'Lord Shiva's Blessed' Amish on Bhaaratvaarta

A few episodes ago, we had the pleasure of hosting one of India’s literary icons, Amish Tripathi. After two smash hit trilogies set in mythological settings about Lord Shiva and Lord Ram, he has taken on the mantle of one of India’s most prolific pieces of history, the story of King Suheldev.


Bharatvaarta’s Roshan Cariappa engaged in an engrossing conversation with him about his journey as a writer, the process behind bringing Suheldev to life, why Indians should embrace their culture and history, and more. Here are the highlights of the discussion.


How a Banker Discovered His Calling as an Author


Amish grew up with 3 siblings in an “atmosphere steeped in tradition, education, and deep respect for knowledge and for education”. This, combined with his middle-class background and aim to achieve, led him to graduate from IIM-Calcutta and break into the financial sector. In his words,

“I did the practical logical thing, do an MBA, become a corporate rep. I was a banker for 14 years. It's not like its not an honorable job, but it’s not something that gives you purpose. It’s not Swadharma.

Even though he was fulfilling his responsibilities and taking care of his family, he kept looking for something that drove him. He also began exploring his creative side after being an academically inclined child, and found a way to return to his roots in the process.

“It was like I was living a dream, I was writing my books just for myself. I genuinely wasn't thinking, I was just getting pleasure and purpose out of it. I'm just lucky that I can actually make enough money to do this.”

DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:2ffltA few episodes ago, we had the pleasure of hosting one of India’s literary icons, Amish Tripathi. After two smash hit trilogies set in mythological settings about Lord Shiva and Lord Ram, he has taken on the mantle of one of India’s most prolific pieces of history, the story of King Suheldev.



The Process Behind Bringing Suheldev to Life


The story of King Suheldev is told as a fable in the northern parts of India as that of an Indian who beat back invaders looking to establish Islamic rule in India. Upon hearing this tale from two of his friends at a conference, Amish was struck with inspiration. He said,

“It's such an inspiring story. Someone who brought Indians of all communities together for one of the most brutal foreign invaders the world has ever seen...an army of that brutality, came to India and here was Suheldev. He gave such a devastating defeat to them and they didn't come back to India for 150 years.”

This tale, along with his father’s upbringing in the Uttar Pradesh region, made Suheldev the perfect focus of Amish’s next tale. He said,

“Shouldn’t we know the story of this hero, and why has he been airbrushed out of our history? I want to set it right in my own small way, so I decided I'm going to write this book.”


The Caste System’s Place in Indian Culture Today


Exploring the origin and history of the caste system around showed that the system only began to become rigid and birth-based only around 1500 years ago, as evidenced by genetic data. However, ancient Indian books such as the Bhagavad Gita mention that castes were only created based on "guna and karma”


, one’s attributes and deeds. Amish stated,

“Birth is not mentioned in any way. One of the Raj Purohits of Lord Ram was Maharishi Satyakam Jabali, [who] was the son of a single Shudra mother. It's not just the question of caste, even gender. We had female rishikas. The Rig Veda has hymns written by them.”

Today’s caste system has become a perversion of what it once was, creating oppression and inequality. On this, Amish stated,

“What we are doing today, where it's based on birth, is adharma, it’s immoral. So fighting against the caste system, the way it is today is not just a dharmic thing to do, is not just a moral thing to do, it's also the patriotic thing to do. “


Why India Should Own up to Her Heritage and Culture


India has a unique position in the world as a “civilizational state”, one of only 3 in the world. Of India, China, and Japan, India is the only civilizational state where culture is still alive. According to Amish, the reason the Indian population has problems accepting their heritage and culture is the educational system,

“Our education system needs to be decolonized. It needs to be re


connected to our roots, because it is the biggest problem. Our education system keeps hammering these lies again and again that the British created us, that ancient Indians never wrote and that we were an oral culture. The biggest disinfectant will be knowledge.

Moreover, Indian culture and knowledge is unique and spans breadths of information. On the topic of India as a cultural nation, Amish described how our ancestors clearly marked the region of India as their land in ancient scriptures, and how we have today inherited that civilization.


Conclusion


In the times of global unease and misinformation, Amish brought a reimagining of Lord Shiva’s role in the Indian mythos. He stated,

“in English Lord Shiva is often called the God of destruction... destruction is a loaded word. Pralay, It doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. In the Indian way, it is very clear that destruction is the other side of creation. The correct English term [for Lord Shiva] would not be the God of Destruction. He would be the God of transformation because nothing truly escapes the universe.”

Regarding the events this year, he remarked,

“This is one of those years of seeing it as a year of transformation. This is one of those years where the board will be shaken up. All of the piece


s will be thrown in the air and how they land, we don't know. A key competitive advantage in this is not wealth, it's the grit of the nation, the toughness of the people.”

These are only the highlights from an hour-long conversation between Amish and Roshan. To catch the full discussion, tune in to the Bharatvaarta podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and other major podcast streaming platforms.


Catch the podcast here.

DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:2ffltA few episodes ago, we had the pleasure of hosting one of India’s literary icons, Amish Tripathi. After two smash hit trilogies set in mythological settings about Lord Shiva and Lord Ram, he has taken on the mantle of one of India’s most prolific pieces of history, the story of King Suheldev.

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