First page of the History archive

New Light On Vimana Shastra (2012)

Posted by Enrico Baccarini on January 15, 2013 with 100 Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

New Light On Vimana Shastra

article by C. V. Ramprasad from Baudhik Sampada


The world first came to know regarding the existence of the manuscript on Vimanas by Maharishi Bharadwaja through the report of Shri K N N Sastry the Mysore representative of Press Trust of India, filed on 25.08.1952 and published in all the leading dailies of India and later picked up by the other dailies of the world.

Later in September 1952 another article which received wide attention is the reported successful experimental flight of MARUTSAKHA Vimana by Shivkar Bapuji Talphade in the year 1895 on the Chowpatty beach in the Vande Matram a Gujarati Daily. However  highly informative article  on Vimanas coupled with in depth analysis by the Late G V Ketkar, the learned Editor of Kesari and Maratha of Pune, few days later   went unnoticed by the Press. I have drawn much of my information for the present article on Ketkarji’s articles.I wish to  place on record my sincere thanks to Dr. D J Tilak the Editor/Trustee of Kesari for having permitted to use the material for my research.

Shivkar Bapuji Talphade: The current story regarding Shivkar Bapuji Talphade is  that  he successfully flew an unmanned  plane named Marut Sakha  in the year 1895 in Mumbai  on  basis of his study of Rigveda Richas and the commentary of Maharishi Bharadwaja thereof. According to investigations carried out by me,  the  first New Light On Vimana Shastra  reference to experimental studies of Marut sakha appeared in  an article authored by Mr. Lalubhai Kansara of Valsad  in an  issue of Vande matram, a Gujarati Daily in September 1952. A similar story was published in Maratha on 3rd October 1952, the Pune newspaper under the caption ‘First inventor of Aeroplanes an Indian The article starts  as under The Vividha vritta:’ a well known Marathi weekly published at 364 Thakurdwar Bombay 2 in its issue dated 14th September 1952.  On page 9  gives the following information in an article with the above caption.

The summary of the article is as under:

Shivkar Bapuji Talaphade a teacher in the School of Arts  and a scholar of Vedas and Sanskrit demonstrated an  aeroplane he prepared according to the vedic mantras at the Town Hall, Bombay.  As this was highly appreciated by the public he continued his researches. In the year 1895,  he prepared an airplane named Marut Sakha based on Bharadwaja’s work on this subject,  and demonstrated that it could reach nearly to an height of 1500 ft. in the presence of  the Great Sayaji Rao Gaikwad, the then Ruler of Baroda, the late Justice M.G. Ranade and Late Lalji Narayanji a prominent merchant of Mumbai .They were very pleased with the equipment and gave reward to the inventor.

Based on  Bharadwaja ‘s work he came to the conclusion, that  the  machines required for Vimanas  came into full operation, when the power of mercury aided by sun rays and another chemical called “Naksha Rasa” were blended together.  This energy seems  to be stored into something like an accumulator or “Storage batteries” . The aeroplane itself apparently had to await a favorable wind in order to take its flight from the ground. This  plane was said to be eighth type of Vimana (aeroplane) described by Bharadwaja and was called by him by the name of “Marut Saka” (Friend of the wind) .Shri. Talpade died in 1917 at the age of 53.  His descendents thereupon  sold all his materials to Rally Bros an important firm of exporters operating in Bombay at that time. On this article the late G V Ketkar in his articles  on 22nd

February 1953 made thefollowing observations:

‘The news of the successful flight in 1895 is not trust worthy  as the same  does not find mention in Prahin Viman kalecha Shodh a book authored by Talphade and published in   1908 and in Arya Dharma a monthly edited by Talphade from 1904 to 1908’ . The Town Hall was opened for exhibition in the year 1905. Two important points missed out by present day scholars of Vimanas  and pointed out by Ketkarji is that Talphadeji  having conducted experiments  on Marut Sakha after 1908, consequent to his meeting with Subbarya Shastri could not be ruled out as there is a mention of Marut sakha as the 72 nd Adhikarana of Vimana Shastra   and that there are eight types of  Vimanas according to Kansaraji’s articles.’

Pandit Subbaraya Shastri and Late Talphade:

The author of Vaidik Sampati (1932) in his work has stated that according  to Amsubodhini there are eight types of Vimanas ,Marut Sakha been the eighth. Luckily in Bangalore I was able to get a photocopy of  Pandit Subbarya Shastri’s(expounder of Vimana Shastra) autobiography and a photocopy of Bhautik Kala Nidhi   due to the kind  permission of  the Late Dr. B V Raman(in this the kind help of  the Late Dr.S R N Murthy is acknowledged) .

In his autobiography (published in 1972) ,Shastriji states that he made a trip to Bombay to help Dr.Talphade in his experiments on Vimanas and that he died while the experiments was going on. Shastriji also states that Dr. Talphade could have been aware of his work on Vimanas through newspaper /magazines based on his lectures on Vimanas . (This is corroborated by an article published in Bhautik Kala Nidhi(BKN), a monthly on Vimanas from January 1911.) On analysis of the autobiography, this incident can be placed between 1917-1918. According to available records Talphade died on 17-09-1917.

As for Marut Sakha,  Shastriji’s has  given the information of Marut Sakha in BKN as under:
The air possesses heat and velocity. These two can be separated  with the help of certain Yantras (machinery) as mentioned in the Yantra Adhyaya . The air contains Seethaghana and Ooshnaghana or condensation by different process of cold and heat. All those Vimanas which  can be worked by Ooshaanghana after destroying Seethaghana go under the name Marut Sakha Vargam. Shastriji gave detailed information on Vimanas to  Dr. Talphade during his personal meetings as stated in the autobiography.

The autobiography has not given any details of the Vimana prepared by Dr. Talphade . It is quite sad that no scholar perused the line suggested by Ketkar. My reasons for identifying Talphade and Dr. Talphade as one and the same person is that the both were residents of Mumbai, period  of death is the same and according to my studies during the last twenty five years, no name of Talphade has come to my notice who was interested in study of Vimanas like late Shivkar Bapuji Talphade .It may be noted that surname Talphade is found among Pathare Prabhu only. Regarding the  experimental studies  of Dr. Talphade, Subbaraya Shastri writes in his

autobiography as under :

Had providence been a bit more favorable there was every likelihood of his being successful to make the Indian percept Vimana an object of reality .Further on Dr. Talphade he writes  “ This was the end of the career   of an enterprising Scientist ,who for  the first time , in this age of Kali, was able to prove to the world that the Vimana was not merely an object of mythology or a toy of the fairy tales, but which under suitable conditions , could be brought into existence and made a reality and marketable commodity. An important event took place in 1918. On this Late Devudu Narsimha Shastri , a close associate of Shastriji wrote for Shilpa Sansar ( a weekly for propagation of ancient sciences and edited by the Late Major
N B Gadre) 31.12.1955 as under:

Sri Sastry was prevailed upon by Sri Puttanna Chetty , who was an ardent admirer of Sri Sastry , to produce blue prints of the Vimanas he was talking about and he did with few notes.  When Lord (then Mr.) Montague visited India in about 1918, this subject was put before the Government in Bombay by a Parsi gentlemam with the result Sri Sastry was put under arrest and only influence with the highest level could save him from further prosecution. Naturally from that time onwards ,caution made him talk that he was only a theorist.

A letter of Sardar M V Kibe, of Indore. published in Kesari  on 24.10.1952 and refereed to by Ketkarji  states that the Late    Purushottam Vishram Mavji wanted to conduct experiments on energies used to run the Vimanas. He intended to spend one crore rupees for the same. Due to loss in his business and his death in 1929 the project did not take off. Mavji been influenced by the above experiment by Dr. Talphade cannot be ruled out . It may be noted that Mavji had helped Talphade financially earlier and stopped the same after a scientific review of his work (Ref :Kesari 10th May 1953, Article by Pandit S D Satawelekar)  It may be noted that according to the autobiography  a publication committee was formed in Mumbai to publish the works available with Shastriji. immediately after the death of Dr. Talphade. This is a pointer to the fact that  Dr. Talphade’s experiments results were encouraging and not a failure  as claimed by some scholars.

Shastrjii and his source of Knowledge:

The knowledge of Bhautik Shastras was transmitted to Subbaraya Shastriji by his guru Yogi Bhaskaranandji also referred to as Guruji Maharaj in writings of Shastriji somewhere between 1879 to 1885. In fact he deferred the publication of Vimana Shastra and other ancient works as his Guru had not given him permission, though the Late Prof. B Suryanarian Rao was requesting him to help him publish the same from 1885 the year they first met . Prof Rao published  the same in  about 18 issues through  Bhautik Kala Nidhi a monthly specially started by Prof Rao to acquaint the public with
the rich ancient scientific tradition available with Shastryji  from January 1911 onwards. The scientific  and research community should be thankful to Late Prof B Suryanarayana Rao founder editor of Astrological Magazine for having discovered a Gem called Pandit  Subbarya Shastri for us. Subsequently Shastriji came into contact with people. He was appointed as a Lecturer on Hindu Religion subjects by the Government of Mysore on 27th November 1902. This disproves the theory that he was not a Pandit.

SR NO Name of text Author Commentor
1 Agatatwa Lahiri Aswalayana Bodhananda
2 Amsubodhini Bharadwaja Bodhanada
3 Yantra Saraswa Bharadwaja Bodhanada
4 Sakti Tantram Agastya Bodhanada
5 Aaptatwa Aswalayana

In BKN he wrote articles on the following subjects:

The above should remove the misconception that Shastriji dealt only with Vimanas. In fact in BKN he writes that the suggestions in the article on Agattawalahiri should be welcome by all lovers of national prosperity as  it would help in improved cultivation and increases returns.The experimental studies on Amsubodhini  is published in the last issue 41 of Bharatiya Bhaudik Sampada. The source  text was published in the year 1931 from Mumbai. A vigorous search should be conducted to retrieve all the 18 issues of BKN. This will help scholars to understand ancient sciences’ Shastra better  In it he has giving a detailed description of Bhamani Vimana the seventh Vimana according to Bharadwaja.  Only the English version appeared in the year 1940 in Astrological Magazine and  republished in the year 1960 from Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur. Copy is supplied by shri G.G.Joshi Shilpa Sanshodhan Pratisthan Nagpur. This Vimana uses 13 Manis and certain oil as fuel. At the request of the publication committee Shastriji took to the work of dictating the Vimana Shastra.  On non publication of Vimana Shastra,  Subbaraya Shastri writes in Prastana

trayee as under:

In course of time an humble attempt was made to bring out the Vimana Shastra or a scientific work dealing with air-ships and other scientific works but the Lord Almighty being unwilling not only nothing could see the light of day but the attempt had to be abandoned. However the massive amount of money that his disciples were looking for did not come their way. On this B Subbanna retired Judge of the  Chief Court of Mysore writes in his foreward for Prastahana Trayee as under “If indeed the Government of Mysore who were approached for assistance on behalf of Panditji had accorded their patronage several volumes of great interest and value could have been placed before the public by this time’’ The publisher of two of Subbaraya Shastri’s work Rasiklal R Mody states  that the Manuscript of Vimana Shastra was lying with a gentleman who was not allowing its publication. After sometime the manuscript came back to Shastriji, he died. (ref Ketkar Kesari 1953). The information  on Yantra Vimana Shastra published in 1932 in the

text Prasthana Trayee  is as under:


This Shastra in 8 chapters is expounded by the revered Bharadwaja Maharshi.  In it the 28, 339 kinds of vehicles and yantras useful in traveling on land, 783 kinds of vehicles such as Nauka, Dauka, Dola, Jala, etc useful in visible and invisible voyages on the surface of water, below water, on the land below water etc.,  in seas, oceans and like ; the 101 varieties of air-ships classed under the three groups viz. Mantric, Tantric and Kritaka or artificial ones, useful in flying in air by the celestial beings, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, human beings and so  on ; machinery and others appliances to produce and store one thousand kinds of electricity of subtle, gross, visible invisible kinds; machines which  attract metals such as gold, copper, silver, iron etc; Printing press, Lethographs, Paka, Yantra, Kuttinee yantra, Shodhana yantra and also machines to extract oils, acids, essences etc and those which attract sound, likeness of things (photographs), shadows, ideas, transmitting messages etc are dealt with. According to Shastryji Madhusudana Sarawati, a learned personage who lived eight centuries ago revived the scientific texts from the bits available in his time and wrote the Prastana Trayee . This text gives information of about 42 scientific texts of ancient India. I request scholars to study this work  and come out with their conclusion.

The eight types of Vimanas are as under:

SR NO Name Of Type Fuel used Names of sub Type Vimanas
1 Shakatyudgama Vargam Electrical energy Shakti, Garbho, Vegayut Mandali, Panchapa, Iravata
2 Bhuta Vargam Pancha mahabutas Five Major Elements, Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Ether(Sky)
3 Dhoom Vargam Propelled by steam or smoke Viswasa, Paribhadra, Garuda AjaMukha, darija
4 SikhedgamaVargam Oils of certain seeds of some trees like
Panchasikhi, Sikhari,Sikhavali, Kundasikhi,
as in vanaspati shastram
shirvaLI, panchmukhi,
Bhairavi, Nandaka, Brindavana
5 Amsuvaha Vargam Propelled by solar energy Prabhavati, Jyochanka, Amsugarbha,
Mayoorka, Saharaksha
6 Taramukha Vargam Using Manis falling from constellation called Manigarbha Nakshatras Taravali,Damboli Tarakasha,Sumangala Panchsirsha
7 Manivahak Vargam Using natural and artificial Manis Bhamani, Bhashamanasha,Bhamati ,Bharat
8 Marut Sakha Details given above Kurma, Varaha, Matsya, Narasihma, Marudvridha

It may be noted that the above classification form part of the sixth chapter from the 63 rd adhikarna onwards. From this is clear that till the 62 nd adhikarna the actual working of Vimanas has not been discussed. The present published texts gives the description of 4 Vimanas not mentioned above. The adhikarna list mentions them.  Except Tripura the others are not even mentioned even as adikarna. They have been mentioned as part of Jatyadhikarna(varieties of aircrafts).It is quite possible that he would taken it from some other commentaries to give a better picture of these aircrafts.

In Amsubodhini’s translator’s note, late G V Sarma writes as under:

The  English portion of this  work is only a commentary and not a translation in the strict sense of the term. For many of the explanations of the original sutras or aphorisms , not found in the Bodhananda’s commentary given in this work , have been taken from other commentaries on the work , by the expounder of this shastra,  Pandit T. Subaraya Shastriji, who is therefore the real translator of this work. This can be applied for Vimana Shastra as well. It is well known that the late G G Joshi took the reported experimental studies on Marut Sakha as a non event, based on Pandit Satawelekar ‘s article in Kesari(10 May 1953.  It appears that he did not have faith in the contents of Vimana Shastra due to its Yogic origin.
However present experimental studies shows that  it is quite possible that the successful experimental studies on Chumbak Mani based on Vimana Shastra conducted at IIT Mumbai in the seventies was not known to him and autobiography of Shastriji not available to him. Had it been known , he would have revised his stand. (The article on Bhamani published from Thanajavur was in his collection .)This however does not lessens his contributions to ancient sciences. He will always be source of inspiration to me.


In short we have to conclude that Talphade was the first experimenter on Vimana Shastra. In this regard it is worth mentioning that  the late S V Shetty wanted to construct a modern plane in 1916 for which permission was denied. In this background the experiment may have been known to  a limited circle. It is possible that Kansaraji got his information from this circle as the Marut Sakha been the eight aircraft is correct . Use of solar rays as a source of energy has been mentioned by Kansaraji. This was not known to modern science when Kansaraji wrote his article in 1952. However as stated above Chumbak Mani was prepared on the basis of Vimana Shastra. Hence Kansaraji’s article cannot be dismissed outright.   It is necessary to make further research to see whether Kansarji wrote any article giving the source of his information. The readers are familiar with the metallurgical and ceramic marvels of Vimana Shastra. However constructing a Vimana is still a distant dream given the little information the present published texts gives us. In this background had the present scholars/scientists access to Talaphade’s notes, things would have been different. I request scholars specially from Mumbai , Bangalore and Chennai to trace Shastriji’s and Talaphade’s writings and notes. I  have  not been able to incorporate all the information, given the space constraints. Presently I am trying to collect all published works of Pandit Subbaraya Shastri. I request readers to help me in this regard.

Any constructive criticism / comments  on the article are welcome.

VIMANAS in sanskrit literature

Posted by Enrico Baccarini on November 3, 2012 with 1 Commentas , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Enrico Baccarini© – Vimanas are described in ancient Indian literature as the ‘chariots of the gods’, a sort of technological vehicles similar to modern one but also able to have much more incredible powers in confront to our airplanes. Behind all these ‘literary’ description there is something more, exist a real technological background lost in the time but also passed throughout ages as an oral tradition. We have founded some quotations from classical Sanskrit literature, verses we had chosen specifically to illustrate the visual appearance, nature and capabilities generally ascribed to these ancient fabulous vehicles known.


“Having spoken thus, Maharaja Nirga made a complete circle around Lord Krishna and touched his crown to the Lord’s feet. Granted permission to depart, King Nirga then boarded a wonderful celestial car as all the people looked on.” (Bhagavata Purana)

“While Dhruva Maharaja was passing through space, he saw, in succession, all the planets of the solar system, and on the path he saw all the demigods in their vimanas showering flowers upon him like rain.” (Bhagavata Purana)

“He traveled in that way through the various planets, as the air passes freely in every direction. Coursing through the air in that grand and splendid vimana, which could fly at will, he surpassed even the Devas.” (Bhagavata Purana)

“Then the highly intelligent Asura Maya built the cities . . . There were many palaces with gems. Aerial cars shining like the sun, set with Padmaraga stones, moving in all directions and looking like moonbeams, illuminated the cities.” (Siva Purana)

“When morning dawned, Rama, taking the Celestial Car Puspaka had sent to him by Vivpishand, stood ready to depart. Self-propelled was that car. It was large and finely painted. It had two stories and many chambers with windows, and was draped with flags and banners. It gave forth a melodious sound as it coursed along its airy way.” (Ramayana)

“The Puspaka Car, that resembles the sun and belongs to my brother, was brought by the powerful Ravan; that aerial and excellent car, going everywhere at will, is ready for thee. That car, resembling a bright cloud in the sky, is in the city of Lanka.” (Ramayana)

“Beholding the car coming by force of will Rama attained to an excess of astonishment. And the king got in, and the excellent car, at the command of Raghira, rose up into the higher atmosphere. And in that car, coursing at will, Rama greatly delighted.” (Ramayana)

“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.” (Mahabharata)

“Karna took up that fierce weapon, which resembled the tongue of the Destroyer or the Sister of Death. That terrible and effulgent dart, Naikartana, was hurled at the Rakshasa. Beholding that excellent and blazing weapon . . . the Rakshasa began to fly away in fear . . . Destroying that blazing illusion of Ghatotkacha and piercing right through his breast that resplendent dart soared aloft in the night . . . Ghatotkacha, then uttering diverse roars, fell, deprived of life by the dart of Sakra.” (Mahabharata)

“The vimana had all necessary equipment. It could not be conquered by the gods or demons. And it radiated light and reverberated with a deep rumbling sound. Its beauty captivated the minds of all who beheld it. Visvakarma, the lord of its design and construction, had created it by the power of his austerities, and its outline, like that of the sun, could not be easily delineated. (Mahabharata)

“And he also gave [unto Arjuna] a car furnished with celestial weapons whose banner bore a large ape . . . And its splendour, like that of the Sun, was so great that no one could gaze at it. It was the very car riding upon which the lord Soma had vanquished the Danavas. Resplendent with beauty, it looked like an evening cloud reflecting the effulgence of the setting Sun.” (Mahabharata)

“Bhima flew along in his car, resplendent as the sun and loud as thunder . . . The flying chariot shone like a flame in the night sky of summer . . . it swept by like a comet . . . It was if two suns were shining. Then the chariot rose up and all the heavens brightened.” (Mahabharata)

“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.” (Mahabharata)

“And the celebrated Arjuna, 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 [an airport?] and capable of going everywhere at will, and he saw tens of thousands of such cars moving in every direction.” (Mahabharata)

“And having vanquished his foe, Krishna furnished with weapons and unwounded and accompanied by the kings, came out of Girivraja riding on that celestial car . . . upon that car Krishna now came out of the hill-fort. Possessed of the splendour of heated gold, and decked with rows of jingling bells . . . always slaughtering the foe against whom it was driven, it was the very car riding upon which Indra had slain ninety-nine Asuras of old.” (Mahabharata)

“And thereupon that best of cars became still more dazzling with its splendour and was incapable of being looked at by created beings, as the midday sun surrounded by a thousand rays . . . And Achyuta, that tiger among men, riding with the two sons of Pandu upon that celestial car . . . coming out of Girivraja, stopped (for some time) on a level plain outside of town.” (Mahabharata)

“We beheld in the sky what appeared to us to be a mass of scarlet cloud resembling the fierce flames of a blazing fire. From that mass many blazing missiles flashed, and tremendous roars, like the noise of a thousand drums beaten at once. And from it fell many weapons winged with gold and thousands of thunderbolts, with loud explosions, and many hundreds of fiery wheels. Loud became the uproar of falling horses, slain by these missiles, and of mighty elephants struck by the explosions . . . Those terrible Rakshasas had the shape of large mounds stationed in the sky.” (Mahabharata)

“Vimanas, decked and equipped according to rule, looked like heavenly structures in the sky . . . borne away they looked like highly beautiful flights of birds. (Mahabharata)

“Gifted with great energy the Rakshasa once more came down to Earth in his golden vimana . . . when it had landed it looked like a beautifully shaped mound of antimony on the surface of the ground.” (Ghatotrachabadma)

“The splendid chariot, made of silver and coated with tiger-skin, 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.” (Ayodhya Kandam, XVI, pp. 235-236)

King Yudhishthira’s Ascent to Heaven
From Protap Chandra Roy’s translation of the Mahabharata


“Causing the heaven and the earth to be filled by a loud sound, then Indra came to Yudhishthira on a car and asked him to ascend it.

“Seeing his brothers fallen on the earth, King Yudhishthira the just said to that deity of a thousand eyes these words: ‘My brothers have all dropped down here! They must go with me. Without them by me, I do not wish to go to the celestial region, O lord of all the celestials. The delicate princess Draupadi, deserving of every comfort, should go with us! You should permit this.’

“Indra answered, ‘You shall behold your brothers in the celestial region. They have reached it before you. Indeed, you shall see all of them there, with Krishna. Do not give way to grief, O chief of the Bharatas! Having renounced their human bodies they have gone there, O chief of the Bharata race! As for you, it is ordained that you shall go there in this very body of yours.'”

[After a long debate between the two the following occurs.]

“Then Dharma and Indra and the other deities, causing Yudhishthira to ascend on a car, went to the celestial region. Those beings crowned with success and capable of going everywhere at will, rode their respective cars. King Yudhishthira, riding on his car, ascended quickly, causing the entire sky to blaze with his effulgence.”

“Steeds and Wheels”
(This authors interpretation)


In both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana the researcher encounters the rather puzzling use of “steeds” and “wheels” (necessary componants of the conventional ground-bound war chariot). But why use such terminology when describing aerial vehicles? At first, this was a little baffling—after all, flying asses yoked to an airship?

These seemingly incongruous elements may be nothing more than the result of strong Hindu tendencies to allegorize, as well as translators who were sadly lacking in technological savvy and vocabulary. First let’s consider the application of the term “wheels” to the aircraft known as vimanas. In the Mahabharata one discovers this enigmatic passage:

“Indra’s vimana endued with great effulgence and driven by Matali, came dividing the clouds and illuminating the firmament, filling the entire sky with its roar . . . also propellers furnished with wheels, working with atmospheric expansion, producing sounds loud as the roar of great masses of clouds. . . Indra’s vimana was whisked along with such speed that the eye could scarcely follow.” (Vana Parva, Sec. xlii)

Let me draw attention to the phrase “propellers furnished with wheels, working with atmospheric expansion.” This is the way a modern jet engine works: pulling in fresh air using impeller blades, expanding the air by heating it, then directing it through more blades, which turn a shaft connected to the forward turbines, which packs in more air. If we substitute “impellers” for propellers and “turbines” for wheels—both more modern terms—it begins to make a great deal of sense.

Ancient drawings of these machines actually portray turbines and expansion chambers similar in some ways to our modern jet engines. So, at this point let me suggest that in many cases the Sanskrit word chakra should be translated “turbine” rather than “wheel,” without doing violence to the Sanskrit.

The ancient Aryans of India tended to allegorize a lot, making it difficult to look at their propulsion systems from our scientific point of view. Often the vimanas were said to be drawn through the sky by “celestial steeds” (whether horses, swans, asses, or elephants). What means this?

No doubt some of these descriptions are not allegories, but are presented in such a manner because the propulsion units were deliberately constructed to resemble these animals! The following passage illustrates this clearly describes:

“A huge and terrible black vimana made of black iron, it was 400 yojanas high and as many wide, equipped with engines set in their proper places. No steeds nor elephants propelled it. Instead it was driven by machines that looked like elephants.” (Ghatotrachabadma)

In many other cases they may be using such terms as a blind, deliberately covering up the true nature of the form of propulsion utilized. The word “celestial” may be included merely to cue the informed reader that the following term is not to be taken in its mundane, or “earthly,” sense. One particular text states emphatically: “Manufacturing details of these machines are withheld for the sake of secrecy, not out of ignorance.” (Samarangana Sutradhara)

*This is always the case in P. C. Roy’s translation of the Mahabharata (i.e., if a passage contains the word “vimana,” it is from one of the alternate sources listed in the bibliography below). All excerpts from the Ramayana are from Manatha Nath Dutt’s translation (who uses the term “vimana”). The Puranas are from Dr. Richard L. Thompson’s work “Alien Identities”.




Childress, David H., “Vimana Aircraft of ancient India and Atlantis,” Adventures Unlimited, Stelle, IL, 1991.
Dikshitar, V. R. Ramachandra, “War in Ancient India”
, Motilal Banarsidass, Madras, 1944.

Dutt, Manatha Nath (translator), Ramayana, Elysium Press, Calcutta, 1892 and New York, 1910.
Josyer, G. R., “Sanskrit Civilization,” International Academy of Sanskrit Research, Coronation Press, Mysore, 1966.
Kanjilal, Dileep K., “Vimanas in Ancient India,” Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta, 1985.
Nathan, Kanishk, “UFOs and India: Ancient and Contemporary,” UFO Symposium Proceedings, MUFON, 1987.
Raghaven, V., “Yantras or Mechanical Contrivances in Ancient India,” Transaction No. 10, Bangalore, 1956.
Roy, Protap Chandra (translator), Mahabharata, Bharata Press, Calcutta, 1889.
Smith, Ruth, Mahabharata in “The Tree of Life,” Viking Press, New York, 1957.
Thompson, Richard L., “Alien Identities,” Govardhan Hill Publ., Alachua, FL, 1993.