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heritage places in India such as Hampi, Mahabalipuram, Ellora Caves and many such places. Carvings of aircraft similar to our modern helicopters are found in ...

Volume 6, Issue 1, January 2018





PhD Student, Department of Sanskrit,

Jain University, Bangalore, India. 1

[email protected]




Professor in Sanskrit, Dean (Student’s Welfare),

Jain University, Bangalore, India. Email:, [email protected]


Abstract: Vimanas or flying machines are described in various ancient texts in India and across the world. We have descriptions of Vimanas in Vedas, the great Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, Srimadbhaagavatam, Vymanika Shastra, Samarangana Sutradhaara of Bhoja Deva and so on. Four thousand seven hundred year old Babylonian epic and some of the other Greek and Chinese literary works describe spacecraft. Carvings of ancient Vimanas are found in heritage places in India such as Hampi, Mahabalipuram, Ellora Caves and many such places. Carvings of aircraft similar to our modern helicopters are found in Cairo, Egypt. Gold models of aircraft which are 800-1000 years old are found in Gold Museum of Bogotá, Columbia. This shows that flying machines and aircraft are not the inventions of 1800s and 1900s but there might have been some technology for building aircraft and flying machines during ancient era which is lost as the eras have passed by. Even if some do not agree with this and believe that most of the ancient literary works are imaginary, we should definitely appreciate the creativity and thinking abilities of our ancient scholars who could think of such wonderful aerial chariots, aircraft and spacecraft. Our scientists and researchers across the world are still thriving hard to bring them to reality.


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Keywords: Vimana, Vimana Carvings, Ramayana, Ancient Rockets, Vedas, Mercury Vortex Engine, Chinese literary works.


INTRODUCTION There are many ancient texts in India and across the world which describe flying machines, vimanas, aerial chariots and spacecraft. The Vedas describe vimanas which could fly from one pace to another, one country to another and one planet to another. If vimanas could fly from one planet to another, it should definitely have been a spacecraft. The concept of ‘Thought powered aircraft’ or ‘Kaamagam Yaanam’ is described in ancient Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. With the advancement in Neural Engineering and Biomedical Engineering researchers are focusing on studying Brain Computer Interface Systems. There are research articles which directly relate to the concept of ‘Thought Powered Aircraft’ published by researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, USA in the year 2013.(LaFleur et al.) Different modes of transportation are described in RigVeda and this can be conceptually compared with modern amphibious aircraft, assault amphibious vehicles, three storeyed sky whale, air flyers which has three wheels in landing gear and power driven vehicles. Flying cities and Flying palaces described in Ancient texts can be compared with Bomber aircraft and luxurious planes. Mercury Vortex Engine designed and tested by NASA in 1960s is conceptually described in Ancient Indian text called Samarangana Sutradhaara of Bhoja Deva. Like these there are many other examples where we can conceptually compare the technology of the past with the advanced technology and technology which is prevalent today. The research article “Analysis of a few interesting vimanas described in








(Shruthi.K.R. and Rajani Jairam, “Analysis of a Few Interesting Vimanas Described in Srimadbhaagavatam, Mahabharatha, Vedas, Arthashastra and Vymanika Shastra”) describes this in detail. The ancient Babylonian epic “Epic of Etna” has a poem of “Flight of Ethna” which has the description of earth when man travels to space outside the earth. Trip to space is described in another text “Book of Enoch” written by Unknown Author. The second century AD Greek novel “Vet-a Historia” has description of the moon. Chinese have built the first two stage rocket named “Fire dragon” during 11th Century AD. The ceilings of “The Great Temple of Abydos” in Egypt


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have carvings similar to Modern aircraft. The tale of Chinese inventor named “Wan Hoo” in the book “2000 Years of Space Travel” written by Russell Freedman describes Wan Hoo as the first man to launch rocket powered vehicle. He lost his life in his attempt to fly in air. This shows that flying in air using aerial chariots or flying machines was something which people across the world were thinking about since thousands of years.


ANCIENT ROCKETS AND SPACE FLIGHT A rocket is a missile, spacecraft or aircraft which obtains thrust from Rocket Engine. It is

evolved from an arrow. Chinese have contributed to many rocket powered arrows, grenades and iron bombs similar to those in use today. We find description of space flight in many ancient texts across the world. A four thousand seven hundred year old Babylonian epic “Epic of Ethna” describes the flight of Ethna as quoted below. “I will take you to the throne of Anu,” said the eagle. They had soared for an hour and then the eagle said: “Look down, what has become of earth!” Ethna looked down and saw that earth had become like a hill and the sea like a well. And so they flew for another hour, and once again Ethna looked down: the earth was now like a grinding stone and the sea like a pot. After the third hour, the earth was just a speck of dust, and the sea was no longer seen.”(Childress:156) When man leaves the earth and travels farther and farther the earth looks smaller and smaller. Here the author has compared the earth with a ‘Grinding stone’ and sea with a well. This means they knew that earth was round in shape four thousand years ago. Another book called “Book of Enoch” which is written by an unknown author describes the space flight as quoted below. “And they lifted me up into heaven…. (14.9) And it was hot as fire and cold as ice… (14:13) I saw the places of the luminaries… (17:3) And I came to great darkness….. (17:6) I saw a deep abyss.(17:11)” (Childress:157) In this description of trip to space, when travelled on the sunny side they feel hot and see a bright place and when travelled on the shady side of the sun they feel cold in a dark place.


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Chinese Historical traditions describe that in the year 2309 BC, Hou Yih who was the engineer of the Emperor Yao decided to travel to the moon on a celestial bird which updated him the timings of sunrise and sunset. Even in our vedas and puranas we find the description of Vimanas which could travel from one planet to another. In Mahabharata we find the description of Matali’s Vimana which took Arjuna to Indra’s Amaravati which is outside the earth. This shows that thought of travelling from one planet to another is not the idea of our researchers of 20th century but something which was there thousands of years ago. 3.

PREHISTORIC AIRCRAFT Columbian Government’s Gold Museum in Bogotá had several small delta winged gold

“jets” which were at least 1000 years old. They were said to be models of bees, flying fish or other animals. But they have vertical and horizontal tail fins unlike other known animals. When these objects were photographed in a V-formation with nine original artifacts they looked similar to delta winged Jets.

Figure 1: Mini Gold model of Aircraft found at Bagota Gold Museum, Columbia.(“Ancient Aircraft - Crystalinks”) A bird shaped model which had a wingspan of 7.2 inches and weight of 39.12 gram was found in Egyptian tomb of Saqqara in the year 1898. In the year 1969, Dr. Khalil Messiha, Professor of Anatomy for the Artists at Helwan University noticed that the bird had straight wings and an upright tail fin and must be a model of an aeroplane. Technical research team set by Egyptian Ministry of Culture studied similar bird models and presented 14 similar bird models to the public. We even find other theory which does not agree on this as they feel strange to accept that Egyptians used high-tech aircraft and left only a model of a bird as evidence for their aerial activities. (Orcutt) (Gregorie)


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Figure 2: Bird shaped model of aircraft, Saqqara, Egypt.(Aamoth) We find the story of Wan Hoo in the book “2000 Years of Space Travel” written by Russell Freedman. It is described that in 1500 AD he built a sturdy wooden framework around a chair and attached 47 skyrockets around the chair to the framework and fastened two large kites on the top. He sat on the chair, strapped himself to it and asked his servants to ignite the sky rockets when he raised his hand. As soon as the servants ignited the sky rockets there was a mighty blast with a thick black smoke all around. Wan Hoo vanished leaving behind just a legend. (Childress: 149)

Figure 3: Illustration courtesy of Marshall Space Flight Center portraying Wan Hu 1 This story is considered as apocryphal by most of the authorities as the first published evidence dated 1909 was possibly a fabrication of Europe’s Chinoiserie period, which was characterised by a fascination with the orient (Williamson). We do not know whether this story is true or just an imaginary story but this shows the efforts of our ancient scholars across the world to invent aerial mode of transportation. 1



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VIMANA, ANCIENT ROCKET, MISSILE LIKE CARVINGS There are many temples throughout India where we see beautiful carvings based on

Ramayana, Mahabharata and other puranas or mythological stories. Each and every sculptor who has carved these temples and towers would have done it based on his own imaginations. We will have to think about the basis of their imagination. Ancient heritage places in India such as Hampi, Mahabalipuram and Ellora have carvings of aerial chariots and rockets. As a part of this research we have visited these places to study the carvings of Vimanas. Carving of Ravana’s Vimana at Ellora Cave No.16 (Kailasa Cave) can be compared with modern jet pack as described in our article. (Shruthi.K.R. and Rajani Jairam, “Probable Technologies behind the Vimanas Described in Ramayana”)

Figure 4: Ravana's Vimana Compared with Modern Jetpack.2 Cylindrical carving on the towers of Ganesha Ratha at Mahabalipuram can be compared with modern rocket as described in the video “A 1200 Year Old Rocket - Ancient Aliens In India?”(A 1200 Year Old Rocket - Ancient Aliens In India? - YouTube).

Figure 5: Carvings on Ganesha Ratha in comparison with modern rockets. 2


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Hazara Rama temple at Hampi has carvings of various scenes of Ramayana which includes the carving of Ravana abducting Seetha in his vimana, Pushpaka Vimana etc. The sculptors have carved the vimanas based on their own imaginations. Here the vimanas have three wheels on each side. Similarly we even find the carvings of Vimanas which have two wheels on each side.

Figure 6: Vimana in which Ravana is abducting Seetha, Ravana fighting with Jataayu We find the carvings of ancient aircraft or Vimanas not only in India but also in many other parts of the world. Carvings on the ceilings of Seti I temple, Egypt looks very similar to modern aircraft as shown below.

Figure 7: Carvings at Set I temple, Egypt, similar to Modern aircraft (“Ancient Aircraft Crystalinks”) Similarly artifacts of Rockets/missiles can be found at Kush (ancient Nubia, today’s Sudan) as shown below. When we observe this carefully we can see a rocket/missile like structure, two pilots standing at the base and a huge alien god descending down to the earth.


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Figure 8: Rocket from Kush (“Ancient Aircraft - Crystalinks”) Like this we can find various ancient artifacts across the world which shows that aerial mode of travel was prevalent during ancient era. 5.

MERCURY PROPULSION AND MERCURY ION ENGINES Vymanika Shastra describes various propulsion systems for aircraft. It mainly describes

Chemical propulsion system and electric propulsion systems. In chemical propulsion systems flow of hot moving gas is produced by the chemical reaction of the propellant used. In electric propulsion system propellant is accelerated using electric power. We find the description of mercury being used as a propellant in electric propellant systems in Sundara Vimana described in Vymanika Shastra. It is also described that in the process of generating electricity mercury is used for the storage of power and storage vessel filled with 100 palas of mercury can produce 800 linkas of electricity. Dhaaru Vimanas described in Samarangana Sutradhaara of Bhojadeva mentions about “Rasayantra” or “Mercury Engine” as described in verses below. “Laghu dharumayam mahaavihangam dhruda suslishta tanum vidhaaya tasya | Udare rasayantramaadadeeta jvalanaadhaaramadhoosya chaagni poornam|| 95||” Taaroodaha purushastasya paksha dvandvoochhaalaprojjitena anilena | Suptasvaantaha paardasyaaasya shaktya chitram kurvan ambare yaati dhooram|| 96||” (Bhojaraja and Sharma: 380,381) Dr. V. Raghavan in his book “Yantras or Mechanical Contrivances in Ancient India” describes that verses 95 and 96 are the most curious of all the yantras described by Bhojadeva. While describing the motive force behind these vimanas he mentions that fire chamber filled


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with mercury should be placed over flame and heated mercury with concurrent action of flapping wings helps the yantra to go up and travel in the sky. (V. Raghavan) Another type of Dharu Vimana which is mentioned in “Samarangana Sutradhaara” of Bhojadeva is “Alaghu Dhaaru Vimaana” as described below. “Ityameva suramandiratulyam sanchalatya alaghu dharu Vimanam | Aadadheeta Vidhinaa chaturo antarasya paaradabrutaan drudakumbaan || 97|| Ayaha kapaalaahita manda vihna pratapta tat kumbha bhavaa gunena | Vyomnyoo jagityaabharana tvameti santapta garjati rasaraja shaktyaa || 98||” (Bhojaraja and Sharma) Dr. V. Raghavan describes that Alaghu or Heavier Dhaaru vimana has four pitchers of mercury placed over iron ovens rather than one in case of “Laghu Dhaaru Vimana”. Our research article titled “Mechanical contrivances and Dharu Vimanas described in Samarangana Sutradhara of Bhojadeva” describes these in detail. (Rajani and Shruthi K R) Spacecraft use Ion thrusters which create thrust by accelerating ions with electricity. First experiment on Ion Thruster was carried out by Robert H Goddard from Clark University. Then Harold Kaufman built the ion thruster which used mercury as propellant in the year 1959 at NASA, Glenn Research Center. On 20th July 1964 this engine was sent to suborbital flight on Space Electric Rocket Test 1(SERT 1) which successfully operated for 31 minutes before falling to earth. It used electrostatic ion thrusters with Mercury and Cesium as the reaction mass, mainly because mercury is liquid at room temperature and cesium is solid and hence it easy to store them as they were supposed to be heated to become gas in order to use them as propellant. But the major problem was cesium was radioactive and mercury was neurotoxin and hence if some gases leaked to the ground it could cause health hazards. Hence scientists then decided to use Xenon which was odorless, colorless and unreactive gas instead of mercury. Thus even though mercury ion engines were tested by NASA in the past, they are not being used now. Detailed information about Mercury Ion thruster technology can be found in the report “ Mercury Ion Thruster Technology” published by NASA in the year 1989 authored by J.R. Beattie and J.N. Matossian from Hughes Research Laboratories, California.



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Description of aircraft and spacecraft are found not only in ancient Indian texts but also other Greek and Chinese literary works. This shows that aerial mode of transportation was prevalent during ancient era. Advancements in the field of Neural Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Brain Computer Interface systems have proved the practicality of the concept of ‘Thought powered aircraft’. Description of inter planet travel, and travel to other lokas outside the earth in vedas, Babylonian epic and other ancient texts shows that inter planet travel was prevalent during ancient era. This means people should have used spacecraft to travel from one planet to another. Gold model of aircraft and Saqqara bird model shows that people of ancient were thinking of various ways to model the prototype of an aircraft. Carving of Vimanas at Hazara Rama temple Hampi shows the creativity of the sculptors in carving the aerial chariot. Rocket like carvings on the Ganesha Ratha definitely looks similar to modern rocket. Carvings of Vimanas on the ceilings of Seti I temple at Egypt can be definitely compared with modern aircraft. The Legend of Wan Hu shows the craze of people fly in air. Ancient rocket or missile like artifact at Kush, Sudan shows that something similar to modern rocket was prevalent during ancient era. Very interesting part is the description of mercury being used as propellant in Ion engines. Since NASA also has experimented on Mercury ion engines in SERT1 we can believe that construction of Dharu Vimanas described in Samarangana Sutradhaara of Bhoja deva should be practically possible. Further research in this area can uncover the hidden treasure in our ancient texts. Even though NASA has found out that Xenon is better than Mercury (because of the hazardous residues generated by mercury) we should definitely appreciate the contributions of our ancient scholars because Xenon as a chemical element did not exist during ancient era and our people were able to manage the flight of the aircraft using mercury as a propellant.


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References A 1200 Year Old Rocket - Ancient Aliens In India? - YouTube. Phenomenal Travel Videos, 2014. Film. Aamoth, Doug. “Cryptids: The Saqqara Bird.” 9 June 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2017. “Ancient Aircraft - Crystalinks.” N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2017. Bhojaraja, King of Malwa, and Sudarshana. Sharma. Samarāṅgana Sūtradhāra of Bhojadeva (Paramāra Ruler of Dhārā) : An Ancient Treatise on Architecture : (An Introduction, Sanskrit Text, English Translation, and Notes). Parimal Publications, 2007. Print. Childress, David Hatcher. Technology of The Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients. Kempton, Illinios: Adventure Unlimited Press, 2000. Web. 11 Oct. 2017. Gregorie, Martin. “Flying the Saqqara Bird.” Catchpenny Mysteries of Ancient Egypt (2002): n. pag. Web. 24 Nov. 2017. LaFleur, Karl et al. “Quadcopter Control in Three-Dimensional Space Using a Noninvasive Motor Imagery-Based Brain–computer Interface.” Journal of Neural Engineering 10.4 (2013): 46003. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. Orcutt, Larry. “Model Airplane?” Catchpenny Mysteries of Ancient Egypt (2001): n. pag. Web. 17 Oct. 2017. Rajani, Jairam, and R Shruthi K. “Mechanical Contrivances and Dharu Vimanas Described in ‘ Samarangana Sutradhara ’ of Bhojadeva.” IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science 20.12 (2015): 16–20. Web. Shruthi.K.R., and Rajani Jairam. “Analysis of a Few Interesting Vimanas Described in Srimadbhaagavatam, Mahabharatha, Vedas, Arthashastra and Vymanika Shastra.” International Journal of English Language Literature and Humanities IV.X (2016): 427–445. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. ---. “Probable Technologies behind the Vimanas Described in Ramayana.” Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications 6.6 (2016): 47–52. Print.


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V. Raghavan. YANTRAS OR MECHANICAL CONTRIVANCES IN ANCIENT INDIA. India: N.p., 1952. Print. Williamson, Mark. Spacecraft Technology: The Early Years. IET, 2006. Web. 24 Nov. 2017.