Celebrated author Amish recently announced his second non-fiction book, Dharma. Co-authored with sister Bhavna Roy, it is rooted in the mythological territory the author has completely made his own and talks about the difference between having and wanting, finding purpose, being ambitious and being content as well as equanimous through ups and downs.
Recently, both authors spoke with Anant Goenka, Executive Director of The Indian Express, on the relevance of karma, the way Indians influenced the philosophical grounding across the globe, and what is stopping our ancient texts to be adapted into series like Game Of Thrones or even Harry Potter.
Speaking on what prompted him to write the book, the Shiva trilogy author remarked that the scarce understanding of Indians about their own culture was a reason. “It began with noticing people saying, ‘rest in peace’. It makes sense in the Abrahamic way but not in the Indian way. You don’t rest in peace as your soul is in constant movement,” he said, recollecting having a similar conversation with his elder sister regarding this.
the authors also spoke exhaustively on the idea of karma and stated that our philosophical grounding informed the way we approach life.
Bhavna also maintained that religion, of late has been associated with a social reform effort. “Social reform is misunderstood as religion these days,” she said adding that in a spiritual sense, religion is connected to inner life and that is when karma comes into play. When asked if there is a lot of commonality between ancient texts of spirituality and karma, she replied in the affirmative and said “ancient cultures, which were mythical or dealt with stories, spoke symbolically.”
Contributing to this, Amish said that the difference between ancient culture and religion which have emerged in the recent past is that they were not prescriptive. He then addressed the oft-asked question on epic texts like Mahabharata and Ramayana not being adapted for the screens. Hinting at an upcoming book, Amish said the problem resides with the producers and not so much with the audience. He reasoned that producers divided by linguistics and region have their own philosophical and cultural approach which consequently influence their binding.
In conclusion they were asked about the significance of celibacy in Indian contexts, especially the way it contributes to the appeal of a religious leader we have in our minds. “Because of the invasion of the last thousand years our conversation around eroticism has become very stilted. And it tends to swing between guilt and obsession.” He then went on stress on the importance of balance between artha (wealth, fame, power), kama (finer things in life), dharma (that which holds society together) and moksha (to get freedom from the cycle of rebirth) for a fulfilling life. He then said that many of our Saptarshis had wives and many of our rishikas had husbands. “Don’t look at eroticism with guilt…it is not something to be obsessed by either,” he advised.
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