A central theme that is never fully explored) is that the meta-story (this is in itself a link to the famous stories within stories of the Arabian Nights) has a specific intent: it is a tale that will make you believe in God. In the opening sections of the book, Pi has himself resolved this issue on his personal level and sees no contradiction in defining himself as a Muslim, a Hindu and a Christian simultaneously. This is clearly the position of the Classical Sufism (if not necessarily of some of the contemporary Islamocentric tariqas) and Pi’s Muslim teacher is stated as being a follower of the Sufi path.
The motif of the castaway as a symbol for the journey to God is an apt one. It has a near precedent in Sufi mystical literature in the classic work Hayy ibn Yaqzan (lit: Alive, son of Awake) by the 12th century Sufi poet Ibn Tufayl. Tufayl’s work, which has been seen as a major influence on Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. In Tufayl, the theme revolves around the question “would one believe in God if one grew up alone on a desert island and spent life utterly alone without human contact?”. Tufayl’s answer is a resounding ‘yes’ - although the implications of this knowledge are more complex than might be assumed - and clearly Hayy’s life on his desert island IS the journey to God, just as Pi’s months adrift in the Pacific are a similar journey: a journey to something which cannot be conceived, perhaps must not be conceived as the only way to survive the days adrift is to abandon hope.Read the full post here.