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The Life of Pi and Religion
Transcript of The Life of Pi and Religion
Pi's Religious Journey
designed by Péter Puklus for Prezi
Pi’s journey makes us choose a religious pathway much like he does when faced with obstacles and doubts throughout his voyage with Richard Parker.
Pi's religious journey begins with him becoming a Hindu, and it acts as a seed in his religious journey.
A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed, was sown in me and left to germinate." (59)
Pi claims that he sees through Hindu eyes. Pi sees atman within Brahman; the soul within the bigger picture. The stories of Hinduism (atman and Brahman) allow pi to mentally cope on his journey through the pacific; pi knew his purpose wasn't to die in a lifeboat, it was to live.
Each of Pi’s three religions, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, come with its own set of stories, which are used to spread the teachings and illustrate the beliefs of the faith. Pi enjoys the wealth of stories, but he also senses that, these stories might simply be aspects of a greater, universal story about love.
At first, Pi thinks the story of Jesus Christ to be wrong, as no God can die. Right?
“Divinity should not be blighted by death." (68)
“What’s there to inspire in this son?" (70)
The stories of Christianity illustrate the beliefs of love, sacrifice and selflessness to Pi, unlike his other Hindu Gods who portray strength and divinity. Pi exhibits acts of selflessness and sacrifice, for example: catching fish for and feeding Richard Parker. Pi even claims that he loves Richard Parker; another quality of Christianity: love.
Pi was introduced to Islam when he was fifteen years old, and his Islam faith is demonstrated when he's lost in the pacific ocean and completely puts his trust in Allah.
“And for those who fear God, He prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in God, sufficient is (God) for him.” (Chapter 65 Verses 2-3 Qur'an)
Allah replies to pi's trust numerous times by supplying him with food and water. For example, when the flying fish jumped all inside pi's lifeboat, making food for both pi and Richard Parker, he shows appreciation for these gifts from Allah, which is another quality of Islam.
• Hinduism is a set of religious traditions originated mainly in the Indian subcontinent which happens to be where Pi is from.
• Hinduism encompasses many religious rituals that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse sects and philosophies.
• The majority of contemporary Hindus believe in a cosmic spirit called Brahman and a worldly spirit called Atman.
• Brahman is the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world; it's worshiped in many forms such as Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti.
• Atman is the true self of an individual beyond identification, the essence of an individual; ones soul.
• Christ was conceived by the Virgin Mary.
• Christians believe that Christ came down from heaven to carry their “cross”.
• Christians celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of Christ every year.
• During mass in the catholic church, Christians receive communion, which is the Christ’s body and blood.
• Pi is introduced to Jesus Christ by lord Krishna when he was fourteen years old.
• Pi comes to the conclusion that Christianity is a religion in a rush.
- “In a moment you are lost or saved." (72)
• Islam is a religion of little stories at least to Pi (less than Christian and Hindu).
• Islam is formally a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God.
• Using a prayer rug Pi feels a connection like no other to both the earth and something bigger; Atman met Allah.
After weeks in the sea and feeling like he was near death, Pi finds happiness in the lightning storm.
“I remember that close encounter with electrocution and third-degree burns as one of the few times during my ordeal when I felt genuinely happiness” (295)
Happiness can be found in unconventional places, and this is the case with Pi. He is only truly happy when lighting nearly costs him his life, and this is because he believes that God has finally answered his prayers and sent him a sign.
Throughout the book, Pi's experiences lead him to a spiritual awakening, which is especially noticeable towards the end of his voyage.
Throughout his voyage Pi is tormented with thoughts of giving up, especially when he finds out the truth behind the island in the middle of the ocean. Pi wants to give up and let himself go, but something in him always reminds him that God is with him and that he can still survive.
“I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, ‘I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”
When Pi is frustrated he screams out and says that everything is God’s, he does not understand why God is making him go through such a horrendous journey and this makes him lose even more hope. But even in times of despair Pi finds time to worship God, which he does five times a day. Although he is a devout vegetarian who is drinking turtle blood, it could be said that the turtle’s blood is almost sacramental for Pi.
When Pi tells the Japanese men the “real” story he gives them the choice to believe or not to believe.
“so tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?” (398)
Pi says that the men should choose the best story, the one with the animals or the one with the humans. In the end he makes us choose between God or not, relating back to the whole purpose of the book, which is supposed to make us believe in God.
In groups, write a few lines about Pi's religious journey.
Then, choose one member from your group to read it to the class.
Which religion does pi apply the most while at sea?
Does pi regret subsiding to cannibalism in order to Survive?
Does pi allow us to choose our own reality?
Pi demonstrates through several instances during his experience at sea that he chooses survival over God, betraying his religious faiths.
Pi goes against his faith by denying the fact that the fortified biscuits he finds on board the life boat contains animal fat and eats them anyway.
“Pity about the fat, but given the exceptional circumstances the vegetarian part of me would simply pinch its nose and bear it.” (181)
This is one of the first cases that Pi defies his self, and his religion to survive instead. This is an eye opening moment for Pi because he knows that in order to stay alive, he will have to face even more challenging religious obstacles than this.
One example of Pi choosing survival over religion is when he finally decides to kill the sailor and consume him as a source of food.
“Richard Parker’s jaws closed on the side of the hyena’s neck. Its glazed eyes widened. There was a noise of organic crunching as windpipe and spinal cord were crushed. The hyena shook. Its eyes went dull. It was over.” (189)
Not only is the act of murder against all three of the religions that Pi is a part of, but the act of cannibalism or eating meat is also against his faith in Hinduism and Islamism.
Pi continues to practice his religious ceremonies at sea but slowly and eventually starts to feel anger towards God.
“Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love – but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.”
At this moment, Pi realizes that he cannot depend on God to save him and that he must do all things necessary in order to live. He still practices his religion but has conflicting thoughts and doubts about his faith.