The book The Life of Pi is largely centered around Pi’s religious beliefs. Although Pi does heavily rely on science, religion is used in many parts of the book and is a source of strength for Pi. Pi is able to weave together Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam together in order to be able to love God as much as he can. The author, Yann Martel, defends the choice to believe in multiple religions at once and the compatibility of religion and science through Pi’s admiration for both religion and zoology. Pi’s faith and beliefs are the most important things in his life. Pi is a vegetarian because he loves and respects all of the things God has made. Pi has gone through a long religious journey with many obstacles in order to be so strong in his faith. In every one of these obstacles, he has put his faith in God first, including all of the hardships he endured while being lost at sea.
Pi’s religious journey began when he was born, as he has been a devoted Hindu since he was born. Pi will never stop believing in Hinduism as it taught him how to see the beauty around him and in the world. Through everything, Pi has gone through and no matter what situation he is in, Hinduism helps him in finding the beauty and positivity in his life, as well as the world. Pi even saw the beauty in the ferocious tiger he survived his adventure out at sea with. Hinduism gave Pi such incredible strength to where Pi could see the beauty in a Bengal tiger that could’ve eaten him! Pi encountered his next religious belief as he was walking by a Christian cathedral. He entered, thinking he would be told to get out, but instead found a priest who listened to him and explained to him Christianity’s religious message. The priest taught him how Jesus was love and that everyone is welcome in the eyes of Jesus. Pi liked the way Christianity loved God and decided to be baptized. Christianity played a role in Pi’s hardships as well, the religion taught him how to suffer and see the spirituality in suffering. This allowed Pi to see his suffering abroad the lifeboat as a spiritual experience and help him cope with the hardships abroad the lifeboat.
The next religious belief Pi encountered was Islam. Pi encountered Islam when he encountered a Muslim baker who took a break from the conversation that they were having to go pray. Pi is struck by the beauty of the prey rituals in Islam and decided to ask the Muslim baker to teach him how to pray. Islam was another religion that helped Pi during his suffering, the religion taught him the concept of “brotherhood”. This allowed Pi to be able to deal with Richard Parker and even making Richard Parker into a companion. Through this concept, Pi sees the beauty in companionship and even takes time to ensure Richard Parker survived with him on the lifeboat. Pi’s faith gives Pi the strength to confidently express his beliefs and not his beliefs be changed by anyone. Even when his own religious leaders and parents question him about his religious beliefs, he stays strong in his faith and simply replies that he is just “trying to love God.” Pi believes if everyone would stop fighting about which religion they believe in and rather just love God with their whole heart and soul, the world would be better.
While aboard the lifeboat Pi’s beliefs were still first priority for him. When he killed his first fish, he cried for it was incredibly difficult for him to reject his vegetarianism belief. During Pi’s ordeal out at sea Pi continues to do all of his spiritual practices, of course conforming them to his current situation. To venerate God through Christianity, Pi has a solitary mass without bread or a priest. To venerate God through Hinduism, Pi uses turtle meat as a Hindu offering. To venerate God through Islam, Pi continues to pray to Allah 5 times a day although he does not know in which way Mecca is. In doing all this Pi receives great comfort and hope. Pi finds his faith being tested every day and battles with despair but he always is able to overcome it because of his faith. Pi even grants Richard Parker the title “God’s Cat”. In surviving his ordeal out at sea, Pi will always have incredible faith in his beliefs and in God.
The religious significances in the Life of Pi are many but what is clear is that Pi’s religious beliefs have an incredible influence in the story and in Pi’s suffering. Pi’s unselfishness when it comes to God allows him to pursue multiple spiritual paths. This, in turn, allows for Pi to understand the joy that comes with abundance. Pi is able to combine 3 religions, all of which he admires, and takes away many beliefs from each one. All 3 religions separately and collectively play a significant part in his survival aboard the lifeboat and in helping him move on from the trauma he has endured from the “adventure” out at sea.