Best known for recreating mythology, the Indian contemporary author; Amish Tripathi, is illustrious for his famous Shiva Trilogy and Ramchandra series. Having sold over 5 million copies of his books, he has bewitched his readers with his brilliant narration technique and easy flowing language. His scientific approach to fictional things is often cherished by his readers. As a banker who metamorphosed into an author; the galvanic twists in his novels hook a reader till the very end. Widely known for giving a human dimension to the immortal beings, the launch of his book “The Immortals of Meluha” celebrates a new form of the marijuana smoking Shiva. Amish explains how the human Shiva who falls in love, makes mistakes but is eventually transformed to the Neelkanth for his divine deeds.
He arrives at the Kolkata Literary Meet 2022 held on the grounds of Victoria Memorial and bedazzles his readers and fans once again by speaking about his books. He attends a host of budding authors, children and youngsters and presides over his literary session held on 26th and 27th of March 2022. In his interview he talks about the revival of Indian mythology while maintaining his faith in the immortality of Indian culture and traditions.
"The youths will imbibe qualities which they find to be attractive but I think this judgement should be left on them"
Shramana Ganguly: There is a surging trend amidst authors to now recreate mythology and give a human touch to immortal beings. I have read your books and would like to know your perspective regarding this sudden craze for mythology?
Amish Tripathi: I know this might appear to be a new trend but actually it is a revival of the ancient traditions. So, if you read the works of Kalidasa and other contemporary authors; they would explore the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and write them from a plausible perspective. This tradition died out perhaps because the invaders came; first the Turks and then the British and confidence of the society was low. A confident person can look at himself or herself in a national identity but an insecure person would find it very difficult. It is the same for society as well, we were perhaps an insecure society because we were suffering invasions but now we have a confidence. Maybe that’s why this tradition has revived.
Shramana Ganguly: What inveigled you to take up mythology as the subject of your novels and start writing on it?
Amish Tripathi: This is because of the Indian way in which I grew up amidst religious outdoors. My grandfather was a pundit of Benaras. It is very true that the more you read scriptures, the more liberal you will be. I was exposed to philosophy of all religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Indian Islam, Indian Christianity, the Vedas and everything. We learn from everything. I had all these knowledge in my mind when I was growing up. However, I didn’t know I was going to use it in my books when I was learning all of it. But I guess that is the background which helped me to write my own books.
Shramana Ganguly: In Shiva trilogy you made sure to highlight gender equality by presenting the warrior like character of Sita and women physicians like Ayurvati. Do you feel like women in mythology have been treated as an inferior race and what have you to say about the position of women in India now?
Amish Tripathi: Again on this if you again read the ancient texts you will realise that women were in a far better position than they are now. They were warriors, queens who fought battles. Ancient queens were known to lead armies and even Gods reiterated on the fact that women divinities be treated on equal terms as the male deities. All of these are written by the original authors of epics like Valmiki. I have read Kalidasa and Valmiki and there women actually occupied important positions and had political powers. Take the example of Sita; it is often unknown to many but Sita was a great warrior and she was trained in sword fighting. While, most of us takes her as a submissive women and Ram is worshipped as a hero for killing Ravana. However, the fact that is unknown to many is that Sita was the one who killed Sahasranama Ravana by transforming herself into Bhadrakali. This written in the grand epics is unknown to many. While, currently the position of women’s reputation, protection is at stake taking into account the recent turn of events. I agree that there is mob murder of women, abandoning female foetus and raping women. Indian parents now are known for the biggest hypocrisy of identifying the gender of a baby and aborting it if it’s a girl child. The hunger for a male heir has disgraced the society which once had a great respect for women. In contrast to that look at our myths. There often kings performed yagnas to invoke a girl child who would be quite powerful. So, in that manner India still has a long way to go in terms of women empowerment.
Shramana Ganguly: You have described in your Shiva trilogy about the perfect administration of Meluha; the city of Lord Ram. However, you made sure to highlight the imperfections of the city; the issue of untouchability, and abandoning distorted children. So, what are your views about the utopian concept of heaven?
Amish Tripathi: Life is in shades of grey and Indians always understood that. That is why in our religion and in our philosophy there is no permanent heaven or permanent hell. Our purpose is to find moksh and not to go to heaven or hell forever. And our ancestors understood that often the worst crimes in history were committed by those who believed in perfection. Look at the example of the worst mass murder of the 20th century; Mao Zedong, the communist revolutionary from China who killed about 40 to 45 million people. He believed in the utopian concept for which he slaughtered people. Stalin kills 20 million people because he believed in communism. Hitler has killed 5 million people. Nazi which stands for National Socialist German Worker’s Party believed in the “pure race” theory. Our ancestors understood that life is actually a change of race and infact the worst crimes in history are done by those who believed in his/her perfect ways. Most importantly this utopian concept of heaven in not something our Hindu scriptures indulges in. So, yes perfection is impossible.
Shramana Ganguly: Currently India is loosing it’s culture as the youths are way more tempted by the western culture and finds it more glamourous. This has one of the reason why India is loosing it’s ancient cultures. However, your books magnifies Indian cultures and everyone enjoys it. So, how do you feel when myths gets revived through your books?
Amish Tripathi: As for this, I have faith in the youth of our country. I believe that things should not be forced upon someone. At South India there was a commotion that they won’t allow the youths to practice the traditions of their choice. The Indian culture of pranam, seeking blessings, revering elders still remains. The youths will imbibe qualities which they find to be attractive but I think this judgement should be left on them. India is the oldest civilization that has survived for over 5000 years and it’s the greatest achievement. Although, there has been transgressions and few rituals have been lost but the major portion still remains. I believe that it will remain forever. Infact the western civilization is less liberal in the sense that it requires the individuals to choose a particular belief or culture. But, look at our country, it is liberal enough to allow the youngsters to engage themselves in whichever form of celebration they likes.
Shramana Ganguly: Since you have published books on Shiva and Ramayana so can we expect a book on Mahabharata? This is because Mahabharata is a grand epic full of versatile characters. Can we expect something related to that coming up soon?
Amish Tripathi: Yes. Actually I do have thoughts on Mahabharata in my mind and I’m planning to start writing on it soon. I hope the audience will receive it well like they always did with my other books.
Shramana Ganguly: Thanks a lot Amish Sir for giving your valuable time to me. It was indeed a great learning talking to you. I wish you all the very best and may your plans to pen down your thoughts on Mahabharata fructify as soon as possible. Wish to see you writing many more epics in the near future.
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