Thursday, December 26, 2013


Seventh Horse of the Sun

Suraj ka saatvaan ghoda..

Still remember this title from an obscure movie I had watched on Doordarshan as a kid. The movie went on to become a classic by Shyam Benegal and the phrase has always stayed in some corner of my mind.. What could it have meant, the '7th Horse of the Sun'?? For that matter, why have seven horses in the first place?

In Hindu mythology, Surya travels through the sky on a seven-horse, twelve-spoked chariot, driven by Arun (the brother of Garud), with its arrival heralded by Usha, the goddess of Dawn. As the Sun begins its journey in the Northern Hemisphere (Uttarayan) again, lets try to decode the mysteries of Surya and his chariot in the current post.

Surya on his chariot

A lot of people might think that this motion of the Sun mentioned in the scriptures refers to the apparent movement of Sun from East to West, but that's not the case - Vedic texts clearly mention that the Sun revolves NOT around the Earth but around Mount Meru!

If you check the post {Heaven at the North Pole} you will understand what it means.. Mount Meru points towards the Pole Star which, at the time scriptures were written, was a Star near the Galactic Center so effectively, scriptures indicate that our Sun revolves around the Galactic Center and NOT the Earth.. What an amazing insight!!

Uttarayan reflects the apparent movement of the Sun towards the Northern Hemisphere heralding the decline of winter while causing the opposite effect in the Southern Hemisphere. Earth revolves around the Sun with a tilt of 23.45 degrees and because of this tilt, it appears that the Sun travels north and south of the equator.

Sankrant reflects the change of Season

This in turn causes seasons which are thus dependent on equinoxes and solstices and the festival of Makar Sankranti heralds the onset of a glorious Sun and end of the harsh winters. In many parts of the country, it is also harvest time so the celebrations take form of the regional variants like Lohri, Bihu and Pongal.

Adityas - The 12 Solar gods

Oldest Vedic texts describe Surya alongwith 11 other brothers collectively known as the Adityas. Adityas form a group of solar deities and are so named because they are the sons of Kashyap and Aditi. They form the main body of the Hindu pantheon and are comprised of:

Ansh (Due share),
Aryaman (Nobility),
Bhaag (Due inheritance),
Daksh (Ritual skill),
Dhatri/Tvashtar (Skill in crafting),
Mitra (Friendship),
Pushan/Ravi (Prosperity),
Savitra/Parjanya (Power of word),
Surya/Vivasvan (Social law),
Varun (Cosmic fate),
Vaman (Cosmic law).

Earliest scriptures actually mention 8 or 9 of them but later in the Brahmanas the number is given as 12. It isn't difficult to understand that the 12 Adityas correspond to 12 months of the year!

According to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak's masterpiece called {Arctic Home of the Vedas}, the change in their number reflects the gradual migration of Arya rishis from near the Pole to the tropics after the Ice Age! As they migrated closer to the tropics, the number of months when Sun was up kept on increasing till they reached the Indian sub-continent.

Interestingly, in Chinese mythology as well, there were originally ten suns in the sky, who were brothers and were supposed to emerge one at a time as commanded by the Jade Emperor. The 12 Adityas were also adopted into Japanese Buddhism as guardians of the monasteries covering the four main directions, four semi-directions, above, below and the Sun and Moon. They are known as Devas or Ten 天 in Japan (which literally means Heaven or Celestial).

The 12 Japanese Adityas

A similar depiction is found on a rock-cut cave far away in Yazili Kaya in Turkey! This rock-cave has multiple depictions of Gods and Goddesses that resemble Hindu gods. The lower chamber in this cave shows a frieze with 12 gods carved onto it who were worshiped by the people known as Hittites.

The 12 Adityas from Turkey
Moving westwards, it is also worthwhile to note that in most Indo-European religions, the gods worshiped were more or less the same. Thus, the Greeks called their Sun-god Helios while others named him Apollo.

The Greek Sun-god Helios/Apollo

For the Romans, the cult of Sol Invictus or 'Undefeated Sun' was supreme. Roman Emperor Constantine adhered to it so much that even when he embraced Christianity, he changed the day of Sabbath from Friday to SUN-day!!

Sol Invictus

During the heyday of the Roman Empire, there was also a grand festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) held on the Winter solstice on December 25th. This was a sort of 'Rebirth of the Sun' and the same date was later transferred to the 'Birth of Christ' even though Jesus was actually born on the 4th of January!!

The worship of Surya was prevalent in other ancient civilizations of the world as well. Mayans (who scared the World with their 2012 Doomsday prophecy) called him Hunahpu. The Aztecs named him Tonatiuh, Japanese revered him as Chupkamui, and the Babylonians called him Aja.

The Egyptians worshiped Sun in the form of Re/Ra. In Egyptian myths of the afterlife, Ra rides in an underground channel from west to east every night so that he can rise in the east the next morning.

Egyptian Sun-god Re

In Vedas, Surya is considered in high esteem and is referred to as Surya Narayan and at various times, as the eye of Mitra or Varuna, the cosmic law-keepers. The same is reflected in Zoroastrianism where the Sun is described as the 'Eye of Ahura'.

In India of course different dynasties trace their lineages from the Sun with Shri Raam as a descendant of Surya, thus belonging to the Suryavansh or the Solar Dynasty. The Ramayan also declares Surya as the father of the Vanar King Sugriv just as the Mahabharat describes Karna, as the son of Kunti and Surya. Perhaps, amongst the Aryans, the blonde, blue-eyed lineages migrating from the Steppes represented the Descendants-of-the-Golden-Sun!

Hindu Sun-god Surya

Surya has two wives Sangya and Chhaya (literally the shadow) and through them has the folowing children: Shani (Saturn), Yamraj (Lord-of-Death), Yamuna, Tapti, Ashwini Twins and the eldest of these Vaivasvat Manu, the First Man in the current Age or Manvantar. {For more on the First Man Manu/Adam check the following post - Manu, the First Man}

However, this is NOT TO SAY that the ancient Indians thought of the Star called SUN as a demigod and did not understand its true significance! Various Hindu astronomical treatise describe the heavenly bodies as planets or Lokas ruled by different deities.

Surya-Loka, abode of the Sun-God

The Shatapath Brahman [] states that - This World (Earth) is verily spherical and while installing the Garhapataya altar the ritualists meditate on the same. Similarly, the shlokas [] and [] describe the Sun as spherical. The Surya-Siddhant [12.12-29] expressly states that the Universe itself is shaped like an oblong sphere!

The references to Surya's chariot, in a similar manner, can provide us not only information about the ancient Hindus' religious and cosmological beliefs but also about their Science and Astronomical acumen! (You can find the Sanskrit version at this link {Surya Siddhanta.pdf} and the English version here {Surya-Siddhanta English.pdf}).

Chariot of the Sun-God

Various scriptures describe the Celestial chariot of the Sun. Rig Veda [1.35] says:

आ कृष्णेन् रजसा वर्तमानो निवेशयन्न अमृतं मर्त्यं च ।
हिरण्ययेन सविता रथेना देवो याति भुवनानि पश्यन ॥

Throughout the dusky firmament advancing,
Laying to rest the immortal and the mortal,
Borne in his golden chariot he cometh,
Savitar, God who looks on every creature.
While the Greek Apollo used to ride four-horse chariot, Vedic texts clearly mention Seven horses of Surya who are called - Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti. The Rig Veda [1.164.1-5] says:

A seven-named horse draws the three naved wheel,
Seven steeds draw the seven-wheeled chariot,
Wise poets have spun a seven-strand tale,
And glorified this Heavenly calf, the Sun.

The immediate question that comes to mind is why SEVEN?? It was rare for Vedic chariots to have more than four horses. Even the chariot of Arjun driven by Krishna Himself had only four horses so why would the Chariot of the Sun have more than four?

Most scholars believe the seven horses represent Seven days of the week. Ancient Indians were great astronomers and this could very well be true. However, I believe, the seven horses probably also represent the Seven colors of Sunlight!

There are two reasons I believe this is the case - One, the seven horses/mares of Surya's chariot are ALL of DIFFERENT Colors; Secondly, many times, they are represented as One horse/mare with SEVEN HEADS! If this is not an allegory to White light splitting into seven colors, I don't know what is :o)

The seven horses of Surya?

Other scriptures talk in a similar vein and describe the chariot of the Sun-god in much detail. Although Arun-deva sits in front of the sun-god and is engaged in driving the chariot, he looks backward toward the sun-god. The chariot has a SINGLE wheel with 12 spokes and is yoked to seven horses.

Sixty thousand saintly persons named Valkhilyas, each the size of a thumb, are located in front of the sun-god and offer him prayers. The Gandharvs and Pannags sing in front of him, Apsaras dance before the chariot while Nishachars and Yakshas follow and guard it. These seven groups of fourteen associates arrange the proper times for regular snow, heat and rain throughout the universe and are responsible for maintaining the Seasons on Earth!

Chariot of the Sun from a Tanjore painting

Not surprisingly, a similar description is found in the description of Greek/Roman Sun God Apollo's journey across the sky and I found a very similar picture depicting this journey through the Heavens.

The Surya Siddhant further states:

'The carriage of the sun-god’s chariot is estimated to be 3,600,000 yojans [1 Yojan = 14.6 Km] long and one-fourth as wide. In his orbit, the sun-god traverses a distance of 95,100,000 yojans at the speed of 2,000 yojans and two krosas in a moment.'

Scholars have used such references to calculate the speed of rotation of the Sun as well as its revolution! The Devi Bhagawat Puraan elaborates further in a description of Mount Meru and its surroundings:

O Nârad! Mont Meru is situated towards the north of all the Dvîpas and Varshas. So whenever any person sees the Sun rise he calls that side “east.” If the Sun travels in 15 (fifteen) Ghatikâs, the distance from Indrapurî to Yamapurî, He is said to travel within that time a distance equal to 2¼ Kotis, 12½ lakhs and 25000 Yojans (22695000 Yojans).

Here, we also find the relevance of other aspects of the Sun's chariot. The SINGLE WHEEL of the chariot represents ONE YEAR or the Samvatsar while the 12 spokes represent 12 months! The THREE-naves of the wheel more likely than not represent the three points of an elliptical orbit!

All these poetic allegories thus give a glimpse into the scientific acumen that the ancients had. The reference to Saturn (Shani) being the Son-of-Surya could even be a reference to the planet having been formed from a chunk of the gases escaped from Sun's own body mass! (Just like the Sun, Saturn and Jupiter are also gaseous giants unlike other planets of the Solar System).

Formation of the Solar System

Formation of Planets

Without the Sun, we wouldn't have existed.. not only because of the Solar energy it provides but the planets including Earth wouldn't have taken form without the gravitational power of the Sun!

Our Earth is really tiny compared to the Sun and to share another interesting allegory, you would be surprised to know that the Sun-Earth distance is roughly 108 Sun diameters and the diameter of the Sun itself is 108 times that of Earth. The ancient Rishis and Magi of Hinduism quite possibly knew this relationship as most Gods/Goddesses have 108 names ascribed to them!!

This Sankrant, let us bow to the sages of yore and their (literally) out-of-the-world insight while sending a prayer of thanks to the Sun-God who maintains our Solar System.Wishing everyone a Happy Uttarayan 2013 and a very Happy Lohri/Bihu/Maghi/Pongal and Makar Sankranti :o)

Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:



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 Mahabharat mentions 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 Arjun, 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 Indralokgamana Parv

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.

Deva-Asur celestial war

Again, in the Swargaohan Parv, 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

A spacecraft Out-of-this World

Dear King Dhruv, 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 to Pandit 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 composed of numerous Suns, Moons, Planets and Galaxies from Past, Present as well as the Future encompassed in the body of the Lord!

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:


HINDUISM - The Oldest Living Belief System in the World.

Ancient Hindus called it the Sanatan Dharma or the Eternal Way of Life, for Hinduism is more a guiding philosophy than a religion in true sense of the word. Millenia after it originated, millions of Hindus all over the world still continue to follow the customs and beliefs practised and prescribed by their ancient Emperors, Sages and Magi.

My fascination with Hinduism began some years ago, with the realization, that of all the ancient religions of our World, Hinduism is the only one that is alive and thriving even today; boldly withstanding the ravages of Time n Tide as well as Travelers n Transgressors.

Over the Eons of its evolution and gradual distillation, Hinduism has developed into a highly personalized religion as each Hindu is allowed and encouraged to discover his own path to reach the Almighty. One has to listen to his own voice of conscience -the God within- to decide the right direction for himself.

The only requirement to be adhered to, is that the person does not leave the path of Dharma, and should strive to attain Moksh or Liberation from the Kalchakra, The cycle of Birth and Death and attain the abode of the Supreme God Himself.

The ancient seers of India scaled the pinnacles of Science and Spirituality to such an extent that it is difficult to differentiate the two in classical Sanskrit texts. I, being a student of science and by the virtue of growing up in a religious household, developed immense interest in finding out the commonality between these two branches of studies.

All Indian religions follow the basic principles of Hindu Philosophy, Cosmogony, Transcendentalism, Astrophysics, Metaphysics, Astronomy, Astrology, Mysticism and Spirituality which combined together, are an extremely rich source of scientific data about the beliefs of the ancients at the beginning of Human History.

I have been involved, over the past few years, in researching ancient texts from Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Tibetan, Sikh, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Native American and African traditions in an endeavor to arrive at a common end point and I have realized that most so called myths in Indian and indeed the World religions, point towards one common source of all Spiritual and Scientific endeavor.

The collection presented here is an effort on my part to present and share that knowledge with people who may have a similar pursuit in mind.

I have divided the blog into different Pages such as History, Mythology, Sriptures etc. hoping to cover various interesting potentialities based on the research carried out by older as well as recent theologists and my own insignificant efforts to understand my roots in a better way.

The reader can click on any of the pages above and go through the introductory passages about each topic. You can also provide feedback through comments on the posts or share your thoughts by e-mailing me. The purpose here is not to glorify Hinduism above all religions because that is against the very nature of it! A true Hindu will always be open to respecting and learning from other religions and grow self spiritually.

Instead, the objective is to gain better insight into the basic philosophies and intricate mythologies of a religion which has never sought conversions or confabulations to spread its message and has still managed to influence thousands of people in hundreds of countries without resorting to the use of Sword or Evangelism.

I hope the readers who stumble upon this blog find the experience Enriching and Educational and if not either, at least Entertaining enough to germinate a new thought process in their own minds. I start this journey remembering my favorite Ganesha and sharing with you a verse I learnt in school.. Verse I-89-1 of the oldest written sacred text in the world, the Rig Veda.

Aa No Bhadra: Kratvo Yantu Vishvata:
Let Noble Thoughts Come Unto Us From All Directions

Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
Let there be Peace - Mentally, Physically and Spiritually!


Hindu History

History with its flickering lamp,
Stumbles along the trail of the past;
Trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes,
And re-kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.

Nowhere is this observation more true than in the case of Hindu History. In tracing the roots of this ancient religion, we find ourselves floundering in the mists of time as there are few archeological evidences remaining that can corroborate the legends described in our ancient Puraans.

Ancient Map of India

The many facets of Indian history mirror the Geographical, Racial, Linguistic and Cultural complexities of the vast Indian sub-continent and as such are not very easy to decipher. However, it is abundantly clear that the chain of events extends way back into the pre-historic times..

That the Early Man, was present and thriving in the Indian heartland, is evident from the Cave-paintings of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. These paintings date from 40,000 BCE (earlier known as BC) and show the antiquity of human existence in this part of the world.

Pre-historic paintings from Bhimbetka Caves

A large amount of information is available through literary evidence of the Hindu Vedas, Persian Avesta, regional literature and assorted accounts of travelers from both East and West throwing ample light on different aspects of early Hindu civilization.

Through the analysis of these literary masterpieces and corroborating them with the evidence unearthed in recent excavations from Rajasthan and Gujarat in India and the North-western region of Pakistan have pushed back origins of ancient Indian civilization by at least three millenia more!

Earliest sites of Civilization in the Indian sub-continent

While the proto-cities excavated in Mehrgarh have been dated to around 6500 BCE, discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay, off the coast of Gujarat (where the fabled city of Dwarka was located), have revealed dates corresponding to >35000 BCE which is older than ANY other civilization in the World!

The 'Discovery' of Saraswati, the most glorified river in the Vedas, has given a huge boost to the efforts of finding a common ground between Hindu History and Mythology. The oft mentioned and much extolled river of ancient Hindu texts, was ironically not to be seen at all in modern India, and this had placed a great burden on scholars who endeavored to analyze the sacred texts from a historical view-point.

The Original course of Saraswati

However, recent research carried out by international archaeologists has shed a great deal of light on the origin, course and final disappearance of the mighty river referred to as the 'Mother of all rivers' in the Rigveda and can even help date the scriptures to a large extent!

In the article titled {The Riddle of India's Ancient Past}, the French proto-historian Michel Danino believes there are strong links between the Veda and the Harappan culture.

'We find statues and seals depicting yogis and yogic postures, we find a Shiva-like deity, worship of a mother-goddess, fire altars, all of which are suggestive of Vedic culture. Harappan symbols include the Trishul, the Swastika, the Conch shell, the Peepal tree, all of which are central to later Indian culture. The Rig-Veda itself is full of references to fortified cities and towns, to oceans, sailing, trade and industry, all of which are found in the Harappan civilization.'

Ruins of Mohenjodaro

Vedic altars found in these sites re-affirm that the culture followed in these sites extending from Pakistan-Iran border in the West to Uttar Pradesh in the East; and Kashmir in the North to Godavari in the South was a part of Vedic culture.

Similarly, thoughts are echoed by David Frawley, the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, in the article {The Myth of Aryan Invasion},

'The term 'Destroyers of cities' was used to disregard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the 'Rig Veda' that speak of the Aryans as having having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number.

Destruction of cities also happens in modern wars; this does not make those who do this nomads. The idea of Vedic culture as destroying but not building the cities is based upon ignoring what the Vedas actually say about their own cities.'

With the new insights available, even the nomenclature of the Indus Valley Civilization is no more apt as a majority of sites in later excavations fit perfectly along the banks of the newly discovered course of Saraswati. Some scholars have therefore started referring to it as the Indus-Saraswati Civilization.

Indus Valley Seals

About this continuity of Indian civilzation, Jean Michel Varenne, a French Orientalist wrote in his book,{Yoga and the Hindu Tradition},

'The only remaining testimony to the prestigious civilization of ancient Egypt lay buried in archaeological remains; which meant that inhabitants of the Nile Valley had to wait for Champollion to decipher their hieroglyphics before they could know anything of the beliefs of their ancestors!!

Yet during all this time, Hindu families continued, and still continue today, to venerate the same Vishnu, who is celebrated in the hymns of the Rig Veda!'

Scholarly endeavors like Indian historian and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak's phenomenal work, The Arctic Home in the Vedas; French historian Michel Danino's outstanding research, The Lost River: On the trail of Saraswati and American Indologist David Frawley's, The Eternal Tradition-Sanatan Dharma throw new light on ancient Hindu history.

Other scholars have tried to interpret the Astrological references in ancient literature and have come up with pretty conclusive dates. Verse 3.1.15 of the Taitreya Brahman describes Jupiter crossing the Pushya constellation thereby suggesting a date close to 4650 BCE.

Similarly, the Aitreya Brahman gives the date of 6000 BCE while the Rig Veda has references which throw up time-frames close to 10,000 BCE! One of the Medieval Islamic scholars, Al-biruni, lists many ancient Indian Astronomers who were well versed with the knowledge of both Space-science as well as Mathematics:

Brahmagupta (The first man to use Zero),
Aryabhata (The first man to calculate the value of Pie),
Bhaskar acharya (The first man to write numbers in decimal system) and
Varahamihira (The first astronomer to collate Hindu, Greek and Roman astronomy).

Other visitors like Hiun-Tsang, Fa-Hien and Megasthenes also left extensive accounts of life and its various nuances in ancient India.

Indian Empires were biggest in the world at one point of time

The actual dates of origin of the Indian civilization may yet be shrouded in the mists of time, but help has come from a totally unexpected branch of Science - Genetics.

According to the research findings such as MtDNA Haplogroup Study in Indian Peninsula and the Indian Genome Variation project, Indian sub-continent saw the first wave of migration of humanity out of Africa, directly into India about 50,000 years ago! It was from here that waves of people migrated to other parts of Asia as well as the continents of Europe and America!

The results also indicate that there has never been an Aryan Invasion NOR Migration INTO India. Our present genetic diversity evolved as waves of initial settlers in the central regions moved towards both north as well as south of the country, all the time intermixing and migrating to other countries.