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Was the idea of modern satellite really made in the ancient times by Hindus?

If you look at graphical interpretations of Hindu mythology, you might see some cool stuff which seems to be impossible according to modern science. As we already know, the first artificial satellite ever launched by humans was on 1975. It was the Russian satellite Sputnik that hit the news then and is considered to be a great human achievement in science.

Image Credit – History.com

However, there is evidence in several books that this sort of flying machines was already in use over the Indian continent thousands of years ago, and it is claimed that NASA has taken inspiration from the ancient Hindu writings.

Can this be true, however? Let’s examine some of the claims before deducing the validity of it.

Their claim is based on Pushpaka Vimana. The King of Lanka, Ravana used to travel in Pushpaka Vimana, according to Hindu Mythology.

Vimana means to traverse or to measure, and Pushpaka Vimana is said to be Ravana’s flying palace, and from myths and legends. But how is it relevant to what we are discussing?

Premise 1:

People claim that “ancient scriptures” tell of the ancient aeronauts. One evidence is a publication titled ‘Vaimanika Shastra’ or ‘the Science of Aeronautics’, which was written by Subbaraya Shastry between 1918 and 1923. True or not, but the book is said to have written by connecting with ancient Saint Bharadvaja through psychic channeling. Myth has it that Shastry had contracted leprosy, and when he left home and spent nine months in the forest, he found enlightenment and is believed to have conversations with Sage Bharadvaja.

This is where he found the knowledge of flying machines. When he returned back (also having been cured of leprosy), he dictated all his knowledge since he could not read or write. Over the period of five years and 25 years after the psychic experience, he was able to dictate everything.

Four types of aircraft were mentioned. They were Shakuna, Sundara, Rukma and Tripura. Tripura can fly in the air, and move on water and land.

This dictated text was apparently discovered by G.R. Josyer on 1952 and then translated the book into English in 1973. It contained eight chapters and also included the technicalities and architecture of Ravana’s feasible flying machines. There are indications that the ‘vimana used rotating gyroscopes of electricity and mercury. The text that was discovered was said to have been only a small section of what Shastry had written.

Premise 2:

In another discovery by David Hatcher Childress where he decoded the Indian piece of work ‘Samarangana Sutradhara’, he claims that the flying machines in those times were powered by metal mercury. His words read, “By means of the power latent in the mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion, a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in the sky..” ‘Mercury vortex engine’ was what it was referred to as.

So let’s evaluate these premises:

The first premise states that ‘Vaimanika Shastra’ was an ancient text when it really was written only less than a century ago. And a study by aeronautical and mechanical engineering department at the Indian Institute of Science in 1974 explained that the architecture provided were not feasible for flight.

They also added that there was no information about how the vimanas got up in the air and claimed that the author had no knowledge of aeronautics even though he showed to have some understanding of modern machinery. So the ancient designs found on discovered text might be alluring, but practically, they had no value. The discovered text was only a small section of Vaimanika Shastra, which could also be the reason for incomplete information.

The second premise shown by David Hatcher Childress has been disregarded times and again by historical archaeologists for being factually incorrect. As such, his words might have less truth to it, even though he has published over 200 books about ancient astronauts and lost the city of Atlantis.

Third, even though mercury was used and tested as a propellant in the past by NASA for the “vortex engine, it is not done today because mercury is a neurotoxin and is considered to be dangerous for health. (So they started using Xenon if you are wondering)

As such, the conclusion is that the Pushpaka Vimana could not have any meaning to modern science, and the claims, though might sound fascinating, are completely false according to scientists.


(Based on an article by Martina Redpath, Senior Education Support Officer at Armagh Planetarium)

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