Translation - Kahte Hai Jeete Hain Umeed Pe Log (Ghalib)

ishq taasir se naumeed nahin
jaan-sipaarii sajar-e-biid nahin

saltanate dast-bah-dast aai hai
jaam-e-mai kaatim-e-jamshed nahin

hai tajalli tiriii saamaan-e-wajood
zarra be-partav-e-khurshid nahin

raaz-e-mashooq na rausva ho jaye
varna mar jaane mein kuch bhed nahin

gaardish-e-rang-e-tarab se darr hain
gham-e-mahrumi-e-jaaviid nahin

kahte hai jeete hain umeed pe log
hum ko jeene ki bhi umeed nahin

Line 1/2 - Love is not disappointed by its impression/effect. Surrendering of life is not like a willow tree. The poet says that passion and love is not disappointed by its (lack of) effect. It is still hopeful that it will lead to fruition. Surrendering or sacrificing your life in path of love is unlike a willow tree which does not bear fruit. My love and my sacrifice will lead to success not like the willow tree that grows high and mighty but bears no fruits.

Line 3/4 - The empire has come from hand to hand. The cup of wine is not the seal of Jamshed. This is complicated to interpret. Jamshed the king used to have a special wine cup in which he can see the future. The first lines says that the reign of the empire goes from hand to hand. Hand to hand could mean being passed around by say inheritance (from father to son) or by show of hands (forcefully). So the empire passes from one person to another. But the cup of Jamshed is not the seal of his empire.The fabled cup of Jamshed is not like his seal which will be passed on from one ruler to another. This cup was only Jamshed to be and after him no one will get to have it.

Line 5/6 - This radiance/splendor of yours is the reason for existence. The grain of sand is not without the reflection of the sun. The poet says referring to the God, that your manifestation and splendor is the cause/reason for the existence of everything. The greatness of Him is the reason for anything and everything to exist. Like the minuscule grain of sand that reflects the rays of the sun. Even the countless and unremarkable grains of sand shows His brilliance by reflecting the sun rays and showing that they too are part of His divine workings.

Line 7/8 - The secret of the beloved does not become revealed/exposed. Otherwise there is no secret in dying. The poet says there is no mystery in dying. I would have sacrificed myself any day. The only reason I am no doing so is that my death would expose or reveal the secrets of my beloved and I do not want that to happen. My sudden death will raise questions and people may ultimately link it back to my beloved and some unwanted and unpleasant secrets could be exposed which I do not want. 'Bhed' also in commonplace language means difference. And this gives a dramatically different view. There is no difference in dying. The pain and agony of love makes living same as dying. The only reason I prefer living is that my death (due to the agony of love) will bring disrepute to the my beloved who is secret.

Line 9/10 - I fear from the revolving/turning around of the colors of joy. I have no fear from the sorrow of eternal deprivation. The poet says I am fearful of the slow turning manner of the joy. One moment one think he is happy and slowly the feeling winds down. I fear this slowly turning around of emotions from joy to sadness. I do not fear the grief of living in everlasting neediness or want for one does not get these rhythms of joy and sadness in it. Life of never-ending want is easy to live then one where joy gives way to distressing sorrow. There is another interpretation possible. Suppose these lines are said in a reply to someone as a mild censure - You fear the turning around of joy to sorrow. But not the life of endless want! How come? Do you not know that life of eternal want is many times dreadful than one where joy slowly winds down.

Line 11/12 - They say that people live on hope. For we do not hope even for living. The poet says that people live on hope. As long as they are alive, they are hopeful of something. For them to be alive means to be hopeful, having a hope. But for us, we do not have any hope. Not even hope of living, leave aside living on hope. It a cyclical play of words that come out very well.

Meaning of difficult words -
taasir = impression, effect
sipaarii = surrender, sacrifice
sajar-e-biid - willow tree
dast = hand
kaatim - seal/stamp or finger ring
tajalli = manifestation, splendor, brilliance
tirii = yours
samaane-e-wajood = reason for existence
partav = reflection
khurshid = sun
rusva = dishonored, despondent
bhed = secret, mystery. difference
gaardish = turning round, adversity
tarab = joy
mahrumi-e-jaaviid = eternal deprivation

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXX


What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
Another and another Cup to drown
The Memory of this Impertinence!

This is the thirtieth quatrain of FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. The first two lines state, we came hurriedly to this place (here)  from that place without being asked. And we are hurriedly being taken from here to that place, again without being asked. The places where we coming from and going to are not mentioned. Are we going to the same place where we came from, the poet does not tell. These two lines are very similar in theme as the last quatrain where the poet laments over lack of control over life. The next two lines are bit more complex. These can be interpreted as cup after cup of wine is needed to drown the memory or the realization of this human condition. The acknowledgement of human frailty, of lack of control, of places and times unknown and beyond human grasp. The only way to block out these thoughts is to numb your senses by engaging in cups of wine. The poet could also be referring to that he needs cups of wine to overwhelm the feeling of injustice and improper conduct of God in making the human condition as it is.

Borges - Everything And Nothing (Summary)

This is a fascinating short story by Borges. The complete story is below (in italics). It is about a man who has no true self but only emptiness within him ("There was no one in him"). He is like a dream that was dreamt by no one. Ultimately he finds satisfaction as an actor where he plays 'somebody' so that others would not discover his nobodiness. In his countless plays, he played such an endless array of characters that he seemed to exhaust all possible destinies of man. He had died innumerable deaths and loved so much and endured so much that 'he had all men inside of him' and yet he had 'no one inside of him'. He had achieved the fundamental unity of existing, dreaming and acting. For twenty years he revelled in this theatre. One day realizing the terror of being no one, he retires and settle down in his native village. When he dies, he finds himself in presence of God and asks God that he just wanted to be himself. To which the God replied, that neither am I anyone. I have dreamed the world as you dreamed your work, my Shakespeare. One of the forms in dream are you who like me are many and yet no one. You are everything and nothing.

Borges touches on his familiar themes about God, the meaning of life and living and unity and multiplicity of existences or time. The last conversation between and actor and God is opaque in its interpretation and meaning. The idea that 'one man is all men' has been repeated multiple times in Borges's stories. Here the actor is no one and he is all men. He is unable to have a singular identity, a constant and an unchanging Self. He created multiple identities to give his life an identity. He was never meant to be anyone. He via his acts affects, empathises and simulates other people. Anything human is what he can be and he can feel and choose to be any other human. He identifies with all men. He is nothing in particular and yet everything, like a infinite space that is infinitely full and yet indefinitely empty. He feels and experiences situations and circumstances similarly as men who came before him felt and faced. His actions have been acted before. His pain and joys have been felt before. Whatever we do has a likeness to what has already happened to someone else. His destiny is no different from the destiny of all men. What happens to him will happen to all the men for they share the collective experience and a collective destiny. He is nothing that has already not happened or going to happen. Same is to God which is this constant idea, a constance presence in all the forms that one sees. The forms are all His many dreams, his many creations and like Man, He is many and yet He is no one. He is a dream of forms he dreamt. Without the creation he dreamt, He is nothing. He is all things and He is none.
There was no one in him: behind his face (which even through the bad paintings of those times resembles no other) and his words, which were copious, fantastic and stormy, there was only a bit of coldness, a dream dreamt by no one. At first he thought that all people were like him, but the astonishment of a friend to whom he had begun to speak of this emptiness showed him his error and made him feel always that an individual should not differ in outward appearance.Once he thought that in books he would find a cure for his ill and thus he learned the small Latin and less Greek a contemporary would speak of; later he considered that what he sought might well be found in an element rite of humanity, and let himself be initiated by Anne Hathaway one long June afternoon. At the age of twenty-odd years he went to London. Instinctively he had already become proficient in the habit of simulating that he was someone, so that others would not discover his condition as no one; in London he found the profession to which he was predestined, that of the actor, who on a stage plays at being another before a gathering of people who play at taking him for that other person. His histrionic tasks brought him a singular satisfaction, perhaps the first he had ever known; but once the last verse had been acclaimed and the last dead man withdrawn from the stage, the hated flavor of unreality returned to him. He ceased to be Ferrex or Tamerlane and became no one again. Thus hounded, he took to imagining other heroes and other tragic fables. And so, while his flesh fulfilled its destiny as flesh in the taverns and brothels of London, the soul that inhabited him was Caesar, who disregards the augur's admonition, and Juliet, who abhors the lark, and Macbeth, who converses on the plain with the witches who are also Fates. No one has ever been so many men as this man, who like the Egyptian Proteus could exhaust all the guises of reality. At times he would leave a confession hidden away in some corner of his work, certain that it would not be deciphered; Richard affirms that in his person he plays the part of many and lago claims with curious words "I am not what I am," The fundamental identity of existing, dreaming and acting inspired famous passages of his.  
For twenty years he persisted in that controlled hallucination, but one morning he was suddenly gripped by the tedium and the terror of being so many kings who die by the sword and so many suffering lovers who converge, diverge and melodiously expire. That very day he arranged to sell his theater. Within a week he had returned to his native village, where he recovered the trees and rivers of his childhood and did not relate them to the others his muse had celebrated, illustrious with mythological allusions and Latin terms. He had to be someone; he was a retired impresario who had made his fortune and concerned himself with loans, lawsuits and petty usury. It was in this character that he dictated the arid will and testament known to us, from which he deliberately excluded all traces of pathos or literature. His friends from London would visit his retreat and for them he would take up again his role as poet.  
History adds that before or after dying he found himself in the presence of God and told Him: "I who have been so many men in vain want to be one and myself." The voice of the Lord answered from a whirlwind: "Neither am I anyone; I have dreamt the world as you dreamt your work, my Shakespeare, and among the forms in my dream are you, who like myself are many and no one." -- By Jorge Luis Borges (Translated by James E. Irby)

Photo Of The Day

Somewhere in Jervis Bay

Port Stephens from Gan Gan Lookout

Thought Of The Day

We have come to a stage where the aesthetics of the newly acquired book shelf engages more conversation than the type of books that are on the bookshelf. The content of the message has been lost in hubris or our so called busy-ness or plain nonchalance, but the messenger still evokes frantic sentiments on all sides of the spectrum. Since when did we became so partisan and hacks for someone's agenda. No one reads the story these days, people go straight to the comments section to check out the abuse happening around or promote their own bias. Any sane debate or view point is lost in this theater of the absurd. And now this theater pervades all around from art to politics to media to everyday lives, covering the real.

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”  
- Isaaac Asimov

Frits Staal - Discovering the Vedas (Summary - I)

I have always been fascinated by how cultures developed overtime. Early humans foraging for food and shelter slowly come together to form a settlement that ultimately becomes part of a bigger civilization. Language develops, Gods are created and venerated and a basis of religion is formed. I am currently reading Frits Staal's book - "Discovering the Vedas". This is the first book I am reading on how early Hinduism came into being and it has found me all excited. The premise of the book is since early Vedic civilization left no records (like built structures or written text), the starting point for how to describe the times would be the Vedas itself and if we can de-construct them, we can understand the broad contours of the time and space that they were created in. The below write up is a broad summary of the first section of the book and I will try to come up with similar summaries of other sections as well. In no way whatsoever the ideas puts forward in this book are definitive but it is definitely worthy of a thought.

So what is Vedas? - Vedas are archaic text that are regarded as 'revealed' or sruti, or literally 'what is heard' by sages from the Gods. But they are of human origin written by early Vedic scholars and are basically hymns used to address and invoke Gods. They were passed from teacher to pupils orally [called as Oral Tradition] over a thousands of years and were created in early Vedic language which is archaic form of classical Sanskrit. Vedic (or early classical Sanskrit) is one of the many Indo-Iranian language that rose during that prolific time that ultimately all trace back to a common Indo-European ancestor language. Vedas were finally written down sometime in the early Common Era. Contrary to common knowledge, Vedas were not created in one piece or one place. They were composed in multiple places over a long period of time and some feature are not be even part of Indian subcontinent. Rig Veda is most archaic and other three Vedas depend and quote it extensively.

Where were they written? - The book states that Rig Veda (RV) records the name of rivers of north west India and Pakistan extensively. So they must have been created in or in vicinity of north west India. Harappa civilization existed in the same region around 3000 BC to 1800 BC and it was well known for the proper city planning and fired bricks. But RV never mentions of cities or bricks in its verses. It talks of fort with mud walls but never of bricks. In RV, there is mention of mythical river Saraswati flowing in north west India. Saraswati  has the same language origins as with another river called as Haraxaiti [river Helmand in Afghanistan]. Both words sound very similar and have same meaning [i.e. river with ponds or that dries in desert]. The book puts forwards a theory that early Vedic people knew about Haraxaiti as they lived around it and when they moved to north west India and when they found a similar river there, they named it similarly. Like English migrants named New England in US when they came from England and found it similar. Hence Vedas were likely composed in north west India with rivers and early tribes names providing the geographical fingerprint. The centre of the Vedic culture slowly kept moving west starting in frontier Pakistan and ultimately moving to the Gangetic plains of Bihar.(where later Vedic text was composed)

When were they written? - The current generally accepted time of composition of RV is around 1500 BC. Harappa culture was also in the same space (north west India), but they never shared time. So RV was either pre-3000 BC or post-1800 BC as Harappa culture existed during this period and they both seem to be mutually exclusive. More on timelines later when we discuss the origin of early Vedic people.

Where did early Vedic people came from? - This is the big question and the book proposes a theory which many may not necessarily agree. The book briefly touches on genetic make-up of Indian population (caste or otherwise) and states that the predominant DNA material goes back to 9000 years and Vedic people can not contribute so much of DNA material so long back. It also mentions of another source where a similar ancient Vedic culture sprung up (more on Mitanni on wiki). In ancient middle east, there was a treaty between Hittite kingdom (modern day Turkey) and Mitanni kingdom (modern day Syria/North Iraq) that refers to Vedic gods of Indra and Varuna. Mitanni nobles spoke of language that was very very close to Vedic. The text tablets of the treaty are dated around 1400 BC and are basically horse training and chariots making manuals for fighting wars. Now to posit that a group of Vedic people moved from India to modern day Syria does not cut ice. Most likely a group of near-Vedic speaking people wandering around split and some came to India while the other group went to middle east taking with them the language and equestrian skills. Mitanni nobles had knowledge of something that allowed them to rule the more numerous natives. Maybe in India something similar happened that allowed a small group of people to become kings and chiefs and they slowly kept moving west.These people brought with them the power of written language and the skills of horse and chariots (spoke based chariots that are much faster) over the mountains to north west India. Harappa culture had no written language. Probably the idea of a written text filled the gap. The language also brought with itself the power of mantra and myth to invoke Gods that may have added to the power of ruling elite besides the charm of the language. Horses were introduced from else where as they were not native to India. They were not present in Harappa culture but they are everywhere in RV. It points that horses and chariots were fashionable as probably they were new to the land. The overall premise of the book being that instead of an big Aryan invasion (as is generally thought of), maybe Vedic people trickled over the mountains in small numbers and settled over time and became royalty as they had the skills alien to the land (i.e horses, chariots, language, mantra and myth) but fashionable.

How does this all hang together? - The book proposes that the origins of early Vedic people were most likely somewhere in Sintashta culture (in Russian steppes, south of Ural mountains that developed around 2100-1800 BC). In Sintashta culture which was primarily a Indo-European or maybe Indo-Iranian language culture, evidence of early chariots and horse/fire sacrifice have been found extensively. This culture is further north of another culture called BMAC which is a non Indo-European culture located on the banks of Amu Darya river in Central Asia. One wave of people from Sintashta move south via BMAC into northern Iran where they form the basis of early Iranian culture and language [Avestan/Zoroastrianism]. At the same time, another set of people from Sintashta start moving east on to wide empty plains of Kazakhstan and continue moving east to what is now called as Chinese Xinjiang. Here in the dry Tarim basin countless mummies have been found dating to 2000 BC with Indo-European features. During this long trek over mountains and deserts the language started changing from India-Iranian into Vedic. High in the mountains the early Vedic people find the plant Soma which is heavily mentioned in Vedas for its stimulant qualities and is said to grow near Mount Mūjavant. The author proposes that Mount Mūjavant could be Muz-tagh Ata near the Pamir mountains. After crossing the Pamir, north of Karakoram the nomads enter Afghanistan. Here they mingle with the BMAC culture and influence each other. Number of non-Indo-European words are picked and added into the Vedic vocabulary here. This maybe dated around 1800 BC. Once in BMAC, they split, one goes west to formed Mitanni state [in 1500 BC]  and the other moved to north west India via Khyber pass. This fits nicely with linguistic side as Vedic and Mittani are more similar then say Iranian and Mitanni. Another set of people moved further south and entered India via Bolan pass picking the Iranian word Haraxaiti from eastern Iran. So somewhere around 1500 B.C.,the early settlers settle themselves in northern India bringing with them the power of language and art of horse riding and fast chariots. In fact Harappa has toys with solid wheels but RV never mentions solid wheels and instead has whole terminology for chariots and its parts showing that it was more fashionable and probably an in-demand skill at that time. This brings us to the end of the first section that provides a brief take on that era when early Vedic civilization rose.

Whatever the author proposes is difficult to prove one way or other but I find one thing hard to believe. While the origin of Vedic people may be in Sintashta culture of the Russian steppes or near about, but the idea of large number of people along with their women/children and possibly livestock as well moving around in such treacherous and nearly inhospitable terrain of Pamir and Tarim is difficult to comprehend. Would it not been easier for them to just move south to BMAC directly and then enter India via Khyber taking along with them the horse and the chariot. At least this route is easier and more live-able. Well! we will never know the answer!

Translation - Dard Ho Dil Main Toh Dawa (Ghalib)

dard ho dil main toh dawa keejay
dil hi jab dard ho toh kiya keejay

hum ko fariyaad karni aati hai
aap suntay nahi toh kiya keejay

in butoon ko khuda se kiya matlab
tauba tauba , khuda khuda , keejay

ranj uthanay say bhi khushi ho gi
pahlay dil dard aashna keejay

arz -e- shookhi , nishat -e- alam hai
husn ko aur khud numa keejay

dushmani ho chuki ba qadr wafa
ab haq -e- dosti ada keejay

maut aati nahi kaheen Ghalib
kab tak afsoos ziist ka keejay

Line 1/2 - When pain afflicts the heart, medicine needs to be done. When heart itself is pain, then what to do? Such a easy going colloquial lines best for any occasion! The poet says when there is pain in the heart, a medicine would do the trick. But when the heart itself is one causing pain, when the grief of the heart is so overwhelming, then what needs to be done.

Line 3/4 - We know how to complain/appeal.You do not listen, what to do? The point referring to the apathy and harsh indifference of the beloved and laments what more he needs to do to get her attention. The lines could also be interpreted as Ghalib's multiple appeals to indifferent English officers & declining Mughal empire to get his pensions restored in which he ultimately fails.

Line 5/6 - What meaning do these idols have with God. Heavens forbid, Pray to God! The poet says what these idols that you so adore have to do with God. Repent now and pray to God and ask for forgiveness!

Line 7/8 - Bearing grief too will bring happiness. First, adjust your heart to be friends with pain. This is the best lines of this ghazal. The poet points that one has look inside of themselves for comfort in state of utter loneliness and grief. Grief too will bring happiness, but first make your heart accept pain and then grief will no longer hurt that much!

Line 9/10 - This coquetry and playfulness that you exhibit, is the joy of the world. Un-hide yourself some more of the beauty you possess. The poet says to his beloved that her behavior is the ecstasy that the world cherishes and long for. Show them some more of your beauty for the world waits for it.

Line 11/12 - We have become enemies on the account of (lack of) loyalty. Now pay the dues of the claim to the friendship. This can also be read as enmity has become to the extent of loyalty. Now pay the dues of the right to the friendship. I like the second interpretation better. The poet says we were enemies earlier but now that enmity has turned to loyalty. Please pay the dues (favours that I may have) of the right to our friendship now.

Line 13/14 - The end (death) does not come somehow, Ghalib. Till when do we need to feel regret for this life. The poet says death does not come even though I have been in wait for it. Till what time should we continue to feel sorry for life. Instead of this hopeless existence, I would have wanted death but that is not coming on it own and so life goes on in its usual pace.

Meaning of difficult words -
taubah = swore off
ranj = grief
aashna = good friend
arz = to exhibit
shookhi  = playfulness, mischief; coquetry,
nishat = joy, happiness
alam = world
numa = to show, to unhide
ba-qadr = to the extent of, according to
wafa = loyalty
ziist = life, existence

Photo Of The Day

   Coffs Harbour. Photo taken from the Muttonbird Island

Uprooted tree at North Coast Regional Botanic Garden

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXIX


Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing,
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

This is the twenty-ninth quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The use of wind and water is reminiscent of the previous quatrain where poet says life is like wind and water, without form and direction. In this quatrain Khayyam says we came into this world not knowing the purpose and not knowing where did we come from. It is like water that rains or flows over which we have no control. Such is the essence of life whether we like it or not. My coming to this world does not happen on my accord. And we leave this world not knowing where we will be going to. We leave like wind blowing not knowing where it will blow and having no control over it whether one like it or not. I had no choice if I wanted to be bought up in this world nor do I have one when I leave this world. The theme of this quatrain is similarly expressed by Zauq in this famous work - layi hayaat aaye qaaza la chali chale

existence bought me and I came, death took me away and I went.
I neither came on my own will, nor did I go off  my own accord. 

Translation - Ibn-e-Mariyam Hua Kare Koi (Ghalib)

ibn-e-mariyam huwa kare koee
mere dukh kee dawa kare koee

shar'a-o-aaeen par madaar sahee
'eise  qaatil ka kya  kare koee ?

chaal, jaise kadee kamaan ka teer
dil mein  'eise ke jaa  kare koee

baat par waan zubaan kat_tee hai
woh kahain  aur  suna  kare koee

bak rahaa hoon junoon mein kya kya kuchch
kuchch  na   samjhe   khuda   kare   koee

na suno gar bura kahe koee
na kaho gar bura kare koee

rok lo, gar ghalat chale koee
bakhsh do gar khata kare koee

kaun hai jo naheen hai haajat_mand ?
kiskee   haajat   rawa  kare  koee

kya kiyaa khijr ne sikandar se
ab  kise  rehnuma  kare   koee ?

jab tavaqqo hee uth gayee 'ghalib'
kyon  kisee  ka  gila  kare  koee ?

Line 1/2 - Let someone be the Son of Mary (Jesus), let someone cure me of my sorrow/grief. The poet says if there is a messiah somewhere, let him cure me of my grief. If someone is claiming to be Son of God, first cure me and then I will believe him. The use of 'huwa kare koi' in the first line, make it wide open to interpretations. If someone is, or someone is claiming to be or someone wants to be or even I don't care if someone becomes one. All variations are plausible!

Line 3/4 - Even on the basis of sharia and the law of the land, What should one do of such a murderer. The poet referring to her beloved says what can the religious law or the law of the land do of such a murderer as my beloved. How are they equipped to handle such crimes? Even the laws of God and of the Land are ill-equipped to handle my beloved murderer.

Line 5/6 - Walk like an arrow fired from a tightly strung bow. In the heart like this, let someone find a place. The poet says that the beloved walks like as if an arrow has been let go from a strung bow. The arrow instantly finds the heart (the intended target) and so does my beloved.

Line 7/8 - On the word/talk, there the tongue was cut. She would say and someone else would listen. The poet says, when anything is said then the tongue may be cut for she does not like what is being said. But when she says, than nothing is going to happen. She keeps on saying and people have to listen to it. Cutting of tongue is figurative as if to interrupt or humiliate. She would humiliate if someone was to say something which she did not like. But when she speaks, we can not even complain.

Line 9/10 - In the state of passion, I am babbling I don't know what. May God grant that no one understands any of it. The poet says in this state of madness, I don't know what I was babbling. Maybe I may have let out a secret. May God grant that now one understood whatever I said. I do not want people of know the state of my mind or my affairs. Let them think me of as a mad!

Line 11/12 - Do not listen if someone is saying something bad. Do not say, if someone is doing something bad. The first line is pretty clear. Do not listen if some ill is being said. It is better to not be part of such slander. But the second lines is not very clear. If someone is doing evil, do not say. Do not say to whom? to the evil-doer, to anyone else about the evil-doer? Or maybe do not bring the evil deed on to your lips. Do not even repeat it.

Line 13/14 - Stop them, if someone is walking wrongly (on a wrong path). Forgive them, if someone is doing something wrong.

Line 15/16 -Who is such that they are not needy? Whose need someone might fulfill? The poet says who is in this world who is not needy. Everyone is desirous of something. How will we fulfill the needs of such? When everyone is needy how to decide whom to serve? Another stream of thought is how to fulfill the need of other when one is itself needy?

Line 17/18 - What did Khizr did to Alexander? Now who should someone take as guide? Here is a legend that Khizr (who is prophet who guides people those are lost) guides Alexander to the Fountain Of Life. But Alexander does not drink from it and later in his quests he dies early. The poet says what did a guide like Khizr accomplish for Alexander? He could not even convince Alexander to drink from the fountain. Whom should we trust enough to be our guide when even Khizr was found wanting?

Line 19/20 - When expectation itself have taken off, Ghalib. Why someone would complain about someone? The poet says that I had no expectations, and hence why would I be bitter and complaining about anyone. I was not even anticipating any favors. A second stream of thought can be, that when hope (personified) has itself departed me, I do not care now if any one else is leaving me or not.

Meaning of difficult words -
ibn = son/child
mariyam = virgin Mary
shar'a = the Islamic law
aaeen = law/custom/mode
madaar = orbit/circumference/a place of turning
kadee = link in a chain
kaman = bow
jaa = space
junoon = ecstasy
haajat_mand = person in need
haajat = need
rawa = fulfill
tavaqqo = expectations
gila = complaint

Translation - Dard Minnat Kash-e-Dawa Na Hua (Ghalib)

dard  minnat_kash-e-dawa  na  huaa
main na achchaa huaa, bura na huaa

jama'a karate ho kyon raqeebon ko ?
ik  tamaasha  huaa  gila na  huaa

ham kahaan qismat aazmaane jaayain ?
too hee jab khanjar aazma  na huaa

kitne sheereen hain tere lab ! ki raqeeb
gaaliyaan  khaake  be_maza   na  huaa

hai  khabar garm  unke  aane kee
aaj hee ghar mein boriya na huaa !

kya woh namrood kee khudaaee thee
bandagee mein tera bhala na huaa

jaan dee, dee  huee usee  ki thee
haq to ye hai ke haq adaa na huaa

zakhm gar dab gaya, lahoo na thama
kaam  gar  ruk  gaya  ravaa na huaa

rahzanee hai  ki dil_sitaanee  hai ?
leke dil, dil_sitaan  ravaanah huaa

kuchch to padhiye ki log kehte hain
"aaj  'ghalib'  ghazalsara na  huaa"

Line 1/2 - The pain has not obliged to the medicine. I have not become well, have not become bad. The poet's unusual use of "obligation to medicine" emphasizes that a fact that taking favour will make him indebted to it. It is good that I am no better, no worse from the medicine. Otherwise I would have been indebted to medicine if i recovered my health and I do not want to be indebted to anyone. I do not want favours from anyone.

Line 3/4 - Why are you collecting together the opponents. One spectacle happened, a complaint did not happen. The poet says to her beloved, why do you collect together my rivals? If you had complaints you could have told me in-person. Why did you tell it in front of my rivals.. Now your complaints will no longer be complaints, it will be turned into a unique spectacle in which these opponents of mine will derive pleasure from your complaints against me and pass judgments and critical advise on me. I wished you had avoided this spectacle.

Line 5/6 - Where do we go and try out (test) our destiny? You yourself when are not a dagger testing (muster passing the dagger test). Here couple of interpretations are possible. The poet is saying about himself, that he was failed in the test to slay himself, so where should he go now to fulfill his longing of dying. Where should he try out his destiny? The other possible meaning is the lover is referring to his beloved, that you failed in the dagger test. You were unable to kill me. Now where should he go now to get killed?

Line 7/8 - How sweet are your lips. That the rivals. Having eaten abuses/curses, they have not become less-delightful! The poet says to her beloved that your lips are so sweet that even abuses and curses coming out of them for the rivals is being eaten by them readily and they do not seem to be any less delightful.

Line 9/10 - There is fresh news about their coming. Today itself, in the home there is no straw mat. The poet says I got some news about their coming. I heard my beloved or divine is going to visit me. And today itself, there is not even a straw mat in the house. This is the state of my home and its my utter lack of possessions. And this was to happen today! why today? when I do not even have a welcome mat nor I can somehow arrange for it now! Such is the state of my poverty of possessions that I could only think of the straw mat not being there in my house today!

Line 11/12 - Was that the divinity of namrood? In devotion/service, your welfare did not happen. namrood was a king that claimed that he Is God and hence the words 'namrood kee khudaaee' is commonly used for false claims to divinity. The poet referring to her beloved says that my devotion has not paid off, It did me no good for she does not care about my service. Wasn't her behavior like the divinity of namrood? It is all falsehood and not what they claim. She is just like a false good namrood and my faith in her did me no good.

Line 13/14 - Gave my life, given to me by Him alone. The truth is like this that the right/claim did not get fulfilled.(or was not returned). These are best lines in the ghazal in my opinion. The poet says that I gave up my life,  which was in fact given to me by You only. The truth is that, the right was not fulfilled. I gave up my life, I sacrificed it (for reason unknown - maybe in God's path) . But what is so great in it? The life was itself blessed to me by You alone and it went back to You only. The truth is that I was blessed with life to live it. to exist! but the debt was not repaid as I just ran away from living. Life is to be lived and lived rightly for the debt to be paid back otherwise what is big deal about sacrificing yourself in His path. One is just giving back that was He was given earlier.

Line 15/16 - If the wound was pressed, the blood did not stop. If the work was stopped, then it did not move on. This are not very approachable lines, here is my take on it. The poet says that when I press my wound, the blood should have stopped.  But it does not and the wound keeps bleeding. And if the work (the work of pressing the wound) was stopped then the blood itself stopped flowing through my body. There is no way out of the misery, either I bleed myself to death by pressing the wound or my blood stops flowing when I stop pressing my wound. In either case, I die!

Line 17/18 - Highway robbery is it or is it stealing of the heart? Taking the heart, the stealer of heart moves on!. The poet asks is it highway robbery or the theft of his heart? The beloved stops, steals his heart and then moves away quickly. It does not look like she was here to steal my heart and play with it and torture me. Instead it appears like a crime. This does not look like taking my heart, it felt like a plain highway robbery.

Line 19/20 - Do read something for people are saying. Today ghalib did not become a ghazal-singer. The poet says even in his leisurely hours in company of common folk or when he is not in a particular mood for word-play, people ask him to recite something for they ask how come today ghalib is not at his best (i.e. being a ghazal singer). People have come to expect the best lines from me and If someday I don't give them, they egg me to speak something.

Meaning of difficult words :-
minnat = favour, kindness
minnat_kash-e-dawa = obliged to medicine
raqeeb = opponent
gila = complaint
khanjar = dagger
sheereen = sweet
boriya = mat, mat made of jute/palm-leaves
namrood = an old king who used to say that he was god
ravaa = move on
rahzanee = highway robbery
dil_sitaan = stealer of heart
ghazalsara = singer of ghazals

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXVIII


With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

This is the twenty-eight quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. Khayyam says through my curious and reasoned mind and spirit, I have soon learned the ways of the world and beyond. The seeds of wisdom that were sown in me and with my own labour, the crop that I had sown is ready to be harvested. The harvest being the life being lived. This 'harvest' being reaped is like flowing water and blowing winds. Ever changing, formless and full of movement. I came to this word like water and will leave it like a wind. Both forces following the laws of nature and I would be like that. Nothing is permanent, even the winds and the water keep changing.. and so will I.. Here I come and lo! its time to leave already. 

Translation - Qarz Ki Piite Thae Mai Lekin Samajthe (Ghalib)

ham se khul jaao ba-vaqt-e-mai-parastii ek din
varna ham chedenge rakh kar uzr-e-masti ek din

gharrah-e-auj-e-binaa-e-aalam-e-imkaan naa ho
is bulandi ke nasibon mein hai pasti ek din

qarz ki piite thae mai lekin samajthe thae ki haan
rang lavegi haamari faaqah-mastii ek din

naghma-ha-e-gham ko bhi ai dil ghanimat jaaniye
be-saada ho jayega ye saaz-e-hasti ek din

dhaul-dhappa us saarapaa-naaz ka shevah nahin
ham hi kar baithe thae ghalib pesh-dasti ek din

Line 1/2 - Be frank (open) to us when we are drinking wine one day. Otherwise, we will tease you putting forward the excuse of intoxication one day. The poet says to the beloved, be frank (or behave informally) with us one day when we are drinking wine. You have the excuse of being drunk if anyone complains about your behavior. Otherwise if you do not do what I say, some day I will tease you under the excuse of intoxication and you would not be able to complain to others as people would just say ignore the drunk, he is not in his senses to know what he is doing!

Line 3/4 - Do not be proud of zenith of the foundation of the world of possibility. In the fortunes (destiny) of such heights, there is lowness, one day.  The poet says do not be proud of the success and the high point of basis/base of the world of possibility.  Do not fool yourself with the success of this new world order. In the end of even this high success, lies oblivion one day. Everything that rises will fall one day. The use of four izafat (-e-) in the first line makes it quite complex to comprehend.

Line 5/6 - We used to drink wine on borrowed money, but we understood that yes,  some day our cheerfulness in adversity will come to color (to come to fruition). The poet says that I am used to drinking wine on borrowed money. I can't stop this habit of mine. But we always used to think that yes, this habit of mine (this wine induced cheerfulness under the distress of poverty and debt) will some day come to come to bear fruit. Some day, it will bring to color. (maybe the poet blushes and turn red under the humiliation that the debt collector will throw at us). Another possible interpretation could be that we used to drink on debt, but still realize that one day his cheerfulness under distress will be rewarded and bore fruit.

Line 7/8 - Know the song of grief too, O! heart, at least consider that to be good luck. This instrument of existence will be voiceless one day. This is such brilliant lines. The poet says, know the songs of grief too.. for they are just the other side of songs of joy which you already know. They both are part of life and you should consider yourself fortunate for knowing the grief as after grief there is always going to be joy. One day when the existence of self is erased, all these songs would end and instrument of existence will produce no sound thereafter.

Line 9/10 - The one who is completely playful (flirtatious from head to toe) is not in habit of fighting. We ourselves have done it before hand, Ghalib one day. The lover defends her beloved against accusations that she is uncivil and crude. The poet says that she is not like that, the one covered from head to toe with playfulness. She is not the one who has habit of a fighting. It was my mistake one day, for I started it by by hitting her. It is I who had done it before she did it.

Meaning of difficult words :-
mai = wine
ba-vaqt-e-mai-parastii = at the time of wine drinking
uzr-e-masti = playfulness under the excuse of intoxication
gharrah = proud, vanity
auj = summit, highest point
binaa = foundation, structure
aalam = world, state
imkaan = possibility
pasti = lowness
faaqah-mastii = cheerfulness in adversity
ghanimat = good luck
be-saada = voiceless
saaz-e-hasti = music of life, instrument of existence
dhaul-dhappa = fight, fighting with hands
saarapaa = from head to toe
naaz = amorous playfulness, flirting
shevah = habit, practice
pesh-dasti = anticipation 

Thought Of The Day

God's particle unknown and heavier relative is close to being discovered!

The brilliant minds at CERN are rechecking their data on this for now. It has been a while since Higgs boson was confirmed by CERN. At that time it was called the God's particle in the media. Now CERN is running particle beams at 6.5 trillion electron volt (TeV) per beam, nearly double the energy of the beam they were used to find the elusive Higgs boson. With updated hardware and double the energy, they have just discovered a bump in the data. Bump! Now that is a quaint word. It has a nice little ring to it as if master Yoda from star wars discovered an anomaly in the Force. The CERN experiment's idea being as beam's TeV rise, the more energy gets converted into mass and by Einstein famous equation, the heavier particle gets released and this is recorded as a bump. By the way, CERN can go all the way to 13 TeV so by the time CERN is exhausted of it capability, God's particle may have a new family by then.. Each unique and infinitely fascinating with a story to tell.. God should be proud of Himself...

"How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.' Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' " 
-- Carl Sagan 

Satre: No Exit (Summary)

After a long while away from reading, I just finished Jean Paul Satre' play 'No Exit'. The play is famous for the iconic and often quoted lines "hell is other people". The setting of this short play is a closed room that depicts three people who have just been condemned to hell after their death.

The play starts with a valet guiding a man to a brightly lit room that is afterwards locked from outside. The room has no mirrors or windows. The room is always lit with no switch to turn off the bulb. Two more women are led to the room by the valet. We are told that the dwellers of this room can no longer sleep or even close their eyelids. A bell is provided (to call the valet) but it does not ring. All the three people ask the valet about the official torturer or torture devices. The valet reassures them that whatever they have heard down on earth about this place (hell) is all wrong. After the valet leaves and the three have been locked, an informal conversation is stuck between them. Each feigning ignorance on why they have been damned to hell and provides false stories as to why they are here. Estelle (one of the women locked here along with Garcin and Ines) mocks the rest to tell the real reason on why they are here and stop fooling around. All the three open up, but find out that they can not make the other person not judge then. Even a small sigh, innocent face expression or even silence conveys something about their actions or the lack of it. Soon it becomes a noisy circus with seduction and indifference and jealousy among them. They soon realize that they have been placed together to make the other two miserable. They are the official torturer of each other. Garcin at this moment cries out "Hell is - other people". Estelle fed up with this acrimony, picks up a paper knife and stabs Ines only to realize that they are already dead. The play ends with laughter with they realizing that they are in it all together and forever!

Satre does convey his existential themes in this play. Each character though 'free' is still shackled by their thoughts on what and how other people are going to judge their actions. They are too caught up in it. This constant need for having to please others (or seeks approval from others) inhibits his or her own actions and choice. Instead of being free to make a choice and act on it as a free man, a person is bound by others making a choice for him or he deciding by playing to the gallery and making choice which gets the loudest applause. Thus in essence the freedom is lost. A free person makes a choice totally based on merit but instead this constant urge to be accepted (to fit in) and struggle to blend in is what ultimately will lead to despair with free will and inherent human independent nature conflicts with the ideas (or expectation) of society, family or peers. This constant struggle, anxiety and despair is our Hell on earth!

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXVII


Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

This is the twenty-seventh quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The poet says when he was young and eager to learn the ways of the world, he would keep going from one doctor to another, from one saint to another. He frequented to doors of the learned men (doctor) and to the spiritual men (saint) and heard great arguments and words from them about "it" and "about". The arguments were high sounding about any topic that I could throw at them. But the discourse with these were of not much help. In the end, he came out of the same door as he went in. He is back to the same question and to the same place as earlier.  

Translation - Meherabaan Hoke Bula Lo Mujhe (Ghalib)

meherabaan  hoke  bula  lo mujhe  chaaho  jis  waqt
main gaya waqt naheen hoon ke fir aa bhee na sakoon

zauf  mein  taana-e-aghayaar  ka  shikawa  kya  hai ?
baat kuchch sar to naheen hai ke utha bhee na sakoon

zehar  milta  hee naheen  mujhko  sitamgar,  warana
kya qasam hai tere milne kee, ke kha bhee na sakoon

Line 1/2 - Be kind and call me at any time you want. I am not time that has passed that I can not come back again. Such a simple and an extremely eloquent lines and easy on the tongue. The poet says be kind and caring, you can give me a call any time for I am not passed time that I can not return. I may be unhappy with you or in grief but if you call me lovingly and kindly, I will return your call.

Line 3/4 - In weakness, what complaint is there of the taunt of the enemy.What was said is not some head that I can not lift/bear it up. The poet says, in this state of weakness that I am in, What can I say (complain about) about the taunts of the enemy. I am weak, but I can endure. Their words are not head which I can not carry. In my current state, I can not even lift my head due to weakness, but their taunts are okay. They are not as heavy as my head.

Line 5/6 - I can not even find poison O! tyrant, otherwise. What vow is there about meeting you, that I can not eat (take) it. The poet says that taking poison is not like a vow about (not) meeting you that I can not take. I can do that. But alas! I can not even find the poison O! cruel one. Otherwise I would have taken it. The lines do not refer to a negation is the vow, but in everyday usage a vow is like usually "not doing or not meeting" rather than the other way round. If you read it like that, the lines become much clear and meaningful!

Meaning of difficult words -
sitamgar = oppressor
zauf = weakness
taana = taunt
aghayaar = enemy
shikawa = complaint

Poem Of The Day

The phone giant Apple had been parroting lines from the below poem [O me! O life!] by great American poet Walt Whitman in their TV commercials for their new iPhones. Bit ironic but the only verse the phone users contribute is endless egoistic selfies and small talk over instant messaging. Here is the poem for you to reflect in its full glory!

O me! O life!

  O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
  Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
  Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
  Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
  Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
  Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
  The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

  Answer.
  That you are here—that life exists and identity,
  That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


This is so so true. So many times around us, in the rigours of the mundane life and sometimes rootless and aimless lives, we do stop by and question it - what good is it? for what? The poet gives the answer that life is just for living. That's it! Life is a reason enough for living. Existence is a reason enough for existing. And in this powerful play that goes on around us, you contribute to it by just living.. existing... I Live because I Exist!

Translation - Laazim Tha Ki Dekho Mera Rasta (Ghalib)

laazim tha ki dekho  mera rasta koee din aur
tanha gaye kyon ? ab raho tanha koee din aur

mit jaayega sar, gar tera patthar na ghisega
hoon dar pe tere naasiyaa_farsa koee din aur

aaye  ho kal  aur aaj  hee kehte  ho ki jaaoon
maana ki hamesha naheeN, achchaa, koee din aur
  
jaate  huve  kahte  ho,  qayaamat  ko milenge
kya khoob ! qayaamat ka hai goya koee din aur ?
  
haan 'ei falak-e-peer, javaan tha abhee 'aarif'
kya  tera  bigadata  jo na marta  koee din aur ?  

tum maah-e-shab-e-char_dahum  the;  mere  ghar ke
phir kyon na raha ghar ka woh naqsha koee din aur ?
  
tum kaun se 'eise the; khare daad-o-sitad ke ?
karta  malak_ul_maut  taqaaza  koee  din aur ?

mujhse  tumhain nafrat sahee, 'nayyar' se ladaayee
bachhon ka bhee dekha na  tamaasha koee  din aur ?

guzree na bahar-haal yah muddat khushee-naakhush
karna tha,  javaan_marg !  guzaara koee din aur
  
naadaan ho jo kehte ho ki kyon jeete ho 'ghalib'
qismat mein hai marne ki tamanna  koee din aur ?

Line 1/2 - It was necessary that you keep an eye out on the road for me for a few days more. Why did you leave alone? Now remain alone for a few days more. Ghalib wrote this ghazal in memory of beloved brother-in-law (Arif) who died young. The poet says, it necessary for you to wait for me for some more days, but now that you have left (died). You remain alone for some more days till the time I also come. 

Line 3/4 - The head will be destroyed, if your stone will not be worn off. I am with my forehead touching at your door for a few days more. Such a haunting thought of utmost grief. The poet says either my head would be lost and erased or your tomb stone would be faded and worn off by my forehead that keep hitting the tombstone. Some thing has to give, and give in soon, either my head or you tombstone.

Line 5/6 - You came yesterday and today you are saying that I am going. Agreed that its not forever, alright! a few more days. Ghalib in his grief, dramatises a scene where his brother-in-law ha has come back from dead and is taking leave. The poet responds what is the hurry, I know it not forever, but stay few days more.

Line 7/8 - When leaving, you says we will meet on the doomsday. That's a good one! Doomsday as if is on some other day. The poet says on the day you were leaving, you said that we would meet on the doomsday. What a thought! as if doomsday is some other day. For me it was the day you left. That grievous day itself feels like end of the world.

Line 9/10 - Yes, O! Lord of the Sky, Arif was still young. What harm would it have caused you if he had not died for a few days more. The poet, O! God, what harm would had been had Arif (brother-in-law) lived some more days. He was still in his prime. 

Line 11/12 - You were the moon of the fourteenth night of my home. Then why did not the state of my house remain the same for a few days more. Arif was the full moon of my home, but why did he vanish so suddenly leaving my house in total darkness

Line 13/14 - You were not like 'this'. Very genuine and strick in settling your account book. The angel of death could have settled the claim some other day. The poet since when has lord of death has been so strick in making his claims. He could have pressed on the claim maybe some other day.

Line 15/16 - Its alright that you hated me and you quarreled with nayyar (pupil of ghalib). You did not watch the children play a few days more! Ghalib says ok, you hated me and quarrelled with nayyar (obviously both situations being untrue), but lets assume they were true for argument, but still you could have stayed to watch your children play some days more!

Line 17/18 - Passed it not in any case, this interval happily or unhappily. you should have, the one who die young! passed a few days more. Ghalib says that getting through with life either happily or in grief is what is living, you should have also done the same for a few days more.  

Line 19/20 - You are foolishly innocent that you say,  why do you live Ghalib? In my destiny, I long for death for a few days more. Now that my friend has passed, you foolishly ask why does Ghalib live. I reply that I long for death a few more days. Its written in my destiny to long for it some more time. 

Meaning of difficult words :-
laazim = necessary
tanha = alone
dar = door
naasiyaa = forehead
farsa = to kneel down and touch the forehead on the ground
falak = sky/heaven
falak-e-peer = refering to the sky
maah-e-shab-e-char_dahum = moon of the fourteenth night
daad = justice
sitad = to take
daad-o-sitad = buying and selling/settlement of accounts
malak = an angel
malak_ul_maut = angel of death, 
taqaaza = demanding/pressing settlement of a claim
bahar-haal = in any case, 
javaan_marg = one who dies young.