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History of War in India: Vimanas (Ancient Aeroplanes)

I found a really interesting article on a website, with courtesy to this nice website I am sharing a part of the article, if you wanna know more go to that website:

Aerial Warfare
“The ancient Hindus could navigate the air, and not only navigate it, but fight battles in it like so many war-eagles combating for the domination of the clouds. To be so perfect in aeronautics, they must have known all the arts and sciences related to the science, including the strata and


~ Col. Henry S Olcott (1832 – 1907)
American author, attorney, philosopher, and cofounder of the Theosophical Society in a lecture in Allahabad, in 1881.

"No question can be more interesting in the present circumstances of the world than India’s contribution to the science of aeronautics. There are numerous illustration in our vast Puranic and epic literature to show how well and wonderfully the ancient Indians conquered the air. 
To glibly characterize everything found in this literature as imaginary and summarily dismiss it as unreal has been the practice of both Western and Eastern scholars until very recently. The very idea indeed was ridiculed and people went so far to assert that it was physically impossible for man to use flying machines. But today what with balloons, airplanes…..”
Turning to Vedic literature, in one of the Brahmanas occurs the concept of a ship that sails heavenwards. The ship is the Agnihotra of which the Ahavaniya and Garhapatya fires represent the two sides bound heavenward, and the steersman is the Agnihotrin who offers milk to the three Agnis. Again in the still earlier Rg Veda Samhita we read that the Asvins conveyed the rescued Bhujya safely by means of winged ships. The latter may refer to the aerial navigation in the earliest times. 

In the recently published Samarangana Sutradhara of Bhoja, a whole chapter of about 230 stanzas is devoted to the principles of construction underlying the various flying machines and other engines used for military and other purposes.


The various advantages of using machines, especially flying ones, are given elaborately. Special mention is made of their use at one’s will and pleasure, of their uninterrupted movements, of their strength and durability, in short of their capability to do in the air all that is done on earth. Three movements are usually ascribed to these machines, - ascending, cruising thousands of miles in different directions in the atmosphere and lastly descending.

It is said that in an aerial car one can mount up to Suryamandala, ‘solar region’ and the Naksatra mandala (stellar region) and also travel throughout the regions of air above the sea and the earth. These cars are said to move so fast as to make a noise that could be heard faintly from the ground. The evidence in its favor is overwhelming. 

An aerial car is made of light, wood looking like a great bird with a durable and well-formed body having mercury inside and fire at the bottom. It had two resplendent wings, and is propelled by air. It flies in the atmospheric regions for a great distance and carries several persons along with it. The inside construction resembles heaven created by Brahma himself.


Iron, copper, lead and other metals are also used for these machines. All these show how far art and science was developed in ancient India in this direction. Such elaborate description ought to meet the criticism that the vimanas and similar aerial vehicles mentioned in ancient Indian literature should be relegated to the region of myth. 

The ancient writers could certainly make a distinction between the mythical which they designated as daiva and the actual aerial wars designated as manusa. 

After the great victory of Rama over Lanka, Vibhisana presented him with the Puspaka vimana which was furnished with windows, apartments, and excellent seats. It was capable of accommodating all the vanaras besides Rama, Sita and Lakshman. Again in the Vikramaurvaisya, we are told that king Puraravas rode in an aerial car to rescue Urvasi in pursuit of the Danava who was carrying her away.


Similarly in the Uttararamacarita in the flight between Lava and Candraketu (Act VI) a number of aerial cars are mentioned as bearing celestial spectators. There is a statement in the Harsacarita of Yavanas being acquainted with aerial machines. The Tamil work Jivakacintamani refers to Jivaka flying through the air. 

Kathasaritsagara refers to highly talented woodworkers called Rajyadhara and Pranadhara. The former was so skilled in mechanical contrivances that he could make ocean crossing chariots. And the latter manufactured a flying chariot to carry a thousand passengers in the air. These chariots were stated to be as fast as thought itself. (source:India Through The Ages: History, Art Culture and Religion - By G. Kuppuram p. 532-533).

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