Interreligieuze dialoog

Voor mij wordt de kracht van geloof ner­gens mooier beschreven dan in het boek Life of Pi van Yann Mar­tel. Het ver­haal gaat over Piscine, een 16-jarige jon­gen uit Puducher­ry, India. Door een schip­breuk maakt hij de meest gruwelijke din­gen mee. Zijn liefde voor God sleept hem er doorheen:

The black­ness would stir and even­tu­al­ly go away, and God would remain, a shin­ing point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.

Het gedeelte dat ik van­daag wil delen is echter wat lichtvoetiger en komt uit het begin van het boek. Piscine’s oud­ers zijn hin­doe, maar hij maakt ook ken­nis met het chris­ten­dom en de islam. Dit doet hij met zoveel over­tuig­ing dat hij al snel prak­tis­erend chris­ten, moslim en hin­doe is. Als hij op een zondag­mid­dag met zijn oud­ers over de boule­vard wan­delt, slaat het nood­lot toe: Ze komen de priester, de imam en de pan­dit tegen en Piscine’s driedubbele vroomheid komt aan het licht. De drie wijze man­nen zijn ontsteld en begin­nen een ver­hitte dis­cussie over hun reli­gies die drie bladz­i­j­den lang doorgaat.

Father raised his hands. “Gen­tle­men, gen­tle­men, please!” he inter­ject­ed. “I would like to remind you there is free­dom of prac­tice in this country.”

Three apoplec­tic faces turned to him.

Yes! Practice – sin­gu­lar!” the wise men screamed in uni­son. Three index fin­gers, like punc­tu­a­tion marks, jumped to atten­tion in the air to empha­size their point.

They were not pleased at the unin­tend­ed choral effect or the spon­ta­neous uni­ty of their ges­tures. Their fin­gers came down quick­ly, and they sighed and groaned each on his own. Father and Moth­er stared on, at a loss for words.

The pan­dit spoke first. “Mr. Patel, Piscine’s piety is admirable. In these trou­bled times it’s good to see a boy so keen on God. We all agree on that.” The imam and the priest nod­ded. “But he can’t be a Hin­du, a Chris­t­ian and a Mus­lim. It’s impos­si­ble. He must choose.”

I don’t think it’s a crime, but I sup­pose you’re right,” Father replied.


Gand­hi mon­u­ment in Puducher­ry. (Bron: Wiki­me­dia Com­mons, Aviad2001)

The three mur­mured agree­ment and looked heav­en­ward, as did Father, whence they felt the deci­sion must come. Moth­er looked at me.
A silence fell heav­i­ly on my shoulders.

Hmmm, Piscine?” Moth­er nudged me. “How do you feel about the question?”

Bapu Gand­hi said, ‘All reli­gions are true.’ I just want to love God,” I blurt­ed out, and looked down, red in the face.

My embar­rass­ment was con­ta­gious. No one said any­thing. It hap­pened that we were not far from the stat­ue of Gand­hi on the esplanade. Stick in hand, an imp­ish smile on his lips, a twin­kle in his eyes, the Mahat­ma walked. I fan­cy that he heard our con­ver­sa­tion, but that he paid even greater atten­tion to my heart. Father cleared his throat and said in a half-voice, “I sup­pose that’s what we’re all try­ing to do – love God.”

I thought it very fun­ny that he should say that, he who hadn’t stepped into a tem­ple with a seri­ous intent since I had had the fac­ul­ty of mem­o­ry. But it seemed to do the trick. You can’t rep­ri­mand a boy for want­i­ng to love God. The three wise men pulled away with stiff, grudg­ing smiles on their faces.