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English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Hornbill Chapter 7 The Adventure – Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words

THE ADVENTURE

(Explanation)

Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context.

Blow by blow account A detailed description of an event
Morale booster Motivation, Feeling more confident
Relegated to Moved to lower position, Exiled
Political acumen Political wisdom, Cleverness, Judgement
De facto In realty, Actually
Astute Clever, Shrewd
Doctored account Manipulated details, Incorrectly written details
Gave vent to Expressed one’s emotions

THE Jijamata Express sped along the Pune-Bombay route considerably faster than the Deccan Queen. There were no industrial townships outside Pune.

The Jijamata Express train was running from Pune to Bombay route. It was running faster than Deccan Queen train. Outside Pune there were no factories or other buildings for industry.

 

The first stop, Lonavala, came in 40 minutes. The ghat section that followed was no different from what he knew. The train stopped at Karjat only briefly and went on at even greater speed. It roared through Kalyan.

Word Meaning
Ghat Section Hilly region
Briefly For a short time

After 40 minutes the train reached its first stop Lonavala. The hilly part of this journey after Lonavala was known to him. The train stopped at Karjat for a short time. Then it started travelling at greater speed. The train crossed Kalyan station at a good speed.

 

Meanwhile, the racing mind of Professor Gaitonde had arrived at a plan of action in Bombay. Indeed, as a historian he felt he should have thought of it sooner.

Word Meaning
Meanwhile In the meantime, During the same time
Racing mind Thinking quickly
Historian One who is expert in history

In the meantime Mr Gaitonde had decided his plan of activities in Bombay. In fact he realised that he should have decided it earlier. After all he was a historian.

 

He would go to a big library and browse through history books. That was the surest way of finding out how the present state of affairs was reached. He also planned eventually to return to Pune and have a long talk with Rajendra Deshpande, who would surely help him understand what had happened.

Word Meaning
Browse Go through, Look into
Surest Certain, Definite
Eventually Finally

He planned to go to a library and read books of history. This way he would certainly find out how the present condition was reached. He also planned to finally return to Pune. He wanted to have a long discussion with Rajendra Deshpande. He would surely help Mr. Goitonde in understanding what had happened.

 

That is, assuming that in this world there existed someone called Rajendra Deshpande! The train stopped beyond the long tunnel.

He made this plan on the assumption that Mr. Rajendra Deshpande was alive and living in Pune. The train stopped just after the long tunnel.

 

It was a small station called Sarhad. An Anglo-Indian in uniform went through the train checking permits.

“This is where the British Raj begins. You are going for the first time, I presume?” Khan Sahib asked.

Word Meaning
Permit Ticket
Presume Assume

The train had stopped at a small station named Sarhad. An Anglo-Indian official entered the compartment of the train. He stared checking tickets of passengers.

Khan Sahib said that from this point rule of Britain had started. He asked if Mr Goitonde was going to Bombay for the first time.

 

“Yes.” The reply was factually correct. Gangadharpant had not been to this Bombay before. He ventured a question: “And, Khan Sahib, how will you go to Peshawar?”

Word Meaning
Factually As per facts
Ventured Asked

Mr. Goitonde replied affirmatively. Gangadharpant had never come to Bombay of this era. Gangadharpant is name of Mr. Goitonde. He asked Khan Sahib how would he go to Peshwar.

 

“This train goes to the Victoria Terminus. I will take the Frontier Mail tonight out of Central.”

“How far does it go? By what route?”

“Bombay to Delhi, then to Lahore and then Peshawar. A long journey. I will reach Peshawar the day after tomorrow.”

Khan Sahib replied that this train goes upto Victoria Terminus. He will get down there. He will catch another train Frontier Mail from Bombay Central station. Mr. Goitonde asked upto what station that train would go. Khan Sahib replied that it goes to Delhi, then to Lahore and finally to Peshwar. It is a long journey. I will reach there after two days.

 

Thereafter, Khan Sahib spoke a lot about his business and Gangadharpant was a willing listener. For, in that way, he was able to get some flavour of life in this India that was so different.

Word Meaning
Thereafter After that
Willing Having the desire, Ready
Flavour of life Idea about life

After that Khan Sahib talked a lot about his business. Gangadharpant readily and eagerly listened to his talks. This way Goitonde was able to get some idea about the life in India of this era. This life was very much  different from that of earlier times.

 

The train now passed through the suburban rail traffic. The blue carriages carried the letters, GBMR, on the side.

Word Meaning
Carriage Coach, Compartment of a train

The train was now passing through the suburban area of Bombay. Local trains were also running. Coaches of these train were of blue colour. GBMR was written on each coach.

 

“Greater Bombay Metropolitan Railway,” explained Khan Sahib. “See the tiny Union Jack painted on each carriage? A gentle reminder that we are in British territory.”

Word Meaning
Union jack National flag of England

Khan Sahib spoke the full form GBMR – Greater Bombay Metropolitan Railway. He further said that a small national flag of England was painted on each coach. It is a polite reminder that we are in the area ruled by England.

 

The train began to slow down beyond Dadar and stopped only at its destination, Victoria Terminus. The station looked remarkably neat and clean. The staff was mostly made up of Anglo-Indians and Parsees along with a handful of British officers.

Speed of the train started reducing after Dadar. The train stopped at its last station of Victoria Terminus. This station was looking very neat and clean. Most of the officials at the railway station were either Anglo-Indians or Parsees. There were some officials of Britain also.

 

As he emerged from the station, Gangadharpant found himself facing an imposing building. The letters on it proclaimed its identity to those who did not know this Bombay landmark:

EAST INDIA HOUSE HEADQUARTERS OF

THE EAST INDIA COMPANY

Word Meaning
Imposing Very big, Impressive, Grand
Proclaimed Announced
Identity Name

When Gangadharpant came out of the Victoria Terminus railway station , he saw a very big and impressive building. Its name was written on it. So those who did not know about it could also know its name. EAST INDIA HOUSE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY

It was the main office of East India Company.

 

Prepared as he was for many shocks, Professor Gaitonde had not expected this. The East India Company had been wound up shortly after the events of 1857 — at least, that is what history books said.

Word Meaning
Shocks Surprises
Wound up Closed
Shortly After a brief time

Professor Gaitonde had expected many surprises. But he did not expect to see this name to be written on any building. Because the books of history narrated that East India Company had closed after events of 1857.

 

Yet, here it was, not only alive but flourishing. So, history had taken a different turn, perhaps before 1857. How and when had it happened? He had to find out.

Word Meaning
Alive Existing
Flourishing Popular
Taken a different turn Had changed in a different manner

Inspite of that the name of the building existed and was popular as well. He thought probably situations were different before 1857. He wanted to find out about it.

 

As he walked along Hornby Road, as it was called, he found a different set of shops and office buildings. There was no Handloom House building. Instead, there were Boots and Woolworth departmental stores, imposing offices of Lloyds, Barclays and other British banks, as in a typical high street of a town in England.

Word Meaning
High street Main street or main road

While walking along the Hornby Road, he saw different types of shops and buildings. He did not see Handloom House. But he saw various offices, shops and buildings that had British names. It looked as if it was a popular main road in a town of England.

 

He turned right along Home Street and entered Forbes building.

“I wish to meet Mr Vinay Gaitonde, please,” he said to the English receptionist.

He turned right from the Home Street and then entered into Forbes Building. The receptionist was a lady for England. He told receptionist that he wanted to meet Mr. Vinay Gaitonde.

 

She searched through the telephone list, the staff list and then through the directory of employees of all the branches of the firm. She shook her head and said, “I am afraid I can’t find anyone of that name either here or in any of our branches. Are you sure he works here?”

The lady receptionist searched the telephone list and list of employees working at other branches. She could not find the name in any of the lists. She shook her head and informed Professor Gaitonde that Mr. Vinay Gaitonde did not work in their organization. She advised him to confirm if Mr. Vinay Gaitonde really worked there.

 

This was a blow, not totally unexpected. If he himself were dead in this world, what guarantee had he that his son would be alive? Indeed, he may not even have been born!

Word Meaning
Blow Shock ,Shocking information

This information was not unexpected. Professor Gaitonde was dead for this world. There was no guarantee that his son would still be alive. His son might not have been born at this time.

 

He thanked the girl politely and came out. It was characteristic of him not to worry about where he would stay. His main concern was to make his way to the library of the Asiatic Society to solve the riddle of history. Grabbing a quick lunch at a restaurant, he made his way to the Town Hall.

Word Meaning
Characteristic Habit, Special quality
Concern Worry
Riddle Puzzle
Grabbing a quick lunch Eating lunch quickly

He thanked the lady receptionist and came out of the building. He had a habit of not to worry about his stay arrangements. His main desire was to go to library of Asiatic Society. He wanted to solve the puzzle of the history. He quickly ate his lunch in a restaurant. Then he started going towards Town Hall.

_____

Yes, to his relief, the Town Hall was there, and it did house the library. He entered the reading room and asked for a list of history books including his own.

He was happy to see that Town Hall building still existed. It also had a library in it. He went into the reading room of the library. He requested to see list of books of history including those written by himself.

 

His five volumes duly arrived on his table. He started from the beginning. Volume one took the history up to the period of Ashoka, volume two up to Samudragupta, volume three up to Mohammad Ghori and volume four up to the death of Aurangzeb.

The five books of history written by him were on his table. The first book narrated history upto Ashoka, the second upto Smaudragupta, the third upto Mohammad Ghori and the fourth book upto the death of Aurangzeb.

 

Up to this period history was as he knew it. The change evidently had occurred in the last volume.

Upto this period there was no change in the events. The change in the events had clearly happened during the period of last and fifth volume of the book.

 

Reading volume five from both ends inwards, Gangadharpant finally converged on the precise moment where history had taken a different turn.

Word Meaning
Converge Meet, Coincide , Connect

Gangadharpant started reading the book from both ends. Meaning that he read some pages from  the beginning and then some pages from the end. He continued doing this. Soon he reached a point in the book from where the change in the events had started to occur.

 

That page in the book described the Battle of Panipat, and it mentioned that the Marathas won it handsomely. Abdali was routed and he was chased back to Kabul by the triumphant Maratha army led by Sadashivrao Bhau and his nephew, the young Vishwasrao.

Word Meaning
Handsomely Easily, Comfortable
Routed Defeated

On that page Battle of Panipat was described. It was written that Maratha had easily won that battle. Abdali was defeated. He was forced to run away to Kabul by the victorious Maratha army. The Maratha army was led by Sadashivrao Bhau and his young nephew Vishwasrao

 

The book did not go into a blow-by-blow account of the battle itself. Rather, it elaborated in detail its consequences for the power struggle in India. Gangadharpant read through the account avidly. The style of writing was unmistakably his, yet he was reading the account for the first time!

Word Meaning
Blow by blow account A detailed description of an event
Consequence Effect, Outcome,
Avidly With great interest, Enthusiastically

The book did not give a detailed description of the battle. It explained the outcome and effect of the struggle of power in India. He read the description with great interest. The style of writing was certainly his. Meaning that he had written the book. But he was reading the book for the first time.

 

Their victory in the battle was not only a great morale booster to the Marathas but it also established their supremacy in northern India. The East India Company, which had been watching these developments from the sidelines, got the message and temporarily shelved its expansionist programme.

Word Meaning
Morale booster Motivation, Feeling more confident
Supremacy Being more powerful
Shelved Postponed

The victory in this battle motivated Marathas to a great extent. They became more confident. It established that they were more powerful even in the northern India. The East India Company was observing these developments without participating in any activity. They also understood the power of Marathas. They postponed their plan of expansion in India for some time.

 

For the Peshwas the immediate result was an increase in the influence of Bhausaheb and Vishwasrao who eventfully succeeded his father in 1780 A.D. The trouble-maker, Dadasaheb, was relegated to the background and he eventually retired from state politics.

Word Meaning
Eventually At last, Finally
Succeeded Took over the throne, Take the position
Relegated Moved to lower position, Exiled

Owing to this victory by Peshwas, influence of Bhausaheb and Vishwasrao increased. After death of his father Vishwasrao finally became the Peshwa in 1780 AD . Dadasaheb was the troublemaker for him. He was moved to a lower position. Finally Dadasaheb retired from the politics of the state.

 

To its dismay, the East India Company met its match in the new Maratha ruler, Vishwasrao. He and his brother, Madhavrao, combined political acumen with valour and systematically expanded their influence all over India.

Word Meaning
Dismay Unliking, Discomfort
Political acumen Political wisdom, Cleverness, Judgement
Valour Bravery

Viswasrao was as strong as East India Company. Thus the company did not like him. He and his brother were brave as well as politically clever. Therefore they increased their influence to all over India.

 

The Company was reduced to pockets of influence near Bombay, Calcutta and Madras just like its European rivals, the Portuguese and the French.

Word Meaning
Pockets Small areas
Rival Opponent

The influence of the East India Company was reduced to small areas near Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. This was similar to their opponent  European companies from Portugal and France.

 

For political reasons, the Peshwas kept the puppet Mughal regime alive in Delhi. In the nineteenth century these de facto rulers from Pune were astute enough to recognise the importance of the technological age dawning in Europe.

Word Meaning
Regime Kingdom
De facto In realty, Actually
Astute Clever, Shrewd, Intelligent
Dawning Starting

Peshwas kept the Mughal empire in Delhi alive due to some political reasons. They were the real owners during nineteenth century. Pune was their capital. They were quite clever to accept that technological developments were taking place in Europe.

 

They set up their own centres for science and technology. Here, the East India Company saw another opportunity to extend its influence. It offered aid and experts. They were accepted only to make the local centres self-sufficient.

Word Meaning
Set up Established

Peshwas established their own centres for science and technology. East India Company thought this was an opportunity for them to do business and increase their influence. Assistance from the Company was accepted. The objective was to make Indian centres function on their own.

 

The twentieth century brought about further changes inspired by the West. India moved towards a democracy. By then, the Peshwas had lost their enterprise and they were gradually replaced by democratically elected bodies.

Word Meaning
Further Additional
Inspired by Motivated by,

During twentieth century many more changes occurred in India. These changes were motivated by the changes happening in western part of the world. Democracy started getting foothold in India also. By that time Peshwas had lost major part of their empire. They were slowly replaced by the institutions that were elected through the process of democracy.

 

The Sultanate at Delhi survived even this transition, largely because it wielded no real influence. The Shahenshah of Delhi was no more than a figurehead to rubber-stamp the ‘recommendations’ made by the central parliament.

Word Meaning
Sultanate Kingdom, Empire
Transition Period of change
Largely Mainly
Wielded Exhibited, Exercised, Possessed
Shahenshah Emperor
Figurehead High authority without powers
Rubber stamp Authority that follows order of others

The kingdom at Delhi somehow survived even during this period of change. It was mainly because it did not have any authority now. The emperor of Delhi was a powerless person now. He had to obey the orders issued by others. These orders were given in the name of recommendations by the central parliament.

 

As he read on, Gangadharpant began to appreciate the India he had seen. It was a country that had not been subjected to slavery for the white man; it had learnt to stand on its feet and knew what self-respect was.

Word Meaning
Appreciate Understand
Stand on its feet To be independent, Self reliant

Gangadharpant continued to read. He started understanding the India he had seen. In this country white people – people of Europe – had not made Indians their slaves. India was self sufficient and people had respect for themselves.

 

From a position of strength and for purely commercial reasons, it had allowed the British to retain Bombay as the sole outpost on the subcontinent. That lease was to expire in the year 2001, according to a treaty of 1908.

Word Meaning
Commercial Related to business
Outpost A small office away from main area
Lease To give on rent for a specified period
Treaty Agreement normally between two groups

India was strong and for the business purpose, it had allowed the British to occupy Mumbai. It was considered to be a small office for them that was away from the main area of the country. The agreement for the renting Mumbai was upto the year 2001. The agreement was signed in 1908.

 

Gangadharpant could not help comparing the country he knew with what he was witnessing around him.

Word Meaning
Could not help comparing Compared intentionally

Gangadharpant compared the country he knew with the country he was now seeing around him.

 

But, at the same time, he felt that his investigations were incomplete. How did the Marathas win the battle? To find the answer he must look for accounts of the battle itself.

Word Meaning
Investigations Findings, Examination, Inspection
Look for Search
Accounts of battle Details of battle

Simultaneously he felt that his examination and inspection were yet to be completed. He wanted to know how Marathas won the battle. To find the answer to his question he had to search details of the battle.

 

He went through the books and journals before him. At last, among the books he found one that gave him the clue. It was Bhausahebanchi Bakhar.

Word Meaning
Clue Hint

He studied the book and journals that were lying infront of him. Finally one of the books gave him a hint. Name of the book was Bhausahebanchi Bakhar.

 

Although he seldom relied on the Bakhars for historical evidence, he found them entertaining to read. Sometimes, buried in the graphic but doctored accounts, he could spot the germ of truth.

Word Meaning
Relied Believed
Seldom On very few occasions
Evidence Proof, Description
Burried Hidden
Doctored account Manipulated details, Incorrectly written details

He believed the Bakhars on very few occasions to obtain proofs of history. But it was interesting to read these books. Sometimes facts were hidden behind the diagrams and manipulated details.

 

He found one now in a three-line account of how close Vishwasrao had come to being killed:

He found the truth in detail given in three lines. It said that Vishwasrao was nearly killed in the battle.

 

…And then Vishwasrao guided his horse to the melee where the elite troops were fighting and he attacked them. And God was merciful. A shot brushed past his ear. Even the difference of a til (sesame) would have led to his death.

Word Meaning
Melee Crowd,
Elite Best, Special

At that situation Vishwasrao guided his horse into the crowd of special soldiers of enemy. They all attached him. God certainly showed mercy on him. A bullet moved very close to his ears. Gap between the bullet and his head was very small. He could have been killed.

 

At eight o’clock the librarian politely reminded the professor that the library was closing for the day. Gangadharpant emerged from his thoughts. Looking around he noticed that he was the only reader left in that magnificent hall.

Word Meaning
Emerged Came out of

At 8 PM, the librarian politely told Gangadharpant that it was the time to close the library. Gangadharpant stopped thinking. He looked around. He noticed that he was the only person in the big hall of library.

 

“I beg your pardon, sir! May I request you to keep these books here for my use tomorrow morning? By the way, when do you open?”

Word Meaning
I beg you pardon Excuse me , It is a way of drawing attention

Gangadharpant requested the librarian to keep those books on the table itself. He wanted to read these next morning. He asked the librarian about the opening time of the library.

 

“At eight o’clock, sir.” The librarian smiled. Here was a user and researcher right after his heart.

The librarian replied that library opens at 8 in the morning. He liked the reader and the researcher.

 

As the professor left the table he shoved some notes into his right pocket. Absent-mindedly, he also shoved the Bakhar into his left pocket.

Word Meaning
Shoved Put forcibly, Put crudely
Absentmindedly Unintentionally

While getting up from the table the professor pushed his notes into his right pocket. By mistake he also put the Bakhar into his left pocket.

____

 

He found a guest house to stay in and had a frugal meal. He then set out for a stroll towards the Azad Maidan.

Word Meaning
Frugal Cheap, Costing less
Set out Start
Stroll Walk leisurely

The professor did not spend much money on buying his food. After dinner he started walking towards Azad Maidan.

 

In the maidan he found a throng moving towards a pandal. So, a lecture was to take place. Force of habit took Professor Gaitonde towards the pandal. The lecture was in progress, although people kept coming and going.

Word Meaning
Throng Crowd
Force of habit Because of habit

In the Azad Maidan there was a large pandal. Many people were going towards it. Because of his habit Professor Gaitonde also followed the crowd. At the pandal he noticed that a lecture was in progress. People were coming to pandal and also going from pandal.

 

But Professor Gaitonde was not looking at the audience. He was staring at the platform as if mesmerised. There was a table and a chair but the latter was unoccupied.

Word Meaning
Mesmerized Fascinated, Deeply affected

Prof Gaitonde was not looking at audience. All of his attention was towards the platform. He continued to look at it. There was a table and a chair on it. But nobody was sitting on the chair.

 

The presidential chair unoccupied! The sight stirred him to the depths. Like a piece of iron attracted to a magnet, he swiftly moved towards the chair.

Word Meaning
Presidential For the head of the function
Stirred Affected,
Swiftly Quickly

He was surprised that the chair for the head of the function was empty. This scene affected him deeply. He quickly started moving towards the chair. It was as if a piece of iron was getting pulled by a magnet. And he sat on the chair.

 

The speaker stopped in mid-sentence, too shocked to continue. But the audience soon found voice.

“Vacate the chair!”

“This lecture series has no chairperson…”

“Away from the platform, mister!”

“The chair is symbolic, don’t you know?”

Word Meaning
Vacate To empty

The speaker stopped speaking in middle of a sentence. He was so shocked that he could not speak. But the audience started shouting. They asked Professor to move away from the chair. They told him that this series of lectures does not have a chairperson. The chair has been put as a mark of symbol only.

 

What nonsense! Whoever heard of a public lecture without a presiding dignitary? Professor Gaitonde went to the mike and gave vent to his views. “Ladies and gentlemen, an unchaired lecture is like Shakespeare’s Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Let me tell you…”

Word Meaning
Presiding Heading a function or a meeting
Dignitary Important person, VIP
Gave vent to Expressed his emotions

He thought that nobody can ever think of a public lecture without somebody being a head of gathering. Professor Gaitonde went to the mike and started expressing his emotions. He told that lecture without a president is like an act without its main character. He gave example of Shakespeare’s helmet without the prince of Denmark.

 

But the audience was in no mood to listen. “Tell us nothing. We are sick of remarks from the chair, of vote of thanks, of long introductions.”

But the audience did not want to listen to him. They requested Professor not to give them any advice. They had become bored because of comments from the chairperson, vote of thanks and long introductions.

 

“We only want to listen to the speaker…”

“We abolished the old customs long ago…”

“Keep the platform empty, please…”

Word Meaning
Abolish Stop, End, Delete

The crowd said that they wanted to listen to the speaker. We have stopped old practices long ago. They asked him to vacate the platform.

 

But Gangadharpant had the experience of speaking at 999 meetings and had faced the Pune audience at its most hostile. He kept on talking.

Word Meaning
Hostile Aggressive

But Gangadharpant had spoken at 999 meetings before this. He had faced most aggressive audience at Pune. So he continued his talk.

 

He soon became a target for a shower of tomatoes, eggs and other objects. But he kept on trying valiantly to correct this sacrilege. Finally, the audience swarmed to the stage to eject him bodily.

Word Meaning
Valiantly Bravely
Sacrilege Sin, Bad practice
Swarmed Gathered
Eject Throw,

Very soon crowd started throwing tomatoes, eggs and other objects at him. But he continued to speak bravely. He wanted to correct the bad practice. Finally audience climbed on the platform. They lifted him and threw him out of the platform.

And, in the crowd Gangadharpant was nowhere to be seen.

After that Gangadharpant could not be seen in the crowd. He had gone out of Azad Maidan.

____

“That is all I have to tell, Rajendra. All I know is that I was found in the Azad Maidan in the morning. But I was back in the world I am familiar with. Now, where exactly did I spend those two days when I was absent from here?”

It is the only thing I want to tell Rajendra. The only thing I remember is that I had gone to Azad Maidan in the morning. But now I am back to the world I know. Where was I during those two days, while I was away from this world.

 

Rajendra was dumbfounded by the narrative. It took him a while to reply.

“Professor, before, just prior to your collision with the truck, what were you doing?” Rajendra asked.

Word Meaning
Dumbfounded Surprised, Astonished

Rajendra was astonished by the description given by the professor. He took some to time to reply. Rajendra asked professor what was he doing just before he collided with the truck.

 

“I was thinking of the catastrophe theory and its implications for history.”

“Right! I thought so!” Rajendra smiled.

Word Meaning
Catastrophe Destruction
Implications Consequence, Result, Effect

Professor replied that he was thinking about the theory of destruction and its effect for the history. Rajendra smiled and said that he had a doubt that professor was thinking something like that.

 

“Don’t smile smugly. In case you think that it was just my mind playing tricks and my imagination running amok, look at this.”

Word Meaning
Smugly With excessive pride,
Running amok To behave without any control

Professor told Rajendra not to smile so proudly. If you understood that I was thinking about something naughty or behaving without any control on myself, please have a look at this.

 

And, triumphantly, Professor Gaitonde produced his vital piece of evidence: a page torn out of a book.

Word Meaning
Triumphantly Having a sense of victory
Vital Important

With a sense of victory, Professor Gaitonde took out a page from his pocket. It had been torn from a book. He thought that it was an important proof.

 

Rajendra read the text on the printed page and his face underwent a change. Gone was the smile and in its place came a grave expression. He was visibly moved.

Word Meaning
Grave Serious
Visibly moved Clearly affected

Rajendra read the words printed on that paper. His expression on his face changed. Now he was not smiling. He had a serious expression. One could see that he was affected.

 

Gangadharpant pressed home his advantage. “I had inadvertently slipped the Bakhar in my pocket as I left the library. I discovered my error when I was paying for my meal.

Word Meaning
Pressed home his advantage Tried to take more advantage he already had
Inadvertently Unintentionally

Now professor Gaitonde tried to increase his advantage. He said that he had unintentionally taken the Bakhar in his pocket while leaving the library. He came to know about his mistake while he was making payment for his food.

 

I had intended to return it the next morning. But it seems that in the melee of Azad Maidan, the book was lost; only this torn-off page remained. And, luckily for me, the page contains vital evidence.”

Word Meaning
Intended Wanted

Professor said that he wanted to return the book to the library in the morning. But in the crowd of the Azad Maidan he lost the book. Now he had only a torn-off page of the book. Fortunately the page has an important proof.

 

Rajendra again read the page. It described how Vishwasrao narrowly missed the bullet; and how that event, taken as an omen by the Maratha army, turned the tide in their favour.

Word Meaning
Omen Good indication, Lucky
Turn the tide in their favour Covert the situation to their advantage

Rajendra once again read the page. It narrated how Vishwasrao marginally escaped from the bullet. Marathas took this incident as a fortunate event. They converted the situation to their advantage.

 

“Now look at this.” Gangadharpant produced his own copy of Bhausahebanchi Bakhar, opened at the relevant page. The account ran thus:

Then Gangadharpant showed his own copy of Bhausahebanchi Bakhar. He opened the relevant page. On that page following was written

 

…And then Vishwasrao guided his horse to the melee where the elite troops were fighting, and he attacked them. And God expressed His displeasure. He was hit by the bullet.

At that situation Vishwasrao guided his horse into the crowd of special soldiers of enemy. He attacked them. And then God showed his anger. A bullet hit Vishwasrao and he died.

 

“Professor Gaitonde, you have given me food for thought. Until I saw this material evidence, I had simply put your experience down to fantasy. But facts can be stranger than fantasies, as I am beginning to realise.”

Word Meaning
Food for thought A topic for thinking over
Fantasy Imagination

Rajendra told Professor Gaitonde that he had given a topic to think over. Before seeing this proof, I was thinking that your experience was an imagination. Now I have understood that truth can be more strange than imagination.

 

“Facts? What are the facts? I am dying to know!” Professor Gaitonde said.

Professor Gaitonde asked what the facts were. He was very eager to know the facts.

____

 

Rajendra motioned him to silence and started pacing the room, obviously under great mental strain. Finally, he turned around and said, “Professor Gaitonde, I will try to rationalise your experience on the basis of two scientific theories as known today.

Word Meaning
Motioned Signalled
Pacing Moving, Walking
Rationalise Explain

Rajendra signaled Professor Gaitonde to remain silent. He started walking in the room. He was under severe mental tension. He was trying to think something. Finally Rajendra looked at Professor and told that he would try to explain his experience on the basis two theories of science.

 

Whether I succeed or not in convincing you of the facts, only you can judge — for you have indeed passed through a fantastic experience: or, more correctly, a catastrophic experience!”

Word Meaning
Convince To satisfy, To agree, To assure

Whether I could convince you or not can be judged only by you. Because you have certainly had a fantastic experience. Actually it was a destructive experience.

 

“Please continue, Rajendra! I am all ears,” Professor Gaitonde replied. Rajendra continued pacing as he talked.

Word Meaning
I am all ears I am carefully listening

Professor Gaitonde told Rajendra that he was carefully listening. He further requested Rajendra to continue to speak. Rajendra spoke while he was walking.

 

“You have heard a lot about the catastrophe theory at that seminar. Let us apply it to the Battle of Panipat. Wars fought face to face on open grounds offer excellent examples of this theory.

Rajendra told Professor that he must have heard about the theory of destruction at seminars. Lets us apply it to the Battle of Panipat. Sometimes soldiers directly fight facing each other in an open ground. That is an excellent situation to apply the theory of destruction.

 

The Maratha army was facing Abdali’s troops on the field of Panipat. There was no great disparity between the latter’s troops and the opposing forces. Their armour was comparable.

Word Meaning
Disparity Difference
Troop Group of soldiers
Armour Military equipment
Comparable Similar

Maratha army was fighting a battle with army of Abdali on the field of Panipat. The soldiers were not very much different from each other – they were equally strong. Equipment of two armies were also similar.

 

So, a lot depended on the leadership and the morale of the troops. The juncture at which Vishwasrao, the son of and heir to the Peshwa, was killed proved to be the turning point.

Word Meaning
Morale Motivation, Confidence
Juncture Time, Point, Moment
Turning point Time of change, Point of change

Therefore victory was mainly dependent upon quality of leaders and motivation of soldiers. The point of change in the war was killing of Vishwasrao. He was the son of Peshwa and the heir to the throne of Maratha empire.

 

As history has it, his uncle, Bhausaheb, rushed into the melee and was never seen again. Whether he was killed in battle or survived is not known.

According to books of history, his uncle Bhausaheb quickly came to the place  where Vishwasrao was fighting. And he was never seen again. Nobody was sure if he was killed in the battle or remained alive.

 

But for the troops at that particular moment, that blow of losing their leaders was crucial. They lost their morale and fighting spirit. There followed an utter rout.

Word Meaning
Blow Shock
Crucial Important, Critical
Utter Complete
Rout Defeat

But for the soldiers, the shock of losing their two leaders was very important and critical. Now they did not have the motivation so did not have the desire to fight. Therefore they were completely defeated.

 

“Exactly, Professor! And what you have shown me on that torn page is the course taken by the battle, when the bullet missed Vishwasrao. A crucial event gone the other way. And its effect on the troops was also the opposite. It boosted their morale and provided just that extra impetus that made all the difference,” Rajendra said.

Word Meaning
Impetus Energy, Momentum, Encouragement

And professor, through that torn page of the book, you are showing me outcome of the battle after the bullet did not hit Vishwasrao. This event had another important effect. The effect on the troops was opposite – they were now motivated. It provided additional energy and encouragement to soldiers. This made a big difference. It was explained by Rajendra.

 

“Maybe so. Similar statements are made about the Battle of Waterloo, which Napoleon could have won. But we live in a unique world which has a unique history. This idea of ‘it might have been’ is okay for the sake of speculation but not for reality,” Gangadharpant said.

Word Meaning
Speculation Imagination
Sake of speculation For imagination only

Gangadharpant said that probably it was true. Similar things have been told about the Battle of Waterloo. It is said that Napolean could have won that battle. But our world has a unique history. The thought of “what could have happened” is imagination. It is not the reality.

“I take issue with you there. In fact, that brings me to my second point which you may find strange; but please hear me out,” Rajendra said.

Word Meaning
I take issue with To disagree

Rajendra told that he did not agree with Gangadharpant. He wants to explain his second point. This could be strange to Gangadharpant. Rajendra requested him to listen to it.

 

Gangadharpant listened expectantly as Rajendra continued. “What do we mean by reality? We experience it directly with our senses or indirectly via instruments. But is it limited to what we see? Does it have other manifestations?

Word Meaning
Expectantly Eagerly in the hope of something good
Manifestation Sign, Indication

Gangadharpant eagerly listened to Rajendra. Rajendra said that one should understand the meaning of reality. We directly feel it or we measure it through instruments. But the reality is limited to what can be seen. He asked Gangadharpant if reality has any other indication.

“That reality may not be unique has been found from experiments on very small systems—of atoms and their constituent particles. When dealing with such systems the physicist discovered something startling. The behaviour of these systems cannot be predicted definitively even if all the physical laws governing those systems are known.

Word Meaning
Constituent Parts
Physicist Scientist in Physics
Startling Amazing, Surprising
Difinitively Accurately

Through experiments on atoms and their parts it has been found that reality may not be unique. While understanding such systems scientists have discovered something surprising. The behavior of atomic system can not be fully predicted by rules known to mankind.

“Take an example. I fire an electron from a source. Where will it go? If I fire a bullet from a gun in a given direction at a given speed, I know where it will be at a later time. But I cannot make such an assertion for the electron. It may be here, there, anywhere. I can at best quote odds for it being found in a specified location at a specified time.”

Word Meaning
Assertion Assessment, Prediction

For example if I fire an electron from a source, I do not know where will it go. If I fire a bullet from a gun in certain direction and at certain speed, I can predict its movement. But I cannot make such assessment for an electron. At the most, I can tell the probability of electron being at certain location at certain time.

 

“The lack of determinism in quantum theory! Even an ignoramus historian like me has heard of it,” Professor Gaitonde said.

Word Meaning
Lack Shortage, Scarcity, Limitation
Ignoramus Ignorant, Stupid

Professor Gaitonde said that it is because quantum theory cannot explain everything. It has limitation. An ignorant historian like me also knows about this limitation.

 

“So, imagine many world pictures. In one world the electron is found here, in another it is over there. In yet another it is in a still different location. Once the observer finds where it is, we know which world we are talking about. But all those alternative worlds could exist just the same.” Rajendra paused to marshal his thoughts.

Word Meaning
Marshal Gather, Compile

Rajendra said that hence there are many possibilities to same situation. In each possibility electron can be at different location. When we see the electron, then we are able to understand which situation we have been talking about. Each situation can be called a world. Rajendra stopped to compile his thoughts.

 

“But is there any contact between those many worlds?” Professor Gaitonde asked.

“Yes and no! Imagine two worlds, for example. In both an electron is orbiting the nucleus of an atom…”

“Like planets around the sun…” Gangadharpant interjected.

Word Meaning
Interjected Intervened, Interfered

Professor Gaitonde asked Rajendra if these different worlds were connected to each other. Rajendra replied it is yes and no both. Imagine an electron is circling the nucleus of an atom. Gangadharpant intervened and said just like a planet revolves around the Sun.

 

“Not quite. We know the precise trajectory of the planet. The electron could be orbiting in any of a large number of specified states. These states may be used to identify the world.

Word Meaning
Precise Accurate
Trajectory Path of movement

Rajendra replied that it is not true. We know the exact path of movement of planets. But electron can revolve in any of the many orbits during a specific condition. These conditions can be considered as different situations prevailing in the world.

In state no.1 we have the electron in a state of higher energy. In state no.2 it is in a state of lower energy. It can make a jump from high to low energy and send out a pulse of radiation.

In one condition electron can have higher energy while in other situation it may have lower energy level. It can jump from high energy level to low energy levels. In this case a wave of energy is emitted from it.

 

Or a pulse of radiation can knock it out of state no.2 into state no.1. Such transitions are common in microscopic systems. What if it happened on a macroscopic level?” Rajendra said.

Word Meaning
Transition Change
Microscopic Very small
Macroscopic level Large scale

Or it may receive some energy and move from state 2 to state 1. Such changes are very common in case of smaller systems. Rajendra asked what would happen if such changes started happening at a large scale.

“I get you! You are suggesting that I made a transition from one world to another and back again?” Gangadharpant asked.

Gangadharan asked a question to Rajendra. Have I moved from one world to another world and then back to first world from second world?

 

“Fantastic though it seems, this is the only explanation I can offer. My theory is that catastrophic situations offer radically different alternatives for the world to proceed. It seems that so far as reality is concerned all alternatives are viable but the observer can experience only one of them at a time.

Word Meaning
Radically different Entirely different
Alternatives Options
Viable Possible

This may appear a fantastic explanation to you, But this is the only explanation I can make. Destructive situations offer entirely different possibilities to the world to move ahead. It may appear to a person that all options are possible. But an observer would see only one option at a time.

 

“By making a transition, you were able to experience two worlds although one at a time. The one you live in now and the one where you spent two days. One has the history we know, the other a different history.

By making movement you experienced two worlds one by one.. First world is where you are living now and the second world is where you were for two days. One world believes in the history we know and the second world believes in a different history.

 

The separation or bifurcation took place in the Battle of Panipat. You neither travelled to the past nor to the future. You were in the present but experiencing a different world.

Word Meaning
Bifurcation Dividing into two

The separation of the two world had occurred while you were reading about Battle of Panipat. You did not travel anywhere. You remained in the present but you experienced two different worlds.

 

Of course, by the same token there must be many more different worlds arising out of bifurcations at different points of time.”

Word Meaning
By the same token According to same logic

By the same logic, there must certainly be many more different worlds. These will emerge because of division at different point of time.

 

As Rajendra concluded, Gangadharpant asked the question that was beginning to bother him most. “But why did I make the transition?”

Rajendra completed his talk. A question has been bothering Gangadharapant from the beginning. So he asked Rajendra why he had travelled to different world.

 

“If I knew the answer I would solve a great problem. Unfortunately, there are many unsolved questions in science and this is one of them. But that does not stop me from guessing.”

Rajendra replied that if the answer was known to him, he would have solved a big problem. Unluckily, many problems in science are unsolved. This is one of those problems. But we can surely make a guess.

 

Rajendra smiled and proceeded, “You need some interaction to cause a transition. Perhaps, at the time of the collision you were thinking about the catastrophe theory and its role in wars. Maybe you were wondering about the Battle of Panipat. Perhaps, the neurons in your brain acted as a trigger.”

Rejendra smiled and continued to speak. You need an interaction to make that change. Probably when you collided with a truck, you were thinking about the theory of destruction. Probably you were thinking about Battle of Panipat. So a part of your brain provided the change from one world to other.

 

“A good guess. I was indeed wondering what course history would have taken if the result of the battle had gone the other way,” Professor Gaitonde said. “That was going to be the topic of my thousandth presidential address.”

Professor Gaitonde told Rajendra that it was a good guess – meaning that it was true. I was really thinking how history could have been different if the Battle of Panipat was won by Marathas. He further told that such situation would be the topic of his next speech as a chairperson of a lecture. This would be his 1000th speech.

 

“Now you are in the happy position of recounting your real life experience rather than just speculating,” Rajendra laughed. But Gangadharpant was grave.

Word Meaning
Recount Recall, Remember
Speculate Imagine
Grave Sad

Rajendra laughed. He told Gangadharpant that now he could understand his real life experience. There was no need for him to imagine anything. But Gangadharpant was sad.

 

“No, Rajendra, my thousandth address was made on the Azad Maidan when I was so rudely interrupted. No. The Professor Gaitonde who disappeared while defending his chair on the platform will now never be seen presiding at another meeting — I have conveyed my regrets to the organisers of the Panipat seminar.”

Word Meaning
Interrupt Stop,

Gangadharpant told Rajendra that his 100th address was made at Azad Maidan. His speech was rudely stopped. Professor Gaitonde had left the platform while he was still giving his speech. He decided that he will not give any more speech. So he conveyed his unwillingness to the organizers of Panipat seminar.

****


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