Character Sketch of Pundit Kali Nath in Untouchable

Character Sketch of Pundit Kali Nath in Untouchable

Character Sketch of Pundit Kali Nath in Untouchable

Mulk Raj Anand has depicted the religious history of Pundit Kali Nath and his lascivious and libidinous temperaments, “The Pandit recognized her as the sweeper’s daughter. He had seen her before, noticed her as she came to clean the latrines in the pullies in the town–the fresh, young form whose full breasts with their dark beads of nipples stood out so conspicuously under her muslin shirt, whose innocent look of wonder seemed to stir the only soft Chord in his person, hardened by the congenital weakness of his mind, brazened by the authority he exercised over the faithful and the devout. And he was inclined to be kind to her.”

Pundit Kali Nath of Untouchable is an ‘ill-humoured old devil’ with a congenital moral weakness, which gets the better of him as he lacks the real strength of a spiritual person. His life is one of endless recitation of sacred verses punctuated by the occasional writing of horoscope with a reed pen. He has no Spiritual gratitude to enable him to ward off temptation. His rigid respectability fights against heaves of amorousness and he covers up his weakness by buying others.

His cowardly attempt to molest Sohini appears all the work offensive because of his accusing her and her brother of defying him at the temple when the attempt is foiled. This brings into sharp focus the hypocrisy, the double standards and the perfidy underlying the facade of purity and spirituality. It is ironic that the Brahmin, ‘the custodian of culture in India’ as Triyanna calls him, makes unashamed attempt to violate one of the fundamental codes of culture. The innocent Bakha and Sohini become victims of the conventional moral codes.


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As a typical Hindu priest, Pundit Kali Nath was a big glutton. The following passage from Untouchable exposes his gluttony:

“The rice I ate yesterday, that must be responsible. My stomach seems jammed. Or was it the jalebis I ate with my milk at the confectioner’s. But the food at the home of Lalla Banarasi Das may have introduced complications. He recalled the taste of the various delicacies to which he was so often treated by the pious. ‘How nice and sweet is the kheer, sticking to the teeth and lingering in the mouth. And Karaparshad, the hot, buttery masses of it melt almost as you put a morsel of it in the mouth. But the hubble-bubble usually keeps my stomach clean. What happened to this morning smoke? I smoked for an hour to no effect. Strange !”

Pundit Kali Nath has mastered the art of camouflaging his morbid pre-occupations through endless recitation of sacred verses and the writing of an occasional charm or horoscope. He deceives Sohini. He breeches the cord of trust. The innocent sweeper girl does not know his dirty plan to molest her modesty and chastity. Mulk Raj Anand writes, “Look, why don’t you come and clean the courtyard of our house at the temple,” called the Brahmin as the girl withdraw. “Tell your father to send you from today.’ And he looked long at her, rather embarrassed, his rigid respectability fighting against the waves of amorousness that had begun to flow in his blood.

The character of Pundit Kali Nath has exposed the hypocrisy, hollowness, and religious bigotry of caste Hindu.

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