The Incredible Ancient Indians: the myths & the pseudo-science

There was so much 'science' flying around at the 'Ancient Indian Aviation Technology' panel in the Indian Science Congress that we had to write this story.

By Nikhil Pradhan Published Date
23 - Jan - 2015
| Last Updated
23 - Jan - 2015
read in : हिंदी
The Incredible Ancient Indians: the myths & the pseudo-science

One look at what discussions from the recently concluded Indian Science Congress actually made news will make you think that it was organised by a superteam made up of two kinds of people- one group that comprised of folks from AIB, College Humour and The Onion; and the other made up of people who work at Buzzfeed, Mashable and other ‘You won’t believe what XYZ did’ or ‘What XYZ did with ABC, will warm your heart’ websites.

The actual event had plenty of presentations on  actual science by some of the sharpest minds in the country and from around the world. The Congress saw discussions on subjects as varied as ‘application of mathematics to societal issues’ and ‘space science and space technology’. But as we all have been hard-wired by evolution to seek out the next big joke, thanks to the media coverage, we latched on to the ‘experts’ who spoke about ‘Ancient Indian Aviation Technology’ during the ‘Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit’ panel discussion.

The gist of that presentation was that ancient Indians were already well-versed in modern technology and everything that’s happening today, already happened a millennia ago.  Of course, that forces us to assume that our forefathers also used their version of Instagram to chronicle their evenings getting wasted on Soma Ras, or complained under their breath when the stewards and stewardesses on their Vimanas asked them to switch off their version of the iPad during take off.   

So, here’s all that we took away (thanks to from the meme worthy presentations made at the Indian Science Congress by Anand Bodas, a pilot trainer and Ameya Jadhav, an esteemed educator, while wondering why they weren’t joined on stage by a Greek American man with crazy hair and a bad tan.

Bro, we missed you.

1. The ‘scientific’ document that Bodas and Jadhav based their findings on is the Vymanika Shastra, a document that’s claimed to be ‘several thousand years old’, a claim that’s been refuted by researchers from the Indian Institute of Science who say that it was authored in 1904 or later.

One of the much talked about ancient Indian aircraft

2. The ancient Indians invented an air-cum-spacecraft that could travel to Mars and back. Sorry ISRO Mars Orbiter, you may have an adorable Twitter presence but you made the journey a couple of thousand years too late.

It’s okay, little buddy. We still think you’re special.

3. The aircrafts were packed to the gills with missiles and rumour has it that they also gave the pilots the ability to quicksave and quickload.

So, this?

4. Okay, go get really drunk, and then grab a pen and just doodle your heart out on a piece of paper. You see the randomness that came spewing out of your pen? Yup, these ancient aircraft had the ability to follow that flight pattern and could start, stop, turn, go up, down, back and diagonal in mid-air as if they were chess pieces on cocaine.  

5. The pilots of these aircraft were all decked out in suits sewn using silk, cotton and fibres from some mystery underwater plants that made these suits shockproof and resistant to electricity and water. Bonus stats: +15 INT, +15 CHA, +25 DEF.

What if Mass Effect is actually about ancient Indians? Mind. Blown.

6. These aircraft had radar. Because, of course, they did. Why the hell not?

Now, amidst all these paragraphs of cutting-edge humour and satire, let’s not forget that many of those that came before us actually put in a lot of effort into scientific thought, and I don’t mean that in the way Battlestar Galactica suggests. There were plenty of scientific breakthroughs made by those who lived in the BCE and early CE eras, some of which can still be considered incredibly advanced for their time, and we don’t need to start spouting saffron tinged pseudo-science to admit that.

As trends go, hopefully, next time the Indian Science Congress comes around, we will get a spin-off in the Indian Science-Fiction Congress where we’ll get to hear stories of how our ancestors Snapchatted with each other using self-destructing arrows or how they flew off and colonized Uranus.

Nikhil PradhanNikhil Pradhan