Search This Blog

Sunday, 30 May 2010


Empedocles lived around 440 BC in Acreages’, on the south coast of Sicily. He was a younger contemporary of Parmenides, though his doctrines were somehow akin to Heraclitus.

In most Greek cities, including Sicily, there was a constant conflict between democracy and tyranny. The leader of whichever party was defeated was executed or exiled. Those exiled seldom scrupled to enter into negotiation with the enemies of Greece-Persia in the east and Carthage in the west. Empedocles who was a democrat didn’t choose any of them after his banishment and rather preferred a life of sage.

Empedocles was a queer mixture of a scientist, a philosopher and a heretic.

Science: His most important contribution to science was his discovery of air as a separate substance. This he proved by the observation that when a bucket or any similar vessel is put upside down into water, the water does not enter into the bucket. He also discovered an example of centrifugal force: that if a cup of water is whirled round at the end of a string, the water does not come out. He had his own theory for evolution and the survival of the fittest. He also believed that moon and sun shines from the reflected light.

Cosmology: He established that the earth, air, fire and water are four basic elements. Each of these is ever lasting and every other thing in this world is a compound of these basic elements. These substances are combined by Love and Strife. Love and Strife are also basic substances along with the four. Period of dominance of love and strife keeps changing. Every compound substance is temporary; only the elements together with love and strife are everlasting.

Empedocles held that the material world is a sphere; that in golden age strife was outside the sphere and love inside and then gradually strife starts entering the sphere and displacing love at worst completely outing it. The process then reverses.

Religion: He had an orphic/Pythagorean view of religion. At times he speaks himself exuberantly as God and at other as a great sinner undergoing expiation for his impiety. It is said that he jumped into the crater of Mount Etna to prove that he is God.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Tanam farsooda jaa paara

A Qawwali is a sufi devotional song. A Qawwali can be classified into several categories:
  • Hamd: A song in praise of Allah. Traditionally a Qawwali begins with a Hamd.
  • Naat: A song in praise of Prophet Muhammad. A Hamd is followed by a Naat.
  • Manqabat : A song in praise of Imam Ali.
  • Marsiya: An elegy sung as lamentation over the death of much of Imam Husayn's family in the Battle of Karbala
I am writing down one of the most popular naats. The language is Persian. 

marhawa salle alla hastam sana khaane rasool
sad salaaam-e-man bazisne paak per jaane rasool
aye saba be pe ke mustaaka badar gaahe nabi
wo salaam dast basta peshe haiwanee rasool

(I am unable to find the meaning of above verses. I'll be grateful if anyone explains it to me.)

This naat is wriiten by Moulana Abd-ar-rahmaan Jaami.  Listen to Ustaad NFAK singing this naat.
Tanam Farsooda jaa para
Ze Hijra Ya Rasulullah
Dillam Paz Murda Aawara
Ze Isyaa. Ya Rasulullah!

( My body is dissolving in your separation
And my soul is breaking into pieces.
Due to my sins, My heart is weak and becoming enticed. Ya Rasulullah! )

Choon Soo’e Mun Guzar Aari
Manne Miskeen Zanaa Daari
Kunam Ja. Ya Rasulullah!

( When you pass by me
Then even in my immense poverty, ecstatically,
I must sacrifice my soul on your blessed sandal. Ya Rasulullah! ) 

Ze Jaame Hubb To Mustam
Ba Zanjeere To Dil Bustam
Nu’mi Goyam Ke Mun Bustum
Sukun Daa. Ya Rasulullah!

( I am drowned in the taste of your love
And the chain of your love binds my heart.
Yet I don’t say that I know this language (of love). Ya Rasulullah! )

Ze Kharda Khaish Hairaanam
Siyaa Shud Roze Isyaanam
Pashemaanam, Pashemaanam, Pashemaanam. Ya Rasulullah!  

( I am worried due to my misdeeds;
And I feel that my sins have blackened my heart.
I am in distress! I am in distress! I am in distress! Ya Rasulullah!)

Choon Baazoo’e Shafaa’at Raa
Khushaa’I Bar Gunaagara
Makun Mahruume Jaami Raa
Daraa Aan. Ya Rasulullah!

( When you spread your hands
to intercede for the sinners,
Then do not deprive Jaami of your
exalted intercession. Ya Rasulullah! )

(The transaltion is taken from net.)

Monday, 24 May 2010


Parmenides was native of Elea, in southern Italy. His date is uncertain but it is said that young Socrates met him when Parmenides was 65 years of age. This makes his birth around 515 BCE. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy.The southern Italian & Sicilian philosophy was more related to mysticism unlike the Ionian philosophy which was scientific and skeptical in nature. Mathematics, under the influence of Pythagoras, flourished in Magna Gracie in southern Italy and was entangled with mysticism and was not scientific as it is today.
Parmenides was influenced by Pythagoras but the extent to this influence is conjectural. Parmenides is historically important as he is considered to be inventor of Logic but what he really invented was metaphysics based on Logic.
His doctrine is divided into two parts “the way of truth” and the “the way of opinion”. The Way of Truth discusses that which is real, which contrasts in some way with the argument of the Way of Opinion, which discusses that which is illusory. In his poem ‘In Nature’ he illustrates his doctrine .He considered the senses deceptive, and condemned the multitude of sensible things as mere illusion. The only true being is “the One” which is infinite and indivisible. It is not, as in Heraclitus, a union of opposites, since there are no opposites. He apparently thought for instance, “Cold” means only “not Hot”, and “Dark” means only “not light”. “The One” of Parmenides is different from “The God” we conceive because Parmenides considered the one as a material and extended, for he speaks of it as a sphere present everywhere, encompassing everything hence indivisible and indestructible. Heraclitus maintained that everything changes; Parmenides retorted that nothing changes. The essentials of his teaching as follow:

Thou canst not know what is not-that is impossible-nor utter it; for it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be

How, then, can what is be going to be in future? Or how could it come into being? If it came into being, it is not, nor is it if it is going to be in the future. Thus is becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of."

"The thing that can be thought and that for the sake of which the thought exists is the same; for you cannot find thought without something that is, as to which it is uttered.”

Bertrand Russell explains this argument as:

“When you think you think of something; when you use a name, it must be the name of something. Therefore both thought and language requires objects outside themselves. And since you can think of a thing or speak of it at one time as well as at another, whatever can be thought of or spoken of must exist at all the time. Consequently there can be no change, since change consists in things coming into being or ceasing to be”

Parmenides contends that, since we know what is commonly regarded as past, it cannot be really be past, but must, in some sense , exist now. Hence he infers that there is no such thing as change.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

jahaaz ka panchi

मर कर भी मुझको कहाँ चैन आया,
पंछी हूं जहाज़ का वापस जहाज़ पे आया

गोश-ए-मुहब्बत ना सुने तल्खियाँ ज़माने की
दर पे संगदिल के फिर से लौट कर आया
[गोश-ए-मुहब्बत = deaf love; तल्खियाँ = bitterness]

इश्क-ओ-दर्द को लफ़्ज़ों में बयाँ रखा है  
पर  ख़त भेजूं  कैसे  कासिद आज नहीं आया
[इश्क-ओ-दर्द = love and pain; कासिद = messenger]

बड़ी उम्मीद से माँगा था खुदा से मैंने तुम्हे
रुसवाई के सिवा कुछ और ना हाथ आया

तलाशती है निगाहें मेरी तुम्हें इस शहर में
दहर में मुझे बस बियांबां ही  नज़र आया
[दहर = life; बियांबां = vacuum/emptiness]

 तंग-ए-दिल से कोई जीस्त गुरेज़ हुआ है आज
इस  हादसे से 'मुज़्तरिब' तू बहुत याद आया 
[तंग-ए-दिल =  troubled heart, जीस्त गुरेज़ = escape from life]

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Xenophanes & Heraclitus

Xenophanes’ date is uncertain between c 570 - 475 BCE. He was from Colophon, a city in the region of Lydia, but lived most of his life in southern Italy. He lived in between the times of Pythagoras and Heraclitus. This is concurred as he alludes to Pythagoras and Heraclitus alludes to him.

Xenophanes philosophy shows a streak of skepticism. He satirized the polytheistic beliefs of the Greeks. He believed in one God and considered it as formless. He argued that if Horses and Cows could paint they would paint God as themselves just like Humans give a humanly form to god. The Ethiopian God is black and the Thracian god is blue eyed with red hairs. Xenophanes is often seen as one of the first monotheists, in the Western philosophy of religion.

His epistemology held that there exists a truth of reality, but that humans as mortals are unable to know it. Therefore, it is possible to act only on the basis of working hypotheses - we may act as if we knew the truth, as long as we know that this is extremely unlikely. This aspect of Xenophanes is the basis of Critical rationalism. Xenophanes can be considered the first amongst the rationalists.

Xenophanes ridiculed Pythagoras’ theory of transmigration. Xenophanes considered that all things are made up of earth and water.

Heraclitus flourished around 500 B.C. He was citizen of Ephesus in Ionia. Though an Ionian, he didn’t belong to the scientific schools of Miletus. From the solitary and melancholic life he led, and still more from the riddling nature of his philosophy and his contempt for humankind in general, he was called "The Obscure," and the "Weeping Philosopher." He was a mystic of different type. He regarded fire as the primordial substance. He is famous for his doctrine of flux and doctrine of strife.

Doctrine of Flux: The doctrine that everything is in the state of flux is most famous of Heraclitus.

This world, which is same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever shall be an ever living fire, with measures kindling and measures going out. The transformed fire are , first of all, sea, and half of the sea is earth, half whirlwind.”

Such a world, Heraclitus believed, is always in a state of flux.

“You cannot step twice into the same river ; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.”

Doctrine of Strife: This doctrine is about mingling of opposites to create harmony. “Men do not know”, he says, “how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is and attunement of opposite tensions, like that of bow and lyre”. His belief in strife is connected with this theory, for in strife opposite combines to produce motion which is in harmony. There is unity in the world, but it is unity resulting from diversity. This doctrine contains the germ of Hegel’s Philosophy, which proceeds by synthesizing of opposites. The metaphysics of Heraclitus, like that of ‘Anaximander’ is dominated by a conception of cosmic justice, which prevents the strife of opposite from ever issuing in the complete victory of either.

Heraclitus’s ethics is a kind of proud asceticism, very similar to Nietzsche’s. He regards the soul as a mixture of fire and water, the fire being the noble and the water being ignoble. The soul that has most fire he calls “dry”. “The dry soul is the wisest and the best”. It is pleasure to soul to become moist. It is death to soul to become water.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

shab-o-roz tumhari yaad aayi

शब्-ओ-रोज़ तुम्हारी  याद आयी
माह-ओ-साल तुम्हारी याद  आयी
[शब्-ओ-रोज़ = days and nights; माह-ओ-साल = months and years]

आब-ए-अब्र-ए-दैजूर में भींग कर
मुझे तुम्हारी नम आँखें याद आयी
[आब = water; अब्र = cloud; दैजूर = pitch dark; आब-ए-अब्र-ए-दैजूर =rains from dark cloud]

अटखेलती अल्हर दरिया के साहील पे
मुझे तुम्हारी पेच-ओ-ख़म बातें  याद आयी 
[दरिया = river; साहील = riverside; पेच-ओ-ख़म =  twist n turn]

नीम स्याह  रातों के साए में
मुझे तुम्हारी सर-ए-काकुल की याद आयी
[नीम स्याह = dark black; सर-ए-काकुल = curls of hair]

तिफ्ल-ए-शाद के कहकहे सुन
मुझे तुम्हारी मासूमियत  याद आयी
[तिफ्ल-ए-शाद = happy child; कहकहे = laughter]

नूर-ए-माह-ए-कामिल को देखा तो
मुझे तुम्हारी रुख-ए-रौशन  की याद आयी
[नूर = light; माह-ए-कामिल = full moon; रुख-ए-रौशन = bright face]

शम्स-ए-नीमरोज़ की ताब से
मुझे तुम्हारी सर्गारानियाँ याद आयी
[शम्स-ए-नीमरोज़ = midday sun; ताब = heat; सर्गारानियाँ = anger]

पहली बारिश की भीगी हवाओं में
मुझे तुम्हारी खद-ए-मुस्क्बार की याद आयी
[खद-ए-मुस्क्बार = body smelling like musk]

माना की है मजाज़ी ,पर 'मुज़्तरिब' को
जानेमन हर पल तुम्हारी बहुत याद आयी
[मजाज़ी = illusioned; ]

Thursday, 13 May 2010


In 6th century BC, Island of Samos was a commercial rival to Miletus. Polycrates became the tyrant of Samos in around 535 BC. Polycrates was not a man with moral scruples. Since the rival Miletus was destroyed by Persia, Polycrates used his navy primarily for Piracy. To stop the westward expansion of Cambyses, the Persian King, Polycrates aligned himself with Amasis, the king of Egypt. When Cambyses devoted all his energy against Amasis, Polycrates realized that he was part of losing side. Such an unscrupulous man he was, he sent his navy against Egypt. The Navy mutinied and returned to attack Polycrates but mutiny was suppressed. Eventually his avarice got rid of him. He was captured at the Persian Satrap at Sardes and was executed. Despite all his covetousness he was a patron of art and learning. He modernized Samos with public works.

Pythagoras was a citizen of Samos during the time of Polycrates. Pythagoras did not like Polycrates and might have left to Egypt where it is supposed that he learned Egyptian wisdom. But what is certain that Pythagoras established himself at Croton, an important city in southern Italy. At Croton Pythagoras founded a society of disciples, which was influential in the city but eventually the citizen turned against him and he had to move to another southern Italian city of Metapontion, where he died.

Pythagoras is the one of the most interesting and puzzling men in history. He founded a religion whose main tenet was transmigration of soul. He advocated the control of state by religion and rules of saints. Some taboo from Pythagorean religion are listed below:

1) Not to eat from beans
2) Not to pick up what has fallen
3) Not to touch a white cock
4) Not to break bread
5) Not to step over a crossbar
6) Not to stir the fine with iron
7) Not to eat with whole loaf
8) Not to pluck a garland
9) Not to sit on a quart measure
10) Not to eat the heart
11) Not to walk on highway
12) Not to let swallows share one’s roof
13) When the pot is taken of the fire, not to leave the mark of it in the ashes, but to stir them together
14) Do not look in the mirror beside a light
15) When you rise from the bedclothes, roll them together and smooth out the impression of body

Cornford in his book “From Religion to Philosophy” says that
The school of Pythagoras represents the main current of that mystical tradition which we have set in contrast with the scientific tendency”

Conford regards Parmenides, whom he calls “the discoverer of Logic” as “an off shoot of Pythagoreanism”. Pyathgoreanism was a movement to reform Orphism as Orphism was a movement to reform the worship of Dionysus.

Pythagoras believed that the soul is immortal and is transmigrated from one being to another . In a Pythagorean society men and women were admitted on equal terms, property was held in common and there was a common way of life, even the scientific and mathematical discoveries were deemed collective.

When Pythagoras said “all things are numbers”, what he might have intended is that the numbers are there in all aspects of life. He discovered numbers in music, shape, size, everywhere. He presumably thought world as atomic and of bodies as built up of molecules composed of atoms in various shapes. The greatest discovery of Pythagoras was that the sum of square sides of a right angled triangle is equal to the square of hypotenuse (3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2). But unfortunately this led to the discovery of incommensurable. For e.g. in an isosceles right angled triangle of sides 1 inch each let the length of hypotenuse be m/n where there is no common factor between m & n. That means one of them is odd and one even. But m^2/n^2 = 2 or m^2 = 2 n^2. This shows that neither m can be odd or n can be odd. So no fraction m/n will measure hypotenuse. This is a contra hypothesis. But with the help of geometry Euclid explained this proposition of incommensurable. This convinced the Greek mathematicians that geometry must be established independent of Mathematics and geometry remained superior to mathematics till the time of Rene Descartes. 

The influence of geometry upon philosophy and scientific method has been profound. Geometry starts with axioms which are self evident, and proceeds by deductive reasoning, to arrive at theorems that are very far from self evident. It thus appeared to be possible to discover things about the actual world by first noticing what is self evident, and then using deductive reasoning to prove complex phenomena. Theology, in its exact scholastic forms, takes it style from this source. The combination of mathematics and theology which began with Pythagoras characterized religious philosophy in Greece, in middle ages, and in modern time to Kant.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Dil mera aap hee jale jaaye hai

Prashant Dheeraj, if literally translated, means infinitely patient. With lots of hope and expectations, that I will stand true to my name, my parents chose this name for me over other names. Alas I didn’t turn out to be like that. Sadly I am the opposite of my name; I am perpetually impatient. So I thought it’s time for amendment, time to correct the mistake my parents did. I have decided to take a 'pen name' of 'Muztarib' which means impatient or agitated. Prashant 'Muztarib'; the infinitely impatient. And if it makes my makhtas more poetic then I would not mind having it even with its negative connotation. From now on I'll use my pen name in my makhtas: 'Muztarib' .

आप  ही मुज़्तरिब हुए  जाए है 
दिल मेरा यूँ ही जले  जाए है
[मुज़्तरिब = impatient]

तगाफुल तुम ना मेरी कर सकते
ये इश्क मेरा तुझे मगरूर किये जाए है
[तगाफुल = ignore; मगरूर = proud/conceited]

खामा-ए-इश्क तुम क्यूँ कहते हों  ?
जीस्त पीरी की तरफ बढे जाए है
[खामा-ए-इश्क = immature love, जीस्त = life, पीरी = old age]

ना देख रकीब को तू इस हसरत से 
ये कांटे मेरे दिल में चुभे जाए है  
[रकीब = enemy]
दैर की तरफ जब उठे  हैं कदम मेरे
क्यूँ रंगत तेरे चेहरे की उड़े जाए है
[दैर = temple]

वो रिवाएतें जहां की, ये शिकाएतें  तेरी
 तमाशे  'मुज़्तरिब' अब और ना देखे जाए है
[रिवाएतें = traditions]
प्रशांत  'मुज़्तरिब'