295. Pi

Few months ago now, we had a wonderful devotee brahmacari from South Africa, Kavi Karnapura Das touch base with our centre here.

Kavi Karnapura Das

Kavi Karnapura Das

He gave a few lectures at our home, university and yoga centres. In one of his first lecture on “True Relationships”, he spoke about the living entity and his mind. And to make the point clear, he gave an example which struck me – Life of Pi, the movie.


The Book

The movie

The movie

I had never heard about that movie till this time. He said it was a movie about a boy who gets lost in the ocean on a little boat with a wild tiger. Not a good arrangement, he noted. He explained that we can learn about life from this arrangement – the boy represents a living entity/soul, the tiger represents our mind, the boat represents our body/human form of life and the ocean represents the world of birth, death, disease and old age. Like the boy who learns how to manage his dangerous passenger by giving it less food, we should also learn to manage our mind by feeding it with less distractions and sensory pleasures.

This example given by prabhu really stuck with me since then and something we can use often in our urban programs.People understand it quickly because they have seen the movie.

Also, it’s a fantastic way to explain a spiritual concept to people – Yann Martel for writing such a book, Ang Lee for making the movie and a devotee (the movie audience) explaining it deeply to the rest of the people. Today, I wanted to find more about this movie and the motivation behind it. And what I found surprised me a little in that the author had also wanted to showcase a spiritual journey. And those who analyzed it also considered it as one :

  • Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age.. Pi is raised a Hindu, but as a fourteen-year-old he exposes himself to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions as he “just wants to love God.” He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion and comes to recognize benefits in each one. – Wikipedia
  • In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to Martel, describing Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”
  • He acquires layer after layer of diverse spirituality and brilliantly synthesizes it into a personal belief system and devotional life that is breathtaking in its depth and scope. His youthful exploration into comparative religion culminates in a magnificent epiphany of sorts. —Phoebe Kate Foster of PopMatters
  • Master Plots suggested the “Central themes of Life of Pi concern religion and human faith in God”

One of the quotes from the movie which I found online, really made sense to me :

I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away

As our Prabhupad himself says in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.15.50

When flying an airplane, one cannot take care of other planes. Everyone has to take care of his own plane, and if there is any danger, no other plane can help another in that condition. Similarly, at the end of life, when one has to go back home, back to Godhead, everyone has to take care of himself without help rendered by another. The help is, however, offered on the ground before flying in space. Similarly, the spiritual master, the father, the mother, the relatives, the husband and others can all render help during one’s lifetime, but while crossing the sea one has to take care of himself and utilize the instructions formerly received. Draupadi had five husbands, and no one asked Draupadi to come; Draupadi had to take care of herself without waiting for her great husbands.


The right way to cross the ocean is always to be in the association of devotees & the Lord.

Once mind is controlled, your true friend will be with you all the way.

Once mind is controlled, your true friend will be with you all the way.