Did Ancient Indians Actually Fly Aircrafts?
So, we’ve all heard the news – someone at a science conference in India is reported to have mentioned about aircrafts being flown in ancient India, and that too interplanetary. And there has been sharp criticism from different sectors all around including scientists from within the forum, atheists, politicians and everyone in between. So, what’s the big deal with all this?
I am not an atheist. Neither am I a religious guy. Nor, a scientist. Just a curious guy.
I happened to see the first mention of this “claim” on History channel’s “Ancient Aliens” (which by the way is debunked here) episode where they hinted at a possibility of aircrafts being flown in India, based on ancient scriptures and some paintings. As an Indian, who has a relatively fair knowledge of the so called scriptures, I personally thought that some of their claims were more fabricated than real. I don’t want to go in to those episodes here.
So, at the Science conference lately, someone commented that there are scriptures available that talk about aircrafts being flown in ancient India. From a curiosity stand point, I’m trying to dig into this. Wait, I’m not trying to establish anything here. Not trying to judge anyone or pass my remarks on them or their studies. Just, a layman’s perspective to this in comprehensible idea.
I dug into some of the already published stories on the subject and found couple of reputed articles by fairly respectable authorities.
First, I found this research paper done by A.B Sibi Varghese titled “Aero Mechanics in Ancient Aircraft”.
Study by A.B. Sibi Varghese – International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research
This research paper is published by the “International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research” in it’s, Volume 4, Issue 5, May-2013 1591 with ISSN 2229-5518.
In it Mr. Sibi says –
Though there are advanced technologies in India we still do not understand the complicated techniques used by our ancestors. So I decided to understand the technology used in the vimana. which was developed before B.C, by reading many Sanskrit books of RAMAYANAM. I got a proof that they used mercury as fuel for the aircraft, and the surprising fact that was revealed was they used gravity neutralization method, but the steps of constructing aircraft were not in the text books. After some calculations I assumed this theory. As years have gone by our country lost many text and details related to the techniques they used in those periods.
Proof of Vimanas
The Ramayana describes a vimana as a doubledeck, circular (cylindrical) aircraft with portholes and a dome. The ancient Indians themselves wrote entire flight
manuals on the care and control of various types of vimanas. The Samara Sutradhara is a scientific treatises dealing with every possible facet of air travel in a vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with construction, take-off, cruising for thousands of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible collusions with birds!
How the Vimanas flew, according to the texts.
The ancient aircrafts used a gravity neutralization system that makes it weigh 11% of its original weight. The aircraft has a circular, plasma filled
accelerator ring called the Magnetic Field Disrupter. The mercury based plasma is pressurized at 250,000 atmospheres at a temperature of 150 degrees Kelvin, and accelerated to 50,000 rpm to create a super-conductive plasma with the resulting gravity disruption. The MFD generates a magnetic vortex field, which
disrupts or neutralizes the effects of gravity on mass within proximity, reducing the weight of the aircraft by 89%, and making it able to outperform and outmaneuver any craft. Like other high performance aircraft, the maneuvers are limited to the ability of the crew to withstand G forces. But, inside the aircraft gravity are also reduced by 89%.
The paper talks further about more mechanical details about the fuel used in Vimanas, the types of Vimanas as described in the texts here.
The paper however does not debunk or judge or even make any attempt to prove that the Vimanas existed or not, it just focuses on the scientific techniques explained in the texts and ends with it.
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – H.S. Mukunda
In this paper, Mr. Mukunda studies the work “Vymanika Shastra”. He goes in depth with the historical aspects and authenticity of the work are discussed. Subsequently, the work is critically reviewed in respect of its technical content. In the research he concludes that it appears that his work (Vymanika Shastra) cannot be dated earlier than 1904 and contains details which, on the basis of our present knowledge, force us to conclude the non feasibility of heavier?than craft of earlier times.
Unlike Mr. Sibi’s research, Mr. Mukunda’s work is primarily focused on two main books. One, the “Brihad Vimana Shastra” by Shri Bramhamuni Parivrajaka, published in 1959 and two, “Vymanika Shastra” by Shri G.R. Josyer.
Mr. Mukunda questions the authority of these books and the books/texts mentioned there in and expresses his concerns about the vagueness in them. He even takes it a step further and goes on tracing the books, the authors and the libraries from which they have been sourced to verify the sources. He concludes saying that the two books are far from scholarly and cannot be considered “scientific”.
Thus he claims that the work “Vymanika Shastra” was brought into existence sometime between 1900 and 1922 by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry by techniques unclear to us at the moment. The only evidence in favour of Maharshi Bhardwaja being the author is the textual statement and nothing more.
Mr. Mukunda goes a step higher and dissects the engineering features mentioned in the books for the three Vimanas and is of the opinion that there are several inconsistencies in the dimensions, features etc both in the pictures as well as texts. He suggests that most part of the text looks very vague and not scientific by his standards.
In his own words,
The planes described above are the best poor concoctions, rather than expressions of something real. None of the planes has properties or capabilities of being flown; the geometries are unimaginably horrendous from the point of view of flying; and the principles of propulsion make then resist rather than assist flying.
However in the end, Mr. Mukund suggests that..
The statements about would appear to indicate complete accord with the Newton’s laws of motion.
Contradictions apparent in the verses and drawings in Brihad Vimana Shastra and Vymanika Shastra are quite puzzling, especially when one considers the fact that Rig?veda Bhashya Bhumika was supposedly available when Brihad Vimana Shastra and Vymanika Shastra were compiled.
You can download Mr. Mukund’s research paper here.
So, here’s what I think.
We are essentially looking through two different lenses here. One, of history and another of today’s science. If we look through today’s scientific rules and ideas, none of the stuff mentioned in pre-historic texts (Hindus or who ever) makes sense. There are startling references, similar to modern ideas, unexplained occurrences. But proof? Zilch. That is where we need to put on our thinking caps.
Imagine 1000 years from now. Would we be able to document, preserve and replicate all that we are doing today then, explaining it all to the civilizations then? Most likely we will. But then again, we don’t know. For most part, we’ll do good. But technically speaking, we’re not sure or cannot be.
Science is our best bet today. Our best way to replicate, explain and document things that we know and don’t know. But science itself is self-corrective. What we know today might change tomorrow. And we’re ok with that.
But reasoning is subjective to our senses, rules, understanding and limitations. Beyond which, if there are things in the past and future, we should simply refute.
Having said that, the basis of science is curiosity. If there is a an ancient text that talks about weird flying objects and machinery, that should make the scientific mind curious. We should be able to figure out if there is potential in such claims Debunking or judgement is easy. But to extrapolate ideas to either sides, needs talent, resources and humility.
And when someone, especially from the scientific community, pitches in ideas from such texts or others, it would be IMO, a good idea to embrace, dissect, discuss and study it, rather than laugh it off.
Arguing over whether someone flew an aircraft in ancient times is probably a waste of time.
P.S – Just learned that someone named Shivkar Bapuji Talpade was one of the first to have constructed and flown India’s first unmanned airplane in 1895, eight years before the Wright brothers.
Vimanas From Ancient Aliens Debunked
A Critical Study of Vaimanika Shastra
Burlington News – Vimanas
International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research
University of Toront0 – Vimanavatthu
Government of Orissa – The Date & Builder of Sri Purushottama Jagannath Temple at Puri