The International Big History Association, invited us (the Emergent Universe Oratorio Project) to ‘co-create’ with Indian/South Asian collaborators, a musical ‘Inter-arts Event’ for the August 2020 IBHA World Conference in Pune. We imagine integrating the great scientific/cosmological narratives and deep poetic/aesthetic expression in an authentic melding of contemporary and indigenous South Asian perspectives and history with current Universe Story and Big History narratives. Our vision is to transcend ‘local/national/cultural/linguistic’ barriers, while recognizing within a cosmic context, understanding relationships among, and respecting the multiplicity of ‘identities’ and sources represented.

We just returned from three weeks in India where we had a remarkable, shocking, transformative, and revelatory experience. Our objective was to get to know India, visit friends, meet musicians, scientists and environmentalists, and explore South Asian music in the context of the emerging Universe story. While we brought our telling of the Universe Story to India, we also discovered the deep well of cosmology that already exists in that extraordinary place.

Our time in Mumbai, Pune, and at the Fireflies Ashram south of Bengaluru facilitated the many connections we needed to make in order to begin the work of imagining and shaping a musical presentation for the conference at the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts. As Aseem Shrivastava, a keynote speaker and brilliant environmental economist/philosopher stated at the Fireflies Dialogues: “if India does not survive, the civilized world will not survive”. Their environmental challenges are daunting by any standard. However, there is growing awareness and the beginnings of steps to ban plastics, reduce the burning of fossil fuels, create more sustainable food environments, and clean up the waterways so vital to a healthy environment.

There are multiple layers of discernment ahead regarding our profound experience in India as we begin to move into a more collaborative awareness of our deep connection, interdependence, and responsibility to India, its people, culture, and its ecological peril.