Analysis of Characters in Raja Rao's 'Kanthapura'
Achakka, the open-minded Brahmin female narrator, who recounts the rise of Gandhian
resistance to British colonial rule. Weaving Kanthapura legends and Hindu myths into her story,
she documents the wisdom and daily routines of village life while recalling her own conversion
to Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi's philosophy. Although she is a grandmother who survives by subsistence farming, she seems ageless in her strength and charity. As Achakka becomes
increasingly involved in the resistance, she studies Vedic texts and yoga with Rangamma and
participates in boycotts of foreign cloth and in picketing against tobacco and liquor shops, during
which she is beaten, along with other Gandhians. When her house, with much of Kanthapura, is
burned, she goes to live in the nearby village of Kashipura.
Moorthy, a young Brahmin, the principal organizer of Gandhian resistance and the Congress
Party in Kanthapura. Noble, quiet, generous, and deferent in manner, the smart and handsome
deep-voiced only son drops out of the university to follow Gandhi and teach reading and writing
to "untouchables." After experiencing a holy vision of the Mahatma (great soul), Moorthy distributes spinning wheels as a measure of resistance, as well as engaging in fasts and
meditation. Ever admonishing Gandhians against hatred and violence, he is sorrowful but calm,
and submissive but steadfast, in his leadership of nonviolent actions. Although beaten severely
and imprisoned frequently, Moorthy remains loyal to Gandhian principles, despite becoming a
supporter of the more pragmatic Jawaharlal Nehru in the nationalist movement.
Bhatta, the First Brahmin, or chief priest at ceremonial feasts, and primary landlord of
Kanthapura. A clever, overweight opportunist, he exploits the conflict among villagers, siding
with the traditionalists who oppose Gandhi's doctrine of equal treatment for untouchables because his profits are larger as a result of the cheap labor that they provide. He lobbies his cause
with phony smiles of religious devotion, wearing holy ashes to enhance his image. Through
frequent trips to the city of Kawar, he becomes the official legal agent of the colonial
administration and the sole banker of Kanthapura, using his position to raise interest rates on
mortgaged lands belonging to Gandhi's supporters. When Kanthapura is nearly destroyed in the police assaults on the resisters, the untouchables burn Bhatta's house. He sells the deeds that he holds to Bombay land speculators and moves to Kashi.
Patel Range Gowda, the primary executive officer of Kanthapura, acting as mayor, constable,
and minor judge. Sturdy but fat, wealthy but charitable, smart, and aggressive, Gowda resents
British intrusion into his authoritative role and sides with the Gandhians for their materialistic
stability and nationalist fervor rather than for spiritual reasons. His stand results in his loss of
favor with Bhatta, who...