All your book titles carry the sense of a journey: Heart of India, India’s Unending Journey, India in Slow Motion, Non-Stop India.
Well, I’ll tell you why that is, really. It all started off, to be honest, with No Full Stops in India. And that was a complete accident, the title. Because we were fiddling around trying to find a title, and suddenly, my editor drew this out of what the artist Swaminathan once said, and she said ‘This is a brilliant title, it says just what you say’.
And why I was so pleased with that title is that it says something that I believe is profoundly true about Indian culture, which is, as I say in India’s Unending Journey, this business of not getting stuck on certainties, having an open mind, and regarding life as a non-stop learning experience. You see, I think that in Western thought, and in Western religions, we sort of reach conclusions, and we get stuck there. And if we take religions, although I am a Christian, I cannot say to myself, as many believe Christians should, that “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the life, and nothing else.”
I think modern-day atheists make the same mistake – they say there is no God, and that’s the end of it, you know. But these questions are open, and therefore our life is perpetually in motion, and Indian thought is perpetually in motion, because Indian thought never comes to absolute conclusions.
Once, I asked the Dalai Lama what he thinks about God, and even he himself is still thinking about it, in a way. He’s not saying there is no God, really, he’s saying something more like “Well, we have to think about it.” The Buddha himself, really, seemed to say well, it’s something we can’t think about, it’s too big to think about. Some would say the Buddha said it’s not relevant. But it’s this open-mindedness, this not reaching final conclusions, which is why I’m fascinated by the idea of journeys.
Image: A picture of Mark Tully at his home as he talks to reporter Nandini Krishnan.