well-known author Amish Tripathy of The Shiva Trilogy will address the topic of faith in India in the upcoming episode of The Journey of India on Discovery. The episode will give a glimpse of all the religions coexisting in India as it takes the audience on a pilgrimage to Kedarnath, let them experience the life of a pilgrim in Bodhgaya, understand ‘seva’ which is an integral part of the Sikhs, give them a glimpse of Easter in Goa and immerse them in the beauty of a Ramadan feast. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Amish talks about the coexistence of religions in India and what are the three rules to follow to maintain religious harmony.
What is the importance of faith in the present day?
Faith is a personal choice, you can have it or not. What really matters in the Indian way is whether you have respect for other people’s traditions. I am a believer, I respect other religions and the rights of those who chose to be atheist. That is good. That is shown very nicely in the episode. This is sometimes forgotten. At least the opinion makers in elite circle, they watch TV channels, Twitter feed that tend to be extremist and noisy. We have to realize that this is not the real India. If that was really India, our country would have become another Pakistan or Syria. We are a relatively very peaceful country.
Faith is important, especially if you go through different days in life. I have had many challenges in my personal life for 7-8 years. Things are stabilizing a bit now. One thing that has helped me through it is my faith and my family.
What can be done to maintain religious harmony in the current scenario?
First, some rules should be followed in life. There is nothing wrong with words being answered with words. When I release a book or a movie, others have a choice whether to like it or not. It’s okay. When words are answered with force, there is a problem. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often in India. Second, we need mutual respect, all religions must respect each other. If a religious group thinks it’s just one-way respect, it becomes untenable. Third, if you look at the actual data, India is one of the least violent countries in the world. I’m talking about any form of violence, despite a very small police force, a paralyzed justice system. Even a developed country like the US is much more violent than India.
Some people have taken it upon themselves to protect their religion and God. Does God Really Need Protection?
People get emotional. If you insult a father in front of a child, they get emotional. What do you do when you get emotional? Do you answer words with words? Answering words with violence is unacceptable in any civilized society. When a country attacks us, we answer violence with violence. That is good. Words should not be answered with force.
You have taken artistic liberty in your books. Filmmakers also take artistic freedom, doesn’t that leave the audience confused and misled?
Creative freedom is a western term. It is believed that an artistic person adopting the establishment is a tedious approach. We have had different interpretations in the past. But in India we never say we take creative freedom. We say we give a different respectful interpretation to the feet of the Gods and Goddesses we worship. If you write with that attitude, no controversies arise. I have written 10 books in 12 years. The books have sold very well with the blessings of Lord Shiva. Shiva trilogy is the fastest selling book series ever. Have you ever heard controversy around me? If you make a respectful interpretation, Indians have a big heart because they can see the meaning.
Imagine someone went to an Indian film director and asked him to shoot a scene in which the protagonist breaks the base of a Shivling and carries it on his shoulder to a waterfall. That director would have said: ‘Are you crazy, you don’t know how controversial that would be’. But in the hands of a true devotee like SS Rajamouli, you noticed that scene caused no controversy. It is one of the most iconic scenes in Indian cinema. It’s a very respectful scene, viewers can see the intent. You see the faces of the actors, music – it’s so respectful. Indians have big hearts, they can see intentions.
The third episode of The Journey of India will air on Discovery+ and Discovery Channel on October 24.