Lit for Life

Fact, fiction and faith

His Shiva trilogy sold over 2.2 million copies and was translated into 16 languages, while his latest, Scion of Ikshvaku, too has stayed on the bestseller list. Originally a finance professional, Amish came to be known as India’s first literary rockstar. In a discussion with Vaishna Roy, Associate Editor, The Hindu, the author talks about his fascination for mythology and his journey as a writer. Excerpts:

On dropping his surname

I stopped using my surname even with the first book. The reason is simple — as is usually the case in the North, my surname denotes my caste. But my family and I are against the caste system as it is today.

In ancient days, caste was never based on birth, but on merit. Today, it is an appalling corruption. For me, this was a small statement... my journey as Amish not as Tripathi.

Inspiration for his stories

People may think I am crazy, but I genuinely believe that it’s the blessing of Lord Shiva. I open my laptop and I can see the world that I write of; it’s more real to me than what I see outside. The historical details in the books are accurate; like that of the Indus Valley civilisation and the flow of the Saraswati river. A lot is also based on what I read.

On portraying gods as real people

I believe our gods existed, but that is my belief. And this is the core of the Indian way of life. India never had the belief in one absolute truth. According to the Rig Veda, ‘Truth is one, but wise men speak of it as many,’ meaning there are many interpretations to truth.

Is faith blind?

It is not supposed to be blind, and that is the core of Indian philosophy. In fact, in ancient Sanskrit, there is no translation for the English word ‘blasphemy’, since the concept didn’t exist. The problem arises when you stop questioning.

Does he write as a believer or as a storyteller?

(A brief moment of silence later) I am not sure I think so much while writing. I am a believer; but I haven’t stopped questioning.

Use of language in his books

I believe that there are two schools of thought — one where people such as Kalidasa and Thiruvalluvar wrote using language beautifully, and one where writers like Tulsidas believed that language was just a means to an end. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but for me, language is a vehicle to carry my message. So, the language in my books is more utilitarian.

The play of masculinity and femininity in his works

It’s more about two different ways of life, actually. Neither is better. Take, for instance, the Beijing Olympics; the stadia were ready long before the Games. In comparison, here, work was going on even after the Commonwealth Games began. During the Games, China also needed its people to impress the global audience, and a list of guidelines with specifications on the duration of a handshake, the kind of clothes one should wear etc was issued to its citizens. If the Indian government were to issue such a guideline, what do you think would happen? (Loud laughter and applause from audience)

By nature we are very rebellious; it is what comes naturally to us. I believe that Lord Ram’s was the masculine way of life and Lord Krishna’s was the feminine way.

A good mix of both would be ideal. We just need to strike a balance between being rebellious and being law-abiding citizens.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 1:07:23 PM |

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