Seated front row from left to right: Taunalyn Rutherford and Carol Hayward Standing back row from left to right: Rafael Reyes, Michael Kosik, Seth Clark, Andrew Davis, Prof. Deepak Shimkhada, Len Hayward, Andrew Smith and Anjeanette LeBoeuf

Students eagerly wait for the guru to enter the classroom. Beaming with joy, the Guru greets his students. He asks them to open the course packets handed out earlier. He starts to lecture and he promises them enlightenment. However, some students are skeptical; they would rather have weight loss, love and happiness over enlightenment. Meanwhile another Guru enters the room and challenges the New Age Guru. He identifies himself as Suta, the narrator of several Pūrāṇas, including the Mahābhārata and the Bhāgavata Pūrāṇa of the ancient past. This is the opening scene from a play produced and performed by the students in Professor Shimkhada’s course called Understanding the Religions of India.

“Reading texts is one thing and understanding and interpreting the philosophical and religious tenets is quite another,” said Professor Deepak Shimkhada. So he challenged the students to interpret what they learned in the classroom in a play. The students were divided into four groups—representing four Dharmic traditions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The students wrote the script, directed the play, prepared the wardrobe and staged the production on their own without any help from the professor. A video of the play will be uploaded soon on YouTube and the Indic Foundation’s Websites. Please watch the video and leave your comments.