In 1895, a “full eight years before the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA”, a couple, “Shivkar Bapuji Talpade and his wife gave a thrilling demonstration flight on the Chowpatty beach in Mumbai”.
So reads the abstract of a paper on “Ancient Indian Aviation Technology”, to be presented at the Indian Science Congress, which begins in Mumbai tomorrow.
The congress, in its 102nd edition, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Sports Complex, Kalina. The congress has returned to Mumbai after 45 years, and is being hosted by Mumbai University after 54 years.
The paper on aviation is part of a symposium on “ancient Indian sciences through Sanskrit”, and will be presented by Captain Anand Bodas, retired principal of a pilot training centre, and Ameya Jadhav, lecturer at Mumbai’s Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College.
Other papers at the symposium are on “engineering applications of Ancient Indian botany”, the “neuro-science of yoga: understanding the process”, “advances in surgery in Ancient India” and “scientific principles of Ancient Indian architecture and civil engineering”.
Prakash Javadekar, union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, will give the inaugural address.
The abstract of the Bodas-Jadhav paper says: “Aviation technology in ancient India is not a tale of mythology, but it is a total historical document giving technical details and specifications. Ancient Sanskrit literature is full of descriptions of flying machines, Vimanas.
“From the many documents found, it is evident that the scientist-sages Agastya and Bharadwaja had developed the lore of aircraft construction. Aeronautics or Vaimaanikashastra is a part of Yantra Sarvasva of Bharadwaja. This is also known as Brihadvimaana Shastra. Vaimaanikashastra deals with aeronautics, including the design of aircraft, the way they can be used for transportation and other applications, in detail.”
According to the abstract, the knowledge of aeronautics is described in Sanskrit in 100 sections, eight chapters, 500 principles and 3000 slokas.
“Great sage Bharadwaja explained the construction of aircraft and way to fly it in air, on land, on water and use the same aircraft like a submarine,” the abstract says.
“He also described the construction of war planes and fighter aircraft. This paper will deal with manufacturing an alloy for making aeroplanes, the specialised dress material being virus proof, waterproof and shock proof for the pilots. This was given by Bhardwaja sage in Brihatvimanshashtra. He had mentioned 97 reference books for aviation.”
According to the abstract, the paper will provide a short account of the special diet for aviators, and on “emergency food” for times when regular “fooding facility was not available or possible”, as recommended in the Aharadhikaran.
“Bharadwaja has considered the climatic changes in the atmospheric levels while considering the dressing of the pilot. He has mentioned 25 types of viruses in the atmosphere which attack the human skin, bones and the body… In Vastradhikaran, he has given the reason for special clothing and the process of making fabric. After studying all above points, which are mentioned in Brihatvimanshashtra, we came to know that ancient Indian sciences and specially aviation technology was so advanced. The most interesting thing about the Indian science of aeronautics and Bharadwaja’s research was that they were successfully tested in actual practice by an Indian over hundred years ago. In 21st century, we should study and spread the achievements of our sages,” says the abstract.
The abstract of the paper on advances in surgery in Ancient India, to be presented by ayurvedic physician Dr Ashwin Sawant, will describe the advances made by Indian surgeons “thousands of years before the rise of the modern surgery”.
It says Indians had developed 20 types of sharp instruments and 101 types of blunt instruments required for surgery, all of pure iron, and many of which resemble modern surgical instruments.