Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Bhatta Character Analysis

A powerful and shrewd businessman who amasses land and power in Kanthapura. While he acts friendly and appears generous to the villagers who borrow money from him, he actually charges them very high interest rates and systematically manipulates them for his own financial gain. He is close to the Swami and takes government money to oppose Moorthy’s Gandhian movement, which he sees as “bad business.” He pays off other villagers and even arranges Waterfall Venkamma’s daughter’s wedding in order to maintain the village’s favor, but fails to do so as more and more of Kanthapura’s people join Moorthy. Ultimately, his house is the first part of Kanthapura to burn down, and Achakka and Rangamma’s other women Volunteers are delighted to watch the flames.

Bhatta Quotes in Kanthapura

The Kanthapura quotes below are all either spoken by Bhatta or refer to Bhatta. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Kanthapura published in 1963.
Section 3 Quotes

Every fellow with Matric or Inter asks, “What dowry do you offer? How far will you finance my studies?—I want to have this degree and that degree.” Degrees. Degrees. Nothing but degrees or this Gandhi vagabondage. When there are boys like Moorthy, who should safely get married and settle down, they begin this Gandhi business.

Related Characters: Bhatta (speaker), Moorthy, Rangamma, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramakrishnayya, Satamma
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kanthapura PDF

Bhatta Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Bhatta appears in Kanthapura. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...for treatment because she “went mad,” and he lost much of his land to clever Bhatta, who already owned “half Kanthapura” and “was sure to become the Zamindar [landowner] of the... (full context)
Section 3
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Bhatta, unlike the rest of Kanthapura, wants “nothing to do with these Gandhi-bhajans.” He used to... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
In his youth, Bhatta was poor and astrologically adept. He is always the “First Brahmin” at the Pandit’s house... (full context)
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Bhatta’s wealth inflates and he becomes a major landowner. Every morning, Front-House Suranna and the priest... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Now, Bhatta owns more than 100 acres of land and everyone in Kanthapura owes him something, but... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
One day, Bhatta stops by Rangamma’s Kannayya House. Satamma greets him and asks about his family, and Bhatta... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Bhatta complains that pariahs are mixing with brahmins, perhaps to one day usurp their place. Rangamma... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...of castes” and Rangamma worries that “the Mahatma is not for all this pollution,” but Bhatta complains that Gandhi has himself “adopted a pariah girl as a daughter.” Bhatta says that... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...They see a shooting star, and Ramakrishnayya says “some good soul has left the earth.” Bhatta tells Rangamma he wants to save her from all this “pariah business,” keep her on... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Bhatta does not mention this, since he is not a woman; plus, Ratna’s father is his... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
On his way home, as he passes Rama Chetty’s shop, Bhatta sees “a figure moving with slow, heavy steps” and slowly approaches. “Who’s there, brother?” he... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...whether to believe her or Venkamma, since each claims to have heard the news from Bhatta earliest, and “burst[s] out sobbing” as she considers the dishonor Moorthy will bring his family.... (full context)
Section 4
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...see Moorthy on Rangamma’s veranda, and tells the passing Seenu to search for him there. Bhatta visits and tells Narsamma that he has spoken to Moorthy, whom the Swami has not... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Narsamma is horrified and Bhatta says there is nothing he can do—in fact, he will have to tell the Swami... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...a dead woman during her funeral procession, and everybody who saw shouted “oh, he’s lost!” Bhatta runs to the city and, two days later, reports that the Swami has officially excommunicated... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Rangamma wants to hold Narsamma’s funeral ceremonies at her house, but Bhatta refuses to officiate and “sell [his] soul to a pariah.” That night, Moorthy leaves. Achakka... (full context)
Section 7
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
The second day, Bhatta visits a weaker-still Moorthy, who simply smiles back, “for love was growing in him.” On... (full context)
Section 8
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...to the bhajans, and some—like Waterfall Venkamma, Temple Rangappa, Patwari Nanjundia, Schoolmaster Devarayya, and especially Bhatta—are staunchly opposed to Moorthy’s ideas. Rangè Gowda admits that Bhatta had come to visit him,... (full context)
Section 9
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Bhatta hears about the Congress Committee, which he considers “bad business,” and plots on his veranda... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Bhatta decides that Advocate Seenappa is the best candidate to marry Venkamma’s daughter, even though it... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...party is extravagant, “and every pariah and cur in Kanthapura was satisfied.” The villagers praise Bhatta and Venkamma, finding them “not so wicked after all.” Moorthy, however, did not attend, and... (full context)
Section 10
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...brings news of these events to Kanthapura the following morning, and the villagers realize that Bhatta, too, is being paid off by the government. Looking up at the stars, Ramakrishnayya assures... (full context)
Section 11
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...them. Nanjamma suggests Temple Ranganna, but the rest agree that he knows little and follows Bhatta’s lead. Instead, Nanjamma suggests, someone should read out the books and Rangamma lead the discussion,... (full context)
Section 13
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Rangappa meets them and claims surprise at their early arrival, but the Gandhians know that Bhatta has paid him off, and “another one is lost for us!” (full context)
Section 17
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Before they head to the temple, Ratna looks outside and brings the others to watch Bhatta’s house burning down. They hear the pariah women’s shouts grow louder and shriller, and they... (full context)
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
They hear “another crash from Bhatta’s burning house” and then the elephant spraying water onto it.  But then the elephant runs... (full context)
Section 18
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...village, including Kamalamma and Venkatalakshamma and Lakshamma. Ratna hopes that they want to buy out Bhatta’s lands. They have trouble discerning who is coming and return to their preparations as pariah... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...only to quickly realize that these were more warning shots. Afraid, the villagers hide in Bhatta’s sugarcane fields. They see the city coolies begin to cut their harvest as the crowd... (full context)
Section 19
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...land and built houses for coolies on the hill where the massacre took place. Even Bhatta sold his land to the Bombay men, and even Waterfall Venkamma left town. Rangè Gowda... (full context)