Amish Tripathi is a bestselling author who has charted quite an unusual path towards literary fame treading the oft-avoided terrain of mythology. This write-up is an attempt to highlight his thought process as reflected in his book “Immortal India“. His take on Indic concepts, though not devoid of flaws, impels you to look our civilisational existence in contemporaneous times with an indigenous point of view.
The book has the tagline “Young Country, Timeless Civilisation.” The Indian civilisation of yore exists as different political entities today. However, even if we take the Republic of India as the frame of reference, the author’s takes on several issues deserve praise.
Being a collection of speeches and write-ups, the book seems lacking in detail. “The truth is one but spoken by wise men in different forms”: this exhortation from the “Rig Veda” holds true even in the present context. Contextual understanding and interpretation have been the original hallmark of the Indian thought process. It, therefore, is necessary to develop points of view that suit contemporary times. Presently, there is a prepondering sense of inclination towards justifying our existence in alignment with the Western template of what constitutes a civilised life.
I believe the author’s obsession with the term ‘liberalism’ betrays his inadvertent quest for approval of Indic values in light of what forms the classical form of western liberalism. It is the foundation stone of most democracies today. In fact, it is the benchmark that decides whether a democracy is functioning properly or not. In other words, it is a sort of pandering to the ego of the elite for their approval of our ancient ethos, so that we do not end up as the Other. A greater argument can be developed using the factual nuggets served in the book that suits our socio-legal psyche.
However, one cannot take the credit away from the author for providing a completely fresh view regarding many complex and paradoxical problems faced by our society. His interesting comparison of the deaths caused by communal violence and female foeticide citing government data is commendable. The way secularism has been interpreted by our modern day polity in complete ignorance of our ethos of sarva dharma sambhaav has also been brought up in a lucid manner. Especially, the effect of such a skewed interpretation of society, in the form of schools being shut because of failing to cope with RTE requirements, has been examined with dexterity.
An appraisal of the concept of justice as restorative in nature in ancient times compared to the present adversarial system is also praiseworthy. The example of the lack of incentive for a witness to speak the truth in isolated courtrooms, unlike that in front of whole social gatherings in panchayats, is a unique observation.The appeal for revisiting Section- 377 of the IPC pertaining LGBT issue is also in sync with the quintessential harmonious way of existence in Indic civilisation.
Moreover, attributing the Constitution of India the character of a contemporaneous “Smriti” is also a unique effort. However, a lack of details leave the reader with many doubts regarding the source of these assertions.
The author also brings out the tyranny of Britishers which might disturb some Anglophiles. Similarly, he debunks the Aryan Invasion Theory using the science of genetics. It has been time and again proven that all those residing in the Indian subcontinent possess a similar gene-pool.
In short, it is a nice breezy read which prods you to think and search for new answers to the old questions using Indic (I prefer bharatiya) point of view. The book must be read without preconceived notions in order to prepare the mind to reassess our identities in our own bharatiya way and not as a colonial relic.
After all, the author is a devotee of Shiva. Pralaya (cataclysm) is necessary for the growth of the new. It’s time that we allow light to discard the ignorance of centuries. Only then will we be able to live up to the tag of “Young Country, Timeless Civilisation.”
“Immortal India” deserves a read, especially from children and youngsters.
Maybe Allahabad, endowed with the magnificence of the Ganges by Shiva himself, manifests the mystery of cosmic dance in an easily understandable form. What else would be the biggest tribute to Shiva, whom one of the readers termed as the ‘Dude of the Gods’.