by John Burrows
Sanskrit texts are filled with references to gods who fought battles
in the sky using Vimanas equipped with weapons as deadly as any we
can deploy in these more enlightened times. For example, there is a
passage in the Ramayana which reads:
"The Puspaka car that resembles the
Sun and belongs to my brother was brought by the powerful Ravan;
that aerial and excellent car going everywhere at will .... that
car resembling a bright cloud in the sky."
".. and the King [Rama] got in, and the excellent car at the
command of the Raghira, rose up into the higher atmosphere."
In the Mahabharatra, an ancient Indian
poem of enormous length, we learn that an individual named Asura
Maya had a Vimana measuring twelve cubits in circumference, with
four strong wheels. The poem is a veritable gold mine of information
relating to conflicts between gods who settled their differences
apparently using weapons as lethal as the ones we are capable of
deploying. Apart from 'blazing missiles', the poem records the use
of other deadly weapons. 'Indra's Dart' operated via a circular
'reflector'. When switched on, it produced a 'shaft of light' which,
when focused on any target, immediately 'consumed it with its
power'. In one particular exchange, the hero, Krishna, is pursuing
his enemy, Salva, in the sky, when Salva's Vimana, the Saubha is
made invisible in some way. Undeterred, Krishna immediately fires
off a special weapon:
'I quickly laid on an arrow, which killed by
seeking out sound'.
Many other terrible weapons are described, quite
matter of factly, in the Mahabharata, but the most fearsome of all
is the one used against the Vrishis. The narrative records:
"Gurkha flying in his swift and
powerful Vimana hurled against the three cities of the Vrishis
and Andhakas a single projectile charged with all the power of
the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and fire, as
brilliant as ten thousands suns, rose in all its splendor. It
was the unknown weapon, the Iron Thunderbolt, a gigantic
messenger of death which reduced to ashes the entire race of
the Vrishnis and Andhakas."
It is important to note, that these
kinds of records are not isolated. They can be cross-correlated with
similar reports in other ancient civilizations. The after-affects
of this Iron Thunderbolt have an ominously recognizable ring.
Apparently, those killed by it were so burnt that their corpses were
unidentifiable. The survivors fared little better, as it caused their
hair and nails to fall out.
Perhaps the most disturbing and challenging, information about these
allegedly mythical Vimanas in the ancient records is that there are
some matter-of-fact records, describing how to build one. In their
way, the instructions are quite precise.
In the Sanskrit Samarangana Sutradhara, it is written:
"Strong and durable must the body of
the Vimana be made, like a great flying bird of light material.
Inside one must put the mercury engine with its iron heating
apparatus underneath. By means of the power latent in the
mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion, a man
sitting inside may travel a great distance in the sky. The
movements of the Vimana are such that it can vertically ascend,
vertically descend, move slanting forwards and backwards. With
the help of the machines human beings can fly in the air and
heavenly beings can come down to earth."
The Hakatha (Laws of the Babylonians)
states quite unambiguously:
"The privilege of operating a
machine is great. The knowledge of flight is among the most
ancient of our inheritances. A gift from 'those from upon high'.
We received it from them as a means of saving many lives."
More fantastic still is the information
given in the ancient Chaldean work, The Sifrala, which contains over
one hundred pages of technical details on building a flying machine.
It contains words which translate as graphite rod, copper coils,
crystal indicator, vibrating spheres, stable angles, etc.
December 16, 2003
Hundred years after
Orville Wright’s first flight,
K R N SWAMY remembers
Shivkur Bapuji Talpade,
the Indian who flew an
eight years before
Orville Wright demonstrated on December 17th 1903 that it was
possible for a ‘manned heavier than air machine to fly’. But, in
1895, eight years earlier, the Sanskrit scholar Shivkar Bapuji
Talpade had designed a basic aircraft called Marutsakthi (meaning
Power of Air) based on Vedic technology and had it take off unmanned
before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay. The
importance of the Wright brothers lies in the fact, that it was a
manned flight for a distance of 120 feet and Orville Wright became
the first man to fly. But Talpade’s unmanned aircraft flew to a
height of 1500 feet before crashing down and the historian Evan Koshtka, has described
Talpade as the ‘first creator of an
As the world observes the one hundredth anniversary of the first
manned flight, it is interesting to consider the saga of India’s
19th century first aircraft inventor for his design was entirely
based on the rich treasury of India’s Vedas. Shivkar Bapuji Talpade
was born in 1864 in the locality of Chirabazar at Dukkarwadi in
He was a scholar of Sanskrit and from his young age was attracted by
Vaimanika Sastra (Aeronautical Science) expounded by the great
Indian sage Maharishi Bhardwaja. One western scholar of Indology
Stephen-Knapp has put in simple words or rather has tried to explain
what Talpade did and succeeded!
According to Knapp, the Vaimanika Shastra describes in detail, the
construction of what is called, the mercury vortex engine the
forerunner of the ion engines being made today by NASA. Knapp adds
that additional information on the mercury engines can be found in
the ancient Vedic text called Samaranga Sutradhara. This text also
devotes 230 verses, to the use of these machines in peace and war.
The Indologist William Clarendon, who has written down a detailed
description of the mercury vortex engine in his translation of
Samaranga Sutradhara quotes thus,
‘Inside the circular air frame,
place the mercury-engine with its solar mercury boiler at the
aircraft center. By means of the power latent in the heated mercury
which sets the driving whirlwind in motion a man sitting inside may
travel a great distance in a most marvellous manner. Four strong
mercury containers must be built into the interior structure. When
these have been heated by fire through solar or other sources the
Vimana (aircraft) develops thunder-power through the mercury.
NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration) world’s
richest/ most powerful scientific organization is trying to create
an ion engine that is a device that uses a stream of high velocity
electrified particles instead of a blast of hot gases like in
present day modern jet engines. Surprisingly according to the
bi-monthly Ancient Skies published in USA, the aircraft engines
being developed for future use by NASA by some strange coincidence
also uses mercury bombardment units powered by Solar cells!
Interestingly, the impulse is generated in seven stages.
propellant is first vaporized fed into the thruster discharge
chamber ionized converted into plasma by a combination with
electrons broke down electrically and then accelerated through small
openings in a screen to pass out of the engine at velocities between
1200 to 3000 kilometers per minute! But so far NASA has been able to
produce an experimental basis only a one pound of thrust by its
scientists a power derivation virtually useless. But 108 years ago
Talpade was able to use his knowledge of Vaimanika Shastra to
produce sufficient thrust to lift his aircraft 1500 feet into the
According to Indian scholar Acharya,
‘Vaimanika Shastra deals about
aeronautics including the design of aircraft the way they can be
used for transportation and other applications in detail. The
knowledge of aeronautics is described in Sanskrit in 100 sections,
eight chapters, 500 principles and 3000 slokas including 32
techniques to fly an aircraft. In fact, depending on the
classifications of eras or Yugas in modern Kaliyuga aircraft used
are called Krithakavimana flown by the power of engines by absorbing
It is feared that only portions of Bharadwaja’s
masterpiece Vaimanika Shas-tra survive today.
The question that comes to one’s mind is, what happened to this
wonderful encyclopedia of aeronautical knowledge accumulated by the
Indian savants of yore, and why was it not used? But in those days,
such knowledge was the preserve of sages, who would not allow it to
be misused, just like the knowledge of atomic bombs is being used by
According to scholar Ratnakar Mahajan who wrote a brochure on
‘Being a Sanskrit scholar interested in aeronautics,
Talpade studied and consulted a number of Vedic treatises like:
Brihad Vaimanika Shastra of
Vimanachandrika of Acharya
Viman yantra of Maharish
Yantra Kalp by Maharishi
Viman Bindu of Acharya
Vimana Gyanarka Prakashika
of Maharishi Dhundiraj’
This gave him confidence that he can
build an aircraft with mercury engines. One essential factor in the
creation of these Vedic aircraft was the timing of the Suns Rays or
Solar energy (as being now utilized by NASA) when they were most
effective to activate the mercury ions of the engine. Happily for Talpade
Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda a great supporter of
the Sciences in India, was willing to help him and Talpade went
ahead with his aircraft construction with mercury engines. One day
in 1895 (unfortunately the actual date is not mentioned in the
Kesari newspaper of Pune which covered the event) before a curious
scholarly audience headed by the famous Indian judge/ nationalist/
Mahadeva Govin-da Ranade and H H Sayaji Rao Gaekwad, Talpade had the
good fortune to see his un manned aircraft named as ‘Marutsakthi’
take off, fly to a height of 1500 feet and then fall down to earth.
But this success of an Indian scientist was not liked by the
Imperial rulers. Warned by the British Government the Maharaja of
Baroda stopped helping Talpade. It is said that the remains of the
Marutsakthi were sold to ‘foreign parties’ by the relatives of
Talpade in order to salvage whatever they can out of their loans to
him. Talpade’s wife died at this critical juncture and he was not in
a mental frame to continue with his researches. But his efforts to
make known the greatness of Vedic Shastras was recognized by Indian
scholars, who gave him the title of Vidya Prakash Pra-deep.
Talpade passed away in 1916 un-honored, in his own country.
As the world rightly honors the Wright Brothers for their
achievements, we should think of Talpade, who utilized the ancient
knowledge of Sanskrit texts, to fly an aircraft, eight years before
his foreign counterparts.