Immortal India – Young Country, Timeless Civilization
Amish Tripati, who has carved out a niche of his own in contemporary Indian Literature explores with Prasanna K Varma, renowned translator and Sahitya Academy Award winner, his views on the resilience of Indian Culture and how he explores this trait of our civilization in his new book – Immortal India. Coming from the investment banking industry, he has had phenomenal success with his breakthrough novels The Shiva Trilogy. Attributed with rekindling the habit of reading in the Indian Youth and also for sparking an interest in mythology or rather repainting it in a new light he has broken through into the hearts and minds of our youngsters.
He discussed on his switch from Fiction to Non –Fiction with the latest book and reminded that though he is more aligned towards fiction, he has always had an underlying philosophy which he would explore in these works. In the Immortals of Meluha and the succeeding books in The Shiva Trilogy, he explored ‘Man’s search for Evil’ whereas, in The Rama Series it was the concept of an Ideal Society. He uses story as a wrapper to encapsulate these philosophies. He was also of the opinion that Shiva is the perfect path to the divine for people rebellious by nature. And by contrast, Rama is more of the ideal man, a symbol of conformity. This difference in the titular characters in his two novels was explained by him stating that different times. According to him, he sees India as a nation with a Chandravanshi trait, where feminist values are more prominent. Whereas China is a nation with more Suryavanshi traits – more rigid, sterner, and of course more stable.
As expected, the ongoing issue on Sabarimala and women empowerment was brought into the discussion and Amit tried to explain it as more of a philosophical issue rather than a religious one. According to him, it is an issue of Sanyasa and the renunciation of earthly pursuits. He was speaking of temples where only young boys are allowed and reasons that sometimes there is a bit of meaning and purpose to these things. Refusing to go more into the nuances of these things, he was however of the opinion that rather than trying to embrace western ideologies when it comes to women empowerment we should instead look into our history and not myths. He was stating the fact that we are in fact the only surviving culture that worships Goddesses. We are also a nation which has seen the rise of women leaders as queens, visionaries and revolutionists. He urged the participants of the session to quote these examples instead of looking to the West.
In his new book, he also explores the resilience of our civilization, how it has stood the test of time when others like the Spartans, Greeks and Egyptians have collapsed into oblivion. This, he says is due to the unique ability of our civilization to be flexible and to adapt itself to change, while still holding fast to the things that are unique to us or define us. But how to strike a balance between these two, is something that one needs to find out on his own. People are driven by an idea of what is wrong or right, and it differs from one person to another. Amish in his new book clearly tries to explain this by the concepts of Swadharma and Rajyadharma. Swadharma is when one tries to find a meaning or purpose to one’s life and at the same time, there are instances where this comes to clash with the expectations of society. He was also quoting the examples of Indian soldiers who fought on both sides of the 1857 mutiny and how they had perceived what was right as per their consciousness.
The session also touched upon casteism and Amish being one who has renounced the caste system was quick with facts and quotes from Bhagvat Geeta and other sources which has stated that caste system in India was merit-based rather than birth based. And over the years, it slowly shifted towards what it is nowadays.
The session was informative and interesting with Amit’s quick and witty responses, his well thought out ideologies and the participants, mainly youngsters were always quick to interact with him and ask questions. He also shared with the audience plans for an upcoming novel based on Shiva and Mohini where he would love to write a bit about Lord Ayyappa too exploring the myth and legends. Now, that is something we can look forward to, given the current religious scenario in Kerala.
Blog by Davis Jose