Life of Pi: Ontology, Epistemology and Axiology

The movie Life of Pi shows what Hindu’s think of other deities not within their pantheon, while also showing samsara, and the three components of a worldview; ontology, epistemology, and axiology.

In the movie Life of Pi directed by Ang Lee, Piscine Molitor Pi Patel is confronted with multiple different religions. He was born a Hindu. Later, he accepted Jesus, and finally, he added Allah to his collection. Pi did not believe in just one of these religions but he believed in all of them. His belief seems to be misconstrued, instead of converting to a new faith, Pi added these other deities to his 330 million gods. Pi was enticed to Jesus after hearing his story. Pi heard many stories from Hinduism about gods that were strong and powerful like Vishnu or Ganesha but the story of Jesus is simple and kind. This kindness of the priest leads Pi to ask many questions about Jesus, ultimately leading Pi to the faith.

The only problem is that Pi added Jesus to his already massive list of deities to worship. This belief is directly against the Bible as stated in 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. Now if Pi had been taught this from the priest, he might have fully converted to the faith. Instead, Piscine continued to live in his Hindu tradition and his Islamic worship while also praying to Jesus. Pi’s actions reflect the beliefs of the author, Yann Martel, who wrote Life of Pi. Martel once said, If there is only one nation in the sky shouldn’t all passports be valid. This statement is controversial and does not work within most religious standards but this is the lifestyle that Pi chooses for himself within the novel.

The meerkat island scene from the movie symbolizes different parts of the Hindu religion. When the day ends and the night begins the island consumes what is left in the pool. Creation and destruction are represented on the island with the meerkats and the carnivorous pool just as Brahma and Vishnu create and preserve life. Shiva also destroys it. The island also represents Samsara because the island is a cycle of death, life, and rebirth. The island kills the meerkats. The island supports the meerkats’ life on the island. The meerkats are constantly being born and killed on the island. The tooth on the island also represents samsara and the struggle to break it. When Pi leaves the island and finds the beach in Mexico. Pi becomes enlightened and breaks samsara to achieve moksha or becoming one with the universe in his own way, which means going back into the world to live his life.

The three components of a worldview are evident throughout the movie. A big point at the end of the movie is Pi’s two stories he told the interviewers. His stories have the same essence but they have two different forms. His first story that consists of unlikely events and places has two survivors, Richard Parker and Pi. In the second story, Pi is the only survivor but he tells the story as though he was Richard Parker, the tiger. Piscine tells the stories asking his interviewer which one he believes. The reporter answers with the first one. This shows what the interviewer values, he does not value the more believable story but rather the strange story about a boy surviving with a tiger on a dingy. Piscine’s values change through the movie, first, he focused on religion and highly valued it. Later, when on the boat his greatest value was his survival because he neglected to pray while on the ocean. Finally when he came ashore, Pi cared about his family and once again his religion.

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