Character of Loku Nanda in Action and Reaction


Loku Nanda is the protagonist of the short story written by Chitra Fernando. Through the character the author mainly touches the major theme of how religion is mal-practiced for personal gains. Further, through Loku Nanda, Fernando criticizes most of the orthodox followers of Buddhism who blindly follow the customs and rituals rather than absorbing the philosophical doctrines of Buddhism to reach the ultimate goal of a Buddhist.

She is introduced to the reader as a virtuous and devoted character who was never married. All the family members and the world consider her as a role model of a perfect devotee of Buddhism.

“She is an example to us all, Mother said ‘Loku Naenda has more shradda than all of us.’ ‘Loku naenda never killed anything not even a mosquito… Loku Naenda never stole…”

Loku Nanda who is acquainted with the reader an irreprehensible and perfect demeanour. However, the narrator, Mahinda sees the realistic picture of her as he is developed throughout the time span of the story. The perfect image of the role-model is breaking into pieces as her true nature is revealed by her actions.

Her physique is broad with thick nose and lips: “She was a broad woman, a bit on the short side and very dark; her nose and lips were thick, her skin coarse.” Her appearance is quite contradictory to her introduction to the character at the beginning. Though the qualities are apparently positive, her appearance is seemingly not attractive. 

She firmly pursues the Karmic law, a religious doctrine associated with intentional actions and its possible consequences, in which it is affirmed that all living beings are bound to get feedbacks for their moral and immoral deeds done with volition:

“Why should I say everything? Your own Karma will deal with you.”

“The karmic law is my constant guide.”

The title of the short story too is about the karmic law; the action always follows a reaction. However, Loku Nanda violates the natural order of the law by deciding the reactions. She punishes by herself for the actions of Kusuma, the girl adopted by her. Nevertheless, the malpractice of religion has evident reactions to her latter life as she loses everything at her old age. 

Though it is revealed that Loku Nanda is overwhelmed by shradda , she is not a genuine devotee of Buddhism. She is engulfed with blind faith, which urges her in an off beam path declined in Buddhism. Loku Nanda is engaged in charitable acts with an inferior intention of having a good birth in the next life and not in the objective of attaining Nirvana, the supreme goal of every Buddhist.

“Loku Naenda knew that she was still a long way from nibbana and she was in no special hurry to get there. She had no objection to remaining in samsara for a couple of eons or so, and she was determined to spend those eons as comfortably as possible.”

The narrator declares that she expects more for what she gives. Her intention of doing a good deed is reputing herself as a benevolent woman and upgrading her prestige in society. She follows Buddhism not as a prudent devotee but as a prejudiced and irrational fanatic. Loku Nanda engages in meritorious deeds without a proper comprehending about the religion but with a blind faith, which has extremely subdued her. It is obvious that she is performing good deeds with a veiled intent of gaining fame and reputation in a hypocritical mean.

Loku nanda is involved in parading her virtuous actions. This fact is asserted by her act of designing gorgeous pirith mandapa, which is better than others, in order to flaunt her devoted nature.

“This is the most successful pirith and dane I’ve ever given-everything went off beautifully! Did you notice how Mrs. Welikala was eyeing the pirith mandappe? It’s ten times nicer than hers!”

Loku nanda is also and arrogant, conceited character who condemns others views. Buddhism greatly appreciates and accepts freethinking, liberal and unprejudiced ideas and instils its disciples to stand assorted views without overlooking and condemning them. However, Loku Nanda is a superiority complex character who looks through foreign ideas.

“Who is Fred, ah? who is this Marx you’re now always trying to talk about? What do these foreigners know about our ancient Sinhala culture?’”

These further confirms that she is not an uneducated woman, she evidently educated as we see her studying abhidamma, the most complex philosophy of Buddhism. This education too has given her power to stand beyond others.

Loku Nanda’s real character is revealed through her acts. However, at the end of the story the author evokes a sympathetic attitude to Loku Nanda. At the end of the story, Loku Nanda’s pride is thrown away and she has almost become feeble and is completely at Kusuma’s mercy and refuge:

“Loku Naenda began to weep. ‘That furniture was my father’s. I wanted you to have it.’”

Loku Nanda’s character gradually changes from imprudent, hypocritical, arrogant and self-centered nature to pathetic, helpless and unaided state. The juxtaposition at the end of the story vividly portrays her predicament:

“- a truth reflected in that heavy, sullen woman standing in the doorway and in the other, feebly waving a loose –skinned hand.”

From the beginning to the end of the story, she never changes about her narrow-scoped view on religion. Her actions have inflicted her life to be a helpless woman proving that the karmic law is true. The writer through Loku Nanda’s character warns the possible repercussions of leading a life of ignorance without caring the consequences.

You may read:The Concept - Perfection of Giving in Action and Reaction by Chitra Fernando here

What other characteristics revealed through the character of Loku Nanda? Leave a comment below to develop this post. Special thank should go to the author and the critics who provided sources to the post. Share the post among the friends if you find it useful.


Source: a critical analysis on advanced level short stories by P.S. Dissanayake

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