Amish Tripathi recalls how 'respectful' Baahubali Shivling scene caused no controversy: 'Indians can see intentions'
As writer Amish Tripathi discusses faith on Discovery show The Journey of India, he talks to Hindustan Times about religions in India and more.
Noted author Amish Tripathi of The Shiva Trilogy fame will be touching upon the topic of faith in India in the upcoming episode of The Journey of India on Discovery. The episode will show a glimpse of all the religions that co-exist in India as it takes the audience on a pilgrimage to Kedarnath, makes them experience the life of a pilgrim in Bodhgaya, understand “seva” integral to the Sikhs, show them a glimpse of Easter in Goa and immerse them in the beauty of a Ramadan feast. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Amish opens up about the co-existence of religions in India and what are the three rules to be followed in order to maintain religious harmony.
What is the importance of faith in present times?
Faith is a personal choice, you can have it or not have it. What truly matters in the Indian way is whether you are respectful of other’s traditions. I am a believer, I respect other religions and the rights of those who chose to be atheist. That’s okay. That is what is shown in the episode very beautifully. At times, this is forgotten. At least the opinion makers in elite circle, they are looking at TV channels, Twitter feed which tend to be extremist and loud. We need to realise that is not the real India. If that was real India, our country would have become another Pakistan or Syria. We are relatively very peaceful country.
Faith is important especially if you pass through different days in life. I had a lot of challenges in my personal life for 7-8 years. Things are stabilizing a bit right now. One thing that got me through is my faith and my family.
What can be done to maintain religious harmony in the present scenario?
Firstly, some rules should be followed in life. There is nothing wrong if words are answered by words. If I put out a book or a movie, others have a choice to like or dislike it. Its okay. When words are answered by violence, then there is a problem. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen as often in India. Secondly, we need mutual respect, all religions have to respect each other. If any religious group feels it is only one way respect, that becomes unsustainable. Third, if you look at actual data, India is among the least violent country in the world. I am talking about any kind of violence, this is despite very tiny police force, paralyzed court justice system. Even a developed country like the US is much more violent than India.
Some people have taken upon themselves to protect their religion and God. Does God really need protection at all?
People get emotional. If you insult a father in front of a child, they get emotional. When you get emotional, what do you do? Do you answer words with words? If you answer words with violence, that is unacceptable in any civilised society. If a country attacks us, we answer for violence with violence. That’s okay. Words should not be answered with violence.
You have taken artistic liberty in your books. Filmmakers take artistic liberty as well, does it not leave the audience confused and misled?
Creative liberty is a western term. There is an assumption that an artistic person taking on the establishment is a tedious approach. We have had various interpretations in the past. But in India, we never say we are taking creative liberty. We say we are making another respectful interpretation at the feet of the Gods and Goddesses we worship. If you write with that attitude, controversies don’t happen. I have written 10 books in 12 years. The books have sold very well with Lord Shiva’s blessings. Shiva trilogy is fastest selling book series ever. Have you ever heard any controversy around me? If you make a respectful interpretation, Indians have a big heart because they can see the intention.
Imagine if someone went to an Indian film director and asked him to shoot a scene where the lead actor breaks the base of a Shivling and carries it on his shoulder to a waterfall. That director would have said, ‘Are you mad, you don’t know how controversial that would be’. But in the hands of a genuine devotee like SS Rajamouli, you noticed that scene created no controversy. It is one of the most iconic scenes in Indian cinema. It’s a very respectful scene, viewers can see the intention. You see the faces of the actors, music – it is so respectful. Indians have a big heart, they can see intentions.
The third episode of The Journey of India will air on discovery+ and Discovery Channel on October 24.