Poems Of India - III

Milk is left over
from the calves.
Water is left over
from the fishes,
flowers from the bees.

How can I worship you,
O'Siva, with such offal?
But it's not for me
to despise left-overs,
so take what comes,

lord of the meeting rivers.

-- BASAVAŅŅA [Translated by A. K. Ramanujan in the book - Speaking of Siva]

Poems Of India - II

The rich
will make temples for Śiva.

What shall I,
a poor man,

My legs are pillars,
the body the shrine,
the head a cupola
of gold.

Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay.

-- BASAVAŅŅA [Translated by A. K. Ramanujan in the book - Speaking of Siva]

Photo Of The Day

Above pictures taken at Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLV

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

This is the forty-fifth quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. The poet says to the reader, Come with me and leave the wise behind to wrangle with the workings of the universe and their quarrel with the way it works. And in some corner of this clamour and din of the world around us, lay quiet and let it be, take it lightly (make game) of what comes your way. Leave everything behind and come with me, leave the wise to argue and debate on their disagreement of the universe. Ignore of what's they think of you/happens to you and amidst this hue and cry, take it easy and enjoy your time!

Poems Of India - I

Fire can burn
but cannot move.

Wind can move
but cannot burn.

Till fire joins wind
it cannot take a step.

Do men know
it's like that
with knowing and doing?

--DĒVARA DĀSIMAYYA [Translated by A. K. Ramanujan in the book - Speaking of Siva]

Borges - The Shape Of The Sword (Summary)

In this short story "The Shape Of The Sword" Borges revisits his theme of shared experience of the whole of humanity that is a recurring theme in many of his works. In this story, the narrator tells of a man called "the Englishman" who has a vengeful scar on his face. During a session of their drinking together at his place, the narrator inquires about his scar. The host agrees to tell the story under one condition - "no contempt or condemnation be withheld, no mitigation for any iniquity be pleaded." The Englishman reveals that he is in fact Irish and was a revolutionary conspiring to win Ireland's independence. During these times, he met a young man called John Vincent Moon who was also part of the struggle, though the Englishman impression of him was that he is invertebrate and full of vanity of his supposed intellect. The young man showed arrogance and contempt towards whosoever gets into a debate with him. One night, they are stopped by a soldier, John freezes because of terror, but the Englishman knocks down the soldier and they ran away. During this melee, a bullet grazes John's shoulder who is visibly shaken and they take refuse in a country home. Nine days they spent here. The Englishman leaving at dawn and returning late every night while working with other undergrounds, on the other hand John stayed at home feigning injury.
I was embarrassed by the man and his fear, shamed by him, as though I myself were the coward, not Vincent Moon. Whatsoever one man does, it is as though all men did it. That is why it is not unfair that a single act of disobedience in a garden should contaminate all humanity; that is why it is not unfair that a single Jew’s crucifixion should be enough to save it. Schopenhauer may have been right—I am other men, any man is all men, Shakespeare is somehow the wretched John Vincent Moon.
On the tenth day, he returns early and hears John talking to someone on the phone, promising to deliver him in return for guarantee of his own safety. The Englishman seizes a sword and chases him across the vast country house and leaves an unforgiving scar on his face before he is arrested. The Englishman then says to the narrator
To you alone,Borges—you who are a stranger—I have made this confession. Your contempt is perhaps not so painful. Here the narrator halted. I saw that his hands were trembling."And Moon?" I asked. "What became of Moon?""He was paid his Judas silver and he ran off to Brazil. That evening, in the city square, I saw a dummy shot by a firing squad of drunks."I waited vainly for the rest of the story. Finally, I asked him to go on.A groan made his entire body shiver; he gestured, feebly, gently, toward the curving whitish scar."Do you not believe me?" he stammered. "Do you not see set upon my face the mark of my iniquity? I have told you the story this way so that you would hear it out. It was / who betrayed the man who saved me and gave me shelter—it is /who am Vincent Moon. Now, despise me." 

Borges again raises the idea of interdependence of all human experience, the shared experience of what one man goes through, it is as if all men go through. In this story, even though the John switches his identity and tells the story about himself and his betrayal, yet he is shamed by John's cowardice not because he is in fact John but because in some measure all men (including himself) shared the same cowardice. And to similar end, he identifies with the "Englishman" whose death he caused. The notion of "what you are" and "what you are not" is no more there. I am all men! The hero is a villain and vice-versa. The experiences are shared, the consciousness is shared. There is nothing original to it. What I have felt, would have been felt by some one before me in past and would be felt by someone after me in future. Experiences are nothing but repetitions of what has happened previously or previously experienced. The loss of originality of an experience or an emotion can be extended to the loss of individuality  or of "Being". How can I claim to be I if I am just a repetition in an endless cycles of thought! What is my claim to originality of thought? of my ego, my betrayal, my passion, my defeat.

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XLIV

The mighty Mahmud, the victorious Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

This is the forty-fourth quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat and among the more obtuse ones in my opinion. It talks of the mighty warlord Mahmud who with his enchanted sword scatters away and defeats the non believers and the black horde that dwell in the heart of men as fear and sorrow. As to what FitzGerald meant with these lines is anybody's guess. I mean with the benefit of hindsight we know Mahmud though mighty was any thing but enlightened. His countless raids of plunder and mayhem of Indian subcontinent is well known and if FitzGerald is conveying that Mahmud is the slayer of a non physical enemy like the sorrow and fear of the soul and having spiritual powers to rid people of the soul's misery, then it leaves me perplexed and confused about what he means with this quatrain. Perhaps written from the victors viewpoint, Mahmud has vanquished the infidels and the misery that afflicts the soul of these vanquished men with his magical sword. As with any lines of Rubaiyat, I can over-interpret.. but I will leave it at that!

Poem Of The Day

Another of Whitman's small and great poem. This one is called "A Noiseless Patient Spider". The poem imagines a small spider noiselessly and forever toiling in an uncertain surrounding, trying to find its footing. The spider isolated on a rocky beach, clutching to anything it can hold on to, sending out yarns and pulling them back in to explore the vast emptiness around it, to figure out anything it can root on to, anything that made sense or to make sense of it.

An precisely in the same manner, the speaker's effort to connect to the universe. Standing there, along in this world, his soul laid bare, surrounded and detached in this vastness of space and thought and time. Never tiring to find a connection, a meaning in this world that gives some sense to it, some perspective to living and life in this endless search and madness till the time the gossamer thread do clutch to something tangible and real. Whether the speaker is able to find something in the universe or he spends his whole life searching for it is not clear.

You can read another of Whitman's gems here.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Photo Of The Day

Above pictures taken at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore

Busy shipping lanes on the Singapore Strait

Translation - Kabhee Nekee Bhee Uske Jee Mein Gar Aa Jaaye (Ghalib)

kabhee nekee bhee uske jee mein gar aa jaaye hai mujhse
jafaayen  karke  apnee  yaad   sharma  jaaye hai mujhse

Line 1/2 - If only, sometimes goodness also comes into her temperament towards me. Remembering her cruelties and torments (towards me), she is embarrassed before me. The poet says the beloved in some rare sense of generosity has shown kindness and benevolence towards him unlike the usual indifference and torment. But even in this moment of kindness, she recalls her own cruelty towards him and feels ashamed to come across him. I am a miserable self, the beloved's usual behavior is of cruelty and indifference and on a rare day of kindness, she won't even come in front of me (out of embarrassment) and grant me her graces. Such is my luck which has no respite at all!

khudaaya ! jazbaa-e-dil  kee   magar   taaseer  ultee hai
ki jitna khintchataa hoon aur khintchtaa jaaye hai mujhse

Line 3/4 - Oh Lord! perhaps the impression/effect of the emotions of the heart have been reversed. For, as much as I pull, she goes on being more pulled away from me. The poet says O Lord! probably the effect of the emotions of the heart have been inverted. The emotions have been those of attractions of the heart but maybe the effects of it have been reversed. Instead of being attracted towards me, the more I try to draw her towards me, the more she draws away (in the same measure) from me. There is no mention if the beloved is purposefully doing it (drawing away) or it is the effect of his attraction that have somehow been reversed!

woh   bad_khoo   aur  meree  daastan-e-ishq   tulaanee
ibaarat mukhtasar, qaasid bhee ghabra jaaye hai mujhse    

Line 5/6 - That (the beloved) bad habits/behavior and my tale of love (is) long. To keep the speech short, even the messenger gets bewildered because of me. The poet says the beloved's bad conduct (of indifference and rebuke towards him) and my epic narrative of love and passion is very long. To cut the long story short, even the messenger becomes nervous when he hears my lengthy message. Leave alone the ill tempered beloved, even the messenger gets into panic at the thought of having to hear my long story. (or probably the messenger gets into panic at the thought on what the response of the ill- mouthed beloved will be when he narrates the message). The poet willingly makes the long story short to sum up his situation with the messenger but he is unable to make his long epic a bit concise for the fear he will not get his passion across to her. He can't make it any less shorter. Such is the perplexity of the lover! Very clever usage of long daastan (an epic tale full of subplots and themes) and a concise ibaarat (diction) in the sher.

udhar woh bad_ghumaanee hai, idhar yeh naatavaanee hai
na  poocha jaaye hai us'se,  na bola jaaye hai  mujhse

Line 7/8 - Over there there was suspicious-ness and distrust, over here there is weakness and inability. Neither is she able to ask, nor I am able to speak. The poet says over there, there is doubts and distrust about my love for her and so she does not ask about it. Over here, I am unable and powerless (weakness due to grief) and hence unable to speak to her. Her suspicion stops her from asking and my weakness stops me from speaking to her. What can I do? She does not ask and I can not speak. How will I convince her of my love. The use of idhaar-udhaar to specify the lover and the beloved without actually pointing to them and this also expresses the remoteness of the other and the emotional distance between them!

sambhalne de mujhe 'ei na_ummidee  kya qayaamat hai
ki daamaan-e-khayaal-e-yaar choota jaaye hai mujhse

Line 9/10 - Let me get hold of myself, oh! hopelessness, what (is it?) doomsday it is!. That dress-hem (daamaan) of the thought of the beloved is slipping out of my reach. The poet says let me get hold of my self, let me steady myself. Oh hopelessness! why did you throw me down? What a doomsday it is! that I lost my grip on the hem of the thought of the beloved. Due to that fall, it has slipped out of my hand. What a calamity it is! The lover is beseeching the hopelessness to not annoy him for he has only the hem of the thought to comfort him. The use of hem of the thought and not thought is interesting. daamaan is usually the trailing portion of the dress and the beloved goes past the lover indifferent and all he has is the thought of her hem dragging along. The lover has inverted it into hem of her thought and is clinging on to it. The other reading is where the lover questions if this is doomsday? It could be doomsday only for then it would be possible for hopelessness to get the better of me and cause me to loose my grip. No other situation would have caused me to shake me of my despair and let go of the hem of the thought of the beloved. It must be doomsday for sure!

takalluf bar-taraf nazzaaragee mein bhee sahi, lekin
woh dekha jaaye, kab ye zulm dekha jaaye hai mujhse

Line 11/12 - Leave aside the formality, I too indeed am a spectator[engaged in watching her], but. That it is to be seen, when is this cruelty to be looked upon by me? nazzaaragee means looking at or seeing and is taken from nazzaarah which means a view or a show. The poet says leave aside the formality, I am also a spectator here looking at her (beloved). To tell you the truth, even I am also engaged in watching her. She is such a beauty that she has to be seen. But when am I going to look into this cruelty of others watching her. When will I take care of this cruelty and torment of people watching her. But then he also says to tell you the truth even I am among the people watching her!

hue  hain  paanv hee pehle nabard-e-ishq  mein zakhmee
na bhaaga jaaye hai mujhse, na thehra jaaye hai mujhse

Line 13/14 -  It is the feet that were first wounded in the struggle of love. I am neither able to run, nor I able to stay. The poet says my feet were the first causalities in the battle of love. The lover leaves open the question of as to how and why were his legs injured in the early battle for love. They are not particularly relevant, what is crucial is the situation the lover find himself in. He is lying on the ground unable to put up a fight or flee the battle. The lover finds himself in a pitiable situation indeed vis-a-vis the beloved where both the options are not available. Neither can he die in the battle for love, nor can he flee in the hope of coming back again later. All he can do is to narrate his abject condition with despair!

qayaamat  hai  ke  howe  muddaee  ka  ham_safar 'ghalib'
woh kaafir, jo khuda ko bhee na saunpa jaaye hai mujhse

Line 15/16 - It's is a doomsday, that (she) has become a fellow traveler of the enemy, ghalib. That infidel, who I can not entrust even to the God. The poet says it is a calamity, it's the doomsday that she has agreed to become a fellow traveler of my enemy (a rival suitor for the beloved's favors). I can not entrust this infidel (her) even to the Lord. Now consider this setting. The beloved is leaving on a journey with his rival and the lover during their farewell instead of the customary greeting khudaa-haafiz (may God be your guardian) says he can't even entrust her (hand her custody) to God out of jealousy and such strong feelings for her even though it would do her some good for she is an infidel. And yet for someone who can not trust her even to God, has to bear at the thought of her going on the journey with his rival. Such is the irony of my situation. It surely must be doomsday!

Meaning of difficult words -
jafaayen = oppression/tyranny of a beloved
jazbaa-e-dil = emotions
taaseer = impression
bad_khoo = bad habits
tulaanee = long
ibaarat = diction/ admonishing
mukhtasar = concise
qaasid = messenger
badghumaanee = suspicion
naatavaanee = weakness
daamaan = hem of the dress
taqalluf = hesitation/formality
bar-taraf = suspend
nabard-e-ishaq = struggle in love
muddaee  = enemy/conniver
saunpa = confide / entrust

Read more posts on Ghalib.

Translation - Sab Kahan Kuchh Lala-o-Gul Mein Numayaan (Ghalib)

sab kahan kuchh lala-o-gul mein numayaan ho gain
khaak mein kya suraten hongi ki pinhaan ho gain

Line 1/2 - Where are all? some did manifest in tulips and roses. In the dust, what faces there will be that have become hidden. This sher is absolutely of another level of thought and complexity, and can mean so many thoughts. The poet says where are all the people? where they gone? some have manifested themselves as tulips and roses. Another reading of the same line would be - not all (sab kahan?), a very colloquial way of saying not everything. In this reading - it would be not everyone, only some became apparent in these roses & tulips. The second line poses similar complexity. In the dust what faces or aspects that have gone hidden. What faces would there be? another way to read it - would there be faces that have became hidden in dust? (if one includes 'kya' with khaak mein). So the walking down a garden, the poet questions where are all?, and then looks at those lovely flowers and wonders  some may have manifested as bright tulips and roses. In the dust what beautiful faces may have been hidden to have been manifested such brilliantly?  In another reading - there is hint of sadness as to not everyone would manifest as these tulips and roses. Are there faces hidden (buried) in the dust? Why are then so few flowers? Where does the rest of them manifest? Is it really someone buried, maybe they manifest somewhat differently. A highly philosophical sher with beauty and dust, death and rejuvenation, hidden and became apparent, all and not all making this into multitude of interpretations. Life is eternal and their is beauty all around even in death if only we could grasp!

yaad thi hamko bhi ranga rang bazm-aaraaiyan
lekin ab naqsh-o-nigaar-e-taaq-e-nisiyaan ho gayin.

Line 3/4 - We too remembered those colorful gathering adornings and arrangements. But now they have become a mark or portrait in the niche of oblivion. The poet says we too (the use of too here makes it as if remembering old times with friends) remember those days of colorful gathering and those adornings. bazm-aaraaiyan could be the decorations done for the gathering or it could very well be the presence of lovely people in this gathering. In either case the quality of the decorations or people is also being remembered apart from the gathering. But alas! now the youth has given way! The verve of those days is gone, and those memories have become distant paintings or marks in the niche of oblivion. These memories have not been forgotten, but I have placed them on those niches of forgetfulness. We have purposefully placed such memories in those forgetful niches for what use that youthful longing now have in the sunset of life.

thi banaat-un-naash-e-garduun din ko parde men nihaan
shab ko un ke ji men kya aai ki uryaan ho gain

Line 5/6 - Was the Ursa Minor constellation (in the sky) in the day, hidden in the veil. In the night, what came in to their heart that they became bare (became visible or unveiled). The poet says during the day, the seven stars of the Ursa minor remain hidden behind the veil and one can not see them. But during the night, I do not know what came into their heart (what made them change their mind) that they decided to come out of veil and show themselves to all.

qaid mein yaqub ne li go na yusuf ki khabar
lekin ankhen rauzan-e-diivaar-e-zindaan ho gain

Line 7/8 - In the prison, Jacob (yaqub) although has taken no information about Joseph (yusuf). But eyes have become windows in the wall of the prison. Both Joseph and Jacob are important figures in Old Testament. Joseph is the son of Jacob and Joseph was imprisoned on false charges by the Pharaoh. The poet says Jacob had taken no information about his imprisoned son, he could not help him during this troubling time in his life and yet his eyes have become a window in the walls of the cell of his prison. The father even though he had no information about his imprisoned son yet his weeping eyes were always watching him, keeping a close eye on him night and day like an open window in his cell. His eyes had become a crack in the prison walls thorough which he could see his son all the time. Such is the love of a father for his children.

sab raqibon se hon nakhush, par zanan-e-misr se
hai zulaikha khush ke mahv-e-mah-e-kanan ho gain

Line 9/10 - Unhappy with all the rivals, but with the women of Egypt. Zulaikha is happy, that they have become transfixed in the moon of Canaan. This sher also takes inspiration from earlier biblical stories. Here the raqibon means the rivals for the beloved's graces and therefore her/his suitors. Zulaikha is an Egyptian queen who used to love Joseph and when this became public knowledge the women of Egypt started taunting her. The poet says that lovers do not like rivals and they are usually unhappy with them for they are suitors to the beloved's love, but Zulaikha is not unhappy with her rivals (her rivals being the other women of Egypt). In fact she is happy for when they see Joseph (referred as moon of Canaan) they would be so transfixed on him and so absorbed by his handsomeness that they would stop mocking. There is an story in Qur'an about Zulaikha that explains the situation in more detail. In the story, Zulaikha gives a apple of each of these women and asks them to cut it when Joseph arrives. On seeing him, they all accidentally cut their fingers. Zulaikha then reminds the women that Joseph comes everyday and on hearing this and the pain they have themselves inflicted, the women stopped mocking her.

ju-e-khun ankhon se bahane do ki hai sham-e-firaq
main ye samajhunga ke shamaen do farozan ho gain

Line 11/12 - Let the river of blood flow from the eyes for it is an evening of separation. I will understand it as two candles have become luminous. The poet says let the river of blood flow from my eyes for this is the evening of out separation. I will consider that two candles have been light that are giving light and removing darkness and that would give me comfort. In this dark night of our separation, my eyes shedding blood, would  be like two candles burning bright and cutting through the darkness (and despair). The destiny of the handles were to burn brightly in the night and similarly my eyes are destined to shed endless tears of blood in despair. As with candles, when in the morning we blow out the candles and so would my tears also stop. I would go back to the rigors of life and living.

in parizadon se lenge khuld men ham intiqam
qudarat-e-haq se yahi huren agar vaan ho gain

Line 13/14 - In paradise we will take revenge on these beautiful ones. If through the power of God / Truth these beautiful women are there as well.The poet says we were so wronged by the beloved in this world, that we will take full revenge on them in the paradise provided by the power of God the beloved becomes houris there in the heaven. Those who tormented us here, we will get our vengeance upon them in the heaven provided God makes them houris and sends them our way.

neend usaki hai, dimag usaka hai, raten usaki hain
teri zulfen jisake bazu par pareshan ho gain

Line 15/16 - Sleep is his, Mind is his, The Nights are his. Your curls of hair, on whose shoulder have become disordered and disheveled. The poet says that his beloved's curls of hairs are disheveled and scattered on the lover's shoulder. On whose shoulder the locks of hair are spread, the sleep is his, the mind is his and the night is his. Similar to the scattered locks of his beloved's hair, so are his thoughts now. The rival now sleeps with ease, his thoughts and mind are clear and his nights are free from despair unlike me whose sleep is all but troubled, his mind and thought are confused and disordered and his nights are restless and despair.

main chaman mein kya gaya, goya dabistan khul gaya
bul-bulen sun kar mere nale, gazalkhwan ho gain

Line 17/18 - I had hardly entered the garden, as if a school had opened. The nightingale having heard my lamentations, become ghazal singers. The poet says as soon as he entered the garden busy in his thoughts, it appeared as if he has gone into a school. It was like entering a school and children reciting all in one discordant voice what the teacher recited. Same was the case here, the nightingale listening to my plaints have become ghazal singers. My lamentations were so complete and so melodious that when the nightingales started imitating it, it came out as a very fine ghazal.

vo nigahen kyun hui jati hain yarab dil ke par
jo meri kotaahii-e-qismat se mizshgan ho gain

Line 19/20 - Why do those glances, oh Lord! keep going through the heart? Which through my failure of fate, became eye-lashes. An eyeful or glimpse would be like usual glances that the beloved showers, but becoming eye lashes would mean her glance was so small or he received only the attention of the eye-lashes and not her complete glances. An extension of this unusual model would be that usual glances travel much further through the heart than the eye-lashes. The poet says due to his misfortune or smallness of luck, all he could get was the eyelashes from the beloved and yet even those small eyelash glances somehow have traveled so far through his heart that he is surprised by them. Such is the power of even such small eyelash glance that oh Lord! he could feel it going through and through his heart. Even with his smallness of fortune (due to which he only got eyelashes), he is feeling the complete effect of it (of a complete glance of the beloved). 

bas ki roka main ne aur seene mein ubharen pai-ba-pai
meri aahein bakhiya-e-chak-e-garibaan ho gain

Line 21/22 - Although I stopped them, more emerged or swelled up with in the chest again and again. My sighs became the stitching on the torn hem of the shirt. The poet says that the sighs are swelling up again and again in my heart and my stopping them, is like stitching the torn hem on the shirt. First came over the madness that made me rip the shirt off and then in the state of calmness, we suppressed our never ending sighs that became the stitching on the torn shirt until the welling up of sighs can no longer be suppressed and any attempt of suppressing it leads to suffocation and tearing off the shirt again to allow air to reach the heart. In fact there is no repair of the condition but an endless chain of sighs and tearing and sewing and no meaningful relief. [Pritchett] has pointed to some nice wordplay in these lines where seene (chest) could also mean as seena (to sew up). Also words like tearing and sewing are put right next to one another for the dramatic effect. 

vaan gaya bhi main to unki gaaliyon ka kya jawab
yaad thi jitini duayen, sarf-e-darbaan ho gain

Line 23/24 - Even if I were to go there, what answer would I have for her insults? As many prayers I could remember, all were used on the doorkeeper. The poet says what happens if he is to go there, to the beloved's door and she instead of any favors or glances she taunts him or showers her insults. What answer would I have, for all the prayers and blessing that he could remember of, were expended on the doorman. I mean what answer would I give? I can't reuse the same blessing again on her that I had earlier given to the doorkeeper. This is the main worry I have if I were to go to her door for I do not have any freshest and newest of blessings that I can give back to her in response of her crude and humiliating abuses and insults. An amusing situation indeed!

jaan-fiza hai baada, jis ke hath mein jaam aa gaya
sab lakiren haath ki goya rag-e-jaan ho gain

Line 25/26 - Lively is wine, in whomsoever's hand the glass comes. All the lines of the palm as if became the jugular vein. The poet says wine is lively and whosoever has it, makes him expansive and euphoric so much so that all the lines of the hand become gorged as blood filled veins. These are not very interpretative lines. S. R. Faruqi has a very interesting take on these lines. He says - The glass is full of red wine. The glass is in the hand which causes the lines of the hand to appear red when seen through the glass, as if every line resembles an artery full of living blood. In this explanation the hand's dry lines appear to be full of flowing blood, and we can say that in wine there is the power of giving life. Pretty neat I think!

hum muwahhid hain, hamara kesh hai tark-e-rusum
millatein jab mit gain, ajza-e-iman ho gain

Line 27/28 - We are the believers in one God, our nature is the abandonment of rituals and customs. When nations or communities have been erased, they become part of the faith. Any particular reading of these lines is hard to come by as the words like rusum, iman and  muwahhid are broad brushes to paint any picture confidently. I would go by the most wide and liberal interpretation. The poet says we believe in one God, in the oneness of the Divine and our true path can only be achieved by renouncing all outwardly customs and rituals and religious behavior. When all such exclusive communities (religious groups of people) have been erased (i.e. the sectarian and religious distinction between people have been given up), then such people would become part of that One faith. To have True religion is to have no religion at all and then the Oneness of God and the Oneness of people would be realized!

ranj se khugar hua insaan to mit jata hai ranj
mushkilen mujh par padi itani ke asaan ho gain

Line 29/30 - When a person become accustomed to grief, then the grief gets erased. So many difficulties have fallen upon me, that they became easy. This is probably the most heard sher from this ghazal. The poet says when one tunes himself to grief, then the grief itself disappears. So many hardships have befallen on me, that they have become easy for now I am tuned to such hardships. Such difficulties do not make me despair, for I am adapted to it. There is a very similar sher by Ghalib that also talks about being friends with grief - 'ranj uthanay say bhi khushi ho gi, pahlay dil dard aashna keejay'

yunn hi gar rota raha 'ghalib', to ae ahl-e-jahan
dekhana in bastiyon ko tum ki viraan ho gain

Line 31/32 - If Ghalib keeps on crying like this, then oh! people of this world. You take a look at these towns, that they have become abandoned and deserted. There is no mention of what 'yunn hi' portends. It could mean a particular 'like this' or it could colloquially mean 'for no reason'. Nor it is clear as to why is he weeping. Such obscurity leaving to multitude of explanations. One possible explanation is that if Ghalib keeps on weeping like this, then O! the people of this world, beware the towns for they will become desolate for the flood of tears would make them inhabitable and hence deserted. Again the reason of the crying is not obvious. Is Ghalib warning people about things that needs to be fixed or he is advising them against his own flood of tears of despair? Or is it  being mentioned that such is the weeping that it leads to debilitating effect on people of those towns that they leave for new places where they can't bear his wailing.

Meaning of difficult words - 
lala-o-gul = tulips and roses
numayan = manifest , become apparent
pinhaan = hide, concealed
ranga-rang = colourful
bazm = gathering
aaraa = adorning, gracing
naqsh = mark or print
nigaar = potrait
taaq = a recess in a wall, niche
nisiyaan = forgetfulness; oblivion.
banaat-un-naash-e-garduun = ursa minor constellation
nihaan = secret, hidden
shab = night
uryaan = naked, bare
rauzan-e-diivaar-e-zindaan = window in wall of the prison
raqibon = rivals
zanan-e-misr = women of egypt
zulaikha = an egyptian queen
mahv = transfixed, lost
maah = moon
kanaan = Canaan (a kingdom in Old Testament, today's Israel)
ju-e-khun = river of blood
shaam-e-firaq  = evening of separation
farozan = shining, luminous
parizadon = beautiful bodies
khuld = heaven
intiqam = revenge
qudarat-e-haq = truth of Almighty
huren = beautiful woman
vaan = there
goya = as if 
dabistan = school 
naale = lamentations
gazalkhwan = ghazal singer
kotaahii-e-qismat = failure, smallness of fate
mizshgan = eye-lashes
ubharen = emerged, protruded
pai-ba-pai = again and again 
bakhiya-e-chak-e-garibaan = stitching the torn hem of shirt
sarf-e-darbaan = for use by doorman/doorkeeper
jaan-fiza = lively
baada = wine
rag-e-jaan = the jugular vein
muwahhid = believing in one God
kesh = nature
tark-e-rusum = abandonment of customs
millatein  = communities
ajza-e-iman = elements of faith
ranj = sadness
khugar = accustomed
ahl-e-jahan = people of the world

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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 but 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.