Vimanas or Aerial Cars - Indias Oldest flying machines Read on...

Did the "Pushpaka Vimana" (magical aircraft) described in the Ramayana really exist?

Pushpaka Vimana really did exist. For those who refuse to believe, let us consider the following scenario. Today, we find that man has devised ultra-modern aircrafts and space shuttles that traverse the skies, Flying has become reality now. Even if we were to assume that "Pushpaka Vimana" was merely an object of imagination, for argument's sake, our ancestors who could images such an aircraft thousands of years ago were undoubtedly great people!

The mention of airplanes is found many times throughout Vedic literature, including the following verse from the Yajur-Veda describing the movement of such machines:
"O royal skilled engineer, construct sea-boats, propelled on water by our experts, and airplanes, moving and flying upward, after the clouds that reside in the mid-region, that fly as the boats move on the sea, that fly high over and below the watery clouds. Be thou, thereby, prosperous in this world created by the Omnipresent God, and flier in both air and lightening. (Yajur Veda, 10.19)
The Rig Veda, the oldest document of the human race includes references to the following modes of transportation:
  • Jalayan - a vehicle designed to operate in air and water. (Rig Veda 6.58.3)
  • Kaara- Kaara- Kaara- a vehicle that operates on ground and in water. (Rig Veda 9.14.1)
  • Tritala- Tritala- Tritala- a vehicle consisting of three stories. (Rig Veda 3.14.1)
  • Trichakra Ratha - Trichakra Ratha - Trichakra Ratha - a three-wheeled vehicle designed to operate in the air. (Rig Veda 4.36.1)
  • Vaayu Ratha- Vaayu Ratha- Vaayu Ratha- a gas or wind-powered chariot. (Rig Veda 5.41.6)
  • Vidyut Ratha- Vidyut Ratha- Vidyut Ratha- a vehicle that operates on power. (Rig Veda 3.14.1).
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).

According to Dr. Vyacheslav Zaitsev:

"the holy Indian Sages, the Ramayana for one, tell of "Two storied celestial chariots with many windows" "They roar like off into the sky until they appear like comets." The Mahabharata and various Sanskrit books describe at length these chariots, "powered by winged was a ship that soared into the air, flying to both the solar and stellar regions."

(source: Temples and Spaceships - By V. Zaitsev - Sputnik, Jan. 1967 and Hinduism in the Space Age - By E. Vedavyas p. 31-32).

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 ocean 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 publicized 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).

The Nazca lines of Peru seem to be landing signal for the air chariots of pre-Colombian 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, armored 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).

According to Professor Dileep Kumar Kanjilal in his book, Vimana in Ancient India:
In addition to the Vaimanika Shashtra, the Samarangana Sutradhara and the Yuktikalpataru of Bhoja, there are about 150 verses of the Rig Veda, Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda, a lot of literary passages belonging to the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the Bhagavata and the Raghuvamsa and some references of the darma Abhijnanasakuntalam of Kalidasa, the Abimaraka of Bhasa, the Jatalas.
The Avadhana Literature and of the Kathasaritsagara and a number of literary works contained either references to graphic aerial flight or to the mechanism of the aerial vehicles used in old ages in India. In the Ramayana both the words "Vimana" and "Ratha" have been used:
  • Kamagam ratham asthaya...nadanadipatim (3. 35. 6-7). He boarded the aerial vehicle with Khara which was decorated with jewels and the faces of demons and it moved with noise resembling the sonorous clouds.
  • You may go to your desired place after enticing Sita and I shall bring her to Lanka by air.. So Ravana and Maricha boarded the aerial vehicle resembling a palace (Vimana) from that hermitage.
  • Then the demons brought the Puspaka aerial vehicle and placed Sita on it by bringing her from the Ashoka forest and she was made to see the battle field with Trijata.
  • This aerial vehicle marked with Swan soared into the sky with loud noise.
Reference to Flying vehicles as Vimana occur in the Mahabharata in about 41 places of which the air attack of Salva on Krisna's capital Dwaraka deserve special notice. The Asura king Salva had an aerial flying machine known as Saubha-pura in which he came to attack Dwaraka.

He began to shower hails, and missiles from the sky. As Krishna chased him he went near the sea and landed in the high seas. Then he came back again with his flying machine and gave a tough fight to Krishna staying about one Krosa (about 4,000 ft) above the ground level. Krishna at last threw a powerful ground-to-air weapon which hit the plane in the middle and broke it into pieces. The damaged flying machine fell into the seas. This vivid description of the air attack occurs in the Bhagavata also. We also come across the following references to missiles, armaments, sophisticated war-machines and mechanical contrivances as well as to Vimanas in Mahabharata.

The inscriptions of emperor Asoka are by far the most authentic records in support of the existence of aerial flying vehicles which are mentioned as Vimana. 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. Vatsyana in his Kama Sutra referred to mechanical contrivances in their origin among 64 ancillary Sciences.

The Arthasastra of Kautilya (3rd century B.C), a treatise mainly dealing with political economy but containing information on kindred scientific topics refers to a class of mechanic known as Saubhika...
8.   Sundara Vimana: Vertical Section
A discussion regarding the existence of and the use of flying vehicles in ancient India naturally waits for an advanced state of knowledge in cosmogony. A close and careful study of the Vedic literature shows that it was not just a collection of primeval poetry but a varied literature of a powerful and dynamic society where the people had the knowledge of cloud and vapor, of the season and of the monsoon, of the different types of wind, of the expanse of the sky, of the strength of the wind blowing at high speed and so on.

Three types of cloud have been referred to in the Rig Veda (1.101.4). which also states that smoke and vapor surcharged with water turn into cloud. Formation of vapor through heat and the subsequent formation of cloud has been referred to in the Vedas. Indian meteorological concepts thus date back to the age of the Rig Veda.

Dileep Kumar Kanjilal concludes that:

"With the passage of time and due to various changes of catastrophes the machines went out of use so that the secrets of its make-up and flying were equally lost. That the discontinuity of technical knowledge of a particular science within the known period of history is not an impossible factor has been shown by the inability to explore the nature of the rustless iron of the pillar of Chandraketu now fixed in Delhi.

Hiuentzang, the Chinese pilgrim in the 7th century A.D. referred to 7 story palaces of which no evidence now remains. Sir P. C. Roy had shown that during the period from 1509 B.C. up to the end of the 3rd century B.C. methods for the large scale production of metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and mercury and of alloys like brass, bronze, and those of gold and silver with baser materials were known. Large varieties of mineral ores, gems, and precious stones have been described in detail by Kautilya. Knowledge of the fermentation process also reached a fairly advanced state. With a highly developed state of civilization flourishing in art, culture, literature, history, medicine, alchemy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology, geology, trade, commerce, shipbuilding, and agriculture it is natural to think that some sort of flying vehicles as attested by literary references was in all probability known.

From the time of Panini up to the time of Bhoja we come across references to the great universities of Taxila, Valabhi, Dhar, Ujjain and Visala etc. The annals of history inform us that the depredations of the foreign tribes began as early as the 2nd century A.D. From two centuries later came succeeding waves of attacks of other foreign hordes like the Arabs, Turks and Afghans. All the well known universities and other centers of learning like the temples, the Viharas and the Bhandaras containing books and other priceless treasures of the Indian heritage had to stand the fire and fury of the marauders. In the dark firmament of devastation and uncertainty a silver lining was, however, seen in the efforts of King Bhoja in the 12th century, when he tried to compile the Sanskrit texts. Glimpses of old heritage survived only in the memory of the people and in stray literary evidences. State patronization for Indian Hindu cultural enterprises in the Turk-Afghan/Islamic period was a misnomer."
The original designation of the flying machine was "Ratha" which gave way for the term "Vimana". The Samarangana Sutradhara unequivocally suggested that the design of the plane was imitated to construct palaces. It was built by the Rbhus for the Gods. Gods as pointed out by Sayana came from remote space in the sky above and the obvious conclusion is that Gods as newcomers on the earth from outer space brought in this technology. The texts of the Rig Veda ranging from the 1st-10th Manadal refers to aerial flying machines as Ratha. In the Yajurveda which is considered chronologically later than the Rig Veda followed by other Brahmanas, the name "Vimanas" occurs.

These vehicles were multi-shaped. But the triangular or quadrangular pattern survived owing to their practical utility. Puspaka the aerial vehicle survived in use because of its practical usefulness. In the Vedic texts the configuration of the machines has been broadly shown as triangular. The inside area as it can be gathered from the text was about 9 ft X 9 ft. = 81 sq. ft capable of accommodating 7/8 persons. In a triangular delta wing type this can be easily be made conical to give it greater feasibility and maneuverability.

The descriptions of the flying aerial cities in the Mahabharata seem to indicate a higher degree of scientific achievement and technical skill as the flying cities moved high up above the region of the clouds and very probably in the exosphere region. We have earliest temple design in a seal of the Harmika-sira temple built by King Hubiska at Buddha Gaya of the 1st century B.C. which is a rectangular based conical construction. The Virupaksa Temple of Pattakada, of 740 A.D. has a long rectangular base developed into a tapering square or hexagonal construction upwards imitate the Trivistapa type. The overall structural similarity of the temples with a modern helicopter gives overt cognizance to the Samarangana Sutradhara that temples were designed after the models of the flying machines. Even the giant Konaraka temple which resembles the chariot of Surya (Sun God) was of octagonal pattern on large rectangular base measuring 100 ft X 100 ft. X 100 ft.

(source: Vimana in Ancient India - By Dileep Kumar Kanjilal Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar Calcutta 1985 p. 11-99).

Here is a survey of some fascinating articles and quotes:

"One time while King Citaketu was traveling in outer space on a brilliantly effulgent airplane given to him by Lord Vishnu, he saw Lord Siva..." "The arrows released by Lord Siva appeared like fiery beams emanating from the sun globe and covered the three residential airplanes, which could then no longer be seen."
(Srimad Bhagavatam, Sixth Canto, Part 3)

"The so-called ‘Rama Empire’ of Northern India and Pakistan developed at least fifteen thousand years ago on the Indian sub-continent and was a nation of many large, sophisticated cities, many of which are still to be found in the deserts of Pakistan, northern, and western India. Rama...was ruled by ‘enlightened Priest-Kings’ who governed the cities. The seven greatest capital cities of Rama were known in classical Hindu texts as ‘The Seven Rishi Cities’. According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines which were called ‘vimanas’. The ancient Indian epic describes a vimana as a double- deck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a flying saucer. It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a ‘melodious sound’. There were at least four different types of vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like long cylinders (‘cigar shaped airships’)".

(source: D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology" In The Anti-Gravity Handbook )

" An aerial chariot, the Pushpaka, conveys many people to the capital of Ayodhya. The sky is full of stupendous flying-machines, dark as night, but picked out by lights with a yellowish glare." 

(Mahavira of Bhavabhuti - A Jain text of the eighth century culled from older texts and traditions)
"The Vedas, ancient Hindu poems, thought to be the oldest of all the Indian texts, describe vimanas of various shapes and sizes: the ‘ahnihotra-vimana’ with two engines, the ‘elephant-vimana’ with more engines, and other types named after the kingfisher, ibis and other animals."
(source: D. Hatcher Childress, "Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology" In The Anti-Gravity Handbook )
16.   Shakuna Vimana: Horizontal Section--Lengthwise
"Now Vata’s chariot’s greatness! Breaking goes it, And Thunderous is its noise, To heaven it touches, Makes light lurid [a red fiery glare], and whirls dust upon the earth."
(Rig-Veda - Vata is the Aryan god of wind)
In the Vedic literature of India, there are many descriptions of flying machines that are generally called vimanas. These fall into two categories:
(1) manmade craft that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings
(2) unstreamlined structures that fly in a mysterious manner and are generally not made by human beings
The machines in category (1) are described mainly in medieval, secular Sanskrit works dealing with architecture, automata, military siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in category (2) are described in ancient works such as the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas, and they have many features reminiscent of UFOs. "There are ancient Indian accounts of manmade wooden vehicles that flew with wings in the manner of modern airplanes. Although these wooden vehicles were also called vimanas, most vimanas were not at all like airplanes. The more typicalvimanas had flight characteristics resembling those reported for UFOs, and the being associated with them were said to possess powers similar to those presently ascribed to UFO entities. An interesting example of a vimana is the flying machine which Salva, an ancient Indian king, acquired from Maya Danava, an inhabitant of a planetary system called Taltala.
(Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities)
"The cruel Salva had come mounted on the Saubha chariot that can go anywhere, and from it he killed many valiant Vrishni youths and evilly devastated all the city parks." 
(The Mahabharata)
There is this account by the hero Krishna that is suggestive of more modern weapons. As he takes to the skies in pursuit of Salva:
"His Saubha clung to the sky at a league’s length...He threw at me rockets, missiles, spears, spikes, battle-axes, three-bladed javelins, flame-throwers, without pausing....The sky...seemed to hold a hundred suns, a hundred moons...and a hundred myriad stars. Neither day nor night could be made out, or the points of compass."

"The airplane occupied by Salva was very mysterious. It was so extraordinary that sometimes many airplanes would appear to be in the sky, and sometimes there were apparently none. Sometimes the plane was visible and sometimes not visible, and the warriors of the Yadu dynasty were puzzled about the whereabouts of the peculiar airplane.

Sometimes they would see the airplane on the ground, sometimes flying in the sky, sometimes resting on the peak of a hill and sometimes floating on the water. The wonderful airplane flew in the sky like a whirling firebrand - it was not steady even for a moment."
Bhaktivedanta, Swami Prabhupada, Krishna


India may have had a superior civilization with possible contacts with extraterrestrial visitors, and the flying devices called 'Vimanas' described in ancient Indian texts may underline their possible connections with today's aerospace technology, an Italian scientist told the World Space Conference here today.

Dr. Roberto Pinotti asked the delegates to examine in detail the Hindu texts instead of dismissing all the Vimana descriptions and traditions as mere myth.  "The importance of such studies and investigations could prove to be shocking for today's man because the existence of flying devices beyond mythology can only be explained with a forgotten superior civilization on earth," he said. Pointing out that Indian Gods and heroes fought in the skies using piloted vehicles with terrible weapons.

Dr. Pinotti said they were similar to modern jet propelled flying machines. 32 secrets: He said certain descriptions of the Vimanas seemed 'too detailed and technical in nature to be labeled as myth.' He cited various texts to show there were 32 secrets relating to the operation of Vimanas, some of which could be compared to modern day use of radar, solar energy and photography. Quoting from 'Vymanika Shastra' he said the ancient flying devices of India were made from special heat absorbing metals named 'Somaka, Soundalike and Mourthwika.'

He said the text also discussed the seven kinds of mirror and lenses installed aboard for defensive and offensive uses. The so-called 'Pinjula Mirror' offered a sort of 'visual shield' preventing the pilots from being blinded by 'evil rays' and the weapon 'Marika' used to shoot enemy aircraft 'does not seem too different from what we today called laser technology,' he said.
According to the Italian expert, the 'principles of Page 1 propulsion as far as the descriptions were concerned, might be defined as electrical and chemical but solar energy was also involved'. For instance, the 'Tripura Vimana'mentioned in 'Vymanika Shastra' was a large craft operated by 'motive power generated by solar rays,' Dr. Pinotti said, adding 'its elongated form was surely much closer to that of a modern blimp.'
14.   Shakuna Vimana: Vertical Section (Crosswise)
Sophisticated design: According to Dr. Pinotti, the huge 'Shakuna Vimana' described in the text 'might be defined as a cross between a plane and a rocket of our times and its design might remind one of today's space shuttle.' 'Surely, it expresses the most complex and sophisticated aeronautical design among all the other descriptions of Vimanas mentioned in the 'Vymanika Shastra,' he said.

He described the author of the treatise 'Vymanika Shastra' as a man 'attempting to explain an advanced technology.' Dr. Pinotti, who has made an exhaustive study of the history of Indian astronautics, said another text, Samaraanganasutraadhaara had 230 stanzas devoted to the principles of building Vimanas and their use in peace and war. He said ancient Aryans knew the use of the element 'fire' as could be seen from their 'Astra' weapons that included Soposamhara (flame belching missile), Prasvapna (which caused sleep) and four kinds of Agni Astras that traveled in sheets of flame and produced thunder. He said the car that was supposed to go up to Suryamandal (solar system) and the Naksatramandala (stellar system) cannot be dismissed as a myth because of the 'technical nature' of its description. Dr. Pinotti said depictions of space travel, total destruction by incredible weapons and the fact that Vimanas resembled modern unidentified flying objects would suggest that India had a 'superior but forgotten civilization.' 'In the light of this, we think it will be better to examine the Hindu texts' and subject the descriptive models of Vimanas to more scientific scrutiny,' he said.

Jerry W. Decker, Ron Barker, Chuck Henderson
Vangard Sciences/KeelyNet

Genealogy of the Bharata

Genealogy of the Bharata