Duttada formed a mental picture of Khoka performing the yajna uttering mantras dictated to him which he did not understand, pouring ghee at specified intervals into the fire, offering flowers... And then the picture changed to an assembly of scientists at the conference analysing the problem, devising solutions and executing them rationally and efficiently.
It seemed hard to believe that both pictures were different aspects of contemporary human society. Duttada was aware of the gulf that separates the rich from the poor, the educated from the illiterate, the privileged from the unprivileged. But this gap between the rational and the superstitious seemed to him far wider, far more sinister. Will human society ever succeed in eliminating it?
Duttada did not know the answer.
When Duttada heard his wife mention that their eight-year-old grandson had done yajna, he became speechless. He then envisioned Khoka performing yajna by chanting mantras he didn't understand and pouring ghee into the fire at specified intervals and offering flowers. His rational mind couldn't comprehend how his family could believe in letting an eight-year-old child who didn't even grasp the meaning of mantras or the yajna process to execute it. He then compared it to a mental image of an international conference of scientists and experts gathered in England to address Comet Dutta's problem.
While participants at the conference strained their brains for solutions to the Comet Dutta dilemma, Duttada's family took a superstitious approach to the matter, thinking that conducting yajna would prevent Comet Dutta from causing damage to anybody on Earth. He was perplexed by the disparity between the extremes on both sides. It was difficult to accept that both images depicted distinct aspects of contemporary human society.
Duttada was fully aware of the disparities between the rich and the poor, educated and ignorant, and privileged and underprivileged people. But he couldn't grasp the difference between the rational and the superstitious; because his viewpoint was rational, he didn't believe in superstitions because they aren't scientifically proven.
In the final section, the author poses a question to the readers, wondering if human civilization would ever be able to bridge the gap between the rational and the superstitious. Dutttada wondered when the divide between rational and superstitious people will be bridged. Though Duttada advised his family about superstitious beliefs, they were unconcerned and performed yajna in the hopes of saving the Earth from the effects of Comet Dutta. Duttada was well aware of how scientists and experts took the initiative and made preparations in order to deflect and divert Comet Dutta's path. Unfortunately, he couldn't explain it to his family. Nonetheless, he made a great effort to explain the nature of comets and the scientific advances used to track them to his family members, particularly his wife. Nothing worked because their superstitious beliefs made it impossible for them to think rationally.
Irrational beliefs still exists
Even though technology has evolved to the point that we can defend ourselves from most hazardous things, such as Comet Dutta's impact, some individuals remain superstitious, which is even more dangerous than Comet Dutta's collision.
Meaning of difficult words:
Belonging to the same time
Having special rights or advantages that some people do not have
|Sinister||Seeming evil or dangerous|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). The Comet - II — JAYANT NARLIKAR (pp. 81-87). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.