Study Guide

Lord of Light Religion

By Roger Zelazny


Right? Obviously this theme was going to be making an appearance, although maybe not in the way you'd expect. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity are all present and accounted for, and we have plenty of characters representing their major religious figureheads. But we must not forget that these characters in Lord of Light are not the religious figureheads, but merely people pretending to be them. It's an important distinction because it hints that the novel is concerned with religion not as a method of divining the truth but as a social tool. And like any tool, it can be used for good or for ill.

Questions About Religion

  1. How are society, class, and religion related in the novel? How does one affect the other? Can you draw any real world parallels to this interaction?
  2. Sam constantly argues that he is a liar and a fraud when it comes to being the Buddha. What does Sam's argument say about religion in the novel? Also, what does the fact that no one believes him suggest?
  3. Why do you think Nirriti being a Christian matters? Why was he characterized as such and what purpose does it serve in regards to this theme?

Chew on This

Sam's version of Buddhism in the novel is less religious Buddhism and more philosophical Buddhism.

None of the Firsts that become gods proclaim any type of religion of their own—it's only the Firsts that leave the Celestial City who profess any type of religious belief.