The Legend of the Pushpak Vimana

The Legend of the Pushpak Vimana

  • Write By: admin@vedamayee
  • Published In: Mithology
  • Created Date: 2013-03-09
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This is an original idea. However, it does not let my intellectual honesty rest easy if I do not acknowledge that the thought was inspired, or should I say triggered, by the work of Anand Neelakantan sir ( His books have forced me to rethink many of my fixed, ingrained notions, and look at many old stories through a new, welcome perspective.

While it may be a severe disappointment to the people in the west, we Indians do not credit the Wright brothers and Kitty Hawk as being the first successful flying machine. In fact, we insist that the technology was available in India centuries before that. The Pushpak Vimana, a flying machine, is described in the Ramayana, one of the oldest Indian holy texts.

I write this piece based on the assumption that the Ramayana is not a myth, as some say, but a faithful recording of history, as others insist. While a learned friend insists that our myths are nothing more than glorified fairy tales, and deserve no greater credulity than “the little mermaid” and other fairy tales like it; I go with the “it’s all true history” point of view for this piece. While I think aviation technology can not develop in isolation – flying machines but no mechanized road / rail / sea / river transport does seem to stretch the imagination, and might just be “flights of fancy” like flying monkeys (who can undertake space travel without need of oxygen), I feel it is much easier to get your point across if you argue logically within the framework of the other’s belief system, rather than trying to challenge the basic precepts of the belief system, in which case it becomes impossible to get your point across successfully.

However, even working on that assumption, I have come to the conclusion that the pushpak vimana was not Indian – which probably explains its absence from later holy texts like the Bhagvat Purana or the Mahabharata – it was Sri Lankan.

The logic behind this conclusion is entirely based on the Ramayana.

The first we hear of the unique flying machine is when Ravana, the king of Lanka, flies down in it from the emerald isle to abduct Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. In fact, we do not even come across one instance of its use by the good guys before Lanka is conquered. Janaka, Dashratha, Bharat et al seem to rely entirely on the non-technological terrestrial modes of transport available at the time. Even Lord Rama, and his simian cohort, do not use a vimana on their journey south. Then they use it to triumphantly fly home – spoils of war, possibly.

Even during the battle, when Laxman, Lord Rama’s younger  brother, was comatose and struggling for his life, the fact that they had to depend on a miraculous flying monkey, referred to earlier, who by now has developed the skills needed to move mountains, to battle odds and  bring the whole mountain (since he failed to recognize the plant needed to revive Laxman) instead  of resorting to the much easier and more convenient option of sending Sushena, who had recommended the Sanjivani Buti in a Pushpak Vimana in the first place, seems to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that they did not have access to a flying machine till that time.

So, two options seem to present themselves – 1) We treat the Ramayana as fictionalized mythology, in which case the Wright brothers still have a just claim to fame, or 2) We treat the Ramayana as mostly accurate history, in which case the Sri Lankans seem to have reason to feel proud. In neither case can India appropriate the glory associated with the first flying machine.

Another glaring gap to me seems Ravana’s inability and unwillingness to use the Pushpak vimana in the battle. Of course, I presume that airborne warriors would have had a huge competitive advantage in a battle where, with the exception of one flying monkey, the rest of the enemy was forced to be terrestrial.

Anyway, I think I have put forth my thoughts on the matter. So what do you folks conclude? Whose vimana was it anyway? 

Credits :

Author: Sandeep Koul

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