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Kabir’s teachings reach international stage

City novelist Kiran Nagarkar’s book, God’s Little Soldier, has provided the subject matter for a multi-media play being staged by Cornell University and Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York state, this spring.

mumbai Updated: May 06, 2011 02:16 IST
Aarefa Johari

City novelist Kiran Nagarkar’s book, God’s Little Soldier, has provided the subject matter for a multi-media play being staged by Cornell University and Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York state, this spring.

The show, called ‘There is only one God and her name is life’, is an interpretation of life and teachings of 15th century mystic poet Kabir. It includes dance sequences, original music and dramatic readings by Nagarkar himself from his novel, in which he offers an irreverent re-imagination of Kabir’s philosophy.

“In today’s times, we seem to have lost our capacity to solve problems by talking to each other, and the only form of dialogue left often seems to be violence,” said Nagarkar, who is in Ithaca on a Fulbright scholarship and has been teaching his work at Ithaca College for almost a year.

“Few philosopher-poets are as thought-provoking and relevant to our times as Kabir,” he said.

In God’s Little Soldier, published in 2006, Nagarkar explores the radicalisation of a young Mumbai boy coming from a liberal Muslim family.

The Kabir section of the book was chosen for the play by the theatre, dance, music and anthropology departments of Cornell and Ithaca College.

“My book is aimed at any kind of extremism, and it is a mistaken notion that only Jehadi Muslims are extremists – fanatics in America, India, Israel or anywhere else are not any different,” said Nagarkar.

The play has its music specially composed by Max Buckholtz, a composer and violinist from Cornell’s department of theatre, film and dance.

The dances have been choreographed by contemporary dance professor Lindsay Gilmour and Indian classical dancer Durga Bor.

It will be performed at Ithaca and Cornell University on May 7 and 8.