In Yann Martel's novel The Life of Pi, the title character explains his feelings about religion in chapter seven. In this chapter, Pi describes an interaction with one of his teachers, Mr. Satish Kumar, who was an atheist. He used to visit Pi's father's zoo. Mr. Kumar tells...
In Yann Martel's novel The Life of Pi, the title character explains his feelings about religion in chapter seven. In this chapter, Pi describes an interaction with one of his teachers, Mr. Satish Kumar, who was an atheist. He used to visit Pi's father's zoo. Mr. Kumar tells Pi that the zoo is something like a temple for him. Pi responds with the words, "Religion will save us." Pi, who is narrating most of the story, goes on to say that religion had always been close to his heart. He is also a young person who loves learning and reveres authority. When Mr. Kumar says that religion is darkness, Pi feels like his world is being rocked. He admires and respects Mr. Kumar, but he learns that Mr. Kumar doesn't acknowledge something that is very dear to his own heart. When Mr. Kumar reveals that he was sick with polio as a child and cried out "Where is God?" Pi fears that Mr. Kumar's atheism is something that will destroy something that Pi loved, much like polio destroyed Mr. Kumar's health. Always a deep thinker, Pi concludes at the end of this chapter:
He became my favorite teacher at Petit Seminaire, and the reason I studied zoology at the University of Toronto. I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them--and then they leap.
In chapter 17, Pi explains how he came to be a believer in three different religions: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Hinduism was his religion from his birth. He says he learned from it kindness and the security of a foundation. Then, he became interested in Christianity. He learned from a Catholic priest that the son of God had come to Earth and suffered and died to atone for the sins of man, so they could be restored to right relationship with the father. Pi couldn't understand a God who would sacrifice for man and says the story of Jesus of Nazareth would not leave him. He was drawn to the love and humanity of Jesus and asked the priest to help him become a Christian. Then, he met a Muslim mystic, and he was drawn to the beauty of the Islamic religion, which is filled with brotherhood and devotion. He loved the way that Muslims prayed five times a day.
While he was shipwrecked, Pi drew comfort from all three of the religions he professed. He prayed to gods of each one. And it was the hope that he gained from this relationship of prayer that kept him steady and clear-headed. It was also the security of believing he was not entirely alone, that he could pray and his prayers would be answered, that helped him survive alone for so long.