Moorthy, the central protagonist of Raja Rao’s novel, is an embodiment of the spirit of Gandhi. He is a “quiet, generous, serene, deferent” college drop-out, who becomes the torch-bearer of Gandhian ideals for the village of Kanthapura.
He derives spiritual strength from a vision of the Mahatma, to build a movement that challenges the hierarchical caste system and the stigma of untouchability. He is a staunch supporter of the Swadeshi Movement, one of the earliest socio-economic campaigns organized by Gandhi to promote the development of the indigenous textile industry. He perseveres to restructure people’s attitudes and motivates them to unite for a humane social order based on freedom, justice, and equity.
Moorthy understands that religious beliefs play an important role in how one views the world. He maneuvers the religious sentiments of the people towards a nationalist cause. Towards the end of the story, he becomes a supporter of the more pragmatic Nehru philosophy. However, he continues to remain loyal to the Gandhian doctrine.
Mahatma Gandhi's charismatic personality had an enormous influence on the author Raja Rao. It is quite likely that Moorthy is a stand-in for Rao.