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 the 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 Malimi’s belief that the love and truth as 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 honour 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’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 a great honour.
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 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 faith. He blames Supriya being a faithless. Supriya replies that true faith is there is love, where there is man. He says he got the knowledge from malini, which he could not get from any sacred books. Supriya wants to make 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.
Character sketch of Malini.
Princess of Kashi, a Hindu kingdom.
Innocent young girl.
Influenced by Buddhism.
Does not find any attachment with the worldly beauty and material world.
Thinks that wealth does not cling to those whose destiny it is to find riches in poverty.
She is a Pure flame of fire and seems as if some divine spirit has taken birth in her.
Maintains that love and truth to be the soul and body of a religion.
Has love for all the creatures in the world.
Has infinite compassion to everyone, even to the sinner as Kemankar.
Like a lamp in the darkness.
Has forgive to everyone, etc.