“Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu!” – a Story of Religious Survival in “Life of Pi”

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“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God” (Martel 76; ch.23) says Pi in response to being rebuked for his practice of multiple religions. The notion that religion should not be discussed in polite company is demonstrated clearly by the scene Martel depicts in Chapter 23 of “life of Pi”, in which the pundits of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity come almost to blows over Pi’s enthusiastic practice of the three. It is this youthful fascination which equips him for the turbulent time yet to face him, and it is the Truth he discovers in the three religions, unaffected by adult-like notions of exclusivity which benefits him. From a psychological perspective, Carl Jung explained in his analytical theory that all humans share a “collective unconscious” through which we are provided with archetypal notions and concepts of the world, one of the most dominant being, God or a Supreme Being (Rathus 404). It is through socialization that these archetypes are fostered. Pi having grown up in India, was provided with a rich texture of religions to choose from, and rather than choosing one, decided to choose all three religions predominantly practiced in his country. Being born in India a principally Hindu nation, it seems logical that Pi’s appreciation for religion would be formulated in the Hindu Temple. “I became loyal to these sense impressions even before I knew what they meant or what they were for. It is my heart that commands me so. I feel at home in a Hindu temple” (Martel 52; ch.16). Hinduism set the groundwork for Pi’s religious journey, with the principles of a ‘Universal Reality’, of the transition of one’s karma from one life to the next, and the Supreme Energy being manifest in various avatars and deities. It is this eclectic suggestion of God’s manifestations that creates a sense of openness in Pi in seeking the commonalities among other religions, suggesting in his notion that Lord Krishna himself led him to Christianity


Cited: Armstrong, Karen A History of God. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993 Eyre, Richard Spiritual Serendipity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997 Martel, Yann Life of Pi. Canada: Vintage Canada, 2002 Rathus, Spencer Psychology Concepts & Connections. Belmont: Thompson Wadsworth

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