About the Author
Bhimnidhi Tiwari (1911-1973) is a well-known poet, story writer, dramatist and writer of the bull from Nepal. An ardent social reformer, Tiwari established Nepal Natak Sangh (Nepal Drama Society) in 1949. Through this organization, he promoted Nepali plays by staging plays and encouraging Nepali writers to write plays. In order to sustain this organization, he also wrote plays like Matoko Maya, Shilanyas and Sahansheela Sushila, among others. Tiwari won Madan Puraskar for literature in 1970. It was the late eighteenth century. Ranabahadur Shah, the grandson of Prithvi Narayan Shah, was the king of Nepal. Ranabahadur Shah was fond of bulls.
Summary of The Bull in Brief
In this one-act play “The Bull,” Bhimnidhi Tiwari dramatizes an incident related to Ranabahadur Shah’s craze for bulls to make a biting satire on the feudal system, which dehumanizes human beings to such an extent that their existence depends on their deferential treatment towards the four-footed animals like bulls
Summary in Detail
The Bull is a one-act play written by famous Nepali poet and Dramatist Bhimnidhi Tiwari. The play shows the strong love of Ranabahadur Shah towards the four-footed animals. He was fond of bulls. The play makes a satire on the feudal system which dehumanizes human beings in the 18th Century. The play turns around the death of king Ranabahadur’s bull and the panic condition of the bull doctor and cowherds after that. The setting of the play is the yard of Laxminarayan. It takes place at dawn in the month of Ashwin of 1854 B.S.
The two cowherds Gore and Jitman arrive there feeling so nervous and worried. They come there to inform about the death of the bull of king Ranabahadur Shah. Now, Laxmi, Jitman and Gore are all very worried about the possible punishment from the king. He can even give them the death penalty. Laxmi is afraid of saving them from the happening. Gore explains that the bull died because it didn't get enough food (grass) and couldn't digest fine rice and soup of split gram. Laxmi suggests Gore and Jitman not tell "the bull has died".
He also says them to go to the bull and care for it and go to the palace to tell about the illness of the bull. Laxmi reaches the courtyard of Basantpur palace to inform about the ill health of the bull. Laxmi bows down to the king with full respect uttering Swosti and informs him that the bull is ill instead of saying the bull has died. He says "The bull doesn't wake up and eat breakfast. He doesn't speak or move. He is sleeping as if he is relaxed….". Laxmi describes the good habits of the bull and proposes to be taken to the hill to heal the health of the bull. due to climate change. Then the king himself wants to check the bull's condition and goes to the cowshed located at Thulo Gauchar on the palanquin with a convoy. Before the king reaches there, Jitman and Gore wait desperately to hear the decision of the king. They are in the cowshed beside the dead bull.
They even think of escaping to save their life but they think they will be arrested again and killed. Laxmi runs ahead of the convoy at Thulo Gauchar to tell Gore and Jitman to massage the back feet of the bull and wave the fan at the bull. They do as Laxmi has suggested. Laxmi grinds medicine for the bull. Ranabahadur reaches there and calls the bull but he doesn’t get up. Laxmi tells the king that they have been caring for the bull since midnight. The bull is in fact lying dead on the mattress. It is neither breathing nor eating anything. Its tail has loosened and ears have drooped down. Yet, the cowherds and Laxmi cannot declare their death due to fear. King Ranabahadur Shah himself says the bull is dead. After listening to the king, Jitman starts crying and says he has been an orphan after the bull's death. The King asks Dahal to console him. He also declares a tip of 400 rupees and tells to be quiet. Gore also does the same as Hitman.
The king again declares the tip of 500 rupees to Gore. At last, Laxminarayan himself starts weeping and pretends to be in agony. The king scolds him to shut up and orders him to bury the bull with his own hands. He also asks him to manage the funeral rites and give offerings to the priest himself. At last, Jitman and Gore take a deep breath to be alive. In this way, the one-act play ends. The play shows the feudal society of that time. It also shows the condition of ordinary citizens how they are sucked by the kings and how their condition is.
Word Meaning of The Bull
avid (adj.): passionate, obsessive, keen
bichari (n.): a legal officer in the court
baje (n.): (In Nepal) a grandfather; a Brahman, out of respect, is also called baje (grandpa) regardless of age
pathi (n.): a unit of measuring grains, a pot to measure grains (one pathi is approximately Next Post equal to3.2 kg.)
dharni (n.) : a unit of measuring weight (one dharni is approximately equal to 2.5 kg)
ana (n.): twenty-five paisa, one-fourth of a rupee
swosti (n.): a way of greeting, especially made by the subjects to their masters and mistresses in the feudal Hindu society
convoy (n.): a procession of horses or vehicles
wethers (n.): castrated male goats
palanquin (n.): (in the Asian countries like Nepal) a covered litter for one passenger, consisting of a large box carried on two horizontal poles by four or six bearers
chakari (n.): a service rendered to a person of higher rank with an expectation of receiving favour, an effort to appeal to a person of high ran by demonstrating one’s poverty or distress, sycophancy
carrion (n.): the dead body of an animal or a human being
Exercise of The Bull
Understanding the Text
Answer the following questions.
a. Why have Gore and Jitman come to see Laxminarayan?
⇒Gore and Jitman come to see Laxminarayan because they want to notify him about the death of King Ranabahadur Shah's bull (Male).
b. What, according to cowherds, is the reason behind the death of Male?
⇒According to cowherds, the reason behind the death of Male was caused by his eating less grass and being unable to digest fine rice and split gram soup.
c. Why does Ranabahadur want to see the bull himself?
⇒Ranabahadur wants to see the bull himself because he wants to examine its condition and does not want the bull to be transported to the hill if it can be cured or treated at Thulo Gauchar, Kathmandu.
d. Why does Laxminarayan run ahead of the convoy at Thulo Gauchar?
⇒Laxminarayan runs ahead of the convoy at Thulo Gauchar because he wants to send a message to the cowherds telling them to massage the bull's back feet and wave the fan at the bull to please the king, Ranabahadur Shah. If not, the king would become enraged and punish them. He wants to show the king that they care about the bull.
e. Why do Gore and Jitman cry when the king declares that Male is dead?
⇒Gore and Jitman cry when the king declares that Male is dead to display their supposed affection for the bull. Both begin to cry in a pompous manner, pleading for the king's forgiveness. They are hoping to be excused from the king's punishment. Otherwise, the king may punish them and hold them responsible for the bull's death.
f. How do we learn that the bull is dead?
⇒We learn that the bull is dead from the conversation of Cowherds, Laxminarayan and the King. The words of the cowherds and the king are indicating that the bull is dead. The bull's tail has loosened and his eyes are motionless, according to both cowherds, and the king adds, "The bull does not breathe, his tail has loosened, his ears have drooped down, and he doesn't eat anything either."
g. How does the play make a satire on the feudal system?
⇒The feudal system and its horrific acts towards ordinary people have been shown in this play. The feudal system's oppression, dominance, and dehumanization of people can be seen here. The cowherds, who survive on the mercy and grace of their lord, have been presented in such a panic. These people live in terror because the lord's animal receives more comfort, respect, and care than they do. Both of them hide the reality of the dead bull in order to save their lives in front of the king. The play is a satire on the feudal system, depicting the feudal lord's dehumanization and oppression of his workers.
h. Write down the plot of the play in a paragraph.
⇒ Bhimnidhi Tiwari, a well-known Nepali poet and dramatist, wrote the one-act play "The Bull." King Ranabahadur Shah was fond of bulls. He had reared many bulls. Once, the bull named Male died. Then, the cowherds and the bull doctor panicked because of the possible punishment from the king. They pretended to be sad and mourning at the death of the bull. In fact, they weren't sad at the death of the bull rather they were afraid of the possible punishment from the king. In order to save their life, they wept and pretended to be heartbroken in front of the king. The king then gave them tips seeing them crying. Finally, the cowherds were happy to be alive. The play makes a satire on the feudal society of that time i.e. the 18th century.
Reference to the Context
a. Discuss the late eighteenth-century Nepali society as portrayed in terms of the relation between the king and his subjects as portrayed in the play.
⇒The monarchy system was prevalent in Nepal during the late eighteenth century. Nepal was controlled by the Shah Dynasty at the time. Society at the time was rather strict. People lacked freedom in their daily lives. People had to live under the king's and his people's dominance. The play "The Bull" depicted a terrible society in which people were forced to live in terror of the kings and lords. Ordinary people's lifestyles were not ideal. Their masters treated them horribly. If they rebelled against their lords, they were severely punished. In this play, we may see a great example of people's miserable conditions. The people were not given any fundamental rights. The general public has a poor level of political knowledge. In most societies, patriarchal rules and ideals existed. Women had to live under male dominance for their entire lives.
b. What does the relation between Laxminarayan and his wives tell us about the society of that time? To what extent has Nepali society changed since then?
⇒Laxminarayan is a forty-year-old bichari (legal officer) and king Ranabahadur Shah's bull doctor. In his lifespan, he has married seven women. Even with seven women at home, he doesn't seem pleased. He has not dropped his plans to marry another woman. At home, he refers to his seven wives as flat-nosed, beautiful, butterfly, swallow, ugly face, and so on. He gave his wives various nicknames, demonstrating patriarchal dominance as well as the state of women in the culture at the time.
The practice of marrying a large number of women was very widespread at the time. Males were regarded as superior, while females were seen as their servants. Married women had to live their lives under the dominance and control of their husbands. They had to be reliant on their husbands and spend most of their time within the boundaries of their homes. Illiteracy, child marriage, poverty, feudalism, and a lack of understanding among the people were the major causes of all of these issues.
The Nepalese society has altered dramatically since then. The current state of Nepali women is significantly better than imagined. According to Nepal's constitution, Nepali women have gained a range of rights over time. Nepali women's consciousness and literacy levels have substantially improved in today's society. They aren't as reliant on their husbands as they formerly were. They're even on their way to earning the same as men.
There is no masculine dominance in society. The Nepalese constitution has a provision for heavy punishment for individuals who mistreat women. Many organizations in Nepal seek to improve the well-being of Nepalese women, as well as their rights and empowerment. Both males and females in Nepal have equal opportunities under the Nepalese Constitution. In Nepal, the majority of females have been seen at the top in several sectors.
c. Shed light on the practice of chakra as portrayed in the play. Have you noticed this practice in your society?
⇒The concept of chakras was quite popular in Nepal during the kings' rule. During the royal system, the majority of people were involved in the chakra of their monarchs, leaders, and lords. Chakari was a type of practice by which individuals hoped to gain wealth and advancement in their life. To be good in front of their kings and lords, people had to chakari of them all the time. They would face serious consequences if they did not do the correct chakari.
The idea of chakari appears frequently in "The Bull," a one-act play. The play's main protagonists, Laxmi Narayan Dahal and two cowherds Gore and Jitman, are frequently seen doing the chakari of King Ranabahadur Shah. Due to his bad deed of speaking in a loud voice in front of the monarch, Laxminarayan has even been punished by the king. Both cowherds tell Laxminarayan of the bull's death. The monarch has become a source of great anxiety for all of them. They act as if they are very cautious around the bull. They begin rubbing the bull's feet and waving a fan at him in order to appease the monarch. In front of the monarch, they even call the bull as "The Bull Sir." When the king personally announces the bull's death, both cowherds begin to cry uncontrollably. As a result, the play is filled with chakari.
d. How does Laxminarayan outsmart Rana Bahadur?
⇒With his trickery, Laxminarayan outsmarts Rana Bahadur. He is a doctor of the king's bull and a forty-year-old legal officer. He rushes to the king's palace as soon as Gore and Jitman inform him of the king's bull death. He has a talent for flattering the king. He does not immediately inform the king of the bull's death since the king may become enraged by the news. Rather than telling the king the truth, he informs him of the bull's sickness. He even tells the cowherds to massage and waves a fan at the bull as they approach the cowshed in order to please the monarch and protect their lives. The king believes the bull died despite receiving excellent care and treatment right in front of his eyes. The king does not disbelieve them as a result of Laxminarayan's techniques, and they survive the king's severe punishment.
e. Sketch the character of Laxminarayan.
⇒One of the main characters in this one-act play is Laxminarayan Dahal. He is a forty-year-old legal officer as well as king Rana Bahadur Shah's bull doctor. He is married to seven different women. He has seven women at home, but he appears to be unsatisfied with all of them. He plans on marrying the eighth woman. When he learns of the king's bull's death, he makes good use of his intellect and moves quickly to spare himself and the cowherds from the king's punishment. He goes to the king's palace, but he does not immediately inform the monarch about the bull's death. He is well aware of the king's flattery (chakari).
When the king arrives at Thulo Gaucher's cowshed to see the bull, he tells the cowherds Gore and Jitman to massage and wave fans at the dead bull in order to please the king. Laxminarayan's witty acts have contributed to the play's humor. They were saved from the king's heavy punishment due to his trickery. As a result, we may claim that Laxminarayan is the one who has outsmarted the king with his cunningness and chakari.
Reference Beyond the Text
a. Write an essay in about 300 words on “The Nepali Society: Past, Present and Future”.
b. In his ........ Discuss the lines with reference to Bhimnidhi Tiwari’s play “The Bull”.
⇒Nicolas aims to convey to his readers in the above stanza that if the satire is moral and novel, it both entertains and teaches the reader about the issue. If the satire has an excellent reason and is created with a decent aim in mind, it has the potential to shake some of the era's underlying follies and blunders.
Yes, I agree with the writer because he wants us to recognise the power of satire. Positive satire can assist to improve the different negative features of society. In this play, the writer dramatizes an incident related to Ranabahadur Shah’s craze for bulls to make a biting satire on the feudal system, which degrades human beings to such an extent that their existence depends on their obedient treatment towards the four-footed animals like bulls. Tiwari has delivered his readers with a wealth of information on the society of the time, both positive and negative with the help of satire.