मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Omar Khayyam or Tycho Brahe? Mardhekar Chose Tycho Brahe.

While reviewing book on Marco Polo (“MARCO POLO/ From Venice to Xanadu.” By Laurence Bergreen) , BRUCE BARCOTT said:

“…In the end, Marco Polo’s greatest contribution to history was to deliver this simple news to Europe: The Asians, they’re not so bad. They’re kind of like us. In some ways, they’re better.” (NYT December 2, 2007)

I wonder what Europeans learnt from Polo’s message but what about us, Indians?

We still don’t know enough about greatness of our neighbouring civilizations in China and Iran. I was never taught in my school anything good about China. We then thought Chinese ate roaches and geckos for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Iran particularly has fallen off the map of most educated Indians. Funny considering Marathas, for a tiny while in 18th century, nursed the dream of invading Iran and Farsi once was as important in India as English is today.

Here is one possible reason.

I am told you don’t ever get US visa if your passport is stamped with Iranian visa. And for middle class Indians, US visa is better than even that of mythical Chitragupta’s चित्रगुप्त visa to heaven!

Quite a few Indians know about Omar Khayyam (1048 – 1131), an Iranian, though thanks to “… the Rubaiyat, a collection of his free-spirited quatrains made famous around the world by the translations of the 19th-century poet Edward Fitzgerald.

It has been said that these immensely popular books, first published in 1859 and running into numerous editions, contributed more phrases to the English language than the Bible and Shakespeare combined.”

Marathi has seen few translations of the Rubaiyat. My father (Gopal Dutt Kulkarni) for instance made one- “Geet Rubayat” (गीत रुबायत)- during 1960’s.

Justin Marozzi reviewed “Omar Khayyam: Poet, Rebel, Astronomer /His own man by Hazhir Teimourian” for The Spectator, 21st November 2007.

He said:“…Khayyam developed a calendar which had an error of one day in 3,770 years (superior to the Gregorian calendar with an error of one day in 3,330 years).

It was based on his amazingly accurate determination of the length of the year as 365.242199 days. The length of the year is currently 365.242190 days...”

Even today, almost 1000 years later, I have hard time comprehending this accuracy. Number numbness!

Poet B S Mardhekar बा. सी. मर्ढेकर (1909-1956) was an ardent fan of another good poet and Farsi pandit Madhav Julian माधव जूलियन् जुलियन(1894-1939). (btw- Mardhekar has written a moving poem on ordeals faced by Madhav Julian.) Madhav Julian माधव जुलियन translated the Rubaiyat from Farsi into Marathi (1929-1933). He also created a Farsi- Marathi dictionary (1925).

Mardhekar chose to use Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) who was famous for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical observations in following lines of his well-known poem: [मी एक मुंगी, हा एक मुंगी, (I am an ant, he is an ant,)] (poem 16 "आणखी कांहीं कविता" some more poems)

ह्या नच मुंग्या : हींच माणसे :
असेच होते गांधीजीही,
येशु क्रिस्त अन् कृष्ण कदाचित्
कालिदास अन टैकोब्राही.

(These not ants : these only humans :
Like this was Gandhi too
Jesus Christ and Krishna perhaps
Kalidas and Tycho Brahe too)

If he were to use Omar Khayyam instead of Tycho Brahe, it would read like this:

ह्या नच मुंग्या : हींच माणसे :
असेच होते गांधीजीही,
येशु क्रिस्त अन् कृष्ण कदाचित्
कालिदास अन ओमर खय्याम.

Still sounds great to me!

I wonder why Mardhekar didn’t choose Omar Khayyam. Did he know Omar Khayyam too was a great astronomer?
Also, in politically correct second half of 20th century, it would have meant showcasing a great Muslim in the company of great Hindus and Christians.

Pity, I still know so little about Khayyam as a poet, rebel, astronomer and possibly a tent maker!

Artist: Ed Fisher The New Yorker 26 March 1990

p.s. Now I think I know why Mardhekar chose Brahe. Read this article from NYT dated Nov 29 2010.