger to reach his goal of hunting a hundred tigers.

However, there were no tigers left in the nearby tiger farms, and he could not find any in his father-in-law's kingdom either. Finally, he received news that a tiger was killing sheep in a nearby village, and he set out on a hunt. Despite his determination, the tiger was difficult to find, and his rage grew as days passed without any luck. He even threatened to double the land tax if the tiger was not found, leading the dewan to take drastic measures. He secretly obtained a tiger from the People's Park in Madras and brought it to the forest where the Maharaja was hunting. Later, when the same tiger appeared in front of the Maharaja, he shot it with joy, thinking he had achieved his goal. However, the hunters discovered that the tiger had only fainted from the shock of the bullet, and one of them had to shoot it again to kill it. The dead tiger was carried in a grand procession and buried with due ceremony in a majestic tomb.

The Maharaja, who had been preoccupied with tiger hunting, turned his attention to his son's upcoming third birthday. Despite scouring all the shops in Pratibandapuram, he couldn't find a suitable gift until he stumbled upon a rough wooden tiger in a toyshop. Father and son played with the toy, but tragedy struck when a sharp sliver pierced the Maharaja's right hand. Though he removed it, the wound quickly festered, and he soon developed a raging infection. Despite the best efforts of three highly skilled surgeons who were summoned from Madras to attend to him, the infection proved to be too strong and ultimately claimed the Maharaja's life. It appeared that the hundredth tiger, represented by the wooden toy, had finally taken its revenge upon the Tiger King.


The story explores the theme of death as an inevitable and constant presence in our lives. It emphasises that from the moment we are born, our destiny is sealed, determining the manner and timing of our arrival and departure. Despite the Maharaja's persistent efforts to defy his fate, he ultimately succumbs to it. The narrative serves as a satirical critique of the arrogance exhibited by individuals in positions of power. Furthermore, it highlights the inhumane treatment of animals by those in authority, who employ various justifications to rationalise their actions. In the case of the Maharaja, he selfishly kills and contributes to the extinction of innocent tigers in order to protect his own life.

Through this thought-provoking tale, the author prompts readers to reevaluate the significance we attribute to life, whether human or animal. The story calls for compassion and transformative change in our interactions with the world around us.

NCERT Solutions

Before you read

Question. What is the general attitude of human beings towards wild animals?

Answer. The general attitudes of human beings towards wild animals are diverse and influenced by multiple factors. Some individuals hold positive sentiments such as sympathy, admiration, and respect for animals, often driven by religious, mystical, or philosophical beliefs. They recognize the crucial role of wild animals in ecosystems and advocate for their conservation and well-being. Conversely, others may experience negative emotions like fear, anger, or disgust towards wild animals. These attitudes can manifest in various ways, ranging from ignoring or avoiding wild animals to actively seeking interactions and even feeding them. Additionally, there are individuals who engage in activities such as pursuing, capturing, harming, or hunting wild animals, reflecting contrasting attitudes towards wildlife. These attitudes are shaped by a combination of perceptions, beliefs, and personal experiences that have developed within societies over time. 

Read and find out

Question 1. Who is the Tiger King? Why does he get that name?

Answer. The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram, Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, is known as the Tiger King. As soon as the prince was born, astrologers predicted the manner of his demise. The chief astrologer explained that since the prince was born in the hour of the Bull, and considering the enmity between Bulls and Tigers, his life would be claimed by a Tiger.

Upon reaching the age of twenty, he assumed control of the State, which had been under the jurisdiction of the Court of Wards until then. The People of the kingdom remembered the astrologer's prediction and engaged in discussions regarding it. Gradually it came to the Maharaja's ears. Motivated by the prophecy, the Maharaja embarked on a tiger hunt, earning him the title of the Tiger King.

Question 2. What did the royal infant grow up to be?

Answer. When the crown prince came of age at twenty, the State, previously under the guardianship of the Court of Wards,  came into his hands, and he ascended the throne as the king of Pratibandapuram. Everyone in the kingdom remembered the astrologer's prediction and numerous discussions concerning the matter continued. As it eventually reached the Maharaja's attention, he set out on a tiger hunting expedition. The royal infant grew up to be a man of unbeatable courage, determined to hunt down a hundred tigers and defy the astrologer's prophecy that the hundredth tiger would bring about his death. The Maharaja vowed that he would prioritise his attention to all other tasks only after successfully killing the hundred tigers.

Question 3. What will the Maharaja do to find the required number of tigers to kill?

Answer. The Maharaja managed to kill seventy tigers in ten years, but encountered an unexpected hurdle when the tiger population in the forests of Pratibandapuram became extinct. To find the required number of tigers to kill, the Maharaja instructed his dewan to gather statistics of tiger populations in the different native states and investigate if there is a girl he could marry in the royal family of a state with a large tiger population. By marrying a girl from such a state, the Maharaja believed he would gain the opportunity to fulfil his goal of killing one hundred tigers.

Question 4. How will the Maharaja prepare himself for the hundredth tiger which was supposed to decide his fate?

Answer. The Maharaja would be extremely cautious while dealing with the hundredth tiger which was supposed to decide his fate. As prophesied by the late chief astrologer, even after killing ninety-nine tigers, he should be wary of the hundredth. After killing the hundredth tiger, the Maharaja would have no fears left and he could give up tiger hunting altogether. He could then redirect his attention towards other state matters.

The Maharaja's anxiety peaked with only one tiger left to reach his goal of a hundred. It consumed his thoughts day and night. The tiger farms had run dry even in his father-in-law's kingdom, thus the Maharaja was sunk in gloom. Joyful news arrived as sheep from a hillside village in his own state began to disappear frequently, indicating the presence of a tiger. The tiger was not easily found, but the Maharaja was determined and refused to leave the forest until it was discovered. The dewan felt relieved upon seeing the tiger, which was brought from the People's Park in Madras and kept hidden in his house. At midnight, the dewan and his aged wife dragged the tiger to the car and shoved it into the seat. The dewan himself drove the car straight to the forest where the Maharaja was hunting. Filled with boundless joy, the Maharaja skillfully aimed at the tiger, causing it to collapse in a crumpled heap. The Maharaja felt overwhelming joy as he hastened away in his car.

Question 5. What will now happen to the astrologer? Do you think the prophecy was indisputably disproved?

["Indisputably disproved" means that something has been unquestionably proven to be false or incorrect.] 

Answer. The astrologer would escape any consequences, as he passed away before the Maharaja could encounter the hundredth tiger, which was believed to determine his fate.

The prophecy was not indisputably disproven since the king did, in fact, meet his demise at the hands of the hundredth tiger. However, it turned out to be a wooden tiger that ended the Maharaja's life, rather than a real one.

Reading with Insight

Question 1. 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?

["Conceit" refers to an exaggerated belief in one's own abilities or importance.]

Answer. This story serves as a satirical commentary on the arrogance and self-interest of those in positions of power. The Maharaja, entrusted with the well-being of his people, shamelessly placed his own needs above their welfare. His conceit was so immense that he deluded himself into thinking he possessed the ability to challenge the astrologer's prophecy and change the course of his own destiny. 

Upon the Maharaja's birth, the astrologers prophesied his demise at the hands of a tiger. In response, the crown prince defiantly growled and warned tigers to be cautious. Determined to challenge the prophecy, the Maharaja embarked on a tiger hunt, vowing to kill one hundred tigers before attending to any other matters. The Maharaja also faced the risk of losing his kingdom when he blocked a British officer from tiger hunting in Pratibandapuram. Faced with the extinction of tigers in Pratibandapuram, the Maharaja married into a royal family from a state with a significant tiger population. Yet, even in his father-in-law's kingdom, the tiger farms eventually ran dry. The hundredth tiger was brought from the People's Park in Madras. The Maharaja aimed at the tiger but missed his target. The hunters concealed the missed shot from the Maharaja, fearing the consequences for their own positions. It was one of the hunters who successfully killed the hundredth tiger. Unaware of the truth, the Maharaja was left with a false sense of accomplishment. The Maharaja chose a wooden tiger from a toyshop as a special gift for his son's third birthday. In a cruel twist of fate, a rough-surfaced splinter from the toy pierced the Maharaja's right hand while playing with his son. The resulting infection in his hand proved fatal, ultimately claiming his life. Thus, the irony lies in the fact that the tiny wooden tiger, rather than a real one, became the instrument of the Tiger King's demise. Despite his relentless efforts to defy the prophecy, his fate was sealed by an unexpected and tragic turn of events.

Question 2. What is the author's indirect comment on subjecting innocent animals to the willfulness of human beings?

Answer. The author employs satire to critique those in positions of power who display cruelty towards animals, often resorting to feeble justifications to defend their actions. The Maharaja embarked on a tiger hunt with the intention of defying the astrologer's prophecy and conquering his fear. This had a devastating impact, leading to the irrevocable extinction of the tiger population in the forests of Pratibandapuram, as well as within his father-in-law's kingdom. In a desperate attempt to fulfil his goal of a hundred kills, a tiger was even imported from the People's Park in Madras. Tragically, the Maharaja's actions failed to disprove the prophecy, and his life was ultimately claimed by a wooden tiger. Throughout this tale, the Maharaja's disregard for the consequences of his actions becomes evident. The indiscriminate slaughter of a hundred innocent and defenceless tigers showcases a lack of consideration for the delicate ecological balance and the value of wildlife.

Question 3. How would you describe the behaviour of the Maharaja’s minions towards him?  Do you find them truly sincere towards him or are they driven by fear when they obey him? Do we find a similarity in today’s political order?

[The term "minions" typically refers to loyal and subordinate followers or servants who work under someone in a position of power or authority.]

Answer. The minions of the Maharaja display unwavering loyalty towards his commands, but this loyalty is predominantly driven by fear rather than genuine conviction. They obediently follow his orders, motivated by the constant dread of losing their jobs or facing punishment from the Maharaja. The State astrologer was afraid to warn the Maharaja about being cautious with the hundredth tiger. The dewan, instead of addressing the consequences of the Maharaja's actions that led to the extinction of tigers, arranged a marriage with a girl from a state with a large tiger population and even procured a tiger from the People's Park in Madras to prevent catastrophic outcomes. When the Maharaja took aim at the hundredth tiger but failed to hit his target, the hunters, driven by the fear of losing their jobs, chose to hide the truth about the tiger still being alive. In a desperate attempt to maintain their positions, one of the hunters even shot the tiger from a distance of one foot. The shopkeeper inflated the price of the wooden tiger, which the Maharaja deemed the ideal gift for his son's third birthday, to avoid punishment under the rules of the Emergency. The shopkeeper was aware that quoting a lower price to the Maharaja could lead to adverse consequences.

Drawing a parallel to today's political order, we can find similarities in terms of the dynamics between leaders and their subordinates. Individuals holding positions of authority possess the ability to shape the careers, promotions, and overall welfare of their subordinates. Consequently, those in subordinate roles often feel a strong urge to appease their superiors in order to safeguard their positions and earn their approval. Maintaining a harmonious rapport and avoiding potential conflicts or retaliation become paramount for them. The underlying fear is that failing to conform or demonstrate loyalty could result in job loss or detrimental repercussions.

Question 4. Can you relate instances of game-hunting among the rich and the powerful in the present times that illustrate the callousness of human beings towards wildlife? 

Answer. In recent times, there have been disturbing instances where individuals of wealth and influence have engaged in game-hunting, illustrating the callousness of human beings towards wildlife.

- Donald Trump Jr., the son of former U.S. President Donald Trump, embarked on a hunting safari in Zimbabwe that drew significant attention. Controversy ensued as photographs emerged, showcasing him posing with trophy kills that included an elephant, leopard, and waterbuck. - Juan Carlos I, the former King of Spain, attracted widespread criticism when he embarked on an extravagant expedition to Botswana, involving the hunting of elephants.

Question 5. 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.

Answer. In the age of ecology, it is essential to develop a new system that encompasses the well-being of all people and the care of the Earth and all life upon it. To safeguard the Earth and its ecosystems' long-term well-being, it is essential to prioritise sustainability and regeneration. This encompasses the transition to renewable energy sources, the promotion of regenerative agriculture practices, and the adoption of circular economy models aimed at waste reduction and recycling promotion. Acknowledging the inherent worth of nature, it is crucial to prioritise the responsible management and safeguarding of ecosystems. This includes preserving biodiversity, restoring depleted habitats, and implementing policies to address pollution and combat climate change. We should prioritise social justice and equity by guaranteeing universal access to essential necessities and opportunities, irrespective of individuals' backgrounds or socio-economic statuses. An important focus should be on promoting environmental education and raising awareness. By fostering a deep understanding of ecological principles, we can empower individuals to make informed decisions and take responsible actions that contribute to a sustainable future. To build a thriving ecological system, it is vital to implement impactful policies and governance structures. We must prioritise intergenerational equity, acknowledging that our actions today will shape future generations' well-being and our planet's overall health.


Page Number: 8

Strategic - Calculated.

Stuka bomber - A German dive bomber and ground-attack aircraft. 

Hasty retreat - A quick withdrawal.

Imperative - Extremely important; crucial.

Indomitable - Impossible to overcome or defeat; invincible.

Page Number: 9

Final Abode - Final residence - heaven.

Demise - A person's death.

Compelled - Force or oblige someone to do something.

Astonishing - Extremely surprising or impressive.

Prophets - A person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.

Transfixed - To become motionless because of horror, wonder, or astonishment.

Stupefaction - Astonishment and shock.

Enunciated - Say or pronounce clearly.

Intently - With great attention.

Squeaky - Having or making a high-pitched sound or cry.

Incredible - Unbelievable.

Bulletins - A short official statement or broadcast summary of news.

Page Number: 10

Quake - To shake with fear.

Growl - To make a low, rough sound, usually in anger.

Terrifying - Causing extreme fear; very frightening.

Beware - Be cautious and alert to risks or dangers.

Rumour rife - A widespread story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.

Hindsight - Understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

Nanny - A person, typically a woman, employed to look after a child in its own home.

Court of Wards - The Court of Wards was a legal body created by the East India Company whose purpose was to protect heirs and their estates when the heir was deemed to be a minor and therefore incapable of acting independently.

Thrilled - Have a sudden feeling of excitement and pleasure.

Beast - An animal, especially a large or dangerous four-footed one.

Drawled - Speak in a slow, lazy way with prolonged vowel sounds.

Page Number: 11

Tuft - A bunch or collection of hair, held or growing together at the base.

Incoherent - Expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way.

Proclamation - A public or official announcement dealing with a matter of great importance.

Fling - Throw or hurl forcefully.

Confiscated - Taken or seized with authority.

Leapt - Jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force.

Page Number: 12

Resolve - Decide firmly on a course of action; strong determination.

Boar - A tusked Eurasian wild pig from which domestic pigs are descended.

Dewan - A chief treasury official, finance minister, or prime minister in some Indian states.

Durai - Chief; leader; conqueror.

Carcass - The dead body of an animal.

Relented - To act in a less severe way towards someone and allow something that you had refused to allow before.

Deliberations - Long and careful consideration or discussion.

Telegram - A message sent by telegraph and then delivered in written or printed form.

Despatched - Send off to a destination or for a purpose.

Forthwith - Immediately; without delay.

Duraisani - Wife of the chief or leader.

Retain - Continue to have; keep possession of.

Unforeseen hurdle - Unpredicted problem or difficulty that must be overcome.

Standstill - A condition in which all movement or activity has stopped.

Extinct - No longer in existence.

Page Number: 13

Harakiri - Ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practised in Japan by samurai as an honourable alternative to disgrace or execution.

Brandishing - To wave something in the air in a threatening or excited way.

Shuddering - Characterised or accompanied by violent shaking or vibration.

Summoned - Order someone to be present.

Babble - Talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way.

Crack of laughter - To laugh with great enthusiasm; intense, uncontrollable laughter.

Statistics - Collecting and analysing numerical data in large quantities.

Native states - The former semi- independent states of India, ruled by Indians but subject to varying degrees of British authority.

Adorned - Make more attractive.

Page Number: 14

Fever pitch - A state of extreme excitement.

Tally - Total; count.

Savage - Fierce, violent, and uncontrolled.

Wary - Cautious; careful.

Gloom - A state of depression or despondency.

Dispelled - Make disappear; banish.

Ascertained - Find out for certain; make sure of.

Wantonly - In a deliberate and unprovoked way.

Flout - Openly disregard; defy.

Fury - Wild or violent anger.

Obstinacy - Stubbornness.

Rage - Violent uncontrollable anger.

Forthwith - Immediately; without delay.

Page Number: 15

Discontented - Dissatisfied.

Catastrophic - Causing sudden great damage or suffering; disastrous.

Shoved - Push roughly.

Satyagraha - It is a particular form of nonviolent resistance or civil resistance.

Haul - Pull or drag with effort or force.

Wandered - Walk or move in a leisurely or aimless way.

Supplication - The action of asking or begging for something humbly.

Crumpled heap - Collapsed on the ground.

Elation - Great happiness and excitement.

Procession - A number of people or vehicles moving forward in an orderly fashion, especially as part of a ceremony; parade.

Hastened - Move or travel hurriedly.\\

Bafflement - A state of being utterly confused or bewildered.

Whizzing - Move quickly through the air with a whistling or buzzing sound.

Page Number: 16

Tomb - A monument to the memory of the dead, erected over their burial place.

Spare - Give to.

Annas - A former monetary unit of India and Pakistan, equal to one sixteenth of a rupee.

Craftsmanship - The quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; artistry.

Page Number: 17

Carved - Cut or engraved to produce an object, design, or inscription.

Carpenter - A person who makes and repairs wooden objects and structures.

Slivers - A small, thin piece of something cut or split off a larger piece.

Quills - Any of the main wing or tail feathers of a bird, or the hollow sharp spines of a porcupine, hedgehog, or other spiny mammal.

Pierced - To go into or through something.

Suppurating sore - The formation of pus in the infected area.

Consultation - The action or process of formally discussing.

The Tiger King - About the author, Word-meaning, Summary, Theme, NCERT Solutions

Written by: Janhavi Singh for

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