july 2008 programmes

 

 

 

wednesday 2nd july 

Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm "Islam, the Qu'ran and Western Muslims" a talk by Prof. Tariq Ramadan with an introduction to ‘Islam in India’ by Prof. Mushirul Hasan. 

 

thursday  3rd july

(At Jamia Milia Islamia University)

4.00 pm ‘Christianity and Islam: Values and History’ - a talk by Professor Tariq Ramadan at Jamia Millia Islamia. Chaired by Professor JPS Uberoi

 

 

saturday 5th july

7.00 pm ‘Khayals’ of Sadarang and Adarang by Shailander Kumar Goswami

 

thursday 10th july
7.00 pm Of
f the Mantle # 12 Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood’ by First City Theatre Foundation

tuesday 8th july

7.00 ‘Tibet, China and the Olympic Games’ a talk by Claude Arpi

 

saturday 12th july

7.00 pm Bharatnatyam Dance performance “The  Lone Warrior “ by Anuradha Venkataraman

 thursday 24th july
Dialogues of Faith Series at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm ‘Dharma, Karma and Moksha – Jainism the living traditions’ a talk by Dr. J.B. Shah

 

saturday 26th july
7.00 pm A Surbahar & Sitar Recital by Jagdeep Singh Bedi

sunday 27 july to saturday 2nd august
7.00 pm ‘
Good Hands
& Godspeed’ two original monologues by First City Theatre Foundation

 

 

 

 ============================================================

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dialogues of Faith

This series of 8 talks and 4 performances is meant to highlight the syncretic nature of India’s religious and musical traditions.   They will show that there are no absolutist distinctions in the mélange of ideas, concepts and teachings that form our religions, music and art. That India has the unique distinction in its tolerance and diversity where there is no ‘other’ , where the concepts of nirvana, ahimsa, martyrdom, asceticism, moksha, charity and  shariat exist side by side, where gurbani, choir, sufi and bhajan music are all part of a common heritage.

This series is organized jointly by The Attic and The India International Centre.

 

wednesday 2nd july

Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm "Islam, the Qu'ran and Western Muslims" a talk by Prof. Tariq Ramadan with an introduction to ‘Islam in India’ by Prof. Mushirul Hasan.

                   

                   

                       Since the ‘clash of civilizations’ debate after 9/11, Islam and Muslims have been regarded as an enemy culture in the Western world. This Islam versus the West attitude ignores the hundreds of years of tolerant Islamic rule over Spain and the many freedoms that other religions enjoyed under Islamic rule in India and many other countries around the world. Western Muslims are now having to reinvent themselves in a Christian culture. Islamic theology and the Qur’an have to be constantly reinterpreted. Religion, Culture and Citizenship are concepts that need to be re-examined. Within Muslim society there is a conflict between those who believe that there is only the one, true Islam and those like Prof. Ramadan, who feel that Muslims must take into account the cultural, religious and societal differences in the countries they live in and create for themselves a "European, Asian or African Islam".

 

Islam came to India in the 7th century AD through Arab traders and later by the Turko Afghan invasions in medieval India. But the most important role in the spread of Islam in India was by wandering Sufi mystics as many aspects of Sufi belief systems and practices had their parallels in Indian philosophical literature, in particular nonviolence and monism.Prof. Mushirul Hasan will give a short introduction to the diversity of Islam in India.

 

Prof. Tariq Ramadan graduated in philosophy, literature and social sciences from the University of Geneva and did his PhD in Arabic and Islamic studies. He taught Religion and Philosophy at the University of Fribourg and the College de Saussure, Geneva, Switzerland and later taught at St Antony's College at the University of Oxford. Ramadan established the Movement of Swiss Muslims in Switzerland. He has taken part in interfaith seminars and has sat on a commission of “Islam and Secularism.” He is an advisor to the EU on religious issues and was invited to join a task force by the Government of the United Kingdom.

 

Prof. Mushirul Hasan is an M.A. from Aligarh Muslim University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Moral Reckoning: Muslim Intellectuals in Nineteenth Century Delhi, Islam in the subcontinent: Muslims in a Plural Society, The Legacy of A Divided Nation: India’s Muslims since Independence. He was Director Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia Delhi and is currently its Vice-Chancellor. 

 

 

thursday  3rd july

(At Jamia Milia Islamia University)

4.00 pm ‘Christianity and Islam: Values and History’ - a talk by Professor Tariq Ramadan at Jamia Millia Islamia. Chaired by Professor JPS Uberoi 

Christianity and Islam (as well as Judaism) are monotheistic, known as Abrahamic religions because of their common origin through Abraham whose son Ishmael is the ancestor of the prophet Mohammed. His second son Isaac is called the Father of the Hebrews.

Christianity starting around 33 AD had spread to most areas of the Roman Empire by the 4th century. Islam starting in the early 600’s had spread from Africa to China in 100 years. Beginning with the fall of Jerusalem in 636, Muslim armies captured all of the major urban centers of early Christianity--Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria, and Carthage. The troubled history between the two religions started with the Christian crusades from the 11th to the 13th centuries, when armed marauders and ‘Knights’ attempted to retake the ‘holy lands’ from the Muslim rulers. Even though unsuccessful the savage cruelty manifested during the crusades left lingering bitter memories, reinforced during the period of colonization from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian lands  and the promotion of ‘the war on terror’ by President Bush as a crusade.

Despite the enlightened and tolerant rule of the Muslim kings of Andalusia soon followed by the barbarity of the Spanish Inquisition, despite the tolerance shown to Jews and Christians during long periods of Muslim rule in the Middle East a new myth is being perpetuated. Samuel Huntingtons ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory is being eagerly lapped up by intellectuals and politicians alike pitting ‘Islamic Resurgence’ against Western Universalism. The West is again in danger. The Ottomans have arrived again at the gates of Vienna.

Prof Ramadan talks about this troubled history   but emphasizes the common values largely ignored in current political discourse, specially ‘love of the One God and love of the neighbour’. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity, but none better than the Qu’ran itself about the prescribed behavior towards Christians (Qu'ran 29:46):

"Be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book, except with those among them who do evil. Say: "We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one. To Him we surrender ourselves."

saturday 5th july

7.00 pm  Khayals of Sadarang and Adarang by Shelender Kumar Goswami.

 

                                        The great poet-composers and creative musicians or Vaggeyakar’s Sadarang and Adarang are credited with the emergence and popularity of the ‘khayal’ style of Hindustani classical music. The story goes back to the court of Mohammed Shah ‘Rangila’ in the mid eighteenth century. There, a Dhrupad singer and a been (flute) player Niyamat Khan –“Been Nawaz” as he was called was apparently asked to accompany a Dhrupad singer. He took affront at this insult and left in a huff. But he could not resist the temptations of courtly life and returned adopting the nick-name Sadarang. The musical wars between the been-players and the dhrupad singers led to the evolution of the khayal which broke away from the abstract patterns of the Dhrupad. Sadarang’s disciple, nephew and son-in-law Adarang added his own compositions to further popularize and enrich this style of music.

          Although this musical tradition is more than 300 years old and many new composers have added to the field, Sadarang and Adarang’s compositions in praise of nature, god, love etc. continue to resonate even for contemporary audiences. Their vocal and instrumental compositions are not bound either by language or gharanas; both of them composed in various languages - Punjabi, Braj, Arbi , Farsi and Rajasthani and vocalists from all gharanas sing their compositions, some of which were transmitted in written form while others have been passed down through the vocal tradition. 

Delhi born vocalist Shelender Kumar Goswami of the Kirana Gharana inherited musical traditions from his father Shri Surender Goswami and also learnt from renowned gurus like Pt. Deepak Chatterjee of the Rampur Sehsan Ghrana. His repertoire is varied and includes khayals, bhajans and shabads.  He is among the leading vocalists in the Hindustani style and has performed for All India Radio (AIR) and at many festivals including the Sabrang and Sangeet Mahotsava Sirsa (Haryana), Sankalp Festival (Ahemdabad) and the Guru Parva and Indraprastha festivals organized by the Sahitya Kala Parishad.  Shelender Goswami received his post graduate and doctoral degrees from the Faculty of Music & Fine Arts, University of Delhi where he continues to teach. A true academician Dr. Shelender has also published three books on music.

 

thursday 10th july
7.00 pm Of
f the Mantle # 12 Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood’ by First City Theatre Foundation

A radio play, later adapted for the stage, Under Milk Wood was developed over nine years by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and first performed in 1953, only months before his death. In this wonderful work of poetry, an all-seeing narrator invites the audience to listen to the dreams and innermost thoughts of the inhabitants of an imaginary small Welsh village, Llareggub. Later, the town wakes and, aware now of how their feelings affect whatever they do, we listen as they go about their daily business.

 

tuesday 8th july 7.00 pm

Tibet, China and the Olympic Games’ a talk by Claude Arpi

China invaded Tibet on October 7, 1950. Nine months later, a 17-Point Agreement ‘On Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’ was signed under duress between some Tibetan delegates and Chinese officials. Denouncing this agreement later The Dalai Lama explained: “The [delegates] were insulted and abused and threatened with personal violence, and with further military action against the people of Tibet, and they were not allowed to refer to me or my government for further instructions.” In April 1959 the Dalai Lama after a long and hazardous journey fled Tibet and arrived in Tezpur. India gave asylum to the Dalai Lama and his party and since then the Dalai Lama’s representatives and later the Tibetan government in exile have been fighting for independence and/or autonomy.

This evening Claude Arpi follows the course of negotiations starting with the Dalai Lama’s contacts with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1954 – 55. At first the Dalai Lama was treated with great respect and there was even talk of autonomy not only for the Tibetans but also for all the national minorities in China. The situation has only worsened since then. The Tibetans always seem to be in the position of a beggar holding out his bowl for meager alms which are refused without fail. What is more shocking is the constant stream of insults against the ‘Dalai and his clique’ poured out by Beijing before, during and after the talks. Is the Tibetan way of doing things a Buddhist way? A Tibetan friend mischievously told me: “The Chinese are lucky, Buddha is more compassionate than Allah”. The question is will this always remain so? Recent demonstrations in the West and in India by younger, educated Tibetans seem to threaten the traditional Buddhist way of seeing things.

Claude Arpi is French-born author and journalist who lives in Auroville, India. He has interviewed many eminent personalities including the Dalai Lama. His most recent books include Tibet: The Lost Frontier (2008), India and Her Neighbourhood: A French Observer’s Views (2005), Born in Sin: The Panchsheel Agreement (2004), The Fate of Tibet: When Small Insects Eat Big Insect (1999).

 


saturday 12th july

7.00 pm  Bharatnatyam Dance performance “The  Lone Warrior “ by Anuradha Venkataraman.

         

This production is at one level a simple story of Karna , the anti hero of   Mahabharata. At another level it is a commentary on class conflict and about our social mores.  The dance is inspired by Karna’s character especially as it is depicted in  Padmabhushan Ramdhari Singh Dinkar's epic valour-steeped poem “Rashmirathi”.   Rashmirathi literally means the one who rides the Sun's chariot. The tragic circumstances of Karna’s life leaves one in great awe of his struggle for his principles against all odds. Born to the unwed Kunti, the Pandava queen, he is abandoned by his mother and brought up by a low born charioteer and his wife; humiliated because he is stopped from a duel with Arjuna and from learning archery skills from Parsuram because he is of a lower caste, a forlorn Karna is finally befriended by the Kaurava prince Duryondhana.  This great warrior, betrayed by man and God alike, dies lonely in the battlefield, never once having wavered from his principles.  Anuradha portrays a story of motherhood, love, friendship loyalty, principles and valour.  Above all it is a story of sacrifice. Told with a passion that befits the quintessential anti hero Karna, it traces the story of his life as told in through the traditional grammar of Bharatanatyam.  This production conceptualised and choreographed by Anuradha has been set to music by Imran Khan.

 Anuradha Venkataraman is a young exponent of the Tanjavur style of Bharatanatyam. She is the disciple of Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan.  Anuradha is an acclaimed dancer who has received both National and State level Scholarship for dance and has been a Visiting Faculty member for dance at Korea National University of Arts.  She has performed extensively in India and abroad including many prestigious festivals. Along with the performance aspect of Bharatanatyam Anuradha is also passionate about the academic aspect of classical dance.  As a choreographer, Anuradha has presented several works on both traditional and contemporary themes. She is the Founder president of "Dhruva" a society set up for the promotion of traditional performing arts in Gurgaon.

 

thursday 24th july

Dialogues of Faith Series at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm ‘Dharma, Karma and Moksha – Jainism the living traditions’ a talk by Dr. J.B. Shah

                                 The Jain religion and philosophy started in Ancient India and was made famous in the 6th century BC by Mahavira the 24th Jina (conqueror) or Tirthankara. The main concepts later borrowed by Hinduism were non violence (Ahimsa), non possessiveness (Aparigraha) and multi facetedness (Anekantavada) . Mahavira also preached abstinence, penance, self control (Samyama ) and equality.

There are about 5 million Jains living all over India and the orthodox ones are easily distinguishable by their breathing masks to avoid breathing even the smallest of living creatures.

Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism have influenced each other in philosophy, religious practices, art and architecture.  Jain painting from manuscript illustrations to monumental paintings on cloth show a spectacular range including the cosmological paintings of the structure of the Jain universe. Jain deities are always depicted in their non violent aspect. Jain religious monuments are among the oldest and most ornate edifices erected in India. From the Stupas of Mathura built in the 1st to the 3rd centuries to the most famous of all Jain monuments the spectacular white marble temples at Mount Abu, the Jain community has commissioned some of  India's most lavish temples.

This evening Dr. Shah talks in Hindi and English about the religion, art, architecture, culture and philosophy of Jainism and its impact on Indian culture. He will end his lecture with a fascinating insight into the Jain way of life.

Dr. J.B. Shah is the Director, L.D. Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad and Research Director, Shardaben Chimanbhai Educational Research Center. He is a Ph.D. in Jain Philosophy from Banaras Hindu University and has lectured on Jain Philosophy  at various centers in the US, Canada, U.K., Germany, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Nepal and Tibet. He speaks Gujarati, Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, and Apabhrams. He is the author of 9 books including Rajanagar Na Jinalao , Kalpasutra Chitravali and Prakrit Pathavli. He is also one of the editors of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophy – Jain Philosophy, a project of Washington University, USA.

 

saturday 26th july
7.00 pm A Surbahar & Sitar Recital by Jagdeep Singh Bedi

The Surbahar is bass sitar - a plucked string instrument used in the Hindustani classical music of North India. Its pitch is one to four octaves lower than the sitar and the Surbahar is to the sitar, what the cello is to the violin. A large pumpkin fixed to the neck acts as a resonator allowing a deep, sonorous, long-lasting sound. The surbahar has four rhythm strings (cikari), four playing strings and 15 to 17 unplayed sympathetic strings resting on a wide flat bridge giving the musician a great ability to ‘meend’ (glissando).

The invention of the surbahar, around 1825, is attributed, variously, to Ustad Sahebdad Khan, the father of the legendary Ustad Imdad Khan, and a lesser- known Lucknow-based early 19th century sitarist, Ustad Ghulam Mohammed. The purpose of developing the instrument was to enable sitar-players to present the elaborate dhrupad-style alap traditionally performed on the rudra veena.  Until well into the 20th century, leading sitarists habitually presented the dhrupad style alap on the surbahar, followed by post-dhrupad styles of compositions on the sitar.

The difficulty of playing the instrument, the technical developments in the acoustics of the sitar and the decline of the Dhrupad style itself has led to its lack of visibility. However for the true lovers of North Indian classical music Jagdeep Singh Bedi, one of the very few concert performers of the Surbahar in Delhi performs in the traditional style of the alap on the Surbahar and the jor and jhala on the sitar. He combines the  unmatched acoustic richness and melodic potential of the surbahar with the versatility of the contemporary sitar.

Jagdeep Singh Bedi is a M.Phil. in Music from the University of Delhi and a musician who was initiated to the sitar and surbahar by his father. He developed his skills under Shri Anil Dhar in the style of the Senia Gharana and later under the reputed sitarist Debashish Mukherjee. He has performed in the Festival of India in the USSR as well as in many festivals in India. He is an empanelled artist with ICCR and All India Radio. His CD “Soft & True” was released by Music of the World USA.

 

sunday 27 july to saturday 2nd august
7.00 pm ‘
Good Hands
& Godspeed’ two original monologues by First City Theatre Foundation

 The First City Theatre Foundation premieres two original monologues written and directed by Neel Chaudhuri. In Good Hands, a young man presents a slide show of obscure superheroes, highlighting their elemental virtues and narrating short episodes from their adventures. In Godspeed, a girl cleans up a room that belonged to a boy who died, finding comfort in songs from his music collection.