By Ruchika Gupta
The Adventure CBSE Class 11 English (Hornbill Book) Lesson, Explanation, Summary, Difficult words
The Adventure CBSE Class 11 NCERT English (Hornbill Book) Lesson 7 – Detailed explanation of the Lesson ‘The Adventure’ along with the meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lessons have been covered.
Class 11 English (Hornbill Book) Chapter 7 – The Adventure
By Jayant Narlikar
By Vaishnavi Tyagi
The Adventure Introduction of the Lesson
The chapter ‘The Adventure’ is a story about Professor Gangadharpant Gaitonde who is strangely in a different world. He knows it is Pune but the facts are different from what he believes. He decided to go to Bombay via train ‘Jijamata Express’. When he reached Bombay, things were different. When he decides to investigate the history, he finds some surprising facts. The East India Company was still ruling and the Battle of Panipat had been won by Marathas. It was different from what he knew and had studied. The East India Company was taken aback after events of 1857 and the Battle of Panipat had been won by Mughals.
Class 11 Important Links
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The Adventure Summary
Professor Gaitonde was travelling from Pune to Bombay via the Jijamata Express, a train which was faster than the Deccan Queen. As he was crossing towns and villages, he met a man named ‘Khan Sahib’ who talked about his business and chatted about several things. They got off at Victoria Terminus station which was neat and clean. It had British officers, Parsees and Anglo-Indian staff all around. He was confused as to how the East India Company was ruling the country as according to his facts, they had fled away after the events of 1857.
He went to the Hornby road and noticed that the shops were different. He entered the Forbes building and inquired about Mr. Vinay Gaitonde but as checked by the receptionist, no such man had ever worked there. He went to the Town Hall and sat in the reading room. He took five books related to the history and decided to go through them one by one and check how the facts had changed. He started investigating from the period of Asoka to the third battle of Panipat.
According to the fifth volume ‘Bhausahebanchi Bakhar’, he found out that Marathas had won the Battle of Panipat and spread their influence all over India after that. He was confused as it was different from what he knew so far. After the victory, India was moved to the path of democracy. There were no longer any kings ruling and democratic parties had been set up. The professor started liking India as he kept reading further about it. It was different from the one he believed he saw. This country knew how to stand on its feet and it was no longer slave under the white man.
As he was going through the book, the librarian told him to finish since they were closing the library. It was eight o clock. He asked about carrying the books with him as he would return the next morning and slipped the Bakhar book into his left pocket. He checked into a guest house and had his dinner. He decided to walk towards Azad Maidan. He noticed a large crowd of people going towards a pandal. A lecture was going on but he noticed something unusual. The presidential chair was empty. The speaker was talking and the crowd was continuously moving inside and outside.
He could not control himself and moved towards the stage and sat on the chair. The crowd was taken aback and started asking him to get up and move away. He tried to talk to them but they started throwing several objects at him such as tomatoes, eggs, etc. Soon the crowd moved towards him to push him away and he was nowhere to be seen.
Next, he woke up in a hospital bed and saw Rajendra in front of him. He narrated the whole sequence of events that took place and Rajendra listened to him amazed. The professor was confused as to where he was and if he had been in a coma for the past two days. What was the experience he just had, was it real or not.
Rajendra explained to him that it happened because of two theories – Catastrophe theory and lack of determinism in Quantum theory. Catastrophe theory states that a small change in any situation can result in a shift in behaviour. In reality, the Marathas lost their leader – Bhausaheb and Vishwarao and hence they lost the battle. But Professor saw that the bullet missed and Vishwarao was not dead.
Professor then showed him the torn page of the Bakhar book that he had in his pocket. Rajendra read it carefully and told him that realities can be different for different people. What he thought had happened is a catastrophic experience.
Rajendra told him that in the case of electrons, one cannot predict which path the electron takes at a point of time. He told him that it is the lack of determinism in Quantum theory and explained to him what it meant. In one world, the electron may be found here and in another, it may be found in another place but in the third world. It may be at different locations. Once the observer knows about the correct placing of the electrons in every world, it might happen that an alternative world exists at the same time.
Hence, the professor was in two different worlds at the present time. He had real-life experience in an alternative reality and he came back from another world. Both the worlds had different histories and different sets of events. The professor wanted to know why he was the one to make the transition. Rajendra told him that at the time of the collision with the truck, the professor was thinking about the catastrophe theory and its role in the war. He was also thinking about the Battle of Panipat at that moment, so the neurons in his brain acted as a trigger and made the transition.
The professor was in that alternative world for the last two days.
The Adventure Lesson and Explanation
THE Jijamata Express sped along the Pune-Bombay* route considerably faster than the Deccan Queen. There were no industrial townships outside Pune. 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 an even greater speed. It roared through Kalyan.
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. 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.
That is, assuming that in this world there existed someone called Rajendra Deshpande!
The train stopped beyond the long tunnel. It was a small station called Sarhad. An Anglo-Indian in uniform went through the train checking permits.
Townships – Towns or villages
Roared – to move at a high speed while making a loud noise
Permits – authorize to do something
Professor Gaitonde was travelling by the Jijamata Express train which was running along Pune-Bombay Route and was faster than the Deccan Queen. The first stop of the train was Lonavala which came in 40 minutes. The professor noticed that there were no industrial towns outside Pune city. The next stop was the ghat section which was similar to what the professor already knew. The train followed to the next city – Karjat and started speeding at a greater pace than before. When the train was in Kalyan, it moved at high speed.
The professor came up with a plan to be followed when he would arrive at Bombay city. He was a historian who thought he should have come up with a plan sooner to go to the big library and glance at the history books there. He wanted to know how the current situation of India by studying various events. He further planned to move back to Pune after his work finished and meet with Rajendra Deshpande to have a discussion over the current events.
He was thinking about it and assumed if a person named Rajendra Deshpande existed in this world. As he was into his thoughts when the train stopped beyond a long tunnel in a place called ‘Sarhad’. He saw an Anglo-Indian in a uniform who was going through the train to check the permit.
“This is where the British Raj begins. You are going for the first time, I presume?” Khan Sahib asked.
“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?”
“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.”
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. The train now passed through the suburban rail traffic. The blue carriages carried the letters, GBMR, on the side.
Ventured – to say something that might be considered as an apology
Suburban – residential area
As the incident was taking place, a person named ‘Khan Sahib’ asked Gaitonde if he was going to Bombay for the first time to which he replied yes. He asked Khan Sahib about how would he reach Peshawar. He told him the whole route – the train would first go to Victoria Terminus and then he would change the train ‘Frontier Mail’ from the central. The train will then go to Delhi and then to Lahore and finally Peshawar. It would be a long journey of two days.
Khan Sahib further talked about his business to Gangadharpant Gaitonde (Professor) who was listening to him willingly. He got to taste a different flavour of the country other than what he saw and knew. The train next passed through the residential rail traffic and he saw a blue carriage with GBMR on the side.
“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.”
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.
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
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. Yet, here it was, not only alive but flourishing. So, history had taken a different turn, perhaps before 1857. How and when had happened? He had to find out.
Emerged – developed; begin
Imposing – Impressive
Proclaimed – to announce something officially
Flourishing – to grow successfully
Khan Sahib explained the full form of GBMR – Greater Bombay Metropolitan Railway. He further showed him the tiny Union Jack painted on the carriages which was a mark for the reminder that they were in British territory. As the train moved passed Dadar, it stopped at the destination – Victoria Terminus. The station was neat and clean and the staff consisted of Anglo-Indians and Parsees with few British Officers.
As the professor got down from the station, he saw a big sign which read ‘East India House Headquarters of the East India Company’ which made the professor curious as he didn’t expect this in Bombay. According to his knowledge of history, East India Company was shut down after 1857 events. But the company was standing there which was growing successfully. He was confused as to how history took a turn. He had to know what happened.
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.
He turned right along Home Street and entered Forbes building.
“I wish to meet Mr Vinay Gaitonde, please,” he said to the English receptionist.
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?”
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!
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.
Riddle – mystery or puzzle
As the professor walked passed the Hornby road in Bombay, he noticed a different set of shops in the street. There were no longer Handloom House Building but were Boots and Woolworth departmental stores and offices of Lloyds, Barclays and other British originated banks. It was just like a high street in England.
He entered the Forbes building in the Home Street. He asked the receptionist about Mr. Vinay Gaitonde. She searched for quite some time, all the telephone list and the staff list but didn’t find anything. She told him that there is no such person working in any branches of the company.
He was shocked and didn’t expect this. He was thinking about what would happen if he would not be alive in this world.
He moved out of the building and went to a restaurant to eat lunch. He then went to ‘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.
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. Up to this period history was as he knew it. The change evidently had occurred in the last volume.
Reading volume five from both ends inwards, Gangadharpant finally converged on the precise moment where history had taken a different turn.
Converged – met
Precise – exact; accurate
He reached the Town Hall which had a library inside. He entered the reading room and made his way towards history books. He took five volumes and started reading from the beginning. Volume one was about the period of Ashoka, another was about Samudragupta, the third one was about Mohammad Ghori and the fourth volume was up to the death of Aurangzeb. He noticed the last volume, it had some changes. After reading volume five, he knew about the exact moment where history changed.
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.
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!
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.
Triumphant – Successful
Blow – by – blow account – a detailed account
Avidly – with great interest
Morale booster – anything which boosts self- confidence
Supremacy – the condition of being superior to others
Expansionist – a follower of the policy of territorial or economic expansion
He came to know that Marathas had won the Battle of Panipat. Abdali was chased to Kabul by the successful Maratha army which was led by Sadashivrao Bhau and his nephew.
The book didn’t give detailed information about the war but it elaborated about the details about the power struggles in India. The professor read the account with great interest. Although he recognized the writing style to be his, he could not recollect having written it. After the war, the Marathas established superiority in the northern Indian region which also worked as a great confidence booster for them.
The East India Company got side-lined and abandoned its expansionist program.
For the Peshwas the immediate result was an increase in the influence of Bhausaheb and Vishwasrao who eventually succeeded his father in 1780 A.D. The trouble-maker, Dadasaheb, was relegated to the background and he eventually retired from state politics.
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. The Company was reduced to pockets of influence near Bombay, Calcutta* and Madras@, just like its European rivals, the Portuguese and the French.
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. 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.
Relegated to – assigned to a lower rank
Dismay – shock
Political acumen – political smartness
Valour – great courage in battle
De facto – existing in fact with or without any lawful authority
Astute – smartness; quick-witted
For the Maratha ruler, the influence of Bhausaheb and Vishwarao increased. Vishwarao succeeded his father in 1780 AD. Dadasaheb was assigned to a lower rank and he retired from state politics. The East India Company met its match in Vishwarao. Vishwarao and his brother, Madhavrao, with their political smartness and courage in the battlefield expanded their influence all over India. The company was left with influence in only a few cities in India like Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras just like Europeans, Portuguese and French.
The Marathas kept the Mughal government alive for political reasons. In the nineteenth century, rulers were smart enough to recognize the importance of technology rising in Europe. On the other hand, East India Company extended its influence by offering aid and experts in the region where they were accepted only as local centers.
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. 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.
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. 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. Gangadharpant could not help comparing the country he knew what he was witnessing 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.
Figurehead – a carving; image
Outpost – a small military camp used as a guard
India was a democratic country inspired by the West during the twentieth century. The Peshwas of Marathas lost their empire and democratic bodies took their place. The Mughal Sultanate at Delhi survived the transitions as they had no influence. The Mughal rulers were no longer a carving on the rubber stamps. The professor started liking India as he continued reading about it. It was different from the one he believed he saw. This country knew how to stand on its feet and it was no longer the slave under white man. Bombay was made an outpost on the sub-continent region by the British. According to a treaty in 1908, it would expire in the year 2001. The professor was comparing the country he was witnessing now. But, he still felt that his investigation was incomplete and he wanted to know more answers about the Maratha 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.
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. He found one now in a three-line account of how close Vishwasrao had come to being killed:
… 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.
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.
“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?”
“At eight o’clock, sir.” The librarian smiled. Here was a user and researcher right after his heart.
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.
Seldom – not often
Doctored accounts – manipulated accounts related to history
Melee – a confused fight
Shoved – to push someone roughly
As he was going through the books in front of him, he found the clues in one of them, which was Bhausahebanchi Bakhar. He never relied on Bakhar for any type of historical evidence but he always found them entertaining. Among the manipulated accounts, he found the three-line account about Vishwarao and how he was killed. Vishwarao was shot and the bullet brushed past his ear while he was running upon his horse in a confused fight. The book said that even a sesame seed would have been a reason for his death.
The librarian asked him to finish as the library was about to be closed at eight o’clock at night. He noticed he was the only one left in the reading room. He asked the librarian whether he could keep the books with him and asked him about the opening time of the library. The librarian told him that it opens at eight o’clock in the morning and the professor left the table. He pushed the notes into his right pocket and pushed the Bakhar book into his left one.
He found a guest house to stay in and had a frugal meal. He then set out for a stroll towards the 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. 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. 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.
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?”
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…”
Frugal – less costly and simple
Stroll – to wander
Throng – a large pack of crowd
Gave vent to – to express one’s feelings
He found a guest house to stay in and eat cheap meat for dinner. He decided to walk towards Azad Maidan and found a large pack of a crowd moving towards the pandal. The professor moved towards the pandal. A lecture was taking place and people were going and coming to and fro. His attention was on the stage. There was an empty table and chair. The presidential chair was also unoccupied. He was motivated and he moved towards the chair. The speaker stopped and he was shocked to see the professor sitting on that empty chair. The speaker yelled at him to vacate the chair. He replied the lecture doesn’t have any chairperson but the speaker asked him to move away and told him that the chair was iconic. The Professor didn’t listen to his instructions and went to the mike to express his thoughts. He started by saying that vacant chair lecture is like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and without 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.”
“We only want to listen to the speaker…”
“We abolished the old customs long ago…”
“Keep the platform empty, please…”
But Gangadharpant had the experience of speaking at 999 meetings and had faced the Pune audience at its most hostile. He kept on talking.
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.
And, in the crowd Gangadharpant was nowhere to be seen.
Hostile – unfriendly
Valiantly – bravely
Sacrilege – disrespect
Swarmed – move somewhere in a large number
The audience was in no mood to listen to anything. Clearly, old customs had changed now. They no longer believed the chaired person and his false promises. They asked him to move aside, as they only wanted to hear the speaker. But the professor continued talking as he believed he would control the unfriendly audience. They soon started throwing tomatoes, eggs and other objects towards him. He kept on trying bravely but the audience started moving towards him to remove him physically from the platform. In the crowd, the professor was nowhere to be seen.
“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?”
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.
“I was thinking of the catastrophe theory and its implications for history.”
“Right! I thought so!” Rajendra smiled.
“Don’t smile smugly. In case you think that it was just my mind playing tricks and my imagination running amok, look at this.”
And, triumphantly, Professor Gaitonde produced his vital piece of evidence: a page torn out of a book.
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.
Dumbfounded – amazed
Catastrophe theory – it is a branch of mathematics concerned with systems displaying discontinuous changes
Smugly – to show excess satisfaction
Amok – to behave uncontrollably
Triumphantly – to win a battle
The professor was talking to Rajendra. He narrated everything to him which he saw and lived for those few days. He said he was found in the Azad Maidan next morning and now he is back to the real world which he is familiar with. He wanted to know where had he spent the two days when he was unconscious.
Rajendra was amazed by the narrative and he replied after a while. He asked the professor what he was thinking just before his collision with the truck. Professor replied that he was thinking about Catastrophe theory. He further told Rajendra not to smile showing excess satisfaction. It is nothing like that my mind was playing tricks with me. To win the argument, the professor took out the printed page and Rajendra was surprised.
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. 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.” 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.
“Now look at this.” Gangadharpant produced his own copy of Bhausahebanchi Bakhar, opened at the relevant page. The account ran thus:
… 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.
“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.”
“Facts? What are the facts? I am dying to know!” Professor Gaitonde said.
Inadvertently – unintentionally
Professor told Rajendra that he had unintentionally slipped the Bakhar into his left pocket and he intended to return it the next morning. But the book got torn off and lost in the large crowd in the Azad Maidan. This page is evidence from the book that I had stolen it. Rajendra again read the page, it described how Vishwarao missed the bullet. He then showed him his own copy of Bakhar and the texts were different. It said that Vishwarao was hit by the bullet.
Rajendra told the professor that by reading the evidence, he had begun to realize it’s not a fantasy. He wanted the professor to know some 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. 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!”
“Please continue, Rajendra! I am all ears,” Professor Gaitonde replied. Rajendra continued pacing as he talked.
“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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Disparity – difference
Armour – shell
Rout – a defeat
Rajendra explained to him that this was a catastrophic experience which he had just felt. Professor told him to continue. He told the professor to apply the Catastrophe theory to the Battle of Panipat. The Abdali and Maratha army were both equally strong in terms of troops and forces. Their shell was also comparable but the victory dependent on the leadership and morale of the troops.
The point where the Marathas were killed was the turning point of the battle. Uncle of Vishwarao rushed into the crowd and was never seen again. No one knows whether he survived or died. The troops lost their morale and fighting spirit and it was a defeat for them.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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?
Impetus – the force with which body moves
Manifestation – the action of showing something; demonstration
Rajendra continued by saying that the torn page that he read was about how the events took another turn and everything happened differently from what they knew. The Professor added similar statements are made about Battle of Waterloo where several texts talk about ‘it might have been’. Rajendra then made his second point which was, how we experience reality. It is via our senses or with the help of instruments. But is reality really limited to what we see or is it a demonstration?
“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.
“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.”
“The lack of determinism in quantum theory! Even an ignoramus historian like me has heard of it,” Professor Gaitonde said.
Startling – surprising
Assertion – a confident statement of a fact
Determinism – a doctrine that all the events are caused by the external will
Quantum theory – a theory of matter and energy based on quantum mechanics.
Ignoramus – an ignorant person
Rajendra explained that the reality is not the same, it has been founded by the experiments of small atoms and their particles. The physicists studied such system and found something surprising. They found that the behaviour of such systems cannot be predicted.
He gave an example of an electron. If he would fire a bullet from a gun. He would know where it will go but it cannot be predicted about the electron. We can count odds about where it can be at a specific time and position. Professor added ‘the lack of determinism’ which means lack of a doctrine caused by external will. He added that he had also heard of it.
“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 marshall 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. “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. 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. 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.
Marshall – to gather something
Precise – error-free; correct
Trajectory – the path followed by a projectile flying
Rajendra while gathering his thoughts told the professor that in one world, the electron may be found here and in another, it may be found in another place but in the third world. It may be at a different locations. Once the observer knows about the correct placing of the electrons at every world, it might happen that an alternative world exists at the same time. The Professor asked him whether there are any contacts between these many worlds. Rajendra told him it might not happen. He said in both the worlds, the electron is orbiting the nucleus of an atom.
The Professor added an example of planets and sun. Rajendra said not quite as in the case of the planets we know about the path that is followed by the planets. But in the case of electrons, it is different. When an electron is in state 1, it is in higher energy. In-state 2, it is in lower energy. It might happen that the electron jumps from a higher to a lower position. These transitions happen at a microscopic level but what if it happened at the macroscopic level.
“I get you! You are suggesting that I made a transition from one world to another and back again?” Gangadharpant asked.
“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.
“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. 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. Of course, by the same token there must be many more different worlds arising out of bifurcations at different points of time.”
As Rajendra concluded, Gangadharpant asked the question that was beginning to bother him most. “But why did I make the transition?”
Viable – practical
Bifurcation – division
Professor told him that he went to another world and came back again. Rajendra said it is the only explanation he can offer right now. According to him, in catastrophic situations, different alternatives can exist and somewhere the observer can experience one reality one at a time.
Rajendra added that the professor made a transition and experienced two worlds one at a time, one in which he lives and another one where he spent his last two days. This world has the history they know about and another one has different facts. The Battle of Panipat had divisions of facts in both worlds. He said that the professor didn’t travelled past or future but was in the present and experiencing different worlds. There may be more worlds which may arise out of division at different points of time. Professor asked as to why only he made the transition.
“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 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.”
“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.”
“Now you are in the happy position of recounting your real-life experience rather than just speculating,” Rajendra laughed. But Gangadharpant was grave.
“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.”
Speculating – wondering
Grave – serious
Rajendra answered that he didn’t know why he made the transition but he could guess it. At the time of the collision, the professor was thinking about catastrophe theory and its role in the war. Maybe he was thinking about the Battle of Panipat at that moment the neurons in his brain acted as a trigger and made the transition.
The Professor confessed that he was thinking about what would happen if the battle had gone the other way and he was about to address this at his thousandth presidential address. Rajendra laughed and said now he can happily recount his real-life experience than just wondering about it. The Professor was serious and told him that at his thousandth presidential address at Azad Maidan, he was rudely interrupted by the crowd and speaker. The professor Gaitonde who was defending his chair on the stage had to disappear and he would never be seen again at another meeting. He also conveyed his regrets to the organizers of the seminar.
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The Adventure Question and Answers
Understanding the Text
I. Tick the statements that are true.
1. The story is an account of real events.
2. The story hinges on a particular historical event.
3. Rajendra Deshpande was a historian.
4. The places mentioned in the story are all imaginary.
5. The story tries to relate history to science.
Ans: 1. False
II. Briefly explain the following statements from the text.
1. “You neither travelled to the past nor the future. You were in the present experiencing a different world.”
Ans: This statement was said by Rajendra to Professor Gaitonde. As he made a transition from one world to another, he had a real-life experience for two days in an alternative reality. It was one at a time experience for him. He neither travelled to the past nor the future. He was in the present all the time.
2. “You have passed through a fantastic experience: or more correctly, a catastrophic experience.”
Ans: This statement was said by Rajendra to Professor Gaitonde. When he was hit by the truck, he was thinking about Catastrophe theory and its role in the war. He was unconscious in the hospital for the next two days but he was in an alternate world having a real-life experience of many things which were not true in the real world where he actually lives. He noticed that the scenario was different and facts about history were different. So, he had passed a catastrophic experience.
3. Gangadharpant could not help comparing the country he knew what he was witnessing around him.
Ans: Gangadharpant Gaitonde had witnessed different facts of history which were the decline of Marathas and British rule. But here in a different world, the reality was different. Marathas had won the Battle of Panipat and there was no slavery under the white man. India was free and here people had self-respect. When he compared two different facts of the same country, he liked this different version of India more.
4. “The lack of determinism in quantum theory!”
Ans: The lack of determinism means the inability of the scientist to know where the electron would move. Quantum theory means in physics, it can be measured how the energy is produced and in what direction electrons may move. This happened when Professor saw two different sets of history in the case of the Battle of Panipat. In one reality, Marathas had won the war and in other, they had lost the battle. The same happened in the case of the Battle of Waterloo.
5. “You need some interaction to cause a transition.”
Ans: Professor Gaitonde before the collision with the truck was thinking about catastrophe theory and its role in the war. He was wondering what might happen if the result was different in the Battle of Panipat. When he hit the truck, the neurons in his brain made the transition. This was explained by Rajendra to the professor when he failed to understand why only he made the transition.
Talking about the Text
1. Discuss the following statements in groups of two pairs, each pair in a group taking opposite points of view.
(i) A single event may change the course of the history of a nation.
For: A single event may change the course of the history of a nation. In the case of the Battle of Panipat, when Marathas won the war. The course of history changed and it led to a different shape of India. British rule ended and India soon became a democratic nation. People no longer were slaves under the white man. India was self-dependent and had self-respect.
Against: It is a matter of perspective that a single event may change the course of the history of a nation. As explained by Rajendra in the chapter, it is a catastrophic phenomenon that the Battle of Panipat had two courses of history in different worlds. Similarly, there may be different worlds having a different history of the same nation.
(ii) Reality is what is directly experienced through the senses.
Ans: For: As Gangadharpant experienced a different reality in the different world for two days, he even brought back a torn-off page of Bakhar book. He was experiencing different realities one at a time. It happened due to the lack of determinism in quantum theory and catastrophic theory. We sense our reality with our taste buds, hearing, seeing, smelling and a sense of touch.
Against: Reality is not entitled to the senses. Electrons can move to any direction at any point in time. They don’t have a definite path to travel. When we can predict the direction of the fired bullet, we cannot predict the same thing about electrons.
(iii) The methods of inquiry of history, science and philosophy are similar.
For: The methods of inquiry of history, science and philosophy are similar. In the chapter, history, philosophy, and science converge and Professor Gaitonde experienced a different set of events and reality in two different worlds. In one world, the Battle of Panipat was won by Marathas and in other, it was won by the Mughals. Later, Rajendra explained to him the catastrophe theory and lack of determinism. This explained to us how history and science converged. Similarly, in Philosophy, truth is relative.
Against: It is inaccurate to say that the methods of inquiry of history, science, and philosophy are similar. In the chapter, Rajendra tried to explain the events with a catastrophic theory which surely convinced Professor but not us. Philosophy is speculative, while science is about the exact fact which is tested. History is based on a set of events and how they shaped the existing reality. The chapter is a science fiction where the writer tries to show the convergence of the three different subjects but in reality, it employs different methodologies.
2. (i) The story is called ‘The Adventure’. Compare it with the adventure described in ‘We’re Not Afraid to Die…’
Ans: ‘We’re Not Afraid to Die…’ is a story about a family who went on a seafaring trip with their two children and two crewmen. The challenge was to keep them alive and reach the shore safely when the Storm hit the sea and affected their boat. Their experience was real and painful. On the other hand, Professor Gaitonde’s experience was imaginative. After his collision, he travelled the world through his mind when he was unconscious for two days.
(ii) Why do you think Professor Gaitonde decided never to preside over meetings again?
Ans: When in a different world, the professor noticed the empty presidential chair on the stage in the ongoing lecture. He tried to sit on it as it should not remain empty. He was asked to move away by the speaker. Later when he started talking on the mic, the audience was not ready to listen to him. They threw many objects at him and asked him to move aside. They physically lifted him from the stage.
Such experiences prompted Professor to never preside over meetings again.
Thinking about Language
1. In which language do you think Gangadharpant and Khan Sahib talked to each other? Which language did Gangadharpant use to talk to the English receptionist?
Ans: Gangadharpant and Khan Sahib talked to each other in the Hindi language. On the other hand, Gangadharpant talked to the English receptionist in the English language.
2. In which language do you think Bhausahebanchi Bakhar was written?
Ans: It was written in the Marathi language.
3. There is mention of three communities in the story: the Marathas, the Mughals, the Anglo-Indians. Which language do you think they used within their communities and while speaking to the other group?
Ans: The Muslims used to speak Urdu, the Marathas used to speak the Marathi and Anglo-Indians used to speak in English within their communities.
4. Do you think that the ruled always adopt the language of the ruler?
Ans: Yes, the ruled always adopted the language of the ruler.
Working with Words
I. Tick the item that is closest in meaning to the following phrases.
1. to take issue with
(i) to accept
(ii) to discuss
(iii) to disagree
(iv) to add
A. (iii) to disagree
2. to give vent to
(i) to express
(ii) to emphasise
A. (i) to express
3. to stand on one’s feet
(i) to be physically strong
(ii) to be independent
(iii) to stand erect
(iv) to be successful
A. (ii) to be independent
4. to be wound up
(i) to become active
(ii) to stop operating
(iii) to be transformed
(iv) to be destroyed
A. (ii) To stop operating
5. to meet one’s match
(i) to meet a partner who has similar tastes
(ii) to meet an opponent
(iii) to meet someone who is equally able as oneself
(iv) to meet defeat
A. (iii) To meet someone who is equally able as oneself
II. Distinguish between the following pairs of sentences.
1. (i) He was visibly moved.
(ii) He was visually impaired.
2. (i) Green and black stripes were used alternately.
(ii) Green stripes could be used or alternatively black ones.
3. (i) The team played the two matches successfully.
(ii) The team played two matches successively.
4. (i) The librarian spoke respectfully to the learned scholar.
(ii) You will find the historian and the scientist in the archaeology and natural science sections of the museum respectively.
1. (i) clearly
(ii) defective eyesight
2. (i) one after the other
(ii) in place of
3. (i) with success
(ii) one after the other
4. (i) dignity
(ii) same order