With Immortal India, bestselling writer Amish has stepped into the shoes of a non-fiction writer for the first time. The author has put together a collection of his writings, essentially articles published in various newspapers, speeches he has written, debates he took part in and select interviews at public forums. The book unabashedly touches upon topical issues, ranging from freedom of expression, LGBT rights, Uniform Civil Code to religious conversions and more. The author, who captured readers’ imagination with his debut book, The Immortals of Meluha, in 2010, has come a long way since then, writing four more books. Having written extensively on Indian mythology, it isn’t surprising to see that Amish weaves significant tidbits from mythology into the modern world in his writings in Immortal India. The narrative is tight and arguments lucid, which make every chapter extremely interesting and the book a page-turner.
Immortal India is divided into four sections—religion and mythology, social issues, history and musings—with each having several chapters. The book brings out a side of Amish that you may not be aware of if you haven’t heard him speak at public gatherings or read his published articles. A reader who has only been introduced to his fiction would be taken aback at the clarity of this young author’s thoughts. Take, for instance, the chapter, Arguing Amicably, under the section social issues. In it, Amish argues that pronouncing judgments in haste or demarcating everything as ‘right’ or ‘Left’ isn’t the appropriate approach towards creating a world view about one’s own nation. Not everything wrong that happens with a Muslim should be labelled as Hindu extremism or vice-versa. Issues such as lawlessness or religious persecution should be dealt with a calm mind and investigations need to be concluded before pronouncing judgments, he says.
Immortal India is written in a conversational style and, even when Amish is doling out advice, it doesn’t come across as preachy. Instead, he validates every point with logical reasoning, often bringing up data or quotes from ancient texts to support his argument. The fact that he is a mathematician-turned-banker-turned-author comes in handy while explaining sensitive issues like communal tension or religious fundamentalism. The chapter, The Myth of the Aryan Invasion Theory, under the history section, is a case in point, where the writer puts forth several theories and reasons out the need for the future generation to be taught everything to let them make up their own minds.
A personal favourite is the chapter titled The Ancient Indian Approach to Charity & Inclusiveness, in which Amish talks about the concept of charity. He gives a significant overview of how charity is done through two models: ‘western paradigm’ and ‘Indian paradigm’. He describes the moot difference between the two through examples. In the chapter, he also narrates a personal example of how his grandfather benefited from the charity of social reformer Madan Mohan Malaviya’s scholarship programme at the Benaras Hindu University. Later, his grandfather rose to become a professor in the same university. “What do you think is my family’s attitude toward that charity which our ancestor, one poor boy in Kashi, received all those decades ago? Do we think it was our right to receive that charity? Most certainly not. It’s quite the contrary… it is our duty to repay that debt by carrying that gesture forward; or else the karmic burden would weigh down our souls,” Amish writes.
Immortal India is a must-read for every Amish fan. Even those who have dissed his books as ‘mythological rubbish’ can read it to understand how he interprets ancient texts and weaves them into the modern-day world.