Enlightening and Engaging Interview with Amish Tripathi, Director of Nehru Centre and the award-winning author of 8 books including the Shiva Trilogy, conducted by Ani Kaprekar
On 19th September, Manchester based VOICE (Vedic Organisation for Indian Culture and Education) organised an online interview with Amish Tripathi, the newly appointed director of Nehru Centre and a well-known author of several books including the Shiva Trilogy. This interview was watched live by people across many countries – UK, Europe, USA, Canada and of course India. The subject of the interview was ‘Mythology or Ancient History’ and was meant to mark the start of 10th anniversary of VOICE promoting Indian culture in the UK.
The honorary secretary, Dr Poonam Kakkar welcomed Amish Tripathi and thanked him for bringing the long-forgotten stories back to the forefront of Indian culture. The whole event was anchored by Ani Kaprekar who introduced Amish Tripathi as India’s literally pop star and India’s Tolkein, and opened the conversation with a direct question, “What is Amish Tripathi’s mission as an author? Demystifying myths, unravelling Legends or re-visiting Indian History?” Amish Tripathi explained that there was no tradition of history in ancient India as the focus was always on discovery of the Truth not on writing of history.
He reminded the audience that the Hindu civilization is the longest surviving civilization because our ancestors did not surrender. He opined that we lost more of our history in the last 70 years where we seem to have forgotten our own philosophy. When questioned about his own journey he revealed that writing of the ‘Immortals of Melluah’ brought him back to faith. He gave credit to Lord Shiva who pulled him back to faith.
In response to the question “When did Sita change from Janaki to a Warrior Princess?” raised by Dr Archna Gund, who is a medical doctor but an ardent promoter of Indian culture, the author revealed that his own research showed that ancient India was very liberal and equal society where women were not treated as weaker sex. He explained that there was no ‘lakshman rekha’ in the original Ramayan written by Valmiki it was included in later versions. In fact, there was no distinction made between male Gods and female Goddesses – they were equal.
A question was taken from the audience where it was asked why we use the term Lord to address Hindu Gods like Lord Shiva or Lord Ganesha. Amish Tripathi replied that it is the limitation of English language. Lord is often taken to mean Prabhu or Bhagwan. Professor Prinja raised a question about the gap between science and spirituality which is being created by the Indian education system where there is a distance created between science and Sanskrit, the language of our scriptures. As a result, many people do not realise that whatever has been discovered by the modern science does not contradict the teachings of the Upanishads. Amish Tripathi agreed that there remains a gap.
In the West, science emerged as a rebellion against church and religion but in the Vedic tradition science and spirituality merge. This is because the Vedic thought assumes presence of consciousness and explains relationship between matter and consciousness. There are still several questions about creation which remain unanswered by the modern science as there is no theory for everything, but it is possible in the Vedic tradition to seek that answer. We must use our own roots to discover the truth.
Abhilasha Kakkar, a trained psychologist, asked about being an Indian whilst living in the UK. Amish Tripathi’s view was that Indians are comfortable with multiple identities because they are liberal and flexible. They do not impose a straitjacket of culture. He encouraged young Indians not to be anti-UK but be a full-fledged responsible citizen of the UK. He was asked by a young viewer, Soham Bhansali if there is going to be a book on Mahabharata. Amish Tripathi said that he left many hints that there could be a series of books on Mahabharata.
On closer questioning, he revealed that writing these books have had major positive impact on his character. He has become much calmer person. His aim remains to write about ‘itihasa’ which literally translated means ‘as it happened’. We look forward to many more books from him. The event ended by the chairman of VOICE, Dr Hardik Bhansali thanking him and agreeing that voice will work with the Nehru centre to conduct activities in order to promote Indian culture to the wider audience in the UK. The event included a lucky dip for 3 listeners who won a copy of Amish Tripathis’s latest book ‘Suhaldev’.