A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Why Pi?

Yann Martel with Life of Pi bookOnce in a while, an experience comes along, which can make or break a life pattern. An experience which can create a life so fraught with change that one does not know whether it is a life broken or a life built.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” is one such experience. The name conjures up the vision of an orange and black flash of a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger, a boy and a wide blue sea.  The prison of the vast sea, the freedom of the boat, the dangers of a life with no challenges, the safety of continually living on the edge of disaster are some of the themes that the story plays with.

Heaving and swaying on the Pacific Ocean, in a rudderless boat, in charge of staying alive and ensuring the ongoing life of a tiger, Piscine Molitor Patel forges his belief in God. He has grown up in a Hindu family, where, nevertheless, religion was not paramount. Pi nurtures within himself a belief in God with guidance from three religious wise men, of the Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths. In a country where these three religions have marched side by side for centuries, he imbibes a wisdom far beyond his adolescent years. He shows mature wisdom in his choices, even before he finds himself as the sole human survivor from a shipwreck when on his way with his family, and some of his family’s zoo to Canada.

In his Preface, Yann Martel promises us a story that would make us believe in God, and proceeds by numerous devices to prove his point. But the beauty of the storytelling is, that, if one stops trying to relate to the symbolism and the overt attempts at creating a parable, if one just slides into the being of Pi, one learns so much about oneself. Just like life, all is revealed when one just let’s go.

At seventeen years of age, Pi is tossed into a life most others would see as a nightmare, and he turns it into a dream, in face of  the unforgiving, harsh realities. He walks with God, and each day becomes a little bit more one of the Universe.

Does the book make one believe in God? I wouldn’t know. To me it is not a matter of choice to believe in God. One does not ask, “Do I believe I need oxygen to live?” One breathes in, one breathes out. One carries on.

The “Life of Pi” is a chance to get in touch with magic. The magic of belief in oneself. The magic of trust in oneself. The magic of love. The magic of beauty. The magic of the wide universe. The magic of trusting your enemy.

The “Life of Pi” is also an opportunity to learn to suspend disbelief. We are surrounded by self proclaimed realists who proudly announce that they only believe what they see. The “Life of Pi” offers us an opportunity to look beyond the touch and the feel of the physical world. To believe in belief.

The “Life of Pi” sets one’s mind free. Free to travel beyond the reaches of the mundane and the predictable. It allows the mind to grasp the possibility of true faith. Not a Faith that is bound by religion, or the persistent dictates of an institution. On the other hand, a faith that whispers in the breeze “ All is good. All is right. How could you have ever doubted?”

Hence, this is a challenging book. It can scare people into reacting and running the other way. Into hurling insults at it. But behind this reaction, it is easy to see that a few layers have fallen off the readers’ eyes, and they are dealing with it!

The book: wikifacts: SPOILER ALERT!Life of Pi book cover

The movie : By Ang Lee

The symbolism: SPOILER ALERT! 

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Comments on: "Why Pi?" (19)

  1. The Yogic Housewife said:

    Ooh it’s going on my list!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. It’s amazing isn’t it? And your post has made me wonder even more about it (and want to read it again). It was one of the first books I read here in Qatar and I wonder if it had a more profound effect on me than I realised, as I am definitely on a spiritual journey that seemed to come out of the blue!

    • It is absolutely amazing! I get prickles down my spine every time I think about it. I do believe that we read books right when we are ready for them. I remembered my “The Alchemist” (Paulo Coelho) experience when I was reading this book. Looking back I remember how right it had been for me when I read that book. This LoPi was presented to me by my sister (www.theredfoxandthedeerlady.wordpress.com) in 2004. It took me 8 years to finally pick it up and read it!!!!! And WHAM!

  3. The more said about it, the less is said….
    Experience, after all, is the individuation of the One.

  4. I’ve just put it on my ‘to read’ list! 😀

  5. Life of Pi is one of those books that changed my life. It may be the only book that has ever changed my life, in fact. It gave me permission to believe in whatever I want to believe. And it has my favorite quote from all of literature in it:

    “I can well imagine an atheist’s last words: “White, white! L-L-Love! My God!”—and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.”

    I think that about sums it all up 🙂 Love what you’ve written about it here!

    • I love those lines, too! My copy of “Life of Pi” has gone visiting, doing the rounds of friends. So I cannot quote the favourite lines here… But I was amazed at how funny it was. I remember someone mentioning to me long ago that it kept putting her to sleep, it was so slow. That was not my experience at all!…

      Thank you for visiting, and for your kind words.

  6. Thank you so much for stopping by and for the follow, I love your blog. Okay, so Life of Pi, is on my shelf at the moment and as soon as I am done with the book I am currently reading, I will start it. I didn’t see the film yet because I have to read the book first. Also the Alchemist is another I have on my list. I think Paul Coelho is brilliant. I saw the Hobbit first because I love Tolkein, have read all the books, his message is so fascinating to me and Middle Earth has nuances of what society could be today, but does not have the ability because man is too self absorbed. Anyway, it’s for another time. I cannot wait to read Life of Pi… Will let you know what I think.

    • Hello, I would be most interested in your opinion of Life of Pi. I have not seen the movie. I am putting it off because I liked the book so much. The Alchemist was another life changing experience for me, though I guess “Miss Veronica decides to die” was more poignant for some reason. Thank you for visiting and for following.

  7. Just finished it and I had to
    Come and see your post on it. Such profound insights, this actually helped clear a few things up for me. I loved the adventure, the danger and the imagery of this book it was fantastic. You could almost smell the sea.

  8. i have heard great reviews – but have not watched it yet

  9. […] read Life of Pi which was AMAZING. You can read a beautiful review of it here. This blogger’s review made me want to read it….and also not do my own […]

  10. […] beauty of Pi’s life was not in its scenery. I have written about my impressions about the book, which you may want to read. I am reading a book right now, that is encased within spectacular views as well, and if it was […]

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