Friday, June 28, 2013

Random 3.0

1. The Emperor tamarin: Mr. Moonch. A species of tamarin allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II. It lives in the southwest Amazon Basin, in east Peru, north Bolivia and in the west Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas.

2. Pretty! Pink-hued "Strawberry" Leopard:

3. Mr. and Mrs. Tiger:

4. Calvin and Hobbes:

5. Amazing artists of Mother Nature: A spectacular light show on an actual rainstorm night with tens of thousands of fireflies dancing around using their light to paint the scene. Great Smoky Mountains is known for its Synchronous Fireflies during each early summer.

6. Stellar Gems: Shining like a collection of cosmic jewels 7,000 light-years from Earth, the open star cluster pictured above has revealed a previously unknown type of variable star.

Using a large telescope in the high Atacama Desert in Chile, a group of astronomers spent seven years studying and measuring the brightness of NGC 3766, a loosely packed group of 3,000 stars in the southern constellation Centaurus. Researchers discovered that 36 member stars within the constellation had highly unusual and never-before-seen patterns in the fluctuation of their brightness.

The cause of these changes in light output is yet to be determined, but astronomers are saying that the very existence of this new class of suns is a challenge to our understanding of stellar life cycles.

7. Chander Haat boshechhe: Robi Thakur and Saratchandro Chattopadhyay:

8. Earthrise: This capture, taken by astronaut William Anders of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission to the moon, has been deemed "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken," by nature photographer Galen Rowell.

An illuminated Earth resting alone in the void of space shows just how secluded and precious our planet truly is. The image exemplifies that although we are not alone in this universe, we are definitely far, far away from other celestial bodies, given the technology that existed in 1968 and also our current means of technology.

Earthrise shows that we are unique creatures living on a unique planet. Carl Sagan once said, "Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another." Just as he was commenting on mankind (Earthlings), this idea can also be attributed to the existence of Earth. Though there may be planetary bodies that are similar to ours, Earth is, in the cosmic perspective, precious.

9. More Calvin and Hobbes:

10. June Solstice. [And as we know: || jyotisam ravir amsuman || ~ of radiance I am the radiant sun (ravir amsuman).]

During this season, the Earth's northern axis is slightly tilted toward the sun so that the northern hemisphere gets more direct sunlight and experiences warmer temperatures. Locations south of the equator are tilted away from the sun, so that the sunlight is dispersed, making for colder temperatures.

For skywatchers on the first day of the new season and a few days afterward... the sun appears to rise at the same place on the horizon - hence the origin of the word solstice, meaning 'sun stands still' in Latin.

From solstice date onward the days start getting shorter and the nights longer in the northern hemisphere. The opposite occurs in the southern hemisphere.

The angular distance of a heavenly body from the celestial equator will be either negative if the planet is above the northern hemisphere, or positive, in case the planet is above the southern hemisphere. This is also commonly known as a declination or Ayana. Thus the Sun's yearly movement is divided into two parts, called Uttarayana and Dakshinayana. [Uttar = North. Dakshin = South.]

Here is Robi Thakur's 'Heye Khoniker Otithi' rendered by the peerless Hemanto Mukhopadhyay:

Heye Khoniker Otithi [lyrics and translation... though its impossible to translate. Simply because: Robi Thakur's oeuvre is one of those things that cannot survive translation (into English), however much one tries]:


|| Heye khoniker otithi
Elay probhatay karay Chahia
JhOra shephalir pOtha bahyia
Heye khoniker otithi |

Kon amarar birohinire, Chahoni phire
Kar bishader shishiro nire, ele nahyia
Ogo akorun, ki maya jano
milOno chhale biraho ano |

Cholechho pothik alokojaney, aNdharo paanay
Mon bhulano mohono taanay, gaan gahyia ... ||


|| O' momentous sojourner,
Whom do you visit at dawn?
Treading the path of fallen jasmine strewn,
O' momentous sojourner |

Of which celestial lovelorn, you return the glances,
You arrived drenched in dew, in whose distress.
O' unmerciful, how full of deceit...!
In guise of union you induce split |

Towards darkness in chariot of light, you cruise along
In mesmerizing (Mon bhulano) sweet strain (mohono taanay), singing a song... ||

[Note the metaphors used by Robi Thakur to describe the daily sunrise. This poem/song also talks about how life itself is a visitor, how moments of beauty are transient, and visitations of glory brief. We may feel we hold it... but only for a second, and then it's gone. "Maya" in this context means the enchantment of life itself, the fact that it holds us captive through its beauty. It is the visceral submission of the human being to life itself. Actually: there are so many shades, so many layers to this poem/song... that one can only marvel at how effortlessly the great poet laureate has penned these lines.]

11. The Gayatri Mantra: The Summer Solstice in Sanskrit is Dakshinayana (the Winter Solstice - 21 December - is Uttarayana). [Two other names for Uttarayana are Makara Sankranti and Pongal. This time of year is generally associated with Sarasvati and Vishnu.]  

Dakshinayanam or Pitrayana is also referred to as Karka Sankraman or Karkataka Sankranti. On this day, Sun enters into Karkataka (Karka) rashi (Cancer). Karka Sankraman or Karkataka Sankranti indicates ending of the Uttarayan Punya kaal and the beginning of Dakshinayana Punya kaal, whereas Makara Sankranti (Pongal) marks the beginning of Uttarayan Punya kaal. Dakshinayana or Karka Sankraman is a time for performing Pitru tarpan or the rituals to pay our respect to our Pitru Devatas (ancestors), performing charitable deeds, besides worshipping Lord Vishnu, chanting Vishnu Sahasra nama stotram and worshipping Lord Varaha (the 3rd incarnation of Lord Vishnu/Dasavatara).

On March 21 and September 21 are the fall and spring equinoxes when the sun is passing directly over the equator. Note that the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn mark the maximum declination of the sun in each hemisphere. Each Ayana has three seasons.

Sanskrit (Saṃskṛtā vāk or Saṃskṛtam): Sanskrit (saṃskṛtaṃ, short for saṃskṛta vāk, literally "unimpaired/full-formed speech", diglossically contrasted with prākṛta vāk, "derived/evolved/artless speech").

Technically speaking, what promotes life is the energy of the sun. Without the sun, there can be no life on the earth-plane. The rays from the sun not only support life, but the rays of the sun are indeed the seeds of life itself.

Here is a prayer to the Sun, who is the giver of life. This is an ancient Sanskrit chant. It is called the Gayatri Mantra, the prayer to the sun. [The purpose of this chant is to enhance the potency of the life principles, including one's body, mind, and soul. Visualize the sun's rays streaming forth into your body, mind and soul.]

|| Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyoyonah Prachodayat ||



Aum (also known as Om): The syllable Om (written out as Aum with each letter having its own significance) represents Brahman, the supreme creator, as well as the whole of creation. It is also the primeval sound (Pranava Naad), the sound of the universe itself. 

Here are some of the meanings embedded in this mantra:

(of the source)
(to be held sacred)
(of the effulgent)
(we meditate on)

Old-Indic loanwords and Indo-Aryan names are also found in Hurrian (Mittani), Hittite and Nuzi records dated to around 1400 BCE. In a treaty between Hittite king Suppiluliuma and Mittanian king Matiwaza, ca. 1380 BC, the Vedic deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Asvins) are invoked. Kikkuli's horse training text in the Hittite language includes technical terms such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pancha, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). The name for one aika is taken as definitive indication that it was Indic (since both aika and aiva are preserved in later Sanskrit as eka and eva).

Another text has babru'(-nnu)' ('"babhru, brown), parita(-nnu) (palita, grey), and pinkara(-nnu) (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva), which was common in most cultures in the ancient world.

12. June Solstice: (On this day) even Druids celebrate. We don't know about Getafix, though...

... but the Dhanvantari Mantra says:

|| Om Namo Bhagavate
Maha Sudarshana
Vasudevaya Dhanvantaraye;
Amruta Kalasa Hasthaaya
Sarva Bhaya Vinasaya
Sarva Roka Nivaranaya
Tri Lokya Pathaye
Tri Lokya Nithaye
Sri Maha Vishnu Svarupa
Sri Dhanvantari Svarupa
Sri Sri Sri
Aoushata Chakra Narayana Svaha ||

Translation: We pray to the Lord, who is known as Sudarshana Vasudev Dhanvantari. He holds the Kalasha full of celestial nectar (of immortality). Lord Dhanvantari removes all fears and removes all diseases (negativities). He is the well-wisher and the preserver of the three worlds. Dhanvantari is like Lord Vishnu, empowered to heal the Jiva souls (the individual souls... due to which each of us possess an unique identity). We bow to the Lord of Ayurveda.

[Celestial nectar (of immortality) is not literal. Maha Sudarshana = His unparalleled brilliance + radiance + good looks; Vasudeva = Lord of the worlds; Tri Lokya = the three worlds.]

The festival of Dhanteras is also known as Dhantrayodashi and Dhanvantari Trayodashi. This festival marks the beginning of the Diwali celebrations and that is why, it is considered the first day of the five-day-long festivities of Diwali. The term 'Dhanteras' consists of two factors 'dhan', which means wealth and 'teras', which means thirteenth. Here thirteenth is meant to indicate the day 'Trayodashi', i.e. the thirteenth day of the month on which Dhanteras falls. Dhanvantari Trayodashi (Dhantrayodashi) is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, of the month of Kartik, which is two days before Diwali/Deepavali.

13. Desert Moon: the full moon hangs over the desert. A supermoon occurs almost every year - but a supermoon coinciding with the solstice does not. That celestial mashup only occurs every 14 years or so. [And as we know: || nakshatranam aham sasi || ~ and among the stars (nakshatranam) I am the moon (sasi).]

14. Biggest Supermoon of 2013: There is nothing quite as magical as watching that giant silvery orb rising in the east after sunset.

Only two days after the solstice, in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 23, the moon officially reached its full phase and was the closest (356,990 kilometers or 221,823 miles) and largest 'supermoon' of the year.

The moon's orbit is egg-shaped, and there are times when it is at perigee - its shortest distance from Earth in the roughly month-long lunar cycle - or at apogee, its farthest distance from Earth. If the full moon phase happens to be at the same time as the perigee then we get a supermoon, which happens once a year.

15. Galactic Penguin: The Hubble Space Telescope snapped this uncanny image, released June 20, of two interacting galaxies that look like a penguin guarding her egg.

Known collectively as Arp 142, the galactic pair lie some 326 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.

Over a period of millions of years, the celestial bird-shaped galaxy has lost its distinct pinwheel structure. Its red, spiral arms have become distorted by the pull of gravity from the neighboring elliptical, egg-shaped galaxy.

Above the pair is a lone, unrelated bluish galaxy located about 230 million light-years from Earth.

16. The one and only Ghanada:

17. The rare and mysterious Grinning Monkey Orchids. TeeHee!

18. Great Hercules Cluster: Hanging high in the southwest evening skies on Sunday, June 30,  the constellation Hercules - the strongman - will be easy to hunt down thanks to four stars that make up a keystone pattern. Nestled within will be a great binocular/telescope showpiece, the Great Hercules Cluster, or M13.

Located 24,000 light-years from Earth, this globular cluster is made up of a swarm of a half a million stars packed into a ball, stretching over 100 light-years across. On a dark, moonless night, away from city lights, M13 can just be glimpsed with the unaided eye, appearing as a faint, small, fuzzy patch.

19. Milky Way Rising: On the night of Friday, June 28 - if you're away from city light pollution - our home galaxy, the Milky Way will, arch across the eastern sky in the northern hemisphere. A striking spiral arm filled with millions of stars will sweep through the major constellations of the season: Starting in the northeast with Cassiopeia, up across the high east through Cygnus, and running down south into Sagittarius. Scanning through this celestial real estate with binoculars and backyard telescopes will reveal countless stellar treasures.

20. Ghash Phool!

21. Tintin!

22. The one and only Feluda:

23. Feluda II:

24. Auteur par excellence: 

25. Tal gachh: 

Let's go down nostalgia lane with Robi Thakur's 'Tal Gachh':

|| tal gachh ak paye dnariye
shob gachh chhariye
unki maarey akashey
mone sadh kalo megh fnure jaye
akebare ude jaye
kotha pabey pakha shey?
taito shey thik tar mathatey
go(a)l go(a)l patatey
iccheti meley taar
mone mone bhabey bujhi dana ei
ude jetey mana nei
bashakhani feley taar ... ||

And since it's barsha-kaal... here's Robi Thakur's 'Aji Jharo Jharo Mukharo Badoro Diney' - by Babul Supriyo. [Bador means Barsha in Brajabuli]:

A new-age Rabindrasangeet - Jharo Jharo Borishey Baridhara - a unique Tagorean Malhar. Ustad Rashid Khan is simply superb:

And here is the original - Jharo Jharo Borishey Baridhara - by Srikanto Acharjo:

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