After 14 years in banking, Amish Tripathi found what he believes to be his life’s purpose: writing his nation’s history. He is the author of India’s fastest selling book series, the Shiva Trilogy, which is a fictional telling of Hindu mythological stories and history. Tripathi is well known by people around the world, including USF students who saw him speak about his writing at a book signing held at USF by the Center for Asia Pacific Studies on Feb. 2.
Tripathi’s books find a way to retell India’s history, which he says “is a cure for insomnia.” The Shiva Trilogy could fall under the categories of mythical, historic, philosophy, thriller or historical fiction, according to Amish. His books have printed over 4 million copies and have been translated into 19 different languages.
Tripathi attributes some of this success to his efforts at balancing liberal and traditional ideals and avoiding extremist tones in order to make his work more digestible. He says that he simply “writes a story that comes to him.”
Amish had no experience writing fiction until he wrote his first novel, The Immortals of Meluh. At first, he says he struggled to create a product he was satisfied with. His first book was self-published, so Amish sought the aid of self-help books. Amish first approached his writing with the MBA style he learned while earning his degree in mathematics. But his wife told him he must “give up [his] illusion of control” and write as a witness, not with the arrogance of a creator. This freed his writing and influenced what became the Shiva Trilogy. Tripathi took on the mindset that you don’t write stories – instead, the characters allow you to see into their world and you tell their story.
When Tripathi first went to publishers with his book idea, they told him he would never succeed because he wasn’t writing romance novels. To market his first book, he printed samples that included its first chapter and asked local bookstores to put them by the checkout and have people take them for free, if they wanted. Apparently, people loved them so much that they came back to try to buy the book before it was released. Tripathi remarked this to be the reason why his books sold so quickly and uses his story to emphasize the importance of creativity and unique approaches to producing content.
Tripathi not only has an alternative approach to his storytelling and marketing, but also has a different definition of success. After joking that success is if you can pay the bills or not, Tripathi explained his two versions of success that he believes humans can achieve: the first type of success is fulfilling your responsibilities. Once you put in the work to accomplish everything you need to do, you can achieve the second kind of success: finding your life’s purpose. “Once you know your purpose, you actually begin to live your life,” he said. Tripathi said he found his life’s purpose as an author by accident, and that now, nothing can match the sheer joy of living out his life’s purpose. He said that he “[works] harder now as an author than [he] ever did as a banker,” travelling to places like San Francisco, and working 7 days a week.