Pi’s voice returns. He explains that he was raised a Hindu, mostly encouraged by his mother’s sister Auntie Rohini. He grew up with Hindu rituals starting as an infant, and he immediately felt a closeness to the Hindu gods and stories. Pi describes all the sights, sounds, and smells he associates with Hinduism, and how he embraces the deeper Hindu philosophy of Brahman, the world soul.
As with his discussion of animals, Pi begins with the surface trappings of religion, associating Hinduism with its rituals and sensory effects. But Pi soon delves into the spirit beneath the ritual, as he finds a deep affinity with religion.
Pi describes the beautiful, pantheistic aspects of Hinduism, and how its followers seek to become liberated over the course of many lifetimes. He declares that he has always been and always will be a Hindu, and he sees his “place in the universe” through the Hindu schema. At the same time he does not cling to it as the only truth. He references a story about the god Krishna belonging to each of a group of milkmaids at once, and disappearing only when one would become possessive of him.
For Pi, religion will be about choosing “the better story” in a chaotic, unknowable universe. This begins to develop a major theme of the book, which is that religion (like stories, and through stories) is a way of ordering life and making it bearable. Unlike many religious practitioners, Pi tries to avoid being possessive of religious truth – already he accepts that truth can be relative.