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Monday, December 05, 2011

Meet Amish

An IIM Calcutta educated banker who gave up his 14 year old career to
become a writer. His first book The Immortals of Meluha became a
commercial success and the second book in the trilogy The Secret of
the Nagas went viral. In an engaging chat with Amish, we get a feel of
what inspired his books.

- You have crafted a wonderful tale using Meluha as a starting point.
The story is fascinating and manages to maintain parallels to the original
storyline. However the story serves a greater purpose of delivering a
powerful message relevant to the current social context. How did you go
about the process of distilling nuggets for the book from the context of
the original story? What was your inspiration behind choosing this genre to
tell your story?

*The starting point for this book was pure philosophy and my own theory of
what is evil. To make it more engaging, I converted this into a story. My
own understanding of myth comes through "Shruti" (listening) from my family
and the stories I have heard from my Baba (Grandfather) who was a priest
and a teacher. I love reading and I have been reading history books from as
long as I remember. Baba and my parents taught me to look at religious
stories from a liberal perspective. Which is to respect every person's
right to his own version of the truth. For example, some say that there are
more than a thousand versions of Ramayana. Why are there so many
versions? Because all of us are different. And we need God to come to us in
different forms to help us. That is what He does.*

* *

*My mother had told me this beautiful thought - Faith is when you believe
you know the truth and fanaticism is when you think everyone else is wrong.
Therefore acceptance of other's faiths and interpretations in a liberal
manner has been a philosophy that helped shape my thoughts.*

- Could you explain more on how Rudra is differentiated from Shiva in
the book? To us they are one and the same.

*In the myths, many times, the basic character and physical appearance of
Lord Shiva and Lord Rudra are distinct. While Lord Rudra is short tempered
and the prayers offered to Him are more in the lines of not incurring His
wrath, Lord Shiva is the even tempered, kind one- almost a Bholenath who is
sought for seeking blessings. Perhaps Their descriptions are so different
because They were different Men altogether.*

- The unveiling of the Lord of the People was the most exciting moment
in the Secret of the Nagas. How did you develop this idea of making him the
anti hero in the context of the story?

*This is the way Lord Ganesh emerged to me. He is a happy, jovial God for
everyone but to me He came as a tortured soul hankering for his mother's
love. Probably that is the way the Lord intended so I surrendered myself to
the story.*

- Tell us more on the final book in the series. Most of the perceived
evils turn out to be good along the way. Is there going to be some evil in
the final book?

*There is evil of course. Everyone has two sides but evil goes beyond mere
human beings.*

- Do we get to see the face of the intriguing cover guy in the final

*I am never going to show the Lord's face. Readers should be given the
freedom to conjure their own image of Lord Shiva's face!*

- What next after the Shiva trilogy is concluded? More on mythology or
on a different genre?


*The Ramayana, The Mahabharata…*

- According to you, how relevant is mythology in today's world?
Especially when we want the next generation to understand mythology in
their current context.

*Ancient philosophies are relevant and there is a need to modernize them to
make them more relevant to the current times. And this process of
modernisation has been done many times before. For example the Ram Charita
Manas written by Sri Tulsidasji, which many in India feel is the official
Ramayan, is actually a 16th century modernisation of the original Ramayan,
the one written by Maharishi Valmiki.

- How did you go about developing a persuasive marketing game plan?

*I had very good friends and advisers who helped me all along. We did the
film trailers of the book and I am told it is a first of its kind in India.*

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