Sheepish. Still not a mystic. A bit nostalgic…

1. Sheepish:

I’ve spotted yet another error in my new approach!

The error was conceptual in nature, not just mathematical, and it occurred at a fundamental level. … Or so, I think! As of today!

I mean, I am not even rock-sure whether, eventually, it indeed would turn out to be an error or not! … But yes, as of now, I do think that it is an error!

How did the error get into my system—I mean in my new approach?

Well, it first got subtly introduced (and thereafter got reinforced) into my very thinking mode, quite some time ago. May be around May–June times last year. How come?

Because, by a certain motivation that was vague, subtle, and definitely unidentified, I was trying to leave the mainstream QM’s postulates as unaltered as possible. Rather, the MSQM had been subtly shaping up my own “rebellious” thinking too, you know! (For the MS QM postulates, see the document attached to my last post here.)

So, yes, it certainly is time for me to be a bit sheepish. … I’ve begun wondering whether I should have hurried into blogging about my January 2021 computational result or not. I mean the result concerning the helium atom’s bonding energy. … I now think that the numerical result could be—actually, should be—erroneous too.

However, in this particular case of QM application (concerning the helium atom), and for this particular calculation (viz. the bonding energy), the impact should not be numerically so significant. But that’s only because the finite differences method itself is so crude that the error, even if present, can only be expected to get almost fully lost within the numerical approximations. (That too was another reason why I didn’t spot the error right then and there!)

So, may be, I should not have blogged about that trial with such an immediacy.

To be fair, though, I work completely alone, and have never had university courses on QM. The latter leads to two things: (1) I sure have been less susceptible to the errors of the MSQM mode of thinking (even if it can’t solve the measurement problem). (2) However, at the same time, the lack of university education in QM also means that I have also haven’t had the opportunity to discuss issues with class-mates and all. Informal discussions could have worked wonders, who knows. … But the fact is, I work completely alone (even if there are, and have been, blog-some interactions with others).

Further, realize the nature of my goals. I am not just understanding the existing QM machinery (which is complicated). I am also developing an entirely new approach to the quantum phenomena underlying it. Everything (i.e., literally, every thing) needs to be thought through. … Loftiness of the goal ought to make, I think, some sheepishness acceptable. Particularly when it’s QM.

Another thing. There is an offsetting consideration. I don’t just think up my ideas, and then hurry up to write them down in papers, and even send them for publication, expecting that someone else would verify my ideas—conceptually, numerically, or experimentally. I myself implement my ideas through computer simulation, and carefully look at the actual experimental setups that were used in validating QM. This last part is work too!

In comparison, it’s well and good that my error got caught well in time. At least, it remained confined only to my blog posts / comments. I didn’t even send it to arXiv let alone to some well received journals. … With as many as fourteen “influential” interpretations of QM listed at the Wiki [^], and with none of them being fully satisfactory, and yet, with papers still being produced on them for years on (actually, in some cases, for decades), chances are pretty good that my error too could have gone un-noticed and well published! (The nature of the error is like that!)

So, even as I pinch myself for my “recklessness” in blogging so fast, there definitely are some offsetting considerations that are worth noting. … QM, if you are going to think completely afresh about it, certainly is hard. … Take it from me!

This “development” implies having to draw up a new schedule. Indeed, I will have to work through everything completely afresh, find some suitable solutions to the issue that came to the notice, and satisfy myself that the solutions I now think of indeed are satisfactory. Then (or simultaneously), I will also have to write code and undertake calculations via completely fresh sets of trials. Only then will I be able to get back to writing the planned document on my new approach.

And, oh yes, I still have to take good notes on the QM spin and integrate my new approach to include it. (I’ve completed taking notes on the orbital angular momentum, and it’s while understanding this topic that the possibility of an error struck me. I’m using Eisberg and Resnick for these topics. This book is excellent for these topics (IMO!))

And all this happened even as I was planning, just some 3–4 days ago, to write a small little post saying that I’ve got tired by now. I actually am. But the discovery of the error has given a bit of a new enthusiasm to me. As physicists like to say, if everything is working out fine, then that’s OK, perhaps even boring. But when something doesn’t work out, then it’s exciting. Now you can think about it… (I forgot who said something like that first.)

2. Still not a mystic:

There was some minor painting work scheduled at home (actually, filling of the cracks in the plaster of the wall).

Consequence: I had to shift around, within home, all the mover’s and packer’s boxes which were lying unopened since our last move about a year ago. These boxes contained my books.

There are in all some 1415 of these boxes, out of which about 10 boxes should be carrying my books alone, all packed to the full capacity and a bit more. (That is, after discarding almost half the books during the last move alone (not counting the books I had to discard/sell earlier too), and after losing almost 45 boxes worth of books during the 29 September 2019 flash-floods in Pune.) The size of each box is about 2 \times 1.5 \times 1.25 feet = 3.75 cubic feet.

Consequence: Now that the boxes were not stacked on top of each other in my room, but instead were lined up in a single layer on the floor in all other rooms and balcony, I could open them and check their contents. Also, a few other boxes got teared a bit during this shifting (they all are made of the cardboard). So, I had a peek into their contents too.

Consequence: I got an old book out. Somehow, I didn’t keep it back into the box.

The above-mentioned book is: My first ever bought copy of Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics.”

Here is the proof.

I had bought it for Rs. 30/- back then. Here is the proof. (Check the stamped price at the top-right corner.)

I remember later on buying a copy each in Alabama and California, but I discarded them both, while returning to India.

I had bought it on 9th January, 1984. Here is the proof. Check the top-right corner in the pic. (The squiggly looking thing above the date is my signature in Marathi.) BTW, notice, in India, we write dates in one of the two correct ways, viz., DD/MM/YY[YY]. The other correct sequence is: YYYY/MM/DD. The sequence MM/DD/YYYY is always wrong.

Notice my hand-written comment in the above pic (written in the black ink). Even today I remember the moment when I wrote it down, which was within a few days of starting reading the book. I had consciously avoided writing the comment using the cursive handwriting, because I wanted to see how the book might look if it officially carried the contents of my comment. My comment says:

“A fruitless attempt to
`Discover’ the so-called, non existing,
parallels between
Modern Physics & Eastern Mysticism.”

The handwriting is uneven, because the paper didn’t respond to the pen right—or so I think. Or may be, I was lazily lying down on bed when I wrote it, I don’t remember that part. (I also don’t recollect why I capitalized the word ‘Discover’ though!)

I had also made a few more margin notes/comments in the book, especially in the earlier parts of it. (I think that I never fully finished this book. Anyway, here is one of the comments I had made (back in 1984). Capra’s book had quoted this passage from Lao Tzu’s book “Tao Te Ching”:

``He who pursues learning will increase every day;
He who pursues Tao will decrease every day.”

To which I had made an inline comment:

“Literally true, philosophically.”

Here is the proof:

It was neat to notice that, in certain ways, I’ve not changed even the slightest bit over all these years. 37 years! That’s a long time. … Actually, I began thinking about QM not so much in XI–XII times but in my UG final year at COEP, in first half of 1983 (i.e. 2nd semester of the final year), when we had a course on Structural Metallurgy. Reed-Hill’s book (Physical Metallurgy) had mentioned the Uncertainty Principle, and while talking to a friend (on the stairs at the main entrance to the Department of Metallurgy at COEP), I had confidently said that one day, I am going to prove Heisenberg wrong.

Well, cutting to the present, I am experiencing a bit of sheepishness, but not on that count. And, I’ve never turned a mystic.

3. A bit nostalgic:

I continued buying books, esp. pop-sci, philosophy and other books, even after graduation (1983). I kept discussing these with friends. That’s how I bought Capra’s book (1984). I in fact remember showing the above comments to my friends and discussing a bit on the related philosophical issues with them.

At least one such an occasion was probably on a weekend evening, and it definitely was over a beer or two (but not more—those days, we would drink far less). It was at a restaurant in Pune. I’ve forgotten the exact restaurant (and even who exactly the friends were though I do have a list of the usual suspects). Likely, the place was either Hotel Poonam at Deccan Gymkhana, or Hotel Pearl near Balagandharva. In any case, I am sure it was a place from the JM Road/Deccan area, not from the Camp, when I discussed this book.

In those days, Poonam used to be an avant-garde place with nice open spaces, and upper middle-class clientele. We had in fact spotted many Marathi cine-/theater personalities there, right at the next table or so. (Jabbar Patel once, Amol Palekar at some other time, I remember. Friends remember Jairam Hardikar, but I was not there at that time.) Poonam used to serve an out-of-the world prawns curry. Absolutely fresh prawns, and a curry in the Konkani style (with coconuts, but not in the Malwani style). As to the Hotel Pearl, it used to have a small cubby-hole of a bar (with hardly 4–5 tables)…. Both these places had been mostly out of our reach as students, though I remember going there for some big occasion like semester-end or so. However, later on, as we graduated and started earning, we could afford such hotels too, once a month or so.

As I read my comments in the book, all such memories suddenly sprang up and became lively. Automatically. …Just stumbling across this old copy of Capra’s book had that effect on me. It also threw up the song I am running for this time…

4. Alright, so, to wind up:

Yes, I might get sheepish once in a while, and I do turn a bit nostalgic at times too, but I haven’t turned mystic, ever. Certainly not for 37 years. (Which is not a big deal, really speaking!)

As to the immediate future… Well, I can’t both be sheepish and shipping-ish at the same time, can I? (See, see, how tough it is to get out of the Copenhagen interpretation?)

So… There is going to be some further delay in writing the upcoming document and code. I am certain the task won’t be done until mid-March. It may perhaps even be March-end or some time in April before I am near completion. (But also realize: Whenever it comes, it will have some definite indication regarding the QM spin too, and I will sure try to include a brief indication of this error too.)

Obviously, blogging in the meanwhile is going to be very sparse. Expect to see this same post here for quite some time, may be for another 3 weeks or more. (Frankly, I don’t even know when I am going to return to blogging/tweeting.)

Bye for now, and take care in the meanwhile (and remember, Covid-19 has begun a definite up swing!)…

A song I like:

(Western, Pop): “Homeward bound”
Band: Simon and Garfunkel

[…I had completely forgotten this song, had not played it for a long time, certainly not for at least two decades by now. … It automatically came to me as I was flipping through Capra’s book. It used to be my favourite in the IIT Madras hostels, and even later on for some time. I still seem to like the same things about this song: the general theme / backdrop (rather than the lyrics as such), the soft and informal/folksy sort of music, and yes, also the singing.

The cassette I had bought was for the album “Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits”; it carried this version [^]. I had realized that it must have been for a live event, but didn’t know which one; I discovered the event only today (at the Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1970). Another version, the original record label, is here [^]; I “discovered” this one only today. I guess I like the Carnegie Hall version better!



On the Bhagavad-Geetaa, ch. 2, v. 47—part 1: कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते (“karmaNyevaadhikaaraste”)

A Special note for the Potential Employers from the Data Science field:

Recently, in April 2020, I achieved a World Rank # 5 on the MNIST problem. The initial announcement can be found here [^], and a further status update, here [^].

All my data science-related posts can always be found here [^].

1. A series of tweets on the Bhagawad-Geetaa, chapter 2, verse 47, posted by me today:

Today, I posted a series of tweets. These are quoted (plain copy-pasted) below:

With a good knowledge of the original Sanskrit here, and with my philosophic convictions, I am happy to state that I *don’t* believe in this verse of the Geeta: कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन | मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || “karmaNye vaadhikaaraste…” 1/n

This verse quotes one principle that *in principle* can *never* be realized, in practice, by any one. Reason: It goes against the nature of man. So, the only use it can be put to, is: as a means of exhortation. That’s the only viable use-case it at all has. 2/n

BTW, it also goes against Aristotle, *and* *against* the better (more consistent) parts of Vedant (वेदांत) i.e. Upanishad (उपनिषद). It’s quite likely that this verse represents a later-day interpolation by the priestly / Intellectual class as the original जय “Jay” became 3/n

laden with many^2 extraneous things and eventually became महाभारत “Mahaabhaarat”. … Go through the literal translation of this verse, and then ask yourself: Who could have done it? For what purpose? To answer those two questions, ask yourself, in turn, the following: 4/n

Who was at all allowed / authorized to recite and transmit *any* *Sanskrit* verses for a few couple of millennia at least? Who would benefit from its insertion? Who would prescribe it to the *common man*—i.e., reaching beyond the संन्यासी i.e. the renunciates? 5/n

Answers: Power-lusters among the Intellectual/Priestly *castes* (a word which means much more than just “class”). Totalitarian rulers (of any caste, Brahmins/Dalits included.) Other powerful people from society who collude with, or help, both the former. 6/n

The only virtues of this verse are: a superlatively smooth way of *expression*, and the purity of the formulation. Its formulation is so pure, so direct, so open, so *undiluted* by anything extraneous, that these very qualities are likely to make you disregard its actual, 7/n

directly given, meaning. So, you are likely to add your own *loving/lovable* layers of meaning on to it. Which is what people do! Not just foreigners/Christians/Muslims/others, but primarily Indians / Hindus themselves. Which isn’t just a mistake—it’s a grave error. 8/n

What the verse *actually* says to the common man is nothing but a purest form of naked evil. (Telling it to the “sanyaasi” is superfluous / redundant.) Some day, I’ll give you the exact translation sans any interpolations / extraneous additions, 9/n

so that you can see the whole thing by yourself. Yes, many sources (e.g. ISKON’s “as it is”) do give split-ups of words & meanings. But their stated meanings are *not* exact—there’s a lot of distortion in them! 10/n

Till date, I haven’t come across a fully accurate translation—one which hasn’t added something extraneous or given a slant towards a more palatable meaning, etc. (Certainly not S. Radhakrishnan’s version either!_ So, guess, I will have to write the translation myself. 11/n

Fortunately, I do happen to know all the words & the roots (बीज) operative here. (Else, I wouldn’t write this series of tweets either!) Remind me after a few days… 12/12

I have been working on my new approach to QM. Frankly, I have been struggling through it—in trying to showing how my new approach does make sense. (If I find some error in my approach in this process, well and good! I will abandon it. However, things aren’t even as easy as that. So, working through the details takes time.)

I reached a certain definitely identifiable stage in my own thoughts over the past couple of days. So, a break away from QM would have been welcome too. At the same time, I saw someone (once again!) praising the verse in the title of this post. So, I tweeted the above series. Then, to continue with my break (for today or so), I also decided to write a blog post offering a translation of the present verse.

It so turned out that one blog post wouldn’t be enough. A more circumspect approach is called for. Accordingly, I am making a series of posts on this single verse. This post is the very first in this series, it covers just the कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते (“karmaNyevaadhikaaraste”) part. This joint-word is split up as: कर्मण्य (“karmaNya”) + एव (“eva”) + अधिकार (“adhikaar”) + : (the sound “h!” called by the name of हलन्त (“halant”)) + ते. Let’s see each part, one by one, splitting each part down to its most basic Sanskrit root, and then building back the meaning in a bottom-to-top manner…

1. कर्म (“karma”):

कर्म (“karma”) = क् (the elemental sound “k”, not the completely uttered sound of क “ka”, and certainly not the “ka” with a long “aaa” as in “kaa”) + “:” (“h!”) + म (“ma”, not “maa”).

क् (the elemental “k”, not क “ka” let alone का “kaa”):  It means (here): A negligibly small or insignificant part. Something for which “what is that? where did it get lost?” can be raised. Here, something which is so negligibly small as it might have to be searched for. Note: the same seed also means a lot of other things too.

Related: कण (“kaNa”) means embodiment of क (“ka”), the imperceptibly small part of the material world, a material particle.

BTW, क “ka” also lies at the base of the more direct seed of the sound कृ (“kru”), which itself is a seed sound for words like “cutting” and “action”. However, क “ka” by itself does not mean “action”. “Action” (whether as a noun or as a verb) lies at way too higher level. क “ka” is very basic. (The usual translators simply rush through, and declare the whole word कर्म (“karma”) to be merely only an action. It is not. Read on…

“:” (the हलन्त), whichi is pronounced as the sharp “h!” sound, and which is modified according to the vowel preceding it (e.g. “hi!”, “hoo!”, etc.). Think of this as a postfix operator which denotes the following sense: “the aforementioned word-part has been completed, though the full jointed word may still continue”.

म (“ma”, not “maa”): It connotes: the self, the direct self-awareness, a consideration or assertion of a distinctive (differentiated) self-identity, the direct awareness of emotions, emotions. It is also the root or seed-sound (बीज) for: eating/drinking, mother, moon, water, liquids, attractions, attention, etc.

Related: मम् (“mam_”) means: “my own”, or “pertaining to my own [self or attributes or possessions]”.

कर्म (“karma”, not “karmaa”) = क्  + : + m, therefore,  literally denotes:

1. That state of being in which the following characteristics or attributes are so small as to be insignificant or vanishingly small: an awareness of your own self, yours being engaged in exploring or weighing alternatives for your own person, or your deliberations over something (anything) of interest to your conscious individuality. Everything of the kind given in the preceding list is, by etymological roots, made insignificant in the concept of कर्म (“karma”).

Realize, कर्म (“karma”) is not mean just “action”. It means “action” in which nothing coming from the self participates—no emotions, no love, no thought, no thinking, no creativity, no judgement, no maths, no poetry, no words, no expression, no communication, nothing whatsoever of this sort—one that involves the self or the mind. That’s what the “self-less-ness” required in the concept of कर्म (“karma”) actually and directly says. Like it or not, but that’s what the word actually means.

2. By implication, qua noun, कर्म (“karma”) also means something which exists whether you exercise self-awareness, self-interest, free-will, or not.

3. By further development, qua noun, it means: an apersonal but life- or consciousness-altering effect caused in the universe by your even just deliberations. An effect which will continue influencing you in future regardless of your present or future self-awareness, your free-will, possibly to avoid it.

4. By implication of 3.: Something outside of you which you set in action and which revisits you, and which is such that your self-consciousness, thinking, actions to evade or counter it cannot evade or counter it.

5. By implication of 4. All consequences (foreseen and unforeseen) of the actions you undertake.

This last sense is how people use the word when they say “law of karma”. However, this is a highly derivative sense. The most primary sense is that given in 1.

Examples in which कर्म (“karma”, not “karmaa”) qua a quality of action in the sense of 1. above is the most saliently visible:

Yours being totally engrossed in some manual work which does not involve even a trace of a deliberation while the action is going on. Your being engrossed in a manual or menial kind of a labour requiring minimal application of the mind. Your being engaged in activities which do not involve any weighing of evidence or any explicit mental processes like judgement, thinking, maths, even just feeling.

Examples also include: Being so engrossed in such a kind of an activity that you lose the sense of self-awarenes, while performing it. The actions which best fit this description are those involved in the manual labour such as: weaving, forging, chipping away wood or rock, manually sowing etc.

As an example on the bad (or undesirable) side: the well known phenomenon of the driver-fatigue induced by the monotony of driving a vehicle. If you drive your car in after mentally reaching in a certain “zone” wherein all thought, all feelings have ceased, when you don’t even care whether you are driving safely or crashing into a wall but you just simply keep driving on…. Such an action does positively qualify to be called कर्म (“karma”), in the primary sense of the term. Remember, not just deductive thinking but every function of the mind is to be minimized to a vanishing size. That includes exercising judgment about road conditions and your driving, too!

Contrast: Being so intently absorbed in stepping through a piece of code for debugging that you don’t notice someone calling out for a cup of coffee. This instance does not count. A crucial element of कर्म (“karma”) is the negligibly small extent of any deliberate or distinctly identifiable conscious thought processes. In short, in the literal sense, कर्म (“karma”) means: Your turning into manual, menial labourer who has lost himself in the activity.

After exaggeration, i.e. not as a part of the meaning of the word, but just to extra-polate the meaning purely for clarification: Your turning into a robot specializing in repetitive tasks.

कर्मण्य (“karmaNya”) comes from कर्म (“karma”). It means: assiduosly or diligently performed “karma”. The sense here is something like: (As seen from a higher viewpoint) pertaining to or about or over “karma”.

2. एव (“eva”):

एव (“eva”) = ए (“e”) + व (“va”)

ए (“e”) connotes pointing out to an end of a de-finite something or a definite point in some progression of concretes.

व (“va”) connotes the action of efflux, going out, pointing out setting forth, throwing out, etc.

एव (“eva”) literally denotes: By direct pointinng out, i.e. by enumeration of some positively or definitively pointed out concrete instances: “Up to this point within this collection”. That is: “Only this much”.

The actual usage is like: “From A, B, C, एव”, but it is understood that the actual sense is: saying explicitly only “A, B, C”, and then, also implying, “but not D, E, F,…, Y, Z”. Thus, एव (“eva”) stands for: “this, this, this, this, and that’s it! Done! Nothing more!!”

Confusing: In Hindi, एवम (“evam”) means: “and”, as while enumering some concretes. Thus, it denotes a concrete continuation, an inclusion of one more instance. In Sanskrit, it denotes the exclusion of every other instance; it means: “[having seen every concrete in the list], thusly”.


इति (“iti”): It denotes: The end of an abstract composition: a completed sentence, proposition, idea, poem, thesis, book, etc. It also denotes coming to the end. (Think: “The End” in movies, though not the climax scence when the police arrive.) इति (“iti”) doesn’t apply to a *boundary* or an *end-point* of a mere collection of *concretes*. It denotes the *completion* of a piece of *thought* (which is necessarily occurs at an abstract or conceptual level).

आदि (“aadi”): It denotes: An indefinitely specified continuation of the aforementioned list, lit. “and others”.

When someone says रविचंद्रादि देवता (“ravi chandraadi devataa” lit: “Sun, Moon, and other gods”), you can take a reasonable guess that the author should be talking about the 7 gods after whom the 7 days of the week have been named. However, you can’t be very sure whether he also means to include राहु केतु (“raahu, ketu” i.e. the northern and southern lunar nodes) in the same list or not. That’s because the continuation of the sequence implied by आदि (“aadi”) is rather vague; its meaning in a usage has to be determined by reference to the context.

In contrast, इत्यादि (“ityaadi”), from इति (“iti”) + आदि (“aadi”), does give you a complete definition of the sequence and also indicates continuation. Enough concrete instances are given, or the abtract definition is given in sufficient detail, that the nature of the continuation is unambiguous, it is not very indefinite.

To come back to एव (“eva”), it literally means something like this. Imagine someone saying the following to you:

“Don’t mistake me! What I am saying is not a mere hint or an idea; it is an exact enumeration. You are not supposed to imagine a continuation of the list of objects in here. Every thing to be stated has been stated in its full and complete entirety. Nothing else is to be included.”

That’s the एव (“eva”, not pronounced as “evaa”), for you.

For example, it does not mean “certainly” (the word chosen in “Bhagavad-gita As It Is”). The closest English word is: “only”, though the emphasis on concrete instances, implied by एव (“eva”), is not conveyed by “only”.

Related: अत: ए्व (“ata-h! eva”) = अत: + एव (“eva”). अत: = अ (“a”) + त (“ta”) + “:”. In brief, the parts mean: अ (“a”), meaning “Logical complementation or negation (like in non-A)” + त (“ta”) meaning “that which is directly pointed at”, + “:” denoting a sense of a completion of a part, as explained earlier. अत: (“ata-h!”) then literally means something like “no more direct pointing out the instances is necessary any more!” or “Enough said already!”. In the usual Sanskrit usage, it is taken to mean: “[Pause to indicate a break,] so / therefore.”

अत: ए्व (“ata-h! eva”) thus just adds one more emphasis about completion of enumeration. The sense is this: “OK! I have shown you this, this, this, and that. That’s all there is to it! Done! No more concerete instances are left to be pointed out! [Don’t include anything else in this list! Etc.]” Having established the sense, a good translation given, for the closely related अतए्व (“ataeva”) is this: “for this very reason”.

3. अधिकार (“adhikaar”):

अधिकार (“adhikaar”): अधि (“adhi”) + कार (“kaar”). More technically: अध् (“adh_”) + इ (“i”) + कार (“kaar”).

3.1 अधि (“adhi”): अ (“a”) + ध् (the elemental “dh_”) + इ (the soft vowel “i”).

अ (“a”) as a prefix denotes the logical complement of that which follows. It also denotes the absence of or the end of that which follows. The meaning here is: the “non-A”, given a proposition/set “A”.

ध् (the elemental sound “dh_”) connotes: striking down, holding (one given object with another given object), holding fast, supporting, spanning, bridging, stead-fast, etc. Related: धन (“dhana”) means: Holdings, i.e., fixed assets. Related: अध: = अ + ध् + : = in the (naturally) downwards direction, not holding up, not supporting or supported (hence, by implication, in “free fall”), below, down, etc.

इ (the soft vowel “i”) connotes: the soft spiritual energy, the animating spirit, the living force, etc. Related: धैर्य (“dhairya”) means the ability to hold on, integrity, courage, etc.

धि (“dhi”) = ध् (the elemental “dh_”) + इ (the soft vowel “i”) connotes: The living energy that supports (someone else) from below (by being at a lower station in a social hierarchy).

अधि (“adhi”), therefore, first and foremost (i.e. literally, paying respect to the actual language-roots) means:

1. Being supported by others’ living energies from down below. Being obeyed by the people below.

2. By (Sanskrit) usage, this word-part has come to mean:

“Primacy or higher station in a hierarchical social arrangement of people, gods, or things.”

However note, the word “social” is important, nay, crucially essential. Also crucial to the meaning is the sense of there being a hierarchy. The support being referred to here is not of a material kind; it is a support of other people—their lives, living energy, minds, spirits included.

3. By (Sanskrit) usage, this word-part has come to also mean:

“Primacy or precedence in any hierarchical arrangement of anything.”

Note, the last usage is what your ordinary Sanskrit teacher would tell you. But realize, the meaning he conveys to you quite loose, secondary, derivative, usage-driven sense. The primary sense has to do with the specifically social hierarchy, and specifically with mental energies of the people below you. It has a military kind of a command-and-control structure built right into it—no escape from it.

Related: अधोमुख (“adhomukh”) = अध: + मुख = Facing downwards: lit.: with own mouth turned downwards (so as to directly point the head towards the ground below).

3.2 कार (“kaar”)

कार (“kaar”) means “form”/”essence”/—“ness”; also, “the person who gives form to something”.

Here, “form” is to be taken in exactly the same sense in which Aristotle received and used this term. It means that which is in common to every part, even in a vanishingly small part (after a process of reification or a limiting process), and hence, “of essence”. Perhaps one way to grasp कार (“kaar”) is to translate it as “ness”, as in “man-ness”. However, do note, कार (“kaar”) is often used in a more narrower, material sense too. Thus, its meaning is closer to “state” (as in a state of a physical system or software) or “position” in some unspecified “abstract space”.

Does कार (“kaar”) split up further? Sure it does. Let me not get too much into it. But the very nature of Sanskrit is like that. It derives all its words in reference to some attributes or adjectives possessed by the entity in question, using a simple small set of seed roots.

कार (“kaar”) splits up as: क् (the elemental “k_”) + आ (“aa”) + र (“ra”).

You know a bit about the seed क् (the elemental “k_”) already from the discussion in the section on कर्म (“karma”). आ (“aa”) means that form or essence which is obtained after taking into account (after “taking together”, “collecting”, or “integrating”) the forms or essences of *all* the constiutuent parts. र (“ra”) here means “nature”. (Actually, it basically stands for things like “removal” or “taking away”, but the exact sense depends on the context. Here, it is to be taken in the sense of “reification”.)

Related: आकार (“aakaar”) = आ (“aa”) + कार (“kaar”), Thus, आकार (“aakaar”) means: “The form of something in its totality”. Usage-wise, it means (even in Sanskrit, not just in Indian languages): The geometrical shape (of an object), the geometrical form, the extent of an object, the distinctiveness of an object’s externally visible contours, etc.

Another Meaning: Be careful! कार (“kaar”) is also taken to mean as the person who is responsible for giving the form to an object. For example: 1. ग्रन्थकार (“granthakaar”) means: the author of book; lit. (and if I am fully correct): one who grasps or catches unyielding hold of [pieces of knowledge] and compiles them into an enduring form. 2. शिल्पकार (“shilpakaar”) means: sculptor; lit. (if I am any correct): one who imparts an appearance of motion / life by chipping away at an inanimate object (like a piece of rock). 3. चित्रकार (“chitrakaar”) means: painter / fine-artist; lit. (if I am fully correct, but here, I think, I am): one who makes an attention-capturing or attention-rivetting object (actually, an object that makes you lose all your attention into it). By implication, a beautiful work of fine arts. Etc.

Related: धिक्कार (“dhikkar”) = धिक् + कार. All the elements used in this compound word have already been spelt out by now. This word denotes: Being put into the state of being a living energy that supports the higher ups from below. That is, to be relegated to a lower station in the social hierarchy. By implication, धिक्कार (“dhikkar”) also has come to mean moral denunciation, censure, etc. However, note there are better fitting words like निषेध (“nishedha”) too. In terms of the actual original meaning, धिक्कार (“dhikkar”) cannot be used if there is no context of an implicit *social* hierarchy. (Merely a worse off condition does not qualify. It’s the living energy which must go down below, to support and hold something—obviously, someone—else up.)

Anyway, to wrap up the current discussion: कार (“kaar”) here is to be taken in the sense of: “essence”, “form”, “nature”, “that which makes a thing itself”, etc.

3.3 अधिकार (“adhikaar”):

Given the meaning of अधि (“adhi”) and कार (“kaar”), you know can figure out what अधिकार (“adhikaar”) means, in a *literal* sense:

अधिकार (“adhikaar”) literally means, first and foremost:

1. A position of primacy that is supported by other living people in a social hierarchy from below the given person, primarily via their life-energy, spiritual energy, mental energy.

It also means:

2. A state of being in a primary or commanding or principal position among people where other people serve you with their “body and soul”.

Secondary/implied/derivative/by usage meanings: By implication, and after diluting the meaning in mundane usage, अधिकार (“adhikaar”) has also been used (both in Sanskrit and in other Indian languages) variously to mean:

3. Power, Powerful position, 4. Controlling position, 5. Authority (whether of declaration by fiat or by virtue of scholarship), 6. License (as issued by the state so that you can buy a can of beer in India), etc. However, notice, there are other, more fitting words to denote each of these latter usages.

Speaking of the derivative usages, notice, inasmuch as you choose to forget the essential element of the layer of people holding you from below, you are that much going away from the very essence of this formulation, viz., अधिकार (“adhikaar”).

3.4 अधिकारस्ते (“adhikaaraste”):

अधिकार: (“adhikaar-h!”) indicates that the preceding word part (अधिकार “adhikaar”) has been completed, with a sharp stress.

ते (“te”) means: “of you”. (Qua a masculine plural, it also means: “they”. However, this verse doesn’t make as much sense with this meaning, as it does with “of you”.)

4. Wrapping up the discussion for today:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते (“karmaNyevaadhikaaraste”) means:

The one and only explicitly stated position of command or primacy in the social hierarchy which you have is that pertaining to (or about) being so totally absorbed in, or being so thoroughly engrossed in doing, such a kind a menial (or as mindless as possible) work [prescribed by your higher ups] that it simply cannot have any connection left with you performing any deliberation, undertaking any thought, exercising any part of your mind, or have any concern left with your own self as such.

That, dear reader, is the exact, literal, sense of the opening compound word of what, arguably, is the most oft-quoted verse from the Geetaa.

Speaking off hand, perhaps the only verse which gets as frequently quoted as कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते “karmaNyevaadhikaaraste” is: यदायदाहि धर्मस्य “yadaa yadaahi dharmasya”. However, comparatively speaking, the latter is quite straightforward to translate. The reason is, it is not very philosophical or abstract in nature! It is just an assuarance from The Divine.

In contrast, I find that the present verse (कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते “karmaNyevaadhikaaraste” ) is quite attractive—it’s very difficult to translate it right!

Finally, just one more thought / comment before parting ways for now, in the next section.

5. अधिकार (“adhikaar”) has absolutely nothing to do with the modern concept of “rights”, let alone that of “individual rights”:

Let me first of all note this very curious fact:

In the context of the verse currently under discussion, every source I ever consulted has translated अधिकार (“adhikaar”) to “right”.

Uh oh! Not at all right! Bad! Very bad and misleading sort of a translation it is! (Why, they don’t even mention just “primacy”. They go all the way to “rights”!)

Let me explain the issues here in the briefest possible way:

The concept of rights, as a moral-political abstraction is, comparatively, a very, very recent development.

Now, note carefully that Sanskrit has no word whatsoever to denote the exact sense of the word “rights” as we use it today.

The idea behind the meaning of the word “rights” (in the sense we today use it and the sense which we recognize it in any literature from the past), began only after Aristotle’s philosophy gained ascendency in the West, about a millenium ago (or slightly later, I think). The British Common Law is a landmark in this development. The meaning of the word “rights” already had begun acquiring noticeably modern undertones by then. This is a certain sense which is not at all discernible in any ancient literature or language, whether Sanskrit, Greek, or others (say from Egypt, or other cultures).

The idea of rights got further developed by great thinkers like John Locke. In its well-refined form, the idea came to be known as “individual rights”. The inclusion of the word “individual” most clearly announces the radical nature of the change in the meaning of the term. See the entry in the Ayn Rand Lexicon, here [^].

अधिकार (“adhikaar”), as we saw, by very roots must have other people to define its basic sense. In fact, as a crucial essence, it must have other people—their mental/spiritual/psychological energies—available at a lower hierarchical station. Only then does the word begins to make any sense. Even if you take the word in the loose sense of just a “primacy”, the actual sense in the Sanskrit word is in a collectivised sense: “primacy of one man in a hierarchy of men”, and not “the metaphysical primacy of man qua individual to take any action he chooses to take (so long as it does not interfere with similar rights of other people)”.

Thus, the idea of “rights”, properly defined as “individual rights”, stands completely on its own—it doesn’t need any primacy or elitism or elevated prestige/station with respect to other people.

Also realize: The Founding Fathers of USA well understood that “rights” are a part of the metaphysical nature of man, that their source is not to be found in any other order, whether social or divine (in the sense, of preachers’).

That sense of “rights” is not just absent in अधिकार (“adhikaar”), but worse, as we saw above, the concept behind this word also positively includes for its crucial essentials, the ideas of social hierarchies and of the people below you. The exact sense of the discourse in the verse would be impossible to convey without including these two elements.

Therefore, if the word अधिकार (“adhikaar”) is at all to be included in a discourse on this verse, then elements such as these two must invariably enter the discourse too. That’s what the Sanskrit language itself says—whether other people tell you this fact or not, and regardless of how they put up sweet layers on top of this ugly truth, how many such layers they lay on, and what precisely is the extent of evasion they do engage themselves in. The truth of matter remains just as it is, regardless of their evasions.

The actual verse does actually tell you the actual story.

6. Wrapping up:

In the next part, we will continue examining the rest of the phrases from this verse—my favorite verse, in a sense! However, please note, blog posts on other topics of interest may also come in between. … The thing is, we have already past the most badly translated—and the most critical—part of the verse. So, we can afford to be a bit leisurely about it. Also, something else to do with my interests (like QM, data science, foundations of physics, etc.) may come in between…

Homework: In the meanwhile…

1. Work out the meaning of: अन्ध (“andha”) usually used (even in Sanskrit), and invariably translated, as “blind person” or “darkness”, though the exact shade of the meaning here is slightly different. With the material explained above, you should be able to easily work your way through this word too.

2. Also try a few good English-to-Sanskrit dictionaries, and see the various meanings of the word “right” and also “rights”. You should find that there is none, but do give it a try… (Remember, स्वाम्य “swaamya” means “ownership” but not the “right” of the “rights”. Of course, you should also think about the other terms…)

Caveat Emptor: As always, I am not an expert of Sanskrit; I am just a happy dilettante who loves to explore it. But sometimes, yes, I do reach the right meaning, and I do share it, that’s all. You are, however, encouraged to consult the actual Sanskrit experts. (Fee free to share with them what I said here in this post too.) All the best!

Take care, and bye for now…

A song I like:

(Marathi) घाई नको बाई अशी, आले रे बकुळफुला (“ghaaee nako baaee ashee, aale re bakuLaphulaa”)
Music: Pt. Jitendra AbhiSheki
Lyrics: Raja Badhe
Singer: Asha Khadilkar

[Though I have tried to order the credits right, I also think that all of them are so excellent here, that the order, really speaking, doesn’t matter!]


Etymology of the word: “aether”

A Special note for the Potential Employers from the Data Science field:

Recently, in April 2020, I achieved a World Rank # 5 on the MNIST problem. The initial announcement can be found here [^], and a further status update, here [^].

All my data science-related posts can always be found here [^].

Update on 29th June 2020, 09:15 PM: I’ve added my translation of the song (from the usual songs-section); see at the end of this post.

1. The historic Greeks:

The Wiki on “Aether_(classical_element)” [^] says:

Aether comes from αἰθήρ.

The word αἰθήρ (aithḗr) in Homeric Greek means “pure, fresh air” or “clear sky”.

In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals.

Aether is related to αἴθω “to incinerate”, and intransitive “to burn, to shine”.

In Plato’s Timaeus speaking about air, Plato mentions that “there is the most translucent kind which is called by the name of aether (αἰθήρ).

Aristotle, who had been Plato’s student at the Akademia, agreed on this point with his former mentor, emphasizing additionally that fire has sometimes been mistaken for aether.

This is as good as the Wiki gets, but what we are looking for is some serious etymology. So, let’s pursue Wiktionary. Look up “αἰθήρ” (the word “aether” in Greek), here [^]: It says:

Etymology [of αἰθήρ (aithḗr)]:

From αἴθω (aíthō).


αἰθήρ • (aithḗr) m (genitive αἰθέρος); third declension

1. heaven
2. aether; ether
3. theoretical medium of great elasticity and extreme thinness of consistency supposed to fill all unoccupied space and transmit light and heat
4. The upper or purer air as opposed to erebus (Ἔρεβος (Érebos)), the lower or dirtier air; the clear sky.

Immediately, on to Wiktionary for “αἴθω (aíthō)”, which is at the root of “αἰθήρ (aithḗr)”. See here [^]:

Etymology [of “αἴθω (aíthō)”]

From Proto-Indo-European *h₂eydʰ- (“burn; fire”). Cognate with Latin aestus, aestās, and aedis, and Sanskrit इन्द्धे (inddhé, “to light, set on fire”).

We are on the right track.

The general rule for etymology of terms having ancient roots is this: Pursue Wiktionary a bit rapidly to as much depth and width (of links) as is needed, but go slow once they begin to mention PIE (Proto-Indo-European). The appearance of the PIE is the clearest indication that we are about to reach the right “rack” soon enough, the one that has संस्कृत (Sanskrit) in it. (PIE is just a smoke-screen erected by the Western (Abrahamic) intellectuals to let them continue to feel a shade slightly better. It’s going to go away within a century or so. It never existed in the forms and with the direction among the links which they imagine and stubbornly stick.)

As to our current pursuit, at this juncture, we are also lucky. We got to Sanskrit right in the above link. (Looking at the cognates is not at all a bad idea. For that matter, even the idea that linguistic forms such as PIE might have existed, isn’t wrong by itself. The wrong idea is the blind assertion that the roots of Sanskrit lie in the PIE and cannot have any linkages any other way around. This wrong idea is what turns the idea of PIE into a smoke-screen. But as I said, the smoke-screen is going to go away within a century—mainly because of the exponential rise in the varieties of rich communication media, and the exponential decrease in their price/affordability. It will have its own effects. It will make it easier for truth to prevail.)

Coming back to “αἴθω (aíthō)”, my “ear” suggested that the Sanskrit इन्द्धे (inddhé, “to light, set on fire”) cannot have something very direct to do with the Greek term. What to do?

One very definitely reliable source (wrong far less number of times than today’s Western people imagine) seems to be on the side of my “ear”, viz., Aristotle. He had heard it right, and he / his students noted it right. Aristotle had emphasized “additionally that fire has sometimes been mistaken for aether”, as we gathered above. (The strategy of literature search from the general to the  specific always pays off.)

So, now, we have to go, look up: “*h₂eydʰ-” . Fortunately for us, the tireless people at Wiktionary have put up an entry for it too. (We say thank you to them.)

The Wiktionary for “*h₂eydʰ-” [^] says:

Root is: *h₂eydʰ-

1. to ignite
2. fire

Derived terms:

— h₂éydʰ-os ~ *h₂éydʰ-es-: Sanskrit: एधस् (édhas)

*h₂éydʰ-o-s: Sanskrit: एध (édha)

As I said, we thank the Wiktionary people and even the Western etymologists. However, for reasons of proper pursuit of truth, we ignore the inversions of hierarchies which they do effect. Accordingly, both PIE roots and the assumed direction for the PIE-Derived terms, are to be seen as अपभ्रंश (“apabhramsh”, distortion, corruption, esp. of words).

On the plus side, we have the एध (édha) / एधस् (édhas) terms (just grammatical variations). Why do I said “plus” side? Simple. Say these terms aloud, repeatedly, as if in a मंत्र “mantra” chanting or recitation of verses. Simultaneously, imagine a very curious and sincere foreign student sitting near you. How would he transcribe what you are saying in his language? Is इन्द्धे (inddhé) closer to αἰθήρ (aithḗr) or is it एध (édha)/एधस् (édhas)/एधते (édhate)?

2. Approaching the ancient Indians:

Look up एधते (édhate) in the Wiktionary, here [^]. Forget the cyclic links, and the references going back to burning. We thus get to:

एधते • (édhate) (root एध्, class 1 Ā) (Vedic áidhatai)

Verb: to prosper, increase, grow

Synonyms: वर्धते (várdhate), ऋध्नोति (ṛdhnóti)

1. to spread, extend
2. to swell

Related terms

एध (édha, “fuel, firewood”)
एधस् (édhas, “fuel, happiness”)

Aha! Now we know why these Europeans and Americans go running around in circles. They don’t mind synonymizing  एधते (édhate) with वर्धते (várdhate), and the latter with ऋध्नोति (ṛdhnóti). Here, the sense of Sanskrit we naturally develop in India comes in handy. (All Indian languages reflect a heavy influence of Sanskrit.) With our sense of Sanskrit, we know that the last two terms just cannot be very much synonymous. Anything being described with वर्धते (várdhate) cannot be cyclical in nature, andgiven the root ऋ involved in it, ऋध्नोति (ṛdhnóti) might have cyclical nature. Obviously, any etymology that throws the two as synonymns cannot be very rigourous… But we won’t get into this side issue. For the time being, let’s continue to focus on एधते (édhate).  In the “Related terms” sections, we find “fuel” and “happiness”. … Again an issue of words that just cannot be synonymns!

Come on, except in the state of Texas in the USA and in the Gulf countries, does any one else even associate “fuel” with “happiness”, let alone treat them as similar in some sense (in some contexts)? Which language would do that? Would a classical language whose form has for the most part demonstrably lasted for more than 10 millenia, and one which takes pride in having deliberated out every seed, every root, every variation, have something like “fuel” and “happiness”—at the root level? Once again, it’s the intimate familiarity with Sanskrit which comes in handy, really speaking. The answer is a resounding “no”!

Intermediate conclusion: It’s going to take a bit of thinking to sort out things here.

OK. On to checking for Wiktionary on एध (édha). It exists! Here is the link [^]. It says

एध (édha)
1. To grow, increase
2. to prosper, become happy, live in comfort; द्वावेतौ सुखमेधेते Pt.1.318.
3. to grow strong, become great.
4. to extend.
5. to swell, rise.
6. (causative) to cause to grow or increase; to greet, celebrate, honour;

Deliberate over this list for a bit.

3. My analysis:

3.1 एध (édha) as the proper root for the aether:

Referring to the last list, viz., that for एध (édha), ask this question to yourself:

Question: Which meaning is more primary (“primitive”), basic, or more generic, or more fundamental?

My answer: The most primary/primitive/generic/basic/fundamental has to be 4 (to extend). Then, 1 (to grow, increase), 5 (to swell, rise). Then 6 (causative of to grow or increase, but skipping the rest of the meanings). Only then 2 (to prosper, become happy, live in comfort). And only then, the skipped parts of 6 (to greet, to celebrate, to honour).

Now, we are in a position to draw a tentative conclusion:

The words ether/aether come not from “I burn” (as mentioned somewhere else on the Wiki) or even just “burns” or the more alluring “shines”. It comes from some words that had the verb एध (édha) whose primitive, general meaning is: “to extend”, and “to grow, increase” at their root.

3.2 How the connetions to इन्द्धे (inddhé) and इन्धन (indhan, fuel) might have arisen:

Wiktionary states a connection of the same root, viz. एध (édha), with इन्द्धे (inddhé) and इन्धन (indhan, fuel). Clearly, the direction of “fuel” is different from that of “to extend, grow, increase”, etc. So, we have to look into what a fuel does.

In ancient times, the fuel was not the petrol or diesel (aka “gas” in a certain country in the West). In the ancient times, the fuel was: the wood. In later times, it was also the cow-dung cakes.

So, imagine this scenario:

You have something (like some cut pieces of wood) in front of you. Wood. A material body. Very much visible, very much solid. You kindle it. (Kindling presupposes an already existing fire; not starting fire afresh via friction, say by rubbing two quartz stones (with a string that goes to and fro to create rotation, as in making butter out of curds).) The fuel catches on the fire, and burns. Eventually, what’s left is a relatively a small volume of ashes. The purer the fuel, the lesser the amount of ash. So, some things, some essences, must have left the initial solid thing.

OK. What else is there? Burning—the process. Hence the wrong meaning attached to the word “aether”, which Aristotle rightly rejects. [This guy must’ve had a tremendous sense of meaning, of making careful statements. Frankly, I envy him.]

What else? Smoke. What is the material end product which comes from the process of burning? a product other than from ash? Smoke.

What are the characteristics of smoke? what does it do? Smoke is misty, cloudy—which also happen to be the secondary meanings associated with the word aether. (We didn’t pursue the links to them, but they are listed elsewhere.)

But what does it do? It rises, and goes here and there unpredictably, and in the process, it disperses—the whitish thing becomes bigger, more voluminous. Notice: Rising and dispersing also are the secondary meanings associated with the word: aether. And then? It disappears. Becomes completely invisible.

How do we capture this process in terms of slightly more abstract description?

An इन्धन (indhan, fuel) is a material object which can undergo a certain action upon burning. It goes from being a small solid thing to something that extends, expands and becomes invisibly big.

3.3 Isolating the meaning of एध (édha):

We want to isolate the specific meaning of एध (édha) i.e. aether, from the process mentioned in the previous sub-section, somehow.

Now, crucially, some extra knowledge (in the context) of Sanskrit comes in handy. There is some essence to this above-mentioned action which is not captured by certain other Sanskrit terms like जो (“jo”, brightness, luminous things—but not high temperature), ज्वलन (“jwalan”, burning), तपस् (“tapas”, heating, hotness), उषा (“ushaa”, the glow in the sky which appears much before the sun rises), etc. The compilers (संस्करणकर्ता “sanskaraNakartaa”) of Sanskrit obviously had something else in mind when they admitted एध (édha) into the proper vocabulary. For senses like burning, glowing, etc. they had many other terms.

Similarly, there are words to describe “expansion” and “thinning” too. (Let’s not get into them.)

So, what could be the point behind adopting an additional term of एध (édha) the verb?

Focus on the fact that एध (édha) is a verb, whereas “aether” is an object. How do we go from a verb to its objectification? An explanation in terms of modern maths, esp. calculus, really makes it simple. However, we would rather pick up the threads of thought that would be accessible even to a layman.

The idea goes like this: You have wood (a small solid chip). The same thing turns to ash + smoke, occupying a bigger volume. Naturally, it is thinner, less dense. Can’t be grabbed by fingers. Then, the smoke further disperses. But it still remains material. Its materiality traces itself back to the wood. (Notice, I am going through all these pains, because I want to avoid directly invoking the hypothesis of atomism.) So, in a sense, it is the same material, but spread out over greater region of space. Perhaps split up into parts.

So, from a further abstract viewpoint, two things go on:

  1. The material parts making up the smoke go further and further away from each other.
  2. But the transformation still remain the same original that can still be identified: This patch of smoke, now, here. Grows. The same smoke, now become a big patch, there. Etc.

So, what is it which is increasing in this process of spreading from a small volume to a big volume? What is different as the smoke spreads? What is the differentiator? Answer: Spatial separation.

And what is it which stays intact throughout this process? Answer: The fact that despite rarification, something has to be imagined as continuing to hold together the parts that are going further and further away from each other. So, what is the common part? What is the integrator? Answer: Some invisible essence that holds the visible parts together no matter how far away they go, filling the space between them.

Obviously, compilers (संस्करणकर्ता “sanskaraNakartaa”) of Sanskrit viewed एध (édha) as a process, not so much of a transformation of a thing as in burning, but rather, a process of bringing out or releasing forth a certain essence that already was present in the material (the fuel), an essence which showed this property or characteristic of extending, growing, even as rising (though it is not the most core essential), and still continuing to hold the parts of the original material thing together, even when they disperse so much that as to go into invisibility.

3.4 Contrast: What happens when a good term falls in the wrong hands:

Cf. Greek mythology of chaos, Ἔρεβος (“erebos”, Sanskrit रजस् “rajas” night), nyx (Sanskrit नक्ति “nakti”, night), aether, and all that. These intellectually sloppy/insufficiently prepared ancient Western people substituted “darkness” for the invisibility implied in the term “aether”, and they merged the context with night (रजनी), and they merged it with mythology, and all that.

They not only continued on this tradition of utter sloppiness, but even enriched it very considerably, in the late 19-th and early 20-th century, when they whole-sale denied the existence of the aether.

3.5 To conclude our analysis:

To conclude: Aether is a derivative of the original Sanskrit एध (édha). As such, it cannot capture the “burning” part of it. What the term isolates from its context (spelt above), are the characteristics of the action of extending, growing, as in the process of rising up of a smoke, and ultimately growing so thin as to go into invisibility—all the while retaining the “holding together” function.

Qua transformation into a noun, what an objectified verb एध (édha) must indicate is:

A material essence that is invisible, thin, not itself made of material parts, but performs the function of holding the material parts together regardless of how much space they occupy.

The process of burning merely lets us identify this essence, because it illustrates how this essence comes to play a progressively more dominant role in the evident spreading of the smoke.

But we need to understand the “growth” and “extension” aspects, involved in the isolation of the concept of aether, a bit better. We will do that by considering contrast to some terms that also indicate “volume-ness,” “spatial extension”, “unspecified limit/boundaries”, “fillability”, etc., but don’t quite exactly bring out the “all holding”, “all thin” part of “aether”. Once you look at these other terms, you will become fully convinced about the objectified एध (édha) i.e. aether .

4. Contrast from other Sanskrit terms:

4.1 Contrast from some other terms quoted as synonymns:

To see the contrast of  एध (édha) from other terms that indicate growth, consider terms like वर्धते (“varadhate”, to grow), ऋध्नोति (ṛdhnóti).

To see the contrast of एध (édha) from other terms that supposedly indicate an all-spread, all-pervasive aspect, consider terms like विष्णु (“vishNu”, supposedly an all-pervasive principle).

These terms do sound very similar to the idea behind the aether, if you consider their English translations alone. But actually, in original Sanskrit, they aren’t.

वर्धते (vardhate) applies to growth as that from a seed to the tree, or from a child to an adult to an old man—not the growth in the volume of an already thin, ungraspable thing like smoke undergoing further dispersing, ultimately becoming the thinnest and most ungraspable thing—which leads to the concept of the thinnest holding essence i.e. the aether.

विष्णु (“vishNu”), vaguely, means that an enclosure which keeps all things within itself. However, contrary to a very wide-spread misconception (held by both laymen and scholars), the idea of an “all pervasive”-ness is not a primitive here. The root of the Sanskrit word विष्णु (“vishNu”)  goes via विवेष्टि (“viveShTi”, enclosed, being wound within by something on the outside, engulfing). The “engufing” part is important, not the “all-pervading” part. Thus, in fact, the “protector” God named with this term. In contrast, एध (edha) refers to the action of rarifying and still holding or connecting other parts at the same time as the growing and pervading is going on.

Sanskrit has several different terms that mean similar, but you have to understand the nuances.

Aether has sometimes been taken to translate to terms like the following, though the correspondence is not at all in terms of essentials. Just look at the original Sanskrit meanings of these alternative terms (mistakenly adopted for the meaning of “aether”).

  • आकाश (“aakaash”): Sky, void, but the primary meaning here is: that thing which comes with shining; that thing which lights up and shines upon or brightens (every thing else)
  • नभ (“nabha”) Sky, atmosphere, but primary meaning here is: that which itself cannot materialize or become evident by itself.
  • अवकाश (“avakaash”) Space, the primary idea here is this: There is a characteristic of interval, of being extended, in the concept of आकाश (“aakaash”), and अवकाश (“avakaash”) focusses on this characteristic. This interval is to be taken in the sense of “volumeness” or “fillability” but, unlike what too many Westerners think, it is not to be taken in the sense of a “void” (the word for which is शुन्य (“shunya”, which itself is different from शून्य “shoonya”, the blank left after removing something). Thus अवकाश (“avakaash”) primarily means the characteristic of extended-ness, and only then, in turn, Space.
  • गगन (“gagan”): Sky, but the exact primary meaning here is: that in which motion (or movement/velocity/going) occurs,
  • खगोल (“khagol”): Usually taken to mean “space beyond the earth’s atmosphere”. However, the exact primary meaning here is: that roundness (circle/sphere/oval/ovoid) which can be/has been filled with something material.
  • शब्द (“shabda”): Usually taken to mean: “word”, even in established Sanskrit. Sometimes, taken to mean the premordial sound, and hence, connected with premordial vibrations, and hence with the aether. However, in terms of the most primitive roots शब्द (“shabda”) means: the material aspect of a vibration/action of [a material-spiritual integrated being], complete in itself, and given [to you] a priori in [your] evidence. Pretty difficult a concept, though the roots are so few and so “simple”: श (“sha”) + ब (“ba”) + द (“da”). What is being highlighted here is not the written word, the Sanskrit term for which is: अक्षर (“akshar”, lit. that which does not decay or dissolve). It also is not sound, the Sanskrit term for which is: ध्वनि (“dhwani”, lit.: the material emission of periodicity/rhythm, and hence vibrations in air). Though used also in Sanskrit for things to do with vocabulary, people sometimes use शब्द (“shabda”) to denote the aether, which is not a very apt usage. Neither एध (édha) nor aether is concerned with details or particulars such as vibrations or their nature, though they both are concerned that a primary thing/existent be denoted.

I am sure there are tens of more such terms (if not hundreds). This was just an indicative list. What is more important to us, for the present purposes, is this:

None of them is directly relevant to the etymology of the aether. Only एधते (édhate), in the sense explained here, is.

4.2 Which term comes closest? My personal opinion:

If you ask for my personal opinion, in terms of the most primitive seeds and meanings, I would pick out नभ (“nabha”) as being closest to the objectification of the verb एध (édha). However, its usage as a sky is far too firmly established. So, this is one reason to avoid it—else, people are likely to confuse “air” with aether. Further, because of the seed भ (“bha”, indicating materialization, manifestation), नभ (“nabha”) does do well to indicate the distinction of aether from the gross material objects. ( Princess Caroline once wrote to her former tutor Leibniz that ‘what these gentlemen call vacuum is really nothing but something which is not matter.’ [^]). However, there is another issue: It fails to capture the “holding together/connecting” aspect of एध (édha).

4.3 Why एध (édha) is most fitting: Its seeds:

Note, the seed ध (“dha”) lies at the root of words like धरणी (“dharaNee”, soil, earth, the earth, beam, etc.), धैर्य (“dhairya”, courage, ability to hold on), etc., and the seed ए (“e”) lies at the root of words like एक (“eka”, one, the one, the singular), एतत् (“etat”, “this”, as after considering all aspects of a composite or complex thing), etc.

The objectification of एध (édha) yields a term which means: that which holds (or connects or spans) composite things together.

Yessss! Finally, I think we’ve got to the point of context and clarity that I am happy with.

Home-work: Work through the primary referents, and hence basic meaning, of the Sanskrit word: अश्वमेध (“ashwamedh”). Hint: Nothing to do with “sacrifice”. Latch on to what the अश्व (“ashwa”, horse) does, and what its actions are taken to imply, in particular, how the “एध (édha)” part denotes “spanning, holding together, connecting into one”.

4.4 A bit of polemics:

The ancient Greeks got it wrong. They did a package-deal with many other things.

But they did have a saving grace. They didn’t send Aristotle out of unemployment for any long period of time. In fact, they gave him the biggest possible funding of that era (for his researches in biology). As we noted earlier, Aristotle’s sense of words was, if you ask me, plain envy-some.

So, thanks to thinkers like Aristotle, the original right meaning of “aether”, as springing from एधते (édhate), also managed exist in the ancient Greece, though it had to sit together with many other idiocies too (like “I burn”).

4.5 The aether is included in the ontology behind my new approach to quantum mechanics:

How does the implication of the Sanskrit etymology compare with the view of aether I put forth last year—including the mathematical reasons why it must exist, not just philosophical and physical? See here [^] (and also the posts before and after it, as necessary), and decide for yourself.

(No, I had not looked at the original Sanskrit एधते (édhate) etc., when I formulated my view. I have developed my view over time of decades. The biggest challenge for me was to convince myself that a non-material but physical thing can exist. It was a challenge, because I had to pin-point the differences. Initially, in 1990s, I tried “mass” etc. During my PhD-time papers, I characterized it in the terms just mentioned: as a non-material but physically existent thing. I refined the understanding in the subsequent years, see the topics on the “Less transient” page (which, I know, you won’t) [^].

5. ब्रम्हा, विष्णु, शिव (“bramhaa”, “vishNu”, “shiva”):

Finally, because some of my Indian readers might be interested in knowing more about the त्रिमूर्ति (“trimoorti”, the three-forms-in-one God), simply because I happened to mention the principle that is विष्णु (“vishNu”) in the earlier discussion.

OK. First, a note: In the brief discussion below, I will go by the Sanskrit roots, and thus, by the exact meaning conveyed by Sanskrit. I will not care to even touch upon the layers and layers of meanings heaped on the original terms by the religious practices, priests, or the culture, as the usage of these terms underwent changes over time-spans of millenia. Thus, I will not always add “in the primary/primitive/most basic and generic/fundamental/seed sense, the term means” every time. I will directly proceed to outlining the meanings in precisely such a sense—not any other.

ब्रम्ह (“bramha”) means that principle which causes expansion. Thus, it is the cause for the extended-ness. After invoking the thesis of अद्वैत (“adwait”, the non-duality between the material on the one hand and the non-material i.e. the spiritual on the other), the term  ब्रम्ह (“bramha”)  also stands for the one who causes expansion, growth, in every thing, and now, by implication, also in every one. ब्रम्हा (“bramhaa”, with an additional “a”) means that spiritual and/or material existent or person who manifests such a principle—-actually, the sense here is: that one who can be called or addressed or pleaded to. In a vague sense, this is a God of growth. In no sense is it a God of birth or of creation. The latter is a slapped on, and I dare say, corrupt, meaning. The roots here are: ब + र + म + ह (“ba” + “ra” + “ma” + “ha”), respectively connoting: 1. concrete change/degradation/contraction; 2. removal; 3. a grasp on the level of the feeling or the immediate concretes alone (and hence transforming the jointed preceding 1. and 2. into a principle), and 4. a linguistic device that connotes a break, taking away, and completion. What do we get by putting these seeds in this sequence together? Answer: The principle which removes the tendency to get stuck and degrade into smallness or to collapse. That’s what the ब्रम्ह (“bramha”) the principle stands for. I am not quite sure if ब्रम्हा (“bramhaa”) is even a very strict linguistic construction, but more on it, a bit later. [But note, my Sanskrit is merely at the level of an amateur.]

विष्णु (“vishNu”) means that principle which (or who) surrounds or encloses or engulfs every thing; and hence, implicitly assuming a benevolent capacity, a principle that / who also protects every thing (and every one). Further, after invoking the thesis of divisibility of things and the universality of this principle, it also becomes the principle/who that engulfs every part of a thing, and as such, may therefore be seen as being all pervading. The primary/primitive sense is just this much: “engulfs”, “surrounds”. The meaning is neither “protector” nor “all-pervading essence”, let alone a personified God—not in the primary sense of the roots involved.

शिव (“shiva”) is the most abstract term among the three, going by the Sanskrit language alone. ब्र, the root also in words like बृहद- (“bruhad”, greater, bigger, expanded) is pretty easily put to use for rather mundane things too, e.g., बृहन्मुंबई (“bruhanmumbai”, greater Mumbai, Bombay after expansion), etc. Also the root in विष्णु (“vishNu”), i.e. विवेष्टि (“viveSTi”, being contained in) gets used quite mundanely, as in विवेष्टित (“viveshTit”, enclosed, covered). शिव (“shiva”) is not put to mundane matters. Reason 1: The term is abstract. Reason 2: Because of Reason 1, it also has been very heavily misinterpreted.

शिव (“shiva”) has these roots: श (“sha”) + इ (“i”) + व (“va”). श (“sha”) stands for the body, the material aspect of a living being, especially as in the sense of the degradation which occurs after discarding the essential of something (which is, spirit), as in शव (“shava”, the corpse). इ (“i”) is the “softer” form of spiritual energy, something like the Latin “vis”, but remember, इ (“i”) is not a स्वर (“swara”). स्वर (“swar”) lit. means that sound which stands on its own, i.e., a consonant. But इ (“i”) is a vowel; it denotes a characteristic, an energy, of something to which the vowel attaches. Now, the preceding श (“sha”) makes it clear that the इ (“i”) here is to be taken to indicate the spiritual “energy”. Being a seed-sound, and being preceded by the rather sharp and important श (“sha”, in itself an attribute), इ (“i”) here is to be taken in as pure a sense (of spiritual energy) as is possible. Next, व (“va”) connotes the action of throwing out, being emitted, issuing from, coming forth from, etc.

So, putting the seed-sounds together, शिव (“shiva”) is: that principle which (or the one who) is a manifestation of the integration of the purest material aspects (body) and the purest and most singular form of the softer (less intense) spiritual energy.

शीव (“sheeva”) takes the whole thing to the other extreme: to the most intense spiritual energy. Note: No one goes around the business of worshipping that (i.e.शीव (“sheeva”))! … शिव (“shiva”) is difficult already!

Now, coming to the point I want to make: There is absolutely nothing whatsoever in the Sanskrit language which even by remotest interpretation in the wildest imagination can ever suggest: “the destroyer” for शिव (“shiva”) .

Attaching the meaning of “destroyer” to शिव (“shiva”) is a very careless, and possibly also a malicious, act of mixing up things (i.e. principles, even gods).

It’s the रुद्र (“rudra”, lit.: the hollering, the dreadful, the terrible, the attacking and looting one) which can be a destroyer. Not शिव (“shiva”). Further, it’s शीवन् (“sheevan”) which variously means: a large snake, a python (as in the snake, not as in the programming language which I use), lying (as in lying down, and not as in telling lies), etc. But, in contrast, शिव (“shiva”) means “the blissed living man or a comparable integration of the material and the spiritual”. [However, it not just the “bliss”, as many commentators lead you to believe—the material aspect or the body is necessarily present in the meaning of शिव (“shiva”)].

Even महेश (“mahesh”) does not mean “destroyer”. It’s a short-form of the original महेश्वर (“maheshwar”) a combination of महा (“mahaa”, great, heroic, massive, valorous, epic) + ईश्वर (“eeshwar”, the one with the sharp ई (“ee”).  महेश्वर (“maheshwar”) literally means: a total controller, a total ruler, the one whose orders cannot be violated.

The meaning spelt for the second word here, viz., ईश्वर (“eeshwar”) means some principle / some one whose laws cannot be violated. Note, the word is “cannot”, and not “should not”. ईश्वर (“eeshwar”) stands for such a principle that you have no choice but to submit—one way or the other. The idea that it may be possible (though not desirable) to violate the law/the will, and the subsequently arising issues like the nature and quantum of punishment etc. simply do not arise here. The very possibility of violating the law laid out of ईश्वर (“eeshwar”) is denied. That’s the meaning of that term. It means: The inviolate law of nature, the very order of the nature itself (as in the law of karma). [Remind me some time later to write a bit on the etymology of ईश्वर (“eeshwar”) and कर्म “karma”. Both are interesting terms!]

Given the meaning of ईश्वर (“eeshwar”), the adjective महा (“mahaa”, great, massive, etc.) is quite un-necessary. Clearly, the composite word महेश्वर (“maheshwar”) got coined during some lesser period in India.

But given the term as it comes to us,  by its primary meaning, महेश (“mahesh”) can be taken to mean: the greatest inviolate law of nature, the very order of the nature itself (as in the law of karma).

Of course, in practice, it’s possible also to call a great totalitarian ruler as महेश (“mahesh”). However, in Sanskrit there are terms other than ईश्वर (“eeshwar”) to denote the degenerate life-forms of the latter kind. So, taken by itself, महेश (“mahesh”) should, first and foremost, mean what was italicized above, viz., the greatest principle that is an inviolate law of nature.

Now, by also invoking the thesis of अद्वैत (“adwait”, the non-duality), the word would stand for the spirtiual–material integration of such a principle, as is manifested in a man. Thus, the meaning now becomes something like: A great man who personifies the inviolate order of nature. A great man who carries no contradiction.

Now, where is the destroyer? You tell me!


6. No Trinity of Creator-Protector-Destroyer is implied by the original Sanskrit words ब्रम्हा, विष्णु, शिव/महेश (“bramhaa”, “vishNu”, “shiva”/”mahesh”):

The idea of there being this “Hindu” Trinity of the Creator, the Protector, and the Destroyer is a merely a figment of an overactive and, I must add, far too careless, an imagination—or something worse.

If you know Sanskrit, you know that there is no Creator in here, only an “expander” or “enabler of growth”. That’s what ब्रम्हा means. However, I am doubtful about the authenticity of this name too; it could very well be the case that ब्रम्हा “bramhaa” is merely a short-form for ब्रम्हदेव “bramhadeva”, as in calling or addressing. But in any case, “bramhaa” is not a creator. Even प्रजापति (“prajaapati”, the chief of people) is not. And then, one question: Can you read प्रजापति (“prajaapati”) as प्रजननपति (“prajananpati”, the chief of reproduction—let alone of creation)? I cannot.

Similarly, you know that there is a protector, but only by implication. What the principle / the god actually is, is only an “all-engulfing” one. It’s only by implication that he ends up also protecting, but that’s “merely” because he has already engulfed you, and because he is a god anyway.

Similarly, you know that there is only a manifestation of the body and the purest form there can be of the soft kind of a spiritual energy. There is no destroyer. Not even just to pack you off very lovingly to the heavens, whatever that means. No “packing off”, “taking out”, or something similar is included in this term.

Caveat Emptor: One final word. Don’t take my word for anything in this post. Instead, go consult the actual Sanskrit experts.

In my experience at least, Sanskrit experts these days are both very willing, easily accessible, and helpful. [In short, they are unlike the “intellectual” masses drawing heavy salaries in the IT industry in Pune.]

As to me: Consider me to be among the most amateurish Sanskrit dilettantes there are out there. I have not studied Sanskrit systematically (except for two years for 1/2 part of one language subject—the Hindi+Sanskrit). I just rely on good reference materials/sources (like dictionaries), readings of spiritual material and even scriptures, my own thinking and logic, as also my sense of the Sanskrit and Marathi words and their contexts. Also, infrequently, conversations with people who know Sanskrit. And I combine it all with my sense of pursuing truth. (That’s how I pursued also Aristotle, and Ayn Rand too.) So, there.

But yes, I am confident that there was no error in putting forth the view in section 6. above. I am quite confident of the process I followed, the sources I consulted, and the logic I employed.

TBD: Will try to streamline the content and edit to bring out the more exact shades, esp. in my critical comments. The whole thing was written last night very much on the fly.

Update on 2020.06.27 18:55 IST. Done. In fact considerably expanded (from 4000 words to 6000 words). Added the “all encompassing” aspect of एधते (édhate) and hence of aether. In fact, after giving the meaning of the seeds of एध (édha), the meaning of the aether is fully pinned down now. Also added the discussion of शब्द (“shabda”), further comments on नभ (“nabha”), etc. Now, will leave this post in whatever shape it is in—regardless of any short-comings / lacunae / misleading phrases / typos / errors etc. (High time for me to move on to some “useful” work regarding QM and also Data Science.)

A song I like:

(Hindi) मन रे, तू काहे न धीर धरे (“man re, too kaahe naa dheer dhare”)
Singer: Mohammad Rafi
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi

[Credits happily listed in a random order. One of the songs I grew up with. There are songs that you don’t register when it comes to making short-lists, but still, without you knowing it, they have already made a neat, cozy place in your heart. This song is one of them. I remember humming this one even as far back as when I was in school, and I also remember never including it in the short-lists I enthusiastically made in my youth, say while in the hostels of COEP/IITM/UAB. (I frankly don’t know the reason for such omissions.)… Coming back to the present: Also try Lata’s rendering from her series of the tributes she paid to the other greats. Her version is very good too, though she would have done much better had she tried it some 10–15 years earlier.]

Update on 2020.06.29 21:15 IST:

After posting the last updates, I checked out the song on the ‘net. I saw some English translations that I thought weren’t exactly to the point. In fact, in some parts, these were even outright misleading.

People tend to bring in a inter-personal relationships angle, esp. the romantic relationships angle, in every Hindi film song—whether such relationships forms its primary concern or not. But people habitually do that. This predilection tends to even colour their entire translation.

But to be fair, this song is particularly hard to translate. (I enjoyed giving my shot to it!) Sahir was a gifted lyricist, with a finest mind and a finest sensitivity. Also, he had a serious, reflective mind; it often bordered on, or and sometimes went right into, the matters philosophical.

Master lyricists/poets often have this mischievous habit. They like to put a song or a poem somewhere in that vague twilight zone, somewhere in between the much relationship-oriented and the definitely philosophical. For instance, this song. That’s why it’s particularly tricky.

In my translation below, I’ve tried to be as exact to the original words as possible, sacrificing all lyrical flow in the interest of clarity. … Even if I were to try hard, I wouldn’t ever be able to put out anything lyrical anyway! So, the “clarity” etc. way of translating is entirely to my advantage 😉

Anyway, here is my translation (as of today). It looks ugly, unflowy. But it’s as near to exact shades of the original Hindi words/expressions as I can manage:


मन रे तू काहे ना धीर धरे
Oh mind, why do you not hold on to courage [?]

वो निर्मोही मोह ना जाने
That one, The One-Without-Illusory-Temptations, can’t [even] know

जिनका मोह करे
those illusory [things/people] for which you keep [having/generating] temptations.

मन रे …
Oh mind…

Stanza 1:

इस जीवन की चढ़ती ढलती
Of this life’s ascending and descending

धूप को किसने बांधा
sunlight, who bound it [its regularity/lawfulness ?]

रंग पे किसने पहरे डाले
Who kept guard on [the flow of] the color [of life?]

रुप को किसने बांधा
Who put the bounds on the form [put forth by life?]

काहे ये जतन करे
For what Purpose [does He] continue preserving these [?]

मन रे …
Oh mind…

Stanza 2:

उतना ही उपकार समझ कोई
As much of a favour [it is], understand, that someone

जितना साथ निभा दे
gives as much of a companionship with which [he/she] stands by [you].

जनम मरण का मेल है सपना
Life and death’s meeting is a dream,

ये सपना बिसरा दे
Have [it arranged that you come to] forget this dream.

कोई न संग मरे
No one else dies along.

मन रे …
Oh mind…

–Sahir Ludhianvi

Note: The literal translation of the last line of the second stanza would run like: “Some one else can’t die along [in the same event that is someone’s/your death].” In short, time-wise simultaneous deaths don’t count as “dying along/dying together”! There may be time-wise simultaneous deaths, but these still remain individually separate deaths of many different individuals, not a single death undergone by all those many different individual. Quite tricky, it was, to convey this sense!! The expression doesn’t seem to be one of expressing futility or frustration (at finding no companion who won’t part company even in death); rather, it seems to underlie a more basic fact pertaining to the phenomenon that is life itself.

Tricky to translate also was that “मोह करे” (“moh kare”) phrase from the refrain. People take मोह “moh” to mean affection, love, infatuation, immature yearning, undue level of attraction, etc. Wrong. “Moh” is primarily not at all an affection/love, it is not even “just” a temptation/seduction. For that matter, in Hindi, “moh” is not even just an illusion. (In Sanskrit, it can be.) In Hindi, मोह “moh” is that temptation for or bonding felt towards something/someone which results from an illusion-abiding mindset. … You more or less know (or at least very strongly suspect) that it’s an illusion, and still remain attached to that illusion, because you “love” it. That’s the sense here. मोह “moh” is not a temptation or affection or love or yearning for something which you know is true or isn’t illusory. That’s the difference; that’s the meaning of मोह “moh”! … Now, God may be Omniscient (all-knowing), but He still will be incapable of understanding such a temptation—because it involves illusion. That’s the surprising part, that’s the subtle twist, that’s the fine emphasis which Sahir has put in, in the stanza here. … Too bad to miss it altogether!