Knowledge on atmosphere is an integral part of aviation science. This need has evidently been felt by ancient Indian scientists of Vimaana Shastra. An exclusive section, though brief, has been dedicated for discussion on aerial routes and ‘Whirl Pool’ or ‘Aavartaas’.

Seer shownaka’s classification of five layers of atmosphere is:

  • Rekha patha

  • Mandala

  • Kakshya

  • Shakti

  • Kendra


Knowledge of this branch of science was mandatory in the training of the pilot of vimaana.

Air routes at each atmospheric zone running into lakhs of routes and suitability of vimaanas of different lokaas for flight compatibility in atmospheric zones have been covered under the topic. However it is not very clear as to what are being called aerial routes numbering into several lakhs under each zone mean. Mention of seven lokas or world is noticed. As a ground rule, study team has chosen only aspects relating to earth (Bhooloka) and related matters and kept others out of scope of the study.

Dhundinatha and ‘Valmeeki Ganita’ are quoted in support of aerial routes in five zones of atmosphere.

Interesting feature on aavarthas or whir-pools is the correlation stated between the zones of atmosphere and the zones of energy.

  • Rekha pathaa :       Shaktyaavarta or whirlpool of Energy.

  • Mandala pathha :    Vaataavarta whirl pool of winds.

  • Kakshya patha :     Kiranavarta whirl pool from Solar rays

  • Shakti patha :        Shaktyaavarta or whirl pool of Cold Currents.

  • Kendra patha :       Gharshanaavartha or whirl pool by collision.

Here it is relevant to bring in interesting analyses made by sri.M.K. Kawadkar, a researcher with incisive interpretational skills. This is taken from his article in Bharatiya Bouddika Sampada, a quarterly journal from Nagpur. The exclusive efforts being contributed by their team is laudable. Considering the yeoman service being rendered by their group in the field of unraveling the veil around ancient scriptures, we prefer to reproduce the entire report concerning this topic.

Description of Atmospheric layers in ancient Indian Vimana shastra

By M.K. Kawadkar.

It may be mentioned here that original text of Bharadwaj Muni on Viman Shastra contained 500 rules in eight chapters and 100 adhikaranas. The currently available copy of the book contains only 40 rules in three chapters and 17 adhikaranas. This shows the extent of loss of literature. I have selected only one topic for the present study i.e., knowledge of air routes (Description of Atmospheric layers) in ancient Indian Viman Shastra.

Maharshi Bharadwaj summarizes this subject in a keyword ‘Panchadnyasch’ and ‘avartashek’ i.e., one must know the five parts of the sky to be able to pilot a flying machine into the skies and turbulence in it.

The secret science as stated in earlier verse is provided here.

  • In this text the five eddies are stated

  • With the knowledge of these sciences the technological expertise is measured

  • For the proof two verses are quoted

  • The five eddy concept is as per ‘Shounak’

  • The Rekha and other five routes are described here

  • The five routes are:

    • 1. Rekha

    • 2. Mandal

    • 3. Kakshya

    • 4. Shakti

    • 5. Kendra


I sequentially state the air routes, Rekha, Mandal , Kaksha, Shakti, Kendra each one contains different powerful currents. As a winged projectile gets stalled vertically up words (Baman avashtombhya) it is from 41 @ Horizon to 51 lacks, 9 thousand, 8 hundred by numerical measurement. This area contains all the routes in which seven types of viman (aircraft) fly Viz., Bhuviman and others

Five different routes are stated here. The statements of ‘Dhudinath’ are stated here. ‘Rekha Marga’ is seven crores, three lacks, eight hundred units. ‘Mandal Marg’ is twenty crores eight lacks and two hundred units. ‘Kaksha Marg’ is two crores, nine lacks, three hundred units, ‘Shakti Path’ is ten crores, one lack, three hundred units, ‘Kendra Mandal’ is thirty lacks, eight thousand, two hundred units. Thus, from Rekha to Kendra mandals have been stated serially as per ‘Valmiki’s Ganita’ (maths) in these verses.

Now the air traffic practices are stated. Summary = There are six types of Aeroplanes as for 1] Bhuvaloka. 2] Suvarloka. 3] Maholoka. 4] Janoloka. 5] Tapoloka and 6] Brahmaloka. In Rekha Patha from type one to type four can fly in Kakshya Patha from type two to type five can fly in Shakti patha from type one to type six can fly in Kendra patha, from type three to type eleven can fly. There are air routes stated by experts of Valmiki Ganit and other mathematicians.


  • These verses are incomplete because nothing has been said about Mandal path.

  • There is some distortion about “Ekadashantam”.

  • These sets of verses have ample room for different interpretation. That the six lokas are above five paths making it total eleven. I leave it to the readers.

  • Thus five air routes have been stated serially. Now is stated the decision of eddies. There are many types of eddies, depending upon the path, however, only the five which are important for air routes are described.

  • Whenever two currents meet each other the eddies are produced. Now they are stated serially. In Rekha path there are eddies which cause power loss, in Mandla there are air turbulence, in kakshya there are radiation eddies, in shakti path there are cold turbulence and in kendra path there are frictional or impact turbulence. Thus there are five types of turbulences. The Brahman Granth also confirms that the turbulances are five in number (This Brahman Granth is supposed to lost ) The aeroplanes called as Brahmaloka vimana.

  • In the transit zones the high and low temperatures can be erratic. And these can cause heavy turbulence. The turbulences are named as Shakti, Vata, Anshu, Shaitya and Gharshana. It is necessary to know these specifically, because they are obstructions in the air routes.

Relevant abstracts from Marg Nibandha:


A chart showing the comparison between the modern concept of atmosphere and viman shastra of Maharshi Bharadwaj, is shown below:

Chart showing comparative heights of Atmospheric layers

between Vimana Shastra and today’s science




Aa pourusheya

Shakthi Kshetra








Total void Great  sink

Magneto Pause

Void Magneto Sphere


Bindu Sankash

Brahma Kshetra

Veda Garbha


Ardha chan-Drak brahm

Kshetra –ee-ha


Kundli-Brahm -Kshetra


brahma kshetra















Van Allen belts (High)



Brahma Kshetra

Ma-haKendra path




Ra-ha Shaktipath





Kaksha patha


Va-ha Mandala-

Path Vathavartha



La-ha rekha path



Sara sari samudra












Van Allen belt Lower


(Ozone U.V.-Heat)


Mesosphere Extreme  Cold


Stratosphere Clear air

Turbulence Cat jets

Min Speed = 30M/sec

Tropopause Turbulence

Troposphere High air density


It can be seen from the comparison chart that there is a good amount of agreement between the two. It may be noted that in the modern distribution there are five divisions viz.,

1. Troposphere

2. Stratosphere

3. Mesosphere

4. Thermosphere

5. Van Allen belts and the ancient distribution is also in five belts

The lowermost Rekha patha matches very well with the Troposphere, along with the Tropopause and the uppermost kendramandal matches very well with the Van Allen belts (lower). The distribution Shaktipatha matches very well with thermosphere. Kakshapatha with mesosphere and mandal with stratosphere, differ in their heights. This is possible because there is a difference of about 2500 years in between and the philosophical segregation also might be different. It is also likely that the atmosphere itself has under gone a change over this period.

Viman shastra has mentioned ‘Avarta’ as ‘Avarthascha’ which means various currents in the five subdivisions of the atmosphere, which a pilot must know.

The names of various currents in the five belts are:


1. Rekha patha – Shaktyavarta
2. Mandal – Vatavarta
3. Kaksha – Kiranavarta
4. Shaktipatha –Shaityavarta
5. Kendramandal – Gharshanavarta

It is said explicitly that these currents are injurious to the flying machines and can damage and destroy it (shounaka). The shaktyavarta of rekha patha is probably synonymous with high air density requiring a great amount of power for propulsion. The vatavarta of mandal are clearly synonymous with the clear air turbulence (CAT) of the stratosphere. There is some ambiguity about the kiranvarta of kaksha. The shaityavarta of shaktipatha matches very well with the extreme cold zone of the mesosphere. The gharshanavarta of kendramandal is supposed to be synonymous with extreme heat of the Thermosphere and if kiranavarta is taken with the radiation belt of the Allen’s then everything matches very well. The corrected sequence will appear as under.

Rekha patha      Stratosphere        High air density          Shaktyavarta

Mandalpatha      Stratosphere        Clear Air Turbulence   Vatavarta.

Kendra patha     Mesosphere         Extreme cold             Shaitya varta.

Shaktipatha      Thermosphere       Extreme Heat            Gharshanavarta.

Kakshapatha     Van Allen belt      Radiation hazards       Kiranavarta.


  • Rekha Marg – Large number of powerful turbulence are produced due to very high speed and they damage the aeroplane called as Bhulokaviman.

  • Mandal Marg – There are many high speed powerful air currents and they damage the airplanes of three types as Bhuloka, Svarlok and Maholok.

  • Kakshya Marg – There are radiation bonds in this region which damage the Jonolok Viman.

  • Shakti Marg - Extreme cold zones produce the turbulence in contact with the tracks and they damage the Kheta Vimana (There is difference between “Khet” and “Khest”  Khet=low grade and Khest=Orbiting ship)

  • Kendra Marg – There are many turbulences, which strikes the planes from many directions, and these damage the aircraft.

Bodhananda develops it further and with appropriate reference from Shounak states that the depth of the sky (with respect to earth’s surface) is divided into five parts:

(i)   Rekha patha

(ii)  Mandal

(iii) Kaksha

(iv) Shakti

(v)  Kendra.

The bottom of Rekha path is earth’s surface called as ‘Kurma’ and the top of the Kendra is called ‘Varunanta’ i.e., the end of the atmosphere. Maharshi Sounaka has provided the measure of ‘Kurma’ and ‘Varunanta’ as 41 lacks and 51,09,800 (measurement units have not been specified.) But since, this measurement is in connection with earth's surface, it is reasonable to accept that this is the circumference of earth i.e., 24,902 miles or 40,900 Km. or about 41,000 Km. approximately.


The kurma of shounaka is one hundred times larger. Therefore the unit selected by ‘Shounak” appears to be about 10 meters or 32.8 ft. This is very near to an ancient measure known as ‘Danda’. Hence, the earth’s diameter = 41,00,000 (Shounaka) divided by pye = 1305070.5 ‘danda’. For Varunanta, a circumference of 51,09,800 divided by Pye =1626499.8 ‘danda’ is the diameter of outer atmosphere around the earth. Therefore, the height of the atmosphere above the earth’s surface = (1626499.8 – 1305070.5) divided by 2 = 160714.65 ‘danda’ or 1607 km. (shounaka). This corresponds with the upper Van Allen Belts as per modern science’s estimates. This is probably the Valmiki Ganit (maths) as referred by Dhundinath.

Now, we can proceed further to evaluate the thickness of various belts of atmospheres. As stated above the following figures are mentioned for each of the five sub-divisions of the cross section of the atmosphere.

Here we have to draw a circle:

  • Rekhapath = 70300800

  • Mandal ­ = 220800200

  • Kaksha = 20900300

  • Shaktipath = 10,0100300

  • Kendra mandal = 30,08200

Observing the above diagram, it appears that the provided measures are the areas of five air route spaces.

  • Rekhapath = 7,03,00800 divided by 41,00,000 = 17.15 & cumulative height 17.15

  • Mandal = 22,08,00,200 divided by 41,00,000 = 53.85 & cumulative height 71.00

  • Kaksha = 2,09,00,300 divided by 41,00,000 = 5.09 & cumulative height 76.09

  • Shaktipath = 10,01,00,300 divided by 41,00,000 = 24.39 & cumulative height 100.48

  • Kendramandal = 30,08,200 divided by 41,00,000 = 0.73 & cumulative height 101.21

The circumference of the earth has to be increased progressively as height increases. However, because last figure 101 is too small with respect to 41,00,000 and also because of approximation this is neglected.

There will be a temptation to take these measures also as ‘Danda’. However, looking to the fact that the period of Shounaka is about 500 BC. and that of Dhundinath not earlier than 1600 AD. There is a time gap of about 2100 years. Therefore, it is highly probable that the units may be totally different. A comparison with the modern belts of atmospheres shows that these air-routes match very well, if these measures are taken in kilometers. This is only a matter of coincidence.

It is note worthy that the kendra means a centre and kaksha means outermost layer and thus the correction appears to be valid.

For introducing such correction, the other references will have to be seen (if available). Such a slip is likely to take place within a span of about 2500 years.

This topic is further elaborated by Lalla. He has suggested that there are five different types of Vimanas built appropriately for each type of atmosphere.

  • He has considered ‘Bhuloka Vimana’ for flying in Rekhaptha or Stratosphere, which are damaged if the speed increases beyond a critical value.

  • Janolok Vimana are those which can go up to the “kaksha”, above which they may be damaged by the radiation’s or “Kiranavarta” of modern Van Allen’s belts

  • ‘Brahmlok Vimana’ which can go up to ‘Shaktipath’ where it encounters the extreme cold of ‘Shytyavarta’ and the extreme heat of the ‘Gharshanavarta’ which is mesosphere of the modern concept and these planes are damaged by extreme cold and extreme hot conditions alternatively.

It is also stated that all the three types of planes are damaged by the ‘Vatavarta’ of the Mandalpatha or the CAT currents (modern concept). One more type stated as ‘Khetayan’ can be damaged in ‘Shaktipatha’ due to ‘Shytyavarta’ i.e., the extreme cold of the mesosphere. One will have to be very cautious to interpret the work khet as Khet or Khest. As pointed out in the translation of the appropriate verse Khet means a low quality and Khest may mean any vehicle plying regularly in sky.

As a matter of conclusion, it may be said that this study has not revealed any information not known to modern science. It has only confirmed that an ancient Indians knew the structure of the atmosphere to a degree of the precision. This exercise has showed a necessity of learning such techniques as Valmiki Ganit for the interpretation of ancient text, which need a very wide search of source material. This has shown a need to collect the ancient texts wherever possible. The engine and power section needs such an enrichment and correction. This may offer an opportunity for such subsequent articles.

The metallurgical study of viman shastra also deserves a careful consideration. This may provide some important clues to the aviation materials.

One more interesting and beneficial study from Vimana Shastra and the associated literature will be a study of toxicity during air flights. The total number of toxic forces, which exist in the atmosphere, is stated as 7,58,00,700 and the same number of nourishing forces. This is also stated as per Valmiki Ganita system. This study was not contemplated for this article. However, if some reader of this article knows about the source “Visha Nirnaya Adhikara”, he is requested to get in touch with the author.

After the interesting analysis of Sri. M.K. Kawadkar, we resume our discussion on the same topic.

Possession of a comprehensive knowledge on atmospheric science among ancient scientists is substantiated from references to the subject in other ancient works.

Doubts have been expressed in many quarters, whether ancient Indians did know that the planet earth is spherical and rotates around its axis. Ancient Greeks and much later Galileo are accredited with this discovery. Contrary to this belief it is seen that chapter 13 of “Surya-Siddanta” talks of a model of earth in spherical shape with an axial rod driven through and the body rotating around a pivot. Vymanika Shastra itself in its discussion on ore–bearing crest of the earth, gives the natural conditions of gravitational forces of rotating earth and even other planets contributing into formation of different layers of earth.

Rigveda is quoted to deal with discussion on atmospheric phenomenon such as climate, seasons, rains, clouds, lightening and so on. Knowledge of different types of cumulus clouds is confirmed to have existed. Cyclic phenomenon of rain was fully known. Atharvana Veda cites a particular type of whirlwind as ‘Resma’. Vishnu purana gives details of lightening in different form. Lightening is also classified based on its acoustic and electrical characteristics. A deep knowledge of climatology came from different sources of ancient works, hinting that even many scientists and works dealt with it.

Briefly narrating knowledge of cloud classification, the cloud not contributing rain was called ‘Avarta’ to the type providing heavy rains ‘Samvartaka’ (corresponding to cumulo-nimbus) and that can not provide little rain was called ‘Puskara’ corresponding to cirrus, clouds causing rains very helpful to crops called ‘Drona’ corresponding strato-cumulous.

Varahamihira gives certain principles formulated by ancient sages Kashyapa, Garga and others for determination of rain fall in an area. Disposition of planetary positions in Zodiac guided such predictions of rainfall. Natural phenomenon such as earth quake, eclipses and meteorite fall also contributed in this science of forecast.

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