When Dan Brown walked on stage, everyone in the Siri Fort auditorium here stood up cheering and clapping with a gusto that might have made him feel more like Hollywood star Tom Hanks who played the protagonist in the film based on his bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code.
The 50-year-old American author admitted that he was moved by the generous welcome, but much like Robert Langdon, the character Hanks played, was cool and methodical while delivering Penguin's Annual Lecture 2014
Brown revealed he had dictated his first book at the age of five to his mother, who had transcribed it for him.
The book's name: The Giraffe, the Pigs and the Pants on Fire.
Showing the lone copy of the book to the smitten audience he said:It was a thriller.
Since then, his novels on cryptographies, secret societies and conspiracy theories have sold over 200 million copies in print and have been translated into 52 languages.
The topic of the day was `Codes, Science and Religion'.
And at one point, the writer said: “Science and religion are partners trying to use two different languages to tell the same story“ - something he had also referred to at last month's Sharjah Book Fair.
But before arriving at that central point, the author took the audience back to his own “joyful“ childhood.
From his mother, he heard stories of Noah's Ark; and he watched his father use the calculator to get the best pizza deals.
No surprise, since Brown's mother served as a church organist and his father taught mathematics.
The different world they inhabited also reflected in their respective car number plates.
His mother's numberplate said `Kyrie', which is the Greek word for `Lord'; the father's car numberplate had the word `Metric'.
He had brought the numberplates along to show that he wasn't joking.
But by the time he had turned 13 years old, Brown said, the contradictions between religion and science had started to show up.
Questions such as -Was the world was created in seven days or was it the Big Bang?
Was it Adam & Eve or the evolution? -were tough to reconcile.
As he grew up, though, Brown could see the lines blur between science and religion.
The author who last visited India at the age of 19 said :We turn to god for existential questions that science has never been able to answer.
Brown added:All world religions have at their core the same human truth: Creation is better than destruction. Love is better than hate.
He praised organised religions for their positive aspects but also pointed out that :many organised religions had put themselves between god and man.
Brown said he was shocked at the level of controversy and the extent of the backlash that his book Da Vinci Code had caused.
He was at times self-deprecating, a trait that further endeared him to the audience.