Education in a Playful Universe


Prashant Olalekar


The 13th century Sufi poet Muhammad Rumi [جلال‌الدین محمد رومی] vividly incorporates the image of dance and movement in his lyrics, while the Mehlevi Order of Sufi Islam (popularly known as ‘Whirling Dervishes’) was founded on Rumi’s teachings. Such expressions of emotive joy were among the favourites of my students, when I served as Director of Inter-Religious Studies at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. The testimony of a college student in our Honours course, ‘Awakening to Cosmic Compassion,’ gives an idea of the impact that movement and embodied meditation makes on learning.


Author Biography

Prashant Olalekar, Department of Interreligious Studies, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India

Prashant Olalekar is a Jesuit from Bombay who completed his Doctor of Ministry in Peace Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, (DMin) Berkeley, California in 2006. Recently retired as Head of the Department for Interreligious Studies, he was also Adviser of the All India Catholic University Federation unit at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Prashant coordinated Jagruti (Awakening), an experiential value education programme for junior college students, which included exposure trips to slums and rural areas of India. He was Novice Director and Coordinator for Formation of the Bombay Jesuit Province, Episcopal Vicar for Religious of Vasai Diocese, and Director of Pasayadaan Holistic Spirituality Centre, Vasai, and Retreat House, Bandra. Co-founder of Samanvaya (Harmony), a network for grassroots research scholars to collaborate for community peace, Prashant also founded InterPlay India and organized Peace Pilgrimages to India from the USA and Australia. InterPlay and Movement Meditation workshops are popular with professionals, students, teachers, as well as marginalized groups like the tribal community, the differently-abled, sex workers, and slum dwellers. He has facilitated Movement Meditation retreats in India, the United States, and Ireland. An active member of the Big History movement, he makes presentations on topics related to Cosmic Spirituality for the World Union of Jesuit Alumni, the Jesuit Educational Association of South Asia, and Fireflies Ashram in Bangalore. He may be reached at <>.