Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Mahatma Gandhi Character Analysis

The most important leader of the Indian independence movement, most famous for his belief in Satyagraha, or nonviolent resistance. He also advocated wearing only khadi (domestically produced Indian cloth) and undertook numerous marches and fasts for the cause of swaraj (Indian self-rule) that the villagers reference as they conduct their own political actions. The villagers of Kanthapura worship Gandhi as a reincarnation of Siva, and Moorthy leads them in launching their own Gandhian protest campaign after he has a vision of the Mahatma giving a discourse. However, Gandhi never actually appears in the book (except in Moorthy’s vision) and largely serves a symbolic function in the villagers’ political campaign. Moorthy’s followers identify themselves by their loyalty to Gandhi, tell stories about the Mahatma, and shout “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai!” (or “Glory to Mahatma Gandhi”) as they march against the police. By the end of the book, some of the villagers seem to recognize that Gandhi is a figurehead more than he is an effective leader and wonder why they are sacrificing their lives, homes, and land for the Mahatma’s idealistic political goals.

Mahatma Gandhi Quotes in Kanthapura

The Kanthapura quotes below are all either spoken by Mahatma Gandhi or refer to Mahatma Gandhi. 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 1 Quotes

I closed my ears when I heard [Moorthy] went to the Pariah quarter. We said to ourselves, he is one of these Gandhi-men, who say there is neither caste nor clan nor family, and yet they pray like us and they live like us. Only they say, too, one should not marry early, one should allow widows to take husbands and a Brahmin might marry a pariah and a pariah a Brahmin. Well, well, let them say it, how does it affect us? We shall be dead before the world is polluted. We shall have closed our eyes.

Related Characters: Achakka (speaker), Moorthy, Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Siva himself will forthwith go and incarnate on the Earth and free my beloved daughter from her enforced slavery.

Related Characters: Jayaramachar (speaker), Moorthy, Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 2 Quotes

“Free spinning-wheels in the name of the Mahatma!”

Related Characters: Moorthy (speaker), Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

“There is but one force in life and that is Truth, and there is but one love in life and that is the love of mankind, and there is but one God in life and that is the god of all.”

Related Characters: Mahatma Gandhi (speaker), Moorthy
Page Number: 35-6
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 10 Quotes

“Brothers, in the name of the Mahatma, let there be peace and love and order. As long as there is a God in Heaven and purity in our hearts evil cannot touch us. We hide nothing. We hurt none. And if these gentlemen want to arrest us, let them. Give yourself up to them. That is the true spirit of the Satyagrahi.”

Related Characters: Moorthy (speaker), Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 13 Quotes

We are out for action. A cock does not make a morning, nor a single man a revolution, but we’ll build a thousand-pillared temple, a temple more irm than any that hath yet been builded, and each one of you be ye pillars in it, and when the temple is built, stone by stone, and man by man, and the bell hung to the roof and the Eagle-tower shaped and planted, we shall invoke the Mother to reside with us in dream and in life. India then will live in a temple of our making.

Related Characters: Moorthy (speaker), Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

“This is all Ramayana and Mahabharata; such things never happen in our times.”

Related Characters: Dorè (speaker), Moorthy, Rangamma, Mahatma Gandhi, Kenchamma
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 18 Quotes

“Satyanarayan Maharaj ki jai!”

Related Characters: Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

“Vandé Mataram! Inquilab Zindabad! Mahatma Gandhi ki jai!”

Related Characters: Mahatma Gandhi
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kanthapura PDF

Mahatma Gandhi Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Mahatma Gandhi 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
...his second term at university but “had city-ways, read city-books, and even called himself a Gandhi-man.” When he came back to town two years ago, he started wearing a dhoti and... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...hears Moorthy even went to the Pariah quarter, wondering whether “he is one of these Gandhi-men” who disregard caste. “How does it affect us?” asks Achakka, who asserts that “we shall... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...performs, telling a story permeated with lessons about Swaraj. Then, he tells the story of Gandhi’s birth—Venkatalakshamma complains to her son Postmaster Suryanarayana that she wants to hear about Rama and... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...lisp the language of wisdom.” Like the lord Krishna started fighting demons as a child, Gandhi began fighting India’s enemies, assembling villagers around the country “to slay the serpent of the... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...Kanthapura. Moorthy becomes “sorrowful and calm” thereafter, but he soon starts converting the villagers to Gandhi’s cause. After two days, Policeman Badè Khan moves into the village. (full context)
Section 2
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...foreign cloth come to this country, and everything foreign makes us poor and pollutes us.” Gandhi thinks wearing one’s own cloth is sacred; the spinning-wheels give work and cloth to those... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
“I am no learned person,” declares Nanjamma, who then asks whether the Mahatma himself spins. Of course, replies Moorthy—“he says spinning is as purifying as praying” and does... (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 sympathize with Moorthy’s cause but gave up after visiting the city to... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...money if he strikes it rich). Achakka declares that, given Bhatta’s reputation, his disdain for Gandhi was a surprise—although not really, since “after all there was no money in it.” (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...is to marry off his daughters with the focus on “nothing but degrees or this Gandhi vagabondage.” (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Satamma blames recent floods for the “confusion of castes” and Rangamma worries that “the Mahatma is not for all this pollution,” but Bhatta complains that Gandhi has himself “adopted a... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...a word-for-word fight with Bhatta,” but chose instead to simply say she would see what Gandhi’s book and Moorthy say about the pariahs. Seething, Bhatta threatens to have Moorthy ostracized if... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
One day, Moorthy has a vision of Gandhi giving a discourse to a large crowd; he feels a “mellowed force and love” emanating... (full context)
Section 5
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...is nothing Badè Khan can do about it, for “what is a policeman before a Gandhi’s man?” (full context)
Section 6
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...tearing off Khan’s beard, even as Moorthy shouts “no beatings, in the name of the Mahatma.” Khan threatens to arrest the whole lot, and Vasudev and Moorthy head back down to... (full context)
Section 7
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...begins to cry and Seenu tells Moorthy that “this is all very well for the Mahatma, but not for us poor creatures,” but Moorthy still wants to try. Ramakrishnayya comes and... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...blue-spreading light had entered his limbs.” His last such experience was his vision of the Mahatma. (full context)
Section 8
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...asking him to become “his dog’s tail,” but Rangè Gowda admits he is on the Mahatma’s side and they argue about pollution. (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
When Rangè Gowda mentions his fury at Badè Khan, Moorthy explains that “the Mahatma says you must love even your enemies” but Rangè Gowda insists that this love is... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...“there is a huge Panchayat of all India called the Congress” that belongs to the Mahatma. He explains that they need to spin yarn, and the women laugh in agreement, joking... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...Congress but everyone stands when Moorthy enters, which he finds presumptuous—Rangè Gowda calls him “our Gandhi” and the crowd roars in agreement as Moorthy cries a tear in “quiet exaltation.” He... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...and accelerate production, spinning “bundles and bundles of yarn” for Moorthy, who says that “the Mahatma was very pleased.” Achakka declares that “maybe he would remember us!” (full context)
Section 10
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...Inspector's permission, Moorthy stands on the veranda and demands that “in the name of the Mahatma, let there be peace and love and order.” The spirit of Satyagrahi, he argues, requires... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...Ranganna, and Dasappa give speeches praising Moorthy and lampooning the government, reminding the crowd of Gandhi’s principles and affirming the Mahatma’s support for Untouchables. A man from the crowd announces that... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...proclaimed his desire to fight “pollution” by stopping “this pariah business.” The Swami said that Gandhi met with him and suggested that he misinterpreted the dharma sastras, but he insisted that... (full context)
Section 11
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...mind and spirit, and Rangamma suggests that the other women learn to resist like the Mahatma when the time comes. “Nay, nay, we are not men,” protest the other women, but... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...are all too afraid of going to jail since Moorthy’s arrest. The men support the Mahatma but worry that their lands will lay empty and their families become destitute. They have... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The women approach Rangè Gowda, who promises to force the pariah boys to follow Gandhi after the harvests. He worries that Badè Khan will attack the men, and Vasudev agrees,... (full context)
Section 13
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...the nation of India. He tells his followers that they will follow the news of Gandhi’s final pilgrimage to manufacture salt in the ocean, and he reminds them that as Congress... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...one no matter their caste, charged to do the same work and pray for the Mahatma. They sit for a moment in silent prayer to “be united in the One,” and... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...Congress Committee and frequent visitors from the city. Seenu rings the gong to call the Gandhians for bhajans, during which Moorthy tells them stories about activists across India, like the 170... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
On a Monday evening, the Gandhians cannot sleep, for they know that the Mahatma is about to arrive at the sea,... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The Gandhians wash their clothes, meditate, and feel “something new within our hearts.” The next morning, they... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...with the idea. They begin to feel stronger and imagine withstanding the beatings beside the Mahatma, whom Nanjamma compares to a mountain, “high yet seeable, firm and yet blue with dusk,”... (full context)
Section 14
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Unfortunately, “the call of the Big Mountain never came,” as the villagers learn that Gandhi has been arrested and decide to begin marching the next week. Everyone gathers around the... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...back to Kanthapura. They try to negotiate a price, but the cart men fear the Mahatma’s ire and agree to take the women back to Kanthapura for free. (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...near Kanthapura, where Rangamma’s cousin lives and his wife offers them food and milk. The Gandhians tell the Santhapura villagers about the Mahatma and their campaign, and the people in Santhapura... (full context)
Section 15
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...Skeffington Estate, they encounter Betel Lakshamma, who asks if Moorthy and his “soldiers of the Mahatma” will free her from the Revenue Collector. “We are against all tyrants,” declares Moorthy, who... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...on the ground and tell the coolies “do not drink, in the name of the Mahatma.” The coolies agree not to drink, and the Police Inspector orders his men to throw... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...and people from all around are converging to meet Moorthy and join the “army of Mahatma.” (full context)
Section 16
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...day and night they sing songs about the evil of drinking and their allegiance to Gandhi, “our king.” Some educated “city boys” express this in rational argument, and others ask lower-caste... (full context)
Section 17
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...women can sing no more, Ratna tells the rest stories about women who marched for Gandhi in cities around India. They turned back to chanting and “forgot the pariahs and the... (full context)
Section 18
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Ratna had already left, and everyone returns home in frustration as Achakka wonders whether Gandhism has helped them at all. She declares that they were “mad to follow Moorthy.” The... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...a soldier “do not fire on innocent men.” The soldiers laugh and ask if the Gandhians are loyal to the British Government, but they say they “know only one Government and... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...the officers and Achakka hears Ratna’s voice saying, “no violence, in the name of the Mahatma” but cannot find her anywhere. “Men grip men and men crush men and men bite... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
In Maddur, more policemen immediately attack the Gandhians, but locals quickly rush to their rescue and tend to their wounded. The able-bodied continue... (full context)
Section 19
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
...arranging marriages for their sons and daughters. The village’s children consider them relations of the Mahatma and listen fondly to their stories. A local student even holds readings of Hindu scripture... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
But the Mahatma and the Viceroy have come to an agreement, compromising many of the pilgrims’ initial conditions:... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...from Kanthapura. In fact, he sent a letter saying that the English will cheat the Mahatma, for he has too much faith in his enemies. “It is the way of the... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...after her visit, but Achakka is hopeful about Rangamma’s upcoming release, for she still supports Gandhi and “we are all for the Mahatma.” Around India, there are people for the Mahatma,... (full context)