Thought Of The Day

somewhere in some unknown but yet in a definite epoch, an unimaginable event happened in an unimaginable distance away and we are just feeling the faint ripples of it. Probably ripple isn't even a right word for it.

Last month researchers said they had felt space-time vibrations from the merger of a pair of mammoth black holes merging together in the universe. These space-time vibrations are also called as gravitation waves. In this event, some 3 billion light-years away, so technically it happened 3 billion years ago, a black hole 19 times the mass of the sun and another black hole 31 times the sun’s mass, married to make a single hole of 49 solar masses. During the last moments of this epic merger, they were shedding more energy in the form of gravitational waves than all the stars in the observable universe. These waves of energy, traveled 3 billion light years (in kilometer that would be 3 followed by twenty-two zeros if you want to get some banal earthly perspective) to reach us now, and these waves have so much energy that after travelling so far away in time and distance that it was still able to jiggle LIGO’s mirrors back and forth by a fraction of an atomic diameter 20 times a second.

Something that happened so so long ago and so so far away and was so so massive that it is still causing a shock wave to boom across the cosmos. Everything about it breaks our notion of the 'reality' around us? If you think hard about it, one can not stop and wonder how to make any sense of it. What does this tell us about us, about our seemingly busy lives, about this modest place we call home, about God, about the whole universe that is just a small speck in an all consuming cosmic darkness. Should we feel proud that we are out there intelligent enough to see and make sense of such colossal mayhem playing out or should we despair at thought of the randomness or chance of our existence or of being alone in this cold frigid corner of the cosmos. I mean if you can grapple with what above has happened, shouldn't it be as Carl Sagan said "a humbling and character-building experience."
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.   ---- Carl Sagan
The original article is here.

Here is a nice video of how LIGO works. (courtesy NY Times)

Photo Of The Day

All the above pictures have been taken at National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLIII

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

This is the forty-third quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat and continues in the long trend of ones that mention grape or vine. The Two-and-Seventy sects is believed to be the number of sects that Protestantism was divided into by the end of sixteenth century. The idea being that religion can not confer any truth or relief. All they are is motley group of jarring endless debates and disputes. They are a waste of precious time. Life would be better off following the logic of wine, its logic is absolute and single tone, i.e. to enjoy life enjoy as it comes. Enjoy this moment for only this moment is real. As opposed to countless truths and meaning these contesting sects conjure! The subtle and self-effacing wine quickly converts the dark and hard marrow of life into joyful and pleasant moment in the present like an alchemist who transmute lead to gold. Such is the joys of the Grape!

Translation - Hain Aur Bhi Duniya Mein Sukhanwar Bohot Achche (Ghalib)

hai  bas ki har ik unke ishaare mein nishaan aur
karte hain mohabbat to guzarata hai  gumaan aur

Lines 1/2 - In every gesture of hers, as so much there are more signs. She shows love, my doubt of her increases or I doubt something different. These lines can be interpreted in so many ways as to how you read the word 'aur'. The 'aur' has a duality to it, being different or being more. The poet says in every gesture of hers, so much so that there are more signs (there are indications everywhere). We can read this also as in every gesture of hers, so much so that there are signs differently (there is more to what is being gestured). Her gestures are so clear, that when she show me love, these signs make me doubt something else or my doubts about her increase. Read another as - her gestures are not so clear, that when she shows love, my doubts about her increase or I suspect something else. 'gumaan' can also be read an imagination or a fancy notion. In that case, the interpretations multiply! this sher is an absolute relish!

yaarab ! wo na samjhe hain na samjhenge meree baat
de  aur  dil  unko, jo  na de  mujhko  zubaan  aur

Line 3/4 - Oh Lord! They did not understood, nor they will understand what I said. Give them more heart(s), if you can not give me more tongue(s). Wow! this is absolutely brilliant and with the wordplay on 'aur', the reading multiply. The poet says 'They' have not understood, nor will they understand what say. Oh lord, give me more tongues (or a different tongue) or if you can not do that give them more hearts (or a different heart). Again the 'aur' can be more or a different one. The other word that is opaque is 'woh'. The poet has not made it clear as to who they are. It could be a indifferent beloved, the supernal Beloved or his critics. In any case, with their current state, they have no chance of understanding the current discourse of the poet. If they are indifferent, give me more tongue(s), if they can't grasp give me a different tongue!

abroo se hai  kya us nigah-e-naaz ko paiband
hai teer muqarrar magar uskee hai kamaan aur

Line 5/6 - What connection does the eyebrow have with those amorous glances. The arrow is fixed but it has another (different) bow. 'paiband' in common sense of the word is usually to stitch a torn clothes, to make join or patch. The poet questions as to are they connected? her brows and her glances? Those affectionate glances of her's, those telling arrows are fixed on me, but are coming from a different bow. Her brows do not make sense with those glances coming my way. Obviously they are coming from some different bow!

tum shahar mein ho to hamein kya gham jab uthenge
le  aayenge   baazaar  se  jaakar  dil-o-jaan  aur

Line 7/8 - As you are in town, what worry do I have? When ever I feel like, I will go to the market and bring more heart and life (or a different one). I lines are clear but do not connect, I have found this nice meaning to it. The poet says as long as you are in the town, what do I have to worry about. Since you are in the town, I am sure a lot of 'other' dwell in this town and each one of them has his 'dil-o-jaan' damaged and harmed by your airs. There must be lot of traders dealing in these spoiled commodities and fixing them as  new. I don't care, if I feel like I will go and fetch from the market more (different) heart and life from any of those dealers. An alternate reading based on where one breaks the first line. It would read as - As you are in town I don't care, for if the misery rises, I will buy more dil-o-jaan from the market.

harchand   subak_dast   hue   but_shikanee   mein
ham hain, to abhee raah mein hai sang-e-giraan aur

Line 9/10 - Nevertheless became expert in breaking idols they have, I am here, there are still on the way more heavy stones. 'subak_dast' means light handed or someone proficient. The poet says that they have become an expert in breaking the idols. As to who 'they' are, its not mentioned. Could he be referring to the orthodox religious clergy single minded zeal against idols? And then with a challenge thrown in he says, Ok! I am here, you still have a heavy stone in your path (that is me) to demolish. How will you demolish the ideas and truth I speak. An alternate reading of the lines is here where 'ham hain' becomes a continuation of the first line. In this reading it says - however proficient we becoming at demolishing idols, as long as we are, there will always be something more heavy in the path. The path being the path to Truth where these countless distractions that needs to broken, but as long as we are around, there is just around the corner another of those and more tempting distractions to test our fortitude.

hai khoon-e-jigar josh mein dil khol ke rota
hote  kaee jo deeda-e-khoonnaaba_fishaan aur

Line 11/12 - The blood of the liver is in agitation, the heart would weep aloud and freely. If only there were many more blood shedding eyes. The poet says the blood in the liver is in turmoil and my heart is crying freely. That blood is constantly being lost through the eyes via blood filled tears and yet the agitation does not subside. If only I would have more such blood shedding eyes to give me relief.

marta hoon is aawaaz pe  harchand sar ud jaay
jallaad ko lekin wo kahe jaayain ki 'haan aur'

Line 13/14 - I die for this voice, so much so that I may lose my head. To the executioner, however she keeps saying - yes more. Quite a stage we have up here! The poet says he literally dies with agitation and fervor on hearing her voice. I am even ready to lose my head (what harm is there in losing the head if I am already dead by hearing her voice?). To my executioner, she says "yes more", but what good is that? I am already dead on hearing these words! The beloved has shown him no mercy and keeps egging to the executioner for more, even though he is dead already, but her voice is a act of mercy for me and I will willingly lose my life to hear that voice!

logon  ko hai khursheed-e-jahaan taab  ka dhoka
har roz dikhaata hoon main ik daagh-e-nihaan aur

Line 15/16 - People are deceived into believing the heat & fury of the sun of the world. Every day I show one more (different) hidden wound. The poet says every day I can show one more (or a different one) of my hidden wounds. Such is suppressed passion and feelings in those burning wounds of mine, that people are deceived into believing that those as the sun of this world. Quite a rhetorical device there!

leta na agar dil tumhe deta  koee dam chain
karta jo na marta koee din aah-o-fughaan aur

Line 17/18 - I would have, taken a breath of ease and rest, if I had not given heart to you. I would have, done a few more days of sorrowful hue and cry, if I had not died. Not exactly eloquent, though its a fairly simple sher. The poet says that life was easy and simple but then I gave you my heart. If I hadn't died, there would have been more days of noisy sorrow. The poet would never be at ease, if he had not died, he was looking ahead for a lifetime of mourning and grief.

paate naheen jab raah, to chad jaate hain naale
ruktee hai meree tab'a  to hotee hai ravaan aur

Line 19/20 - When they can't find the way out, the rivulets do rise. When my temperament stops, then it sets into motion more (differently). 'naale' again can mean two things, either is is small stream that floods in the rain or it means laments. Both actually makes perfect sense here. The poet says, when these small streams can't find the their way(blocked), their water level rises. Another reading is if my laments are not allowed to be released, then they become more intense and fervid. When my natural manner is arrested or bounded, then my emotions are released more powerfully, just like a river that is blocked. The duality of 'aur' gives it also that when blocked, then my emotions are released in a different manner. 'rawaan' would mean something flowing, to set in motion or departed.

hain aur bhee duniya  mein sukhanwar bohot achche
kehte hain ki 'ghalib' ka hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur

Line 21/22 - There are more (other) very good poets in this world too. They say that Ghalib's way(style) of expressing is different (or more expressive). This is probably among the best known sher in the complete Ghalib's work and its a fairly straightforward one. The poet says yes, there are more good poets out there, but some say that Ghalib's way of putting across things is different (in a sense better than the rest). 

Meaning of difficult words :- 
gumaan = doubt/suspicion
abroo = eyebrow
paiband = patch, join
nigah-e-naaz = an affectionate glance
harchand = nevertheless, notwithstanding
subak_dast = expert,light handed
but_shikanee = iconoclast
sang = stone
giraan = heavy
deeda = eye
khoonnaaba = mixture of blood and water (khoon + aab(water))
fishaan = shed/spread
khoonnaaba_fishaan = to sheds tears of blood
khursheed = sun
taab = heat, fury
nihaan = hidden
fughaan = clamour
naale = lamentation/rivulets
tab'a = temperament, nature
rawaan = moving, flowing
sukhanwar = poet

Read more posts on Ghalib.

Photo Of The Day

This is the photo taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft that is currently programmed to be crashed into Saturn later this year. What we see here is planet earth as a bright dot between the icy rings of Saturn. If you look closely at the Earth (the bright dot), you will see a very faint dot left of our planet's bright dot. That is our moon. Cassini was 1.4 billion kilometers away from Earth when this image was taken.

We have come very away from home. We have come very very far away from where we started. I wish my eyes could see the full potential of how far we can go and how many new suns and new worlds we could see and fathom from our humble eyes. I wish I could imbibe the enormity of what we are part of. I wish to see finally that we are not alone.. I so wish..

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLII

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and 'twas-- the Grape!

This is the forty-second quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat and continuing with the long line of those dealing with wine/vine or grape. And in the tavern, I was sitting and waiting for my glass of wine to come and behold!. Through the dusk,  I see an angel (shape) and carrying a jar on his shoulder, he asked me to taste it and it tasted to be wine!. In the darkness of the night in the tavern, the door unlocked and in the early morning light seeping through the door, slithering through that the door I saw an angel shape. The poet seems to be referring to the bartender as an angel shape (for the early morning sun behind the slightly open door is making his silhouette look like a shape of an angel as if basking in a divine light) carrying with him the vessel on his shoulder. And what does this Angel Shape bring for him? His treasured and beloved wine! who knows. May be the bartender is the Angel from God bringing with him in vessel of pure knowledge and understanding amidst of the new morning & new awakening..and I taste this and it is the heavenly wine..

Photo Of The Day

above pictures taken at Abercrombie Caves, NSW

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLI

For "Is" and "Is-not" though with Rule and Line
And "Up-and-down" without, I could define,
I yet in all I only cared to know,
Was never deep in anything but--wine.

This is the forty-first quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. Another of similarly themed quatrain. This disdain for constant reasoning and analysis on the questions of human suffering and human condition at the expense of the real and material. All the logic, all the reasoning and countless and never ending discussion will not solve the questions that grapple the human mind. How to make sense of our lives? how to live it? Why are we here? What of death? The poet says that he understands the rules and logic. He is well versed with act of deducing and intelligent thought, but all he care about was the wine. He never cared to get deep into (to get to the bottom of) in anything other than the wine. The intoxication of the present, the joys of the material world, the elation of the sensual, the companionship of the fellow traveller, the agitation of the wine is worth living for and relishing for!

Translation - Nuktaacheen Hai Gham-e-Dil Usko Sunaaye (Ghalib)

nuktaacheen hai gham-e-dil usko sunaaye na bane
kya  bane  baat jahaan  baat  banaaye  na  bane

Line 1/2 - She is such a critic, the grief of the heart I am unable to recite to her. What would work out where a thing made up (an argument/story cooked up) has not been able to succeed. These lines from a delivery perspective in a gathering, has a nice tongue twisting qualities to it. The poet says she is such a complainer and a nitpicker that I have not been able to come up to her and recite to her the grief of my heart. What would succeed when made up & embellished lies are not able to impress her. What chance does the painful and sorrow tales of my heart have in succeeding. My beloved even censures the fancy stories that I tell her (about her generosity towards him). No point telling her the misery of my heart. I wonder what should I say that would work.

main bulaata to hoon  usko magar 'ei jazba-e-dil
uspe ban jaaye kuchch 'eisee ki bin aaye na bane

Line 3/4 - I do call her, but oh! the passion of heart. May something comes over her like that, that she can not endure not coming. The poet says I do call her to give me company but all I get is a disappointment and her indifference. If only somehow something could happen to her that she could not resist coming to me! The poet in his solitude and misery  personifies the only thing he knows will give him company and a patient ear while he waits for his lover which he knows will not come. you my torrid heart, my only friend!

khel samjha hai kaheen chod na de, bhool na jaay
kaash ! yoon bhee ho ki bin mere sataaye na bane

Line 5/6 - It's thought as a game, may (she) not abandon it, not forget about it. If only it would be that with out tormenting me she can not stand. The poet says this may appear cruelty to me, but for her its like fun!. But I am okay with this torment. In fact I enjoy it. May she not forget about it or abandon it. I wish that she would not be able to stand (live/succeed) without tormenting me. She is playing a game with me, but it's alright if she does not abandon her devices. I have began to take pleasure in them. If only somehow she can make it by tormenting me always. The poet longs for the attention of his beloved, the cruelty, the torment is better than the beloved's indifference. I wish we could keep it like that at-least.

ghair firta  hai liye yoon  tere khat ko ki agar
koee pooche ki yeh kya hai ? to chipaaye na bane

Line 7/8 - The other wanders around carrying like this your letter that if someone asks - what is this? then he would not be able (succeed) to hide it. The poet says my rival (his opponent for his beloved's favours) goes around the town, openly showing the letter that you wrote him. Such is his manner that if someone were to ask him, what is this? then he can't even hide. He would have to disclose who wrote it or worse still, read it out loud. He is not being discreet about receiving the letter from you, and openly flaunting it in a way that could bring you a bad name.

is nazaakat ka bura ho, woh bhale hain to kya
haanth aaye to unhain haanth lagaaye na  bane

Line 9/10 - May bad tidings/evil bestow on such elegance or delicateness. She is good & kind, so what. If she was to come to hand, then the hand would not able to be laid on her. The poet referring to beloved's behaviours says - to hell with this elegance and subtleness. May evil fall on such delicateness even though she is good and generous, so what! Her being kind would still not help for these delicate airs of her make even the act of laying hands on her impossible even if she ever was to come to hand. What good her coming to me would lead to when such elegance just frustrates any union.

keh sake kaun ki yeh jalwaa_garee kiskee hai
parda choda hai woh  usne ki uthaaye na bane

Line 11/12 - Who can say that whose is this splendour doing (act of). That one has lowered the veil that it is not able to be lifted. These are the best lines from the ghazal. Simple words yet many possible and contemplative themes. The poet says, who can tell whose acts of splendour this is? Whose brilliant manifestation this is? That manifested one, has lowered the veil/curtain that can not be lifted even if tried. Who can says whose demonstration or brilliant presentation this is? We do not know whose and we do not know who can tell us about that whom? That demonstration is yet another question (what has been displayed so brilliantly?). To all these questions, the second lines answers none and instead adds more questions. Who dropped the curtain? Maybe the splendour itself casts a veil on us by its brilliance or is it the doer that intentionally drops the veil. Referring to the Divine Beloved, the poet questions who can tell whose magnificence is this? The One has left behind this veil (the magnificence being mentioned is the world and its workings around us) that does not allow us to lift it up and see the True nature of the Divine. The veil has been intentionally left down so that we are unable to see that. In alternative reading the veil being inability of us (with no help from anyone in dropping the veil) to grasp the Divine and lift the veil of falsehood and mortality. As said earlier, it is a fairly obtuse lines and open to any line of thought!

maut kee raah na dekhoon ki bin aaye na rahe
tumko chaahoon ki na aao, to bulaaye na bane

Line 13/14 - In anticipation of death, I do not wait for it will not desist from coming. I want (desire) you for you won't come, then you won't be able to be called. The poet says it is useless to wait for death for it will always come. One will never get disappointed waiting for death for it will always come, it can't refrain itself from coming. I call you out to give me company, I desire you but you will not come. If you keep up with these refusals, then it would not be able for me to call you. If I request you to come and you do not come, then I do not have the power (or gumption) to call you again. Compare this with death that would come by even without asking and is so keen to come that it can't stop, but you my beloved! leave aside coming when I request, you leave me in such apathy and resignation that I find it impossible to call again. Death is a better beloved than you my dear!

bojh woh sar pe gira hai ki uthaaye na uthe
kaam  woh aan pada  hai, ki banaaye na bane

Line 15/16 - The burden that has fallen on the head, that having been lifted still won't get lifted. The work has come that having been done, would not become done. The poet says the burden has fallen on the head (what burden? its not specified), this unmovable and unmanageable burden that having tried lifting still would not budge. The task (again what task? its not mentioned) needs to be done, but having tried it to complete, would not complete. One can only guess what is being mentioned here, may be it is the rigors of an uncertain life, maybe the burden of life, maybe the specter of death itself but whatever is it, the realization of the burden comes one day and then the burden becomes unmovable after that. And with the realization of burden comes the realization that work needs to be done to make sense of the new situation, but whatever you do there is still something left to be done!

ishq par zor naheen, hai ye woh aatish 'ghalib'
ki  lagaaye  na  lage  aur  bujhaaye  na  bane

Line 17/18 - There is no control over love, this is that fire, Ghalib!. That having been lit, still does not burn and having been extinguished, it still does not go out. These are the most well known lines from this ghazal, no guess why!. The poet says love is a like a fire over which no one has any control. It is not in anyone's power to lit the flames of passion in someone's heart despite trying nor is it possible to extinguish the flames of passion from someone's heart despite trying. Fairly straightforward lines!!

Meaning of difficult words - 
nuktaacheen = critic/sweetheart
nazaakat = elegance
jalwaa_garee = manifestation, splendour
aatish = fire

Read more posts on Ghalib.