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Some Puranic accounts of Air-Chariots

The Arthasastra of Kautilya (c. 3rd century B.C.) mentions amongst various tradesmen and technocrats the Saubhikas as ' pilots conducting vehicles in the sky'. Saubha was the name of the aerial flying city of King Harishchandra and the form 'Saubika' means 'one who flies or knows the art of flying an aerial city.'  Kautilya uses another significant word 'Akasa Yodhinah', which has been translated as 'persons who are trained to fight from the sky.'  The existence of aerial chariots, in whatever form it might be, was so well-known that it found a place among the royal edicts of the Emperor Asoka which were executed during his reign from 256 B.C. - 237 B. C. The Vaimanika Shastra (Hindi edn) refers to about 97 works and authorities of yore of which at least 20 works deal with the mechanism of aerial Flying Machine, but none of these works is now traceable. The  Yuktikalpataru of Bhoja includes a reference to aerial cars in verses 48-50 and a manuscript of the work belonging to the Calcutta Sanskrit College dated at 1870 A.D. We are thus in possession of some manuscript material and from the above it appears that there were Vimanas or aircrafts in ancient India and they followed the route over the western sea i.e. Arabian Sea - Africa - Atlantic ocean - Latin America/Mexico, this being the shortest route. Some ships also might have followed this route, but most of the cargo ships, however, had to follow the longer route over the Pacific ovean via Indonesia - Polynesia - Latin America/Mexico because of the favorable trade winds and the equatorial currents which made the navigation easier.

And if the ancient Indians could perhaps boast of some form of air travel the Nazca lines of Peru acquire an added significance. Not only the scriptural references of aircrafts and the routes of navigation, even some base landing sites might have possibly been found in the tangled outlines and figures in the Pampas of Nazca. Maria Reiche, a German scientist, through her life-long dedication studied these seriously, preserved them from destruction and publicised them before the world. The huge figures which are visible from the sky might have helped the ancient pilots (Sauvikas) of India to land in Peru. 

(For more information please refer to Chapters on Pacific, Suvarnabhumi, War in Ancient India, Hindu Scriptures and Seafaring in Ancient India). 

(Artwork courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com).

The Nazca lines of Peru seem to be landing signal for the air chariots of pre-Colobian times. There are several references in Sanskrit texts about the Indian Vimanas carrying kings and dignitaries to pataldesa. Ramayana describes Ravana's flight from Varunalaya (Borneo) to Rasatala (Peru). 

Prof. D. K. Kanjilal analyses the legend of the Matsya Purana (chapters 129) in his Vimana in Ancient India in the following words:

"Behind the veil of legend and scientific truth comes out that three flying-cities were made for and were used by the demons. Of these three, one was in a stationary orbit in the sky, another moving in the sky and one was permanently stationed in the ground. These were docked like modern spaceships in the sky at particular time and at fixed latitude/longitudes. Siva's arrow obviously referred to a blazing missile fired from a flying satellite specially built for the purpose and the brunt spaceship fell in the Indian ocean. Vestiges of onetime prosperous civilization destroyed in battles only flicker through these legends. 

These references sharply point to the use of some kind of aerial flying vehicles known as Vimana apart from mechanical contrivances, armoured cars, various types of missiles etc. These references sounding queer and unscientific even in recent past have been approximated to the present-day technology through the innovation of highly sophisticated weapons and of the space-satellites like Mariner, Vostok, Soyuz, Aryabhatta etc. These facts require more than a passing notice.

The flying vehicles were firstly designated Ratha (vehicle or carriage) in the Rig Veda.

Vimanas possessed a very high speed. This aerial vehicle was triangular, large, 3-tier uneven and was piloted by at least three persons (tribandhura). It has three wheels which were probably withdrawn during aerial flight. In one verse the chariot is said to have three columns. It was generally made of anyone of the three kinds of metals, gold, silver or iron but the metal which usually went into its make up according to the Vedic text was gold. It looked beautiful. Long nails or rivets were attached to it. The chariot had three types of fuel. Possessing very fast speed, it moved like a bird in the sky soaring towards the Sun and the Moon and used to come down to the earth with great sound. 

(source: The Indians And The Amerindians - By Dr. S. Chakravarti p.141-146). Also Refer to Vymanika Shashtra - Aeronautical Society of India.

 

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Updated -  October 28, 2008