Prompted by a philosophical discussion, an ardent Shiva devotee decides to pick up a pen and jot down a story that talks about the concept of good and evil. What followes is the much appreciated and successful Shiva trilogy, comprising: The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of Vayuputras.
The man behind these bestselling books, author Amish Tripathi believes it is only because of ‘Lord Shiva’s blessings’ that he became a writer. In a telephonic conversation with HT City from Mumbai, Amish recalls being inclined towards sports and studies as a child. “So, anybody who knows me or is close to me, was completely surprised when I decided to become an author,” he says.
It was after working as a banker for 14 years that Amish decided to turn to writing, that too an adventure thriller. He elaborates on the trigger point. “One day, we were discussing about how ancient Persians call God as ‘Shuras’ and demons as ‘Devas’, which is completely opposite to what our mythology says. So, a question arose in my mind: Since there are different perspectives, what is actually evil? On the surface, my books are thrillers, but through my stories, I have tried to interpret the philosophy behind what is considered evil.”
Grandson of a priest, Amish is well-versed with history and mythological stories. In the three-part series, Amish talks about Shiva, a Tibetan immigrant who is made a hero by destiny. The first two parts of the trilogy (published in February 2010 and August 2011 respectively) have already topped most bestselling books’ lists and been appreciated by readers across the globe. Come March 2013 and the third part, The Oath of The Vayuputras, will also hit the stands.
However, when the writer looks back, he realises that dealing with a mythological character and weaving a story around it was not an easy task. Nevertheless, Amish says he was never apprehensive about choosing this theme, and he strongly believes that there isn’t a better country to write this book in than India. “I believe that everybody has a right to his own interpretation of mythology. In India, for instance, people have always treated spirituality and religion with liberalisation. Take the example of Ramayana, which has different versions. By writing this book, I have become more of an Indian,” he says.
Amish observes that readers today are very intelligent and quick to smell a contrived controversy. “From my book, it is obvious that I am a Shiva bhakt and I believe that through this book the Lord came to me. Besides, the proof of pudding is in its eating. My books would not have been bestsellers if people had not liked them,” adds he.
Amish also continues to be flooded with fan mail and congratulatory posts on Facebook and Twitter. “What I really like is that I get feedback from not just Hindus, but people from all religions that shows the secular spirit of our country. Every religion has extremists, but mostly, people are sensitive and liberal,” he opines.
Interestingly, the author has managed to invoke youngsters’ interest in Indian mythology. He recalls an incident, saying, “I got an e-mail from a 14-year-old who said that after reading the books, he thought Lord Shiva was the ‘dude of all Gods’. I also strongly believe that Lord Shiva was democratic,” he adds.
Amish advises aspiring writers to write not for money, but to express their points of view. “I still had my job when I wrote my first two books. So, when you have a job on the side, you don’t have to make compromises in your text. If a publisher asks you to make changes in the books, you should tell him to get lost and publish it yourself,” he says.
The writer is excited that his first book will soon be turned into a movie by Dharma Productions. “I am glad that Karan Johar will produce the movie. I hope that it is worthy of Lord Shiva,” he signs off, adding that he will continue to write stories based on mythology.