Discussion Question One

In part one, Pi studies several religions. Discuss your initial reaction to this idea of embracing so many conflicting beliefs.


Sean said...

I initially reacted to Pi’s practicing of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity with confusion. As a Catholic, I am often told that my religion is the only religion that follows Jesus Christ exactly and is therefore the only way to heaven.
Pi practices three religions that all believe that their religion is the only true way to heaven and contradict each other in certain ways. Islam and Christianity have a strong belief that there is only one god. Hinduism has a strong belief in one god but accepts the existence of other gods which for Christians and Muslims is a sin. This is one of the main contradictions between the religions that I noticed. Pi also tolerates atheism which completely contradicts all three religions that he believes in.
The three people that he practices under, Mr. Kumar, Father Martin and the Hindu Pandit don’t quite agree with Pi’s practicing of three religions but still, like Pi’s family, somewhat accept it. Pi’s family purchases a Muslim prayer rug for him and also attends his Christian baptism. I also began to understand how Pi could practice the three religions at once when Pi stated that the basis of all religions is love. I thought about this and since it is a common principal between the religions, began to understand the possibility of practicing multiple religions.

timsaunders said...

Pi having three religions was a startling thing to see in a character. Usually, characters are rather staunchy in their beliefs. They believe in one thing, and only that, and that is what (eventually, in most stories) guides them through their plight. Yet, Pi has three or four different beliefs (four, if atheism is included as one of his beliefs), each dispelling one another or granting quite a bit of doubt to the beliefs of the other religions. He believed in Hinduism, he said, from when he was a small child, because that was the first religion he had been exposed to. Over time he gathered the meanings behind the symbolism, but as is natural for many people, he takes in the beliefs first presented to him. Then he runs into the church of Father Martin. There, he learns of Christ, and dismisses the "God" as nothing but a selfish, unpious beast until he learns of the motivations behind Christ's actions. Then he goes to Mister Kumar (the Muslim Mr. Kumar, not the atheistic one), and learns of the strange ritual of prayer they have. He finds this a queer practice, but soon finds himself understanding the unity that Islam brings to the table. His total understanding and acceptance of each religion is a rather compelling trait of a character, or of any human being.

Me myself not being any of the three, I can understand the resistance his community has to him being more than one religion, or one not accepted by those around him, and by understanding I respect him that much more.

Riddhi said...

First Hinduism, then christianity and then onto Islamic, Pi brought out the true meaning of religion. At first instinct while reading, I for one was like wow this is out of the ordinary. A young boy practicing and devoting equal amount of time to three completely different religions. Personally, I find that amongst the youth in today's society religion has become less and less valuable. I understand times have changed, but long ago children were taught from the start about their religion and it was almost of a tradition to pass down their knowledge of that religion to younger siblings.

I am Hindu so I was able to relate to Pi's ideals when he was describing Hiduism. His descriptions and stories made me recall my time spent in India. Christianity simply reminded me of my life in America. I have learned a lot about the religion during my lifetime. I am aware that many Hindus today are becoming Christians and in India especially, a myriad of Hindu children attend Christian private schools to this day. But his devotion to the Islam religion was startling. Proceeding British rule in India the Muslims and Hindus have not been able to coincide. To this very day, the two religions do not get along with each other. It's always been a fight between the two, it puzzled me why Pi would want to practice two very contradicting religions. However, I do believe Pi explained his views very clearly when he said...

p. 69
"Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God," I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face. (Piscine)

After reading those words, I began to understand Pi and his motives more clearly. Prior to the meeting with the wise men, I had a hard time understand what Pi was trying to do. Did Pi just accidently run into each of these religions or was he truely trying to understand the meaning of each one? I believe that Pi's intial intention truely was simply to try something different, however after learning of numerous Gods and various different prayers and practices led him to truely understanding and "loving God."

mrsd said...

Tim, I am wondering what characters you had in mind when you said that characters tend to be staunchy in their beliefs.

Your comments about Christianity in India today are interesting. Good quote to pull in.

What a great book!

Kyle said...

At first glimpse, I was quite surprised with Pi’s acceptance of differing religions. However, when he begins discussing these religions I started to understand his situation. Pi voluntarily learns about different religions and finds aspects about each one that he believes and chooses to practice. After all a religion is a set of beliefs that one decides to follow. In Pi’s case, he finds truth in Hinduism, the religion in which he was raised, where objects of nature are miracles enough, Christianity, in which he is humbled by a God’s humanity to die on a cross for his children, and Islam, whose brotherhood and unity with God awes him. In his beginning discussions on religions he even finds truth in an atheist’s doubt.
The level of my initial shock was lowered even more when Pi, annoyed by people questioning the possibility of having three religions, states, “To me, religion is about our dignity, not our depravity,” and later, “If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?”
After reading about Pi’s rationale for practicing three different religions my surprise turned into comprehension. In fact, with all the conflicts over religion occurring today in the world, Pi’s embrace of three conflicting religions could teach us to find acceptance in others having different beliefs.

timsaunders said...

Mrs. Dunlap:

I am talking about most characters in books, at least at the start of the book before a major transformation. For example, in the Abhorsen series of books by Garth Nix, there is a border between the world of modern day innovation and old world magic. Those in the southern, or modernized world, do not believe in magic, even when they witness it for themselves, at least until it is too late. Even, again, in this book, the ((SPOILERS for those who have not read the book in its entirity)) two Japanese men at the end of the book, Chiba-san and Okamoto-san, can not force themselves out of their belief that a tiger and a man, along with a zebra, an orangutan, and a hyena, could coexist on a boat with a man, along with the floating island of algae; they did not even believe that a banana floated until Pi forced them to demonstrate before going on with his explaination. In 1984, the book I read for my free-choice reading, Winston was firm in his belief that he was in the right and the Party was manipulating the people, and that he could never be forced to believe the Party doctrines and love Big Brother. Yet, sadly, that's what happens at the end. Characters believe one thing at the beginning, and they shift to another, yet only in the capacity of one belief. They cannot, mostly, and do not choose to consider the other beliefs and possibilities given to them.

katelyn said...

Pi's religious practices embody the questions teenagers face when growing up. He believed in God and wanted to be close to him. Pi struggled to find the religion that satisfied his curiosity and love for God. To Pi, all the religions were interrelated and ended in the same place, Heaven. With different aspects of the three religions, Pi became closer to God.

Like Pi we are all searching for the truth. So many beliefs are in this world. It is difficult to find the religion that compiles all of our beliefs. Pi had trouble finding one religion that covered all of his beliefs and found three that suited him.

As a confirmed Catholic, I had to make a decision in what I wanted to believe. There was a moment of questioning before accepting the role as a confirmed Catholic. I wanted to make sure that this choice would be the best choice for my relationship with God. In addition, I was looking for the truth.

Pi's love for God really impresses me. There are very few teenagers that will stand up for their religious beliefs. At the zoo, Pi was able to stand up to his teacher, Mr. Kumar. Mr. Kumar is atheist and rejected Pi's belief of God. It confused Pi, but he was able to continue loving God after someone he admired didn’t believe in God. I think most young people would follow the person they admired. They wouldn’t have enough strength to go against someone they respected.

Mr. Kumar, Father Martin and Hindu Pandit disagree with Pi's religious practices. What interests me more than their thoughts about Pi's practicing is his father's. Pi's father is not a religious man. He doesn't see the problem with Pi's practicing, but decided with the other men, Pi needed to make a decision. I feel Pi's father understood Pi's search for God the most. After Pi quoted Gandhi, his father said, "I suppose that is what we are all trying to do, love God." That is exactly what Pi was doing. I thought it was interesting that the least religious man in the conversation understood the complexity of Pi's practices.

mrsd said...

Thanks for clarifying your point. Yes, I see what you mean.

Passport quote is great and concluding comment apropos.

I hadn't thought much about father as you discussed. Insightful!

Beachy said...

The question posed asks of my initial reaction towards the fact of Pi embracing so many different religious beliefs; I believe that an examination of why he embraces these religions is in order. What is acceptance? Acceptance is defined as favorable reception or approval. Pi's obsession with being accepted by all of society is the core cause to what leads him to converting to Christianity, Hinduism, Is
lam, and even a small part of the atheist belief.

Throughout the entire first part of the novel Pi is always striving towards acceptance. Take for instance Pi's real name, Piscine. Piscine is the French word for swimming pool. In grade school the name "Piscine" could be pronounced the same as a vulgar word for doing one's business in the restroom. Once Piscine enters what is thought to be high school, he immediately changes his name to Pi so that people have a more favorable reception towards his name, so that he will be accepted.

Pi's need for acceptance eventually translates into the religious aspect. In every doctrine that Pi adheres to , he does so to please not only the person presenting the religion, but also the God/gods of each belief. First there is Hinduism. Pi is Hindu because his family accepted that particular belief generations before. Although his parents are apathetic to religion as a whole, Pi's ancestors were Hindu. The Hindu religion believes in reincarnation which is the resurrection of one's soul into another form such as an animal. This may be a stretch but it can be said that Pi strives to please his ancestors by adhering to the Hindu doctrine. Also, approximately 80% of the people in India are Hindu therefore Pi most likely goes to school with Hindu classmates. Pi is able to be accepted in his Hindu beliefs because of the majority of Indian individuals who are Hindu and the fact that his ancestors were Hindu as well.

The second major religion which Pi adopts is that of Christianity. Pi discovers this religion in its entirety while on vacation with his family. Although he attends a Catholic school, Pi has never fully been exposed to the "meat and potatoes" of Christianity. Pi's curiosity persuades him to explore the core of Christianity, Jesus. He questions why Jesus gave so much and why he became man. The only response given to Pi by the priest is "love." The priest explains that the only way to God is through Jesus. I believe that Pi reaches out to Christianity to be accepted by God and the priest. Right after he leaves the church where he becomes saved, he thanks Lord Krishna as to please the Hindu aspect of his religious endeavors as well.

Pi encounters the Islam belief when he is 15 years old. Pi is exploring and Arab part of town when again he curiously discovers an interesting looking bread. Upon asking about this bread he watches a man pray to Allah on a prayer rug facing Mecca. Pi accepts this religion because again, he can be accepted not only by the man presenting it but also my Allah.
Now there still remains the question of how Pi could be accepted concerning the atheist doctrine. The atheist basic principle belief is that there is no God while the agnostic principle believes that there may be a higher power but it is unable to be pinpointed by humans. Now my question is did the writer mix up the two beliefs? It would make absolutely no sense whatsoever for Pi to find some truth in the fact that no God exists therefore atheism can be discounted.
In summation, I view Pi's conversion to all of the religions mentioned is based on the need to be accepted. This entire concept of acceptance is the main theme of the book up until the shipwreck. From that point on the theme switches from acceptance to one of survival.

erik said...

At first, I found Pi's belief in three religions very interesting. I was raised to be accepting of everyone who is a good person, despite religious practices, lifestyle, and appearance. Being raised this way, I believe I was less shocked and confused about Pi's mixed faith. Rather, I found myself more interested on how he came to associate himself with these religions.

He quoted Gandhi when he said "All religions are true." This quote shed light on why he chose to follow each religion, rather than to convert.

Samantha said...

Welcoming one religion into your life is hard enough, yet Pi is trying to welcome three religions. Pi, at a very young age, is embracing three very different religions that have conflicted over the ages, as proven by the priest, imam and the pandit meeting. I am still awestruck why Pi is not satisfied with one religion, but Pi feels he must have all three religions in his life. To me learning one religion fully is hard enough and still I seem to learn something new about my religion, everyday. My only logical assumption is when Pi states “I just want to love God”. Still I think Pi is crazy, yet I give him credit. Not many people at such an young age really know what they want. Pi has to be very devoted to God to learn about him in so many religions. People show devotion and faith in many different ways. Pi chooses to embrace God in three different religions.

Mitchell Close said...

My initial reaction upon discovering that Pi was a folower of three very different religions was of disbelief. I, like Sean , am a Roman Catholic and am taught to believe in the "one Apostolic Church",i.e., the one true religion that can be traced back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
In addition, the Islam faith only recognizes Jesus as a prophet and the Hindu religion is a polytheistic faith (which is very different from both Islam and Christianity). I believe that Pi embraces so many different religions is to obtain a "sampler platter" of sorts of the religious world. Pi poses the question "Mamaji has two passports. He's Indian and French. Why can't I be a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim?" To me, this question is an explanation of his reason to follow all three religions.

Nathan Barndt said...

Pi's acceptance of three religions is both understandable and confusing to me. In my experiences with Christianity and Islam, they are in fact quite similar. In Islam, the Koran is their holy text, but it is quite similar to the bible in its general message. Both religions believe in Jesus, Christianity believing that Jesus is God in human form, Muslims believing that he was a prophet. Both have a belief of a place where the dead go to live in the presence of God or Allah, known as Heaven or Paradise, respectfully.
Hinduism conflicts the most with the other two and it was the most confusing for me to accept with the other two, monotheistic religions, whereas Hinduism is a polytheistic religion and clearly contradicts the Ten Commandments of Christianity, which say "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me."
Then I realized that it was the simplest to understand of them all. He was a Hindu because his family was Hindu and that's what he grew up with.

His passion for faith was what led him in his quest for more, and he said, 'I just want to love God.'
Greater words have never been spoken

Nathan Barndt

Mary Beth said...

My initial reaction to Pi’s practicing three religions was surprise and curiosity. I had never heard of a person devoutly practicing, not simply dabbling in, multiple religions at the same time. When Pi encounters the three religious leaders while walking with his parents, Pi explains his beliefs by saying, “I just want to love God”. However, this explanation simply brought questions to my mind. Which God do you mean Pi? The deity in the religions of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam are completely different beings. How can Pi be a devout believer in all three of these religions when the God of each one is so vastly different from the others? I concluded that Pi’s “God” must be one of his own design; a sort of combination of the deity worshiped in the three different religions. But what confidence can a person have in a god they’ve created for themselves? How can they hope that their God will grant them eternal life in heaven? To me, their god seems like an imaginary friend. As a Christian, my greatest hope comes from the belief that I’m not worshipping a God that’s imagined, but rather one whose love and peace I have experienced in tangible ways. Pi’s choosing the God he wants to serve from a menu of three religions doesn’t make sense to me.

The prompt for part one referred to Pi’s beliefs as “conflicting” and that is exactly what they are. Pi quotes Gandhi’s statement that, “All religions are true”. If all are true than none can be. I believe that Pi was simply searching for truth, but the fundamental truths of the three religions he turned to contradict each other to such a great degree that I’m amazed he didn’t try to choose one. The Christian God clearly stated to his servant Moses in the Bible’s Ten Commandments that, “You shall have no other gods before me”. Later, Jesus, God in the flesh, stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me”. These direct statements leave no room for the worship of other gods and make me wonder how Pi ever sorted out his beliefs and hoped to please his God when three religions were all pulling him different ways. How can Pi expect to please his God by worshipping in such different ways? I can’t fathom that an Islamic prayer rug and daily prayers offered in the direction of Mecca could please the Gods of Christianity and Hinduism when they were offered up to Allah. In addition, following Christ in the process of baptism certainly can’t rack up points with the other religions.
My initial reaction of curiosity has turned into settled confusion. I still don’t understand Pi’s reasoning behind having three religions. I still don’t believe that all passports are valid for the "nation in the sky". However, I do respect him for his desire to love and seek God. Unlike many teens today who follow the religion of their parents without putting effort into it, Pi has certainly made his religion his own and spends many hours in prayer and at religious services. However, in light of the numerous contradictions between the religions, I relate more easily with the confusion of Pi’s parents and the religious men who told Pi that he had to choose.

amygirl2202 said...

Pi believes in 3 different religions? at first I was comletely confused but now I understand that Pi tried to be as close to god as he could so he practiced many religions. After the priest explained to him that he was a christain even though he studied and practiced Hinduism, Pi then decided he could be both. Obviously in the book many believed it was wrong and odd to have three different religions, as well as many followers of God today, but why Pi was following what was in his heart and what he truly believed he needed to do to be close to god. Also, in my belief all religions ,some how or another, have miraculous things that occur to show God, or their Gods are watching over them, just to say he really is there.Hindus strongly believe that there is one god and that they accept the fact that there are other religions out in the world that worship more then one, and it may seem a sin to those who are true followers of one religion, but to those who are wonders trying to find what they truly want, Pi, it's an adventure of faith and belief, an exploration if you would like to call it that.

"Love" is what Piscine believes brings his practicing of the three religions together. He believes love is the icing on the cake, what holds a religions together.

Many people, such as Mr. kumar, the priest, showed him the way into the new religions and even though these religions may contradict each other, all Pi believed in was loving God. God was Pi's main focus. He was just another wonderer looking for the truth just like many others are today.

And again, I believe Pi practices all three of these religions togther as one because he wants to be as close to God as he can be and understand all the concepts of LOVE, and what that means to god and all religions.

Dan said...

Upon first glance, Pi's multiple faiths struck me as odd. But upon deeper analysis it becomes clear that Pi simply cannot be devoted to all three faiths, wether he believes that or not. Each of his three faiths have the belief that you can only be a member of that doctrine. According to each religions doctrine you simply cannot be practicing faith A and faith B at the same time. If Pi is truly following any one of the three religions, he could not and would not follow the others.

Pi is a very philosophical boy, but he seems to lack the ability to make a decision about which religion he really believes. I feel he is insecure about his future and thus wishes to ensure heaven by doing all three.

One last thought. The number described by 'Pi' is mathematical equivilant to about 3.14 which rounds to 3, the same number as Pi's religions. Coincidence? I think not...

HannahR said...

At first, I was confused that Pi would want to follow three extremely different religions of conflicting beliefs. My first thought was as a teenage boy Pi could possibly be searching for a strong religion that he wanted to follow for the rest of his life, as many teenagers are told to do. I never would have guessed that he would have chosen three. I wasn’t really sure why someone, especially a teenager, would want to have to practice three different religions, but as the book progressed I started to see Pi’s point of view. When Pi said, “ If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?” It made me understand what Pi was saying, if in all three religions they’re praying to the same person, just a different name, then why can’t Pi believe in all three?

Margo said...

At the presentation of Pi's multiple religious practices, I initially reacted with the rather contradicting feelings of understanding AND cofusion. On one hand, I was confused as to how Pi could possibly understand and practice three completely different religions simultaneously. It seemed to me as though they were all so different that it would be difficult to efficiently practice them all. On the other hand, I understood that Pi, like many teenagers, is still at the point in his life where he may not yet have a strong stand on religion. In reference to this and due to the fact that he was introduced to Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam at around the same time and was clearly interested in each religion equally, it was not easy for him to choose just one. Since he was interested in and dedicated to all three, why couldn't he just practice all three?

As well, the confrontation that occured between Pi, the priest, the imam, and the pandit in Chapter 23 helped me to better understand how Pi could practice all three religions. At the beginning of the argument, I was swayed towards the priest, imam, and pandit as they all declared that there was simply no way that Pi could practice the three religions. As Pi's father mentions that there is freedom of practice in the country, all three men proclaim angrily at the same time, "Practice-singular!" (page 68). At that point, I was in agreement and I felt as though it was somewhat unrealistic for Pi to practice all three religions. As the argument continues, Pi finally chimes in to end the conversation with, "I just want to love God." That particular quote made me realize that Pi is truly fascinated with each individual religion and sincerely does just want to love God. Giving him time on his own to figure out which religion(s) he will follow will better enable him to embrace religion in his own way.

jenn said...
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jenn said...

I think that Pi's embracing each of these religions is shocking, as well as puzzling. When i first read of his acceptance of Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism I simply laughed and thought about how ridiculous this twisted philosophy is. As i read more about his beliefs, i began to understand, though not accept, the basis of his philosophy Yet still there are serious conflicts between these religions. I feel that Pi picks and chooses which aspects of each religion to believe, so that, in his mind, they dont contradict. I can only speak for Christianity when i say that he is absolutely wrong, because one cannot be a Christian if other gods are accepted. Pi believes that Jesus Christ died for his sins, but accepts other gods, so he really can't be a Christian.
I think it is awesome that Pi felt the need to explore his options, and study conflicting ideas. But the fact that he not only studied these philosophies but also accepted all of them as true cannot honestly be done if one is to believe all aspects of each one.
I feel that Pi believes he has faith, but he only has religion; he embraces and carries out the service and worship of a god, but does not fully embrace the entirety of any of these conflicting beliefs.

Spencer said...

I initially thought it a wonderful thing that Pi had a strong desire to learn so much about religion. However when he learned about the religions, he proceded to embrace them as well. So in a short amount of time he was christian, hindu, and muslim. I quite frankly dont unserstand how a person could have so many different beliefs. Each of these religions is vastly different. Hinduism is a religion that I as a christian have a dificult time understanding. First of all because there is no defined definition of what a Hindu is. Its beliefs practices and customs vary between each person. Hindu can be interpreted differently by each person. But what i find most difficult to understand is that Hindu's dont worship one God or one prophet. There is no defined God that they pray to. Making it completely different from Christianity and Islam. The Islamic religion is easier to understand in that they do pray to one God. The Islamic religion is based on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. The Muslims unlike Christians do not believe in Jesus Christ. Christianity is a monotheistic religion that believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free the world from sin. Looking at all of these religions shows us how different they really are. How could one person believe in all three of these? When Pi accepted of all of these religions i was just confused, especially when his family bought him a prayer rug, and then attended his baptism.

Andy said...

As many others so far, Pi's practicing of three religions was shocking and puzzling at the same time. While reading, I found it hard to understand why Pi would pursue 3 religions that are so diverse. First of all, Christianity and Islam differ greatly. Christianity is obviously based on the beliefs of living peacefully and loving one another, and that Jesus Christ died for the sins of humanity, making an eternity in heaven possible. Islam on the other hand believes that Jesus was just a person, serving no exceptional purpose. But after looking into the religions a little bit, I can see how he could connect the three. Hinduism, the religion that he was raised with, and Christianity are loosely related in that they both practice love, and peace, and they are all three alike because they believe in one main God. But Pi sums his actions up when he says,"Bapu Gandhi said,'All religions are true.' I just want to love God." After I read this part it was clear to me that Pi's practicing of three religions was just an attempt to get closer to God, and to view Him at different perspectives.

sarah s said...

I became immediately intrigued with Pi’s choice to practice three dissimilar religions at one time. As a practicing Roman Catholic it is hard for me to imagine committing to three separate “faiths” simultaneously. I do not have the discipline Piscine shows as he attends Christian Mass, goes to the Hindu Temple, and the Muslim Mosque. I feel good about myself when I make it to church once a week. Pi also follows the Muslim prayer rituals five times a day, reads the Qur’an, the Bible, and grew up learning about and following all of the Hindu rituals. This type of spiritual devotion takes time and dedication that far exceeds what most teenagers (and even most adults) are willing to give.
When his decision is not understood by his parents, the priest, the imam, or the pandit he quotes Bapu Gandhi when he said “all religions are true.” Pi may be one of the smartest characters I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. He realizes at such a young age that if God’s love extends to the Muslims, Hindus, and Christians in the same way that they truly are one and the same. By following all of them at one time he is not contradicting beliefs he is simply learning to love God with the same permissiveness that God shows us by not caring what faith we are as long as we love him. As long as love is the goal all religions are the same.
I myself want to explore new religions and new ways of glorifying God. I totally respect Pi for worshiping God as he sees fit regardless of what others think is right.

Alyssa said...

My initial reaction of Pi’s wanting to practice three religions was both confusion and curiosity. How on earth could such a young boy manage to fully practice three religions? These days it’s rare to see teenagers practicing one religion properly or even standing up for their beliefs. It’s hard to find time between all the activities that are crammed in every day to be committed to even one religion, let alone three. I was confused about Pi’s motive of not only wanting to practice Hindu, the religion he was born into, but also Christianity and Islam.

Pi’s family, Mr. Kumar, Father Martin and the Hindu Pandit all insist that practicing all three religions would be impossible and that Pi would need to choose which religion to follow. But when Pi states that “If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it”, it is clear to me what Pi’s motivation was. He believes that he should be able to believe in all three because all prayers would be going to the same place.

I found Pi’s analogy of the relationship between Hinduism, Christianity and Islam to be very insightful. He states that “…Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.” The way Pi related all the religions in such a simple analogy shows how much in common the religions really have.

The greatest statement about religion in the book was when Pi claimed he just wanted to love God. What I took from this statement is that Pi was still at a young age, not knowing exactly what he wants. His thought process was that if he loved all three Gods and followed all three religions, he would be promised what each religion has in store.

rebecca said...
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rebecca said...

i myself am a christian and have a good sound faith in it. but my religion sometimes contridicts with my personality of being very open minded and believing in different things and considering them a possibility. i have actually thought for some time that many religions have the same basic principle. that a higher power exists and the world came to be from that power that watches over and protects us. and if one believes in good faith and also follows in good faith then they are rewarded in the after life whether it be in Heaven or being reborn again.

with that in mind it comes as a joy to hear this view in another about being able to love and practice more than one religion with the thought of 'just wanting to love God' that ties them all together.

the only surprise i had was that Pi embraced the christian faith because he seemed to not like or fully understand the relationship between God and Jesus. Jesus, son of God, seemed too human to him and not god like enough.

Tim i didnt understand what you meant when you said
'Then he runs into the church of Father Martin. There, he learns of Christ, and dismisses the "God" as nothing but a selfish, unpious beast until he learns of the motivations behind Christ's actions.'
i understand the selfish part because Pi thinks God as selfish but it's the unpious beast part that i dont remember Pi saying. And Pi believes God to be selfish because of Christ's actions (death). Father martian always gave the answer of love as the reason but Pi never really accepted it fully at first in my opinion. he just couldnt get 'this Son' out of his head so he just believed at first. It's ironic though because it reminds me of a love novel where the two people can't get the other out of their head but dont know why...love. well here Pi doesnt understand love as the answer for Jesus doing what he did. i believe that he truly did believe and understand better later.
'He bothered me, this Son. Everyday I burned with greater indignation against Him, found more flaws with Him...I couldn't get Him out of my head. Still can't. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. And he more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him. On our last day, a few hours before we were to leave Munnar, I hurried up the hill on the left....I said, "Father, I would like to be a Christian, please."' pg52

but as for embracing more than one religion, i found it wonderful that one loves God so much.

jacquie said...

I praised Pi's choice to embrace three entirely different religions. Most people are usually so close minded as to think that only their way is the right way. This is not true. Pi's choice was a great way to show he is truly an individual. So what if he doesnt want to follow one set of rules and regulations that supposedly follow what God wants His followers to do! Yes, it may sound like Pi is trying to satisfy everyone but really he's just trying to satisfy himself. He proves this by stating that his parents are not a specific religion. So, he is obviously not trying to keep them happy. Of course, they are not too happy that he is following three different religions (They are bias towards hinduism). Also, Pi does give a great excuse for why he follows these different religions when confronted at the esplanade. On page 69, Pi says "Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God." His response is factual. God is happy as long as people worship him.

I was baptized as a methodist because my parents were baptized as methodist. This was at an early age before I was able to learn about other religions. Even so, I still follow the methodist religion but I am defiantly not close minded about other religions. I accept all people i meet, no matter if they are of a different religion and have different opinions. If i had a chance, I would probably be as experimentive as Pi. I think it would be interesting to learn about other religions and if they reached me spiritually I would follow through with them, as Pi did.

David said...

Pi is someone we can all learn from. Not necessarily for studying three religions, but for the reasons he does so.
Being brought up in India, it is natural for Pi to study Hinduism. Although he wasn't brought into Hinduism by his parents or brother, Pi had his whole culture surrounding him. Even with this, it was the presence of something larger that kept Pi strong with Hinduism. It was Hinduism through which he understood the universe. Once Pi came across Christianity, he was amazed with the stories of a god who suffered and lived with men. Pi found the love offered by Christ and his followers to be something miraculous. It was something he wanted to be apart of.
Pi found the devotion in Islam to be stronger than any other religion. Pi comes to say praying as an Islam is a "deep religious contact." Pi wanted to be as close to God as possible.
I think it's important to point out that Pi was not looking for more religions to practice. The new religions came upon him because of his curiosity and love for God. Studying three religions was not just a game for Pi. Pi constantly stood up for his situation when others looked at him as if he was crazy. When Pi responded to the pandit, priest, and imam with "I just want to love God," it was the simple truth.

As for Pi's views on Atheism and Agnostics, I believe his opinions are bold, honest, and a bit insulting towards Agnostics. But isn't life bold, honest, and insulting?

Bryan Stoy said...

My initial reaction in Pi’s beliefs was absolute confusion. I know there are some who would disagree, but seriously how many teenagers do you see wanting to learn and practice a particular faith? I don’t see my peers praying before lunch everyday or them kneeling toward Mecca to pray to Muhamad. Pi was different in that aspect and didn’t care what his friends or family said. After recently being confirmed, spending hours upon hours in religion classes, I learned the teenagers aren’t always serious about what they do. Pi was not forced to practice any three of these religions, but made the decision by himself. My confusion was based upon Pi wanting to have religion as such a big part of his life.
Even though I find it very interesting for Pi to want to practice Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism; I also find it hard to believe. As Andy said these religions relate in some ways, but as a Catholic I believe it is almost impossible for Pi to practice each faith to its entirety. During the heated battle between the priest, pandit, and imam Pi uses Gandhi’s intelligent words to say that he just wants to love God. Pi never quits practicing his faiths even on the stranded lifeboat, so there is no question as to how much love Pi has for God and “the gods”. But my question is how can two monotheistic and polytheistic religions be practiced simultaneously?

Austin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Austin said...

My initial reaction was that of indecisiveness. While reading the book, I couldn't help but feel sorry, for myself, for not being as devoted to God as Pi. Throughout the entire book, Pi stays constant with god, never doubting his existents or losing faith in God. When Pi goes with his family on vacation to Munnar, he discovers Christianity, and not long afterwards he discovers Islam. Initially, this is why my reaction was indecisive. I believe in freedom of religion. While Pi does a fantastic job at taking advantage of his freedom, the three religions he practices conflict greatly with each other. It was after the meeting with the priests that my reaction became final. Although the priests believed that he should choose between one religion, they all agreed that he was worshipping the same god in each religion. The only person that can decide what is right for someone is the beholder. If Pi wants to practice three religions that revolve around the same God, then he can do so. He is taking advantage of his freedom of religion.

EmoneyWalsh said...

At first, it struck me as shocking that Pi convinced himself that he could simultaneously practice three conflicting religions. The point of being a good Christian, or Hindu for that matter is that you are devoted to one God, which is the case with Christianity. The essence of Christianity revolves around the central idea of monotheism, so by practicing other religions while being a Christian is contradictary. And the same goes for being a devout Hindu or Muslim. So it is my belief that by practicing three dissimilar religions at once he created three different beings within himself. IE when he was on his prayer mat he was one person, then in the synogogue another, and in the church still another. By pretending to be avid in three religions proves his indecisiveness and weak will, I believe he did this as a fling, to please the different emotions he was feeling at a given time. Even still, this situation provided Yann Martel with his intended shock value, and kept in theme with the novel.

johanna said...

After the first feelings of surprise about Pi's choice to become a practicing Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, I realized that in truth he does not embrace any conflicting ideas. Pi is attracted to the surface of each of these traditions- the color of Hinduism, the rituals of Islam, and the humility of Christianity- but he does not actually devote himself to any one of the three. A true Muslim cannot be Christian, since parts of the Koran order Muslims to persecute Christians. In the same way, a Christian who claims to be Hindu violates the basic commandments of the Bible. Instead of sincerely devoting himself to one philosophy, Pi spreads himself over three. In doing so he actually creates his own version of a religion, borrowing from others. He prays as a Muslim, says the rosary as a Catholic, burns incense as a Hindu and as a result his practices struck me as disappointing. Pi seems to be an intelligent and rational young man, but in this matter of religion he holds fast to the logical mistake he made in joining the Muslims, Hindus, and Christians.

When Pi is commenting on agnostics, he says "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation." In Pi's haste to believe, he ends up cheating himself of a full religion and splicing up three rich traditions into the pieces that suit him.

Madeline said...

After reading of Pi's unique religious practices for the first time, I found myself believeing Pi was an indecisive person. My opinion changed, though, after learning his reasoning for practicing all three.
Pi was a go-getter. When he wanted something, he got it. For example, he wanted a new nickname to assuage his wimpering ego, so he made one. Just as he did with his nickname, Pi went and got religions to fill his needs. First, he found Hinduism. Hinduism was taught to him as a small child, so over the years he has become accustomed to it. It also holds a certain luster that the other religions do not. The gods of Hinduism are much more regal than the others. They express their power and sacred at every chance, leaving no one doubting their power. This probably gives Pi the feeling of being part of an elite club.
Next, Pi finds Christianity. In this religion, he finds what hinduism could not provide, a God so humble that he would die for his children. Pi reflected on how Lord Krishna and other gods would let the mortals suffer in order to save himself. Realizing this comparison, Pi found that he longed for the religion that would LOVE him when he made mistakes, so he would not have to act perfect. From Christianity, Pi elicited the unconditional love that the others did not provide.
Finally, Pi found Islam. Islam was to Pi much different than the other religions were. It allowed him the chance to appreciate his gods creation and putting himself on the same level with it. He was unified with something larger than himself. Many people practiced Islam, yet all took the same steps toward holiness, unlike christianity where you way of pursuing holiness is different from another's. For the sake of being a member of a unified body, Pi accepted Islam as his own.
In each of the different religions, Pi pulled something that the others lacked. He found the elements he needed to make him feel secure and happy throughout his days on earth. Had a he pursued a single religion, some elements would not have felt so secure to him. In my opinion, I understand what his mission was even if i would not follow it myself. He found the most desirable religions with the most benefits and could not decide. It was understandable. Unfortunatley, he cannot claim to understand each religion thouroughly without understanding that each god is exclusive, allowing himself to be the only divine being in the whole universe. I may be able to meddle in all three for some time but will eventually need to choose whom he follows most dearly.

Mary said...

My initial reaction to Pi studying different religions with conflicting beliefs was of understanding. Even though these three beliefs, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, have their distinct differences, they all possess a common factor. A factor, which I believe is the most important in any religion, the same that Pi also believed to hold the most value. The fact that all these religions loved and praised God, whether he was addressed as God or Allah, or whatever else. And because that was all that Pi wanted to do, it didn't matter what the religion was called or how that religion chose to express their love of God. Pi was simply curious about different religions and what they believed and why they believed it. He found other similarities between them as he told his father one night when asking to be both baptized and to have a prayer rug, that Christianity and Islam recognized Abraham, and Jesus as prophets. I also found it remarkable, as is the case even today, that it is not the religion, but the people who practice that particular religion that makes it what it is to others. Like, for example, when Pi and his parents met up with the father, imam, and the pandit on the street. All three men claim to practice a religion with peace and love as main characteristics, however, when these men realize what Pi has been doing, they lash out at on another and at Pi. Their sainted qualities are soon forgotten, and their human instincts take over. Therefore I believe that it doesn't matter what religion or faith that you "claim" to be a part of, or if you don't at all; for "actions speak louder than words".

Jess said...

I think its interesting how Pi is willing to study other religions and not just focus on the one he was originally taught. It shows that he really believes in God and isn't just following a certain religion because the people around him do. Its also interesting how he can still have faith in all three of them when they all involve different customs. Its a lot easier to believe that Pi can accept the other two religions because he originally only believed in Hinduism which doesn't believe there is only one God. I wasn't shocked that Pi studied Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, I actually found it rather fascinating because he was willing to look the different points of view and then instead of choosing one over the others, he practiced them all. Its cool that his family doesn't shun him or anything for his beliefs and curiosity in other religions.

a dizzzzle (adam) said...

My initial reaction to Pi's studies that involved multiple religions was one of questioning the sincerity of Pi. He was born and raised as a young child in the Hindu religion, one that does not believe in a true God. Pi later immersed himself in Islam, a religion that recognizes God as a prophet,not a man born of flesh and blood.Although the Islamic faith holds to the beliefs of the Koran and an eternal resting place for all followers it still conflicts with Christianity's belief that there is one God that was born, raised and died to save the sinful of the world if they confess their faith in him. Each of these religions believe it is their practice that will create their passage to heaven and eternal life. I can't imagine the confusion and soul searching that Pi would have had to deal with throughout his life.How can someone be a devoted follower and believer and hope to find God's love in 3 different religions? As the story continued I started to understand Pi's devotion to finding God's love. People that were around him scorned him and did not accept hime because of his multiple beliefs. This did not stop him from trying to find the most important thing in his life, God's love.
I was born a Christian and still practice the faith of God through Christianity. There have been times that I have questioned things in life that I didn't understand, but through my faith in the love of God I have been able to gain the understanding I needed. Pi's need to explore various avenues of religion to figure out what is best for him may be a road that most of us don't travel but it's his attempt to reach the same place. I respect Pi for his continued effort throughout the book to find his answer.

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indic vidula said...

Pi was a complete hindu . Only a Hindu could possibly practice three religions at one time, because most Hindus believe 'the truth is one, the paths to the truth many'. He was not a real Christian or a real Muslim because that would entail rejecting the other religions.