The character of Vasu in the novel the Man-Eater of Malgudi:
R.K. Narayan professes to set forth the eternal conflict between good and evil in ‘The Man-Eater of Malgudi’. There is no attempt at originality of thought, the novelist’s aim being mere to reinstate the triumph of good or evil. This he does by drawing upon a mythological tale in which Bhasmasur destroys himself. Vasu is the prototype of Bhasmasur who like this demon no wishes the illusion of becoming omnipotent. The placid world of Malgudi is beset with his deeds. The taxidermist plunge this world in disorder, as a result, the restlessness is large on his face. There is no respite in Vasu’s devilish activity until it completes the circle in his self-annihilation.
Vasu is an epitome of Demonic power and mercilessness. His fist is strong enough to pulverize granite into small pieces. The matchless might and muscular feature of Vasu is an amazing achievement and a specimen of the skill of Suleiman and Pahalwan utterly callous to the positive aspects of a virtuous life. Vasu had no hesitation in kicking his master out. It was brazen ungratefulness but Vasu trampled all values displayed a wholesome disregard for the goodness of life. The attic of the press is rented out but no longer does he begin to live these, he back out from paying any farthing as rent devoid of all moral and ethical consideration, Vasu appears to personify all that restricts the flow of goodness in life. He is anti-life and anti-faith. The collection of money to celebrate the religious ceremony is duped by him. He stuffs dead animals for he rejoices in it. On the other hand, it is a means to quench the lust for lucre for the sensual excitement he being women of all reputation. Vasu is evil-incarnate and he is bent on defeating all that supports life.
Vasu is anti-nature, anti-religion and anti-god. He believes in extinction and this deserts one and all to serve his purpose. He procures gun-license but betraying the bond of friendship to kills innocent wild creatures in Mempi forest. He lets loose a reign of terror in the immediate surroundings. Unfortunately, the world of Natraj is too good to resist his heartless misdeeds. Thus, Vasu relishes in his trade and there is anarchy is Malgudi. A foul smell continuously emanates from the attic and the brute enjoys himself in the suffering of humanity. Being a bully, he reacts menacingly even at the slightest protest. Not only the law-protector but his benefactors also suffer humiliation at his hands and at times get thrashed. The blessed soil of Malgudi turns into a cursed place and the ordinary mortals are reduced to silent spectators. Vasu through a challenge even to God and kills ‘Garuda’ a mythical bird associated with Lord Vishnu. On being accosted by Natraj, he shows his blasphemy and says “I want to try and make Vishnu use his feet now and then.”
Vasu is a wrecker of life, a pitiless messenger of death. On the day of a religious procession, he makes up his mind to shoot Kumar, the temple elephant. But the elephant becomes ‘Gajendra’ for bringing about salvation not only for himself or Malgudi but for humanity at large. To quote Dr. D.V. Raghavacharya, Narayan schematizes the mythological motif by employing the metaphysical triangle of Gunas as a model for analyses and projection of human character. It is an asuric strength and disoriented energy which spring from bethal combination of Tamas and Rajas and compounded by lack of self-knowledge egotism, like Bhasmasur, he seeks to stay God and destroys himself by Tamasic logic and punishing casualty of his own drive for Rajasic power.
He is destroyed by the fetishism of his own strength and his elimination is brought about by the unvanquishable faith of the traditional community.