Posted by : Shoumik Das Tuesday, June 4, 2013

O Rama of unequaled prowess,
This aerial car shining like the sun, 
Moves as one pleases, wonderful and excellent;
This Pushpak of Kuber, robbed by Ravan in battle,
Is retained here for your sake;
The yonder aerial car, looking like a cloud, 
Stands here and by which transport, 
You can reach Ayodhya without any trouble.
May prosperity attend you!  

- Valmiki Ramayan [6.121.9-11]


The above verse describes the Pushpak Vimaan, perhaps the most famous airship mentioned in the ancient Hindu literature. Many Sanskrit epics contain references to such flying machines called the Vimaans/Vimanas. These Vimaans were said to be able to travel into space between different planets and were used by various denizens of the higher Lokas. In this post, we shall analyze the evidence in favor of such flying machines being available to the ancients and their similarities to the modern aircrafts.


Vimaans in literature

There are many descriptions of flying machines that broadly fall into two categories: 

(1) Manmade aircrafts that resemble our modern airplanes, and 
(2) Alien structures that are generally built by either the architects of Devas or Asurs and resemble the modern perception of UFOs. 

The FIRST of this category are described mainly in medieval Sanskrit literature dealing with architecture, siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in the SECOND category are described in ancient works such as the Rig Veda, the Mahabharat, Ramayan, and various Puraans, and have many features reminiscent of UFOs.





We will deal with the second category first as their references are more in number, and seem to be more authentic as well. Perhaps everyone who knows anything about Hinduism, or has heard/read the Ramayan, would know about Pushpak Vimaan, the aircraft which belonged to Ravan, the king of Lanka. 

Not many, however, would have heard about the architect of this aircraft - Maya Danav



Maya, the gifted Asur conjurer



Maya was the foremost of architects among the Asurs and a formidable rival to Vishwakarma, the architect-of-the-gods. He was the father-in-law of Ravan and is credited with marvelous feats of engineering performed not only for the demons but also for Devas and humans. To list a few of these, Maya built the:

  • Three flying cities of Tripura for the sons of Tarkasur,
  • The island city of Lanka for Kuber and 
  • the Palace-of-illusions for the Pandavs at Indraprastha

Besides these architectural wonders, he also wrote the astronomical treatise called the 'Surya-siddhant' that forms the basis of Indian astronomy even today! Combining his knowledge of all these principles, he perhaps took the next step and created the flying vehicles or Vimaans. Maya himself, is believed to have possessed a Vimaan measuring twelve cubits in circumference, with four strong wheels. 


The Pushpak Vimaan

Pushpak was originally designed for Kuber, the god-of-wealth, but was usurped by his half-brother, Ravan along with his island city of Lanka. There are various passages in the Ramayan that talk about the wonderful qualities of this aerial vehicle:


कांचनम् रथम् आस्थाय कामगम् रत्न भूषितम् |
पिशाच वदनैः युक्तम् खरैः कनक भूषणैः || ३-३५-६
मेघ प्रतिम नादेन स तेन धनद अनुजः |
राक्षसाधिपतिः श्रीमान् ययौ नद नदी पतिम् || ३-३५-७

That chariot which is decorated with golden ornaments, yoked with monster-faced mules that have gem studded trappings is ride-able by the wish of the rider, and sitting in such a chariot which is wholly golden and which rides with a sound like the pealing of thunder, that celebrated Ravan, the brother of Kuber and the lord of demons, traveled towards the lord of rivers and rivulets, namely the ocean.

So, the Pushpak was an aerial vehicle, navigable by thought, shimmering like the Sun, with a thunderous noise and could travel anywhere across the globe. Sounds like a cross between a UFO and one of our modern supersonic planes!


An alleged UFO sighting in Mexico



The special characteristic of this vehicle seems to be that whatever may be the number of people sitting inside the plane, there would always be one seat vacant! In other words, if N number of people want to board the plane, there would still be (N+1) seats available. This prodigious capacity is mentioned to in the following verses:

प्रियाअत्प्रियतरं लब्धं यदहं ससुहृज्जनः || ६-१२२-२२
सर्वैर्भवद्भिः सहितः प्रीतिं लप्स्ये पुरीं गतः |

Shri Raam said - Something more dearer than everything dear will be achieved by me, if I reach Ayodhya with the host of my friends along with all of you, for, I shall feel delighted.

This is when Vibhishan, the brother of Ravan and the newly crowned king of Lanka tells the Lord, that the aircraft can carry as many people as the Lord would want to accomodate!

ततह् स पुष्पकं दिव्यं सुग्रीवः सह वानरैः || ६-१२२-२४
आरुरोह मुदा युक्तः समात्यश्च विभीषणः |

Thereupon, that Sugreeva along with the monkeys gladly ascended that wonderful Pushpaka, the aerial car. Vibhishan together with his counselors also ascended it.

तेष्वारूढेषु सर्वेषु कौबेरम् परमासनम् || ६-१२२-२५
राघवेणाभ्यनुज्ञातमुत्पपात विहायसम् |

When all of them ascended, that excellent aerial car, belonging to Kuber, flew into the sky, after having been duly authorized by Rama.


 Pushpak Vimaan - Pahari miniature painting



खगतेन मिवानेन हंसयुक्तेन भास्वता || ६-१२२-२६
प्रहृष्टश्चप्रतीतश्च बभौ रामः कुबेरवत् |

Feeling greatly rejoiced and satisfied while travelling in that splendid aerial car, which was now in the air and was provided with the image of a swan, Rama shone like Kuber.

ते सर्वे वानरर्क्षश्च राक्षसाश्च महाबलाः || ६-१२२-२७
यथासुखमसंबाधं दिव्ये तस्मिन्नुपाविशन् |

All those mighty Vanars, bears and demons sat comfortably and spaciously in that wonderful aerial car.

Another such description is found in the Ayodhya Kand [XVI, pp. 235-236]-

The splendid chariot, made of silver, and bright like the fire itself, making a noise like the roaring of the clouds; defying all obstacles, adorned with jewels and gold, dazzling to the eyesight and bright, went speedily on, making space resound like unto the muttering cloud in the sky. He issued out of his abode like the beautiful moon passing through a huge cloud.

As mentioned in the post {Rama - The Historical Perspective}, in Sri Lanka, the Pushpak Viman is referred to as the Dhandu Monara or the Flying-Peacock and even today there exists a place called Weragantota in Lanka whose name implies 'The-Landing-Place-of-Aircraft'!! Not far from there is another place called Gurulupotha (parts-of-birds) where he is supposed to have the aircraft-repair center! 


One of the 6 airports of Ravan - Weragantota


This implies that it is more than likely that the Pushpak Vimaan DID actually exist and was perhaps the last aircraft of its kind before the advent of our so called modern age.



Other References to Vimaans

The Pushpak is not the only aircraft mentioned in so much detail. The Mahabharatmentions such celestial crafts in many passages as well!

During his quest for celestial weapons before the Mahabharat War, Arjun was invited by Indra to spend some time in Amravati. Indra's charioteer Matali came to pick him up and this is how the description goes:


And on this sunlike, divine, wonderful chariot the wise disciple of Kuru flew joyously upward. When becoming invisible to the mortals who walk the earth, he saw wondrous airborne chariots by the thousands.

And the celebrated Arjuna, having passed through successive regions of the heavens, at last beheld the city of Indra. And there he beheld celestial cars by thousands stationed in their respective places and capable of going everywhere at will, and he saw tens of thousands of such cars moving in every direction!

Mahabharat [Book 1, Chapter 25 Indralokgamana Parva]

While in heaven, Arjun helped Indra curb the Asur menace and assisted his father in a few battles:

When the Daityas were being slaughtered they again took to their vimana and, employing the Danava science, flew up into the sky . . . I (Arjuna) assaulted their vimana . . . Wounded by the flight of deadly-accurate iron missiles, the Asura vimana fell broken to the earth . . . Matali swiftly descended earthward, as in a steep dive, on our divinely effulgent car.

Again, in the Swargaohan Parva, when Indra's spacecraft comes to pick up Yudhhishthir, this is the description given:

Then Dharma and Indra and the other deities, causing Yudhishthira to ascend on a car, went to the celestial region. Those beings capable of going everywhere at will, rode their respective aerial cars. King Yudhishthira, riding on his car, ascended quickly, causing the entire sky to blaze with his effulgence. 

If these passages do not talk about aircrafts or space-ships, what do else do they refer to??
  
Further support for the Vimaans comes from the Puraans like Shrimad Bhagvat Puraan. There is an entire battle that rages at the port city of Dwarka which is caused by a disgruntled king called Salva and his out-of-the-world airplane:

Lord Siva said, "So be it." On his order, Maya Danava, who conquers his enemies' cities, constructed a flying iron city named Saubha and presented it to Salva. 
[SB 10.76.7]

This unassailable vehicle was filled with darkness and could go anywhere. Upon obtaining it, Salva went to Dvaraka, remembering the Vrishnis' enmity toward him.
[SB 10.76.8

At one moment the magic airship built by Maya appeared in many identical forms, and the next moment it was again only one. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes not. Thus Salva's opponents could never be sure where it was.
[SB 10.76.21]

From one moment to the next the Saubha airship appeared on the earth, in the sky, on a mountain peak or in the water. Like a whirling, flaming baton, it never remained in any one place.
[SB 10.76.22]

There are other such passages too concerning other characters from the Puranic history:

Having spoken thus, Maharaja Nriga circumambulated Lord Krishna and touched his crown to the Lord's feet. Granted permission to depart, King Nriga then boarded a wonderful celestial airplane as all the people present looked on.
[SB 10.64.30]

As soon as the symptoms of his liberation were manifest, he saw a very beautiful airplane coming down from the sky, as if the brilliant full moon were coming down, illuminating all the ten directions.
[SB 4.12.19]

Dear King Dhruva, neither your forefathers nor anyone else before you ever achieved such a transcendental planet. The planet known as Vishnuloka, where Lord Vishnu personally resides, is the highest of all. It is worshipable by the inhabitants of all other planets within the universe. Please come with us and live there eternally.

O immortal one, this unique airplane has been sent by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by selected prayers and who is the chief of all living entities. You are quite worthy to board such a plane.

It may be difficult for us to believe that such technology existed in those ancient times because we have been conditioned to believe that modern time is the 'Golden age of science'. But, what if our ancients were more advanced than us?? 



Were the ancients more advanced?

The natural question that comes up is that if this were so, where did all that technology vanish? My guess would be that the Mahabharat War was NUCLEAR in nature and the use of all those divine Astras (aka Nuclear weapons) led to the decimation of not only a large portion of the world population but also the technology and civilizational progress that mankind had achieved till then.






Imagine if such a war breaks out today, what would be the condition of humanity in the decades to come? Granted that unlike pre-historic times, humans now exist at all possible latitudes on the planet, it might not lead to a complete loss of development but the scientists at the cutting edge of technology, living and working in the US or Europe or China would suffer a great loss. 

The people remaining behind would remember the 'supersonic planes' and 'patriot missiles' and 'submarine rocket launchers' but may not necessarily have the technology to build them! And to someone from a future generation, these technological advances would then seem like fables; stories passed down from one generation to another, just as the Pushpak Vimaan or the Divine Astras seem to us now!

One such criticism of the Vimaans is that they were said to be drawn through the sky by “celestial steeds” (whether horses, swans, asses, or elephants). But the answer to that lies in this sentence from a Sanskrit text called Samarangana Sutradhara which states quite unequivocally - 'Manufacturing details of these machines are withheld for the sake of secrecy, not out of ignorance!'

Probably, the propulsion units were deliberately constructed to resemble these animals! This particular book is an encyclopedic work on classical Indian architecture (Vastu Shastra) written by Raja Bhoj of Dhar (1000-1055 AD). In 83 chapters, he covers subjects ranging from town planning, house architecture, temple architecture, sculptural arts, painting, and a chapter on the art of mechanical contrivances, called the YANTRAS.



The  chapter on yantras is most intriguing as its verses 95-100 mention bird-shaped aerial cars (Vimanas), and verses 101-107 mention a sort of robots acting as guards!! It contains 230 stanzas that are devoted to flight. It describes in detail, every possible aspect of flying. 

Sample some excerpts -

'The aircraft which can go by its own force like a bird - on the earth or water or through the air - is called a Vimana. That which can travel in the sky from place to place is called a Vimana by the sage of old.'

'The body must be strong and durable and built of a light wood [Lagha-daru], shaped like a bird in flight with wings outstretched [mahavinhanga]. Within it must be placed the mercury engine, with its heating apparatus made of iron underneath'.

'The iron engine must have properly welded joints to be filled with mercury, and when the fire is conducted to the upper parts, it develops power with the roar of a lion. By means of the energy latent in mercury, the driving whirlwind is set in motion, and the traveler sitting inside the Vimana may travel in the air, to such a distance as to look like a pearl in the sky'.
 
Either this guy was the precursor of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells or what he wrote did make some sense even in those times! It may be that the book was not actually written by the king himself but was compiled by the experts from each discipline and given his name as a show of courtesy. Even so, the person who wrote about the aircrafts would at the least have had a very fertile imagination!!

Another popular book for the study of Vimaans is the Vyamanika/Vaimanika Shastra. It is an early 20th century Sanskrit text about the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of fly-able machines and flying them. 



The text was translated in 1952 by G. R. Josyer, according to whom it's credit goes toPandit Subbaraya Shastry, who dictated it in 1918-1923. It has 3000 shlokas in 8 chapters and under the direction of Pandit Shastry, illustrations were drawn for Vaimanika Shastra by a certain T. K. Ellapa. 


 Illustrations based on Vaimanika Shastra




The text was then published in Hindi in 1959 and then in 1973 into English by G.R. Josyer while Ellappa’s illustrations were added only in the 1973 edition and were not included in 1959 publication. Here is a list of some topics shared in the Vaimanika Shastra:
  • secrets for the construction of airplanes, how to avoid break them, cut them, set them on fire and destroy them;
  • secret to immobilize the airplane;
  • secret cloaking technology for the airplane;
  • secret to ascertain the direction of an aircraft approaching enemy;
  • secret of destroying enemy planes.

There are many websites and blogs dealing with this particular treatise and you can find plenty of details about the same quite easily. What you may not find is the mention of the FIRST INDIAN MAN to create an unmanned aircraft based on this book, and the recording of this event 8 years before the Wright brothers!

The man, Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade, was a friend and disciple of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry and is believed to have constructed and flown India's first unmanned airplane in the year 1895 to a height of 1500 feet based on the principles in the Vaimanika Shastra!

Talpade's airplane was named Marutsakhā, literally, 'Friend-of-the-air' and the machine flew upto a certain height before crashing down at Chowpatty. Lack of funds halted further research into the improvement of this machine by Talpade but its fateful flight was recorded by Kesari, the newspaper run by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1895!

One of Talpade’s students, P. Satwelkar, is believed to have recorded that the unmanned plane flew a few minutes and then crashed. The veracity of these claims is difficult to prove today but since the event was witnessed by none less than a Maharaja (of Baroda), the issue remains inconclusive at best.


A London Times article discussing the issue



More than these relatively recent developments however, my focus is on the ancient texts such as the ones shared earlier for they corroborate what we have already discussed and reasonably concluded in an older post titled {Lokas or Planets of Advanced Aliens}.

Could the multi-limbed gods and goddesses with super-human abilities, space-crafts and atomic weaponry, actually be ALIENS with a keen interest in our world?

If that were true, the existence of this technology at a time when human science was not that advanced would make sense. Another aspect that would be covered is the mention of Maya Danav as the designer and manufacturer of these planes since the Danavs are supposed to live on the planetary system called Bila-swarga which is even more advanced than the Swarga of Indra!

Whether we consider them advanced aliens or demi-gods, these beings are far superior to us in scientific as well as spiritual pursuits and the goal of sharing this knowledge is to follow the path of Gyaan-yoga and detach oneself from attachment to this mortal body and its entrapments.

All planets, star-systems, nebulae, galaxies, black-holes, universes, multiverse etc. are nothing but emanations from Shri Hari Vishnu. Eternity manifests itself in endless ways and Arjun got a rare glimpse of this vision in the Virat Roop of Lord Krishna at Kurukshetra when he witnessed the entire 14 planetary dimensions encompassed in the body of the Lord composed of numerous Suns, Moons, Planets and Galaxies from Past, Present as well as the Future! 


The Supreme Lord's Virat Swaroop
 Zillions of Universes emerging from Lord Maha-Vishnu's body pores


I conclude this post remembering the same Virat Roop of the Supreme Lord and joining hands in supplication for deliverance from this never-ending cycle of Birth and Death.

Isvarah paramah krishna sac-cid-anand vigrahah
anadir aaadir govindah sarva kaaran kaaranam 
 
.
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
source:- decode hindu mythology

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