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Section: Vimanas

Ancient Aliens: “Ancient Sanskrit texts dating back as far as 6,000BC…”

Wow, 6000 BC…really? In reality the oldest of these texts would be the Vedas, which date to between 500-1500 BC[1][2].

Ancient Aliens just adds another 5,000 years as if no one would notice. They’re actually even contradicting themselves with this date because in another episode they correctly state that the oldest writings in the world are the Sumerian tablets, the oldest of which date to about 4000 BC.

So why they now say that there are some writings 2,000 years older than the oldest writings, I don’t think anyone knows.

AA: “…describing vivid detail flying machines called Vimanas.”

AA: “Vimanas are [airplanes] and they are powered by some jet engines. This seems to be true because all of the description of the flight behavior. Elephants ran away in panic; grass was thrown out because there was a lot of pressure from behind those Vimanas, so we can say that this was a description of [a] spaceship.”

The word Vimana literally means ‘having been measured out’[3]. It was related to the king’s palaces, and was referring to their intricate construction.  Later on, as a result the word became synonymous with palaces in general. And because of that it was used to refer to the palaces of the gods as well[4].

And yes these palaces of the gods were in the heavens, and they could fly, but as we look into this it will be clear that some of the Vimanas of the gods really were huge palaces, with gardens and terraces and golden staircases.

Then, because the palaces of the gods flew, the word gradually became used for anything that could fly, either in mythology or in reality.

So understanding the palace concept in the development of the word Vimana is helpful in understanding what we will be looking at.

But before we look into the real descriptions of Vimanas in the Vedic texts we must first examine a fake text, because almost everything that Ancient Aliens says about Vimanas comes from a totally bogus text called the Vimanika Shastra.

AA: “Although mainstream historians believe the Vimana texts are myths, many of the documents contain passages that seem to describe modern machinery and technology.”

AA: “The Vimanika Shastra goes into metals that are used in these crafts. It talks about electricity and power sources. It talks about pilots and the clothing they need to wear. It talks about the food that they eat. It talks even about the weapons that are kept on these airships.”

AA: “The flight manuals of the Vimanas are quite similar to the flight manuals you find in the modern passenger-flight business or when you go to the military jet engines. Of course, they also have flight manuals because it’s necessary for a pilot to get knowledge about [the] plane he [wants] to fly with.”

The Vimanika Shastra is not an actual ancient text. It was channeled, or dictated, to the author from the spirit world in 1918[5].

The spirit who supposedly dictated the text claimed to be and ancient seer named Bharadvada, who is prominent in some ancient writings[6], so I guess that is what is supposed to give this text credibility – that is, the idea that the ghost of someone ancient supposedly dictated it.

But they’re not even sure if that version of the story is true, because the first mention of any of this in in 1952 by the guy who supposedly found and translated this text from 1918[7], so as far as anyone knows he could have made the whole channeled by a famous ghost story up in 1952.

The text itself reads like a technical manual, describing the details of how Vimanas operated. It includes the description of what must have sounded like a really technical idea in 1918 or 1952 called a mercury-vortex engine. Ancient Aliens spends a huge amount of time talking about this idea.

AA: “The Vimanika Shastra, or science of aeronautics, indicates Vimanas used a propulsion system based on a combination of gyroscopes, electricity and mercury. Is this possible?”

AA: “Mercury is an unusual element. Mercury is metal. It’s also a liquid and it’s a conductor of electricity.”

AA: “The Vimanika Shastra suggests Vimanas were powered by several gyroscopes placed inside a sealed liquid mercury vortex.”

AA: “One of the texts talks about mercury rotating and driving some sort of a powerful wind or a windmill effect. That might be some sort of what we call a fly-wheel energy storage where you have a spinning disc and you extract energy from it slowly – that would be the mercury. That could be used to drive some sort of propeller or what we call a conducted fan.”

Some of the other things this text describes are equally scientific sounding. It even includes very technical drawings of the things it’s talking about.

But when you look closer at all this it becomes obvious that it is physically impossible for any of these craft to get off the ground. In fact 20 years later, in 1974, a study was done on the texts and the drawings by the Aeronautical and Mechanical Institute of Science in Bangalore, India[8]. I will quote Will Hunt, an American freelance writer based in India for a description of how that study came out.

“As thoroughly as it had been written, the committee just as thoroughly dismantled the study in an essay called A Critical Study of the Work Vymanika Shastra. They questioned whether the author (whoever that may have been) had any grasp of basic physics, chemistry and electricity, not to mention the “disciplines of aeronautics: aerodynamics, aeronautical structures, propulsive devices, materials, and metallurgy.” Their conclusion: “None of the planes has properties or capabilities of being flown; the geometries are unimaginably horrendous from the point of view of flying; and the principles of propulsion make them resist rather than assist flying.[9]

Another writer, JB hare writing for the Sacred Text Archive said the following of the craft in the Vimanika Shastra:

“[They are] absurdly non-aerodynamic… brutalist wedding cakes, with minarets, huge ornithopter wings and dinky propellers.”

I have a feeling that even though 90 percent of the information that Ancient Aliens presents on Vimanas comes from this text, they realize that it has been thoroughly discredited.  So in an odd twist, after spending 5 minutes on how great the idea of a mercury vortex engine would be, they then let everyone know that the idea wouldn’t actually work.

They stop short, however, of saying there is anything wrong with this text though, they just say that there may have been a problem with the translation of a word or two.

AA: “Fly-wheel energy-storage systems however tend to lose power quickly. To navigate across space its size would have to be enormous.”

AA: “It’s not at all clear that this would be a practical device. Maybe the people were trying to describe something that [kind of] looked like something like this to them. It might not have actually have been mercury. It might have been some other liquid metal.”

AA: “The mercury vortex engine is perhaps a failure in the translation because the vortex is not a material quite suitable to a jet engine.”

So let’s move on to the mentions of Vimanas in the actual ancient Vedic texts.

So as I have already mentioned the word Vimana came to mean ‘palace’, and when it was a palace of a god it was usually capable of flying around.

When we look at the development of Vimanas chronologically the mystery surrounding them vanishes. First of all they were not even mentioned in the earlier texts, and when they were finally mentioned, the next thousand years of their being mentioned always included them having wheels and being drawn by horses[10], not exactly a mercury vortex engine.

Then, around 500 BC, the chariots lose their horses and are depicted as flying on their own[11].

Jason Colavito says the following about the first mentions of Vimanas without horses:

“The very first of these is the flying chariot of the earthly king Ravana called Pushpaka. By the time of the Mahabharata (c. 400 BCE), these flying chariots had grown in size–one was now described as 12 cubits in circumference–but they never lost the large wheels that marked them as derived from earthly horse-drawn chariots.”

It’s also interesting to see that Ancient Astronaut theorists have to distort the actual description of Vimanas in the Vedic texts in order to make them sound like UFO’s

For example, the following is a quote from David Childress’ book where he is supposed to be quoting a description of a Vimana from an ancient text. We’ll read what he tells his readers what it says, and then we will read the actual ancient text and note the differences.

First lets here is Childress’ version:

“When morning dawned, Rama, taking the Celestial Car Puspaka had sent to him by Vivpishand, stood ready to depart. Self-propelled was that car. It was large and finely painted. It had two stories and many chambers with windows, and was draped with flags and banners. It gave forth a melodious sound as it coursed along its airy way.”

And now here is what the actual Ramayana says:

“And the mighty monkey ascended the splendid car Pushpaka, containing figures of wolves,—made of Kart taswara and Hir anya; graced with ranges of goodly pillars; as if blazing in splendor; throughout garnished with narrow secret rooms and saloons, piercing the heavens, and resembling Meru or Mandara, and like unto the flaming Sun; skillfully reared by Vic wak arma; with golden staircases and graceful and grand raised seats, rows of golden and crystal windows, and daises composed of sapphires, emeralds and other superb gems; embellished with noble vid-rumas, costly stones, and round pearls, as also with plastered terraces; pasted with red sandal, like unto gold, and furnished with a sacred aroma; and resembling the sun new risen[12]. (Sundarakandam 9)”

Colavito says of this: “Elsewhere it is described as being filled with fruit trees, and sometimes it is drawn by geese. Do you know many UFOs with “plastered terraces” and red paint?”

In summary, most of what Ancient Aliens uses on this point is from a bogus 20th-century channeled text, which they dishonestly present as an ancient text. And even the real descriptions of Vimanas get some tweaking by them in order to make it sound like a UFO.

The development of the idea of Vimanas in Hindu mythology can be traced easily, and loses all of its intrigue for the Ancient Astronaut theorist when you do.

[1] Gavin Flood sums up mainstream estimates, according to which the Rigveda was compiled from as early as 1500 BCE over a period of several centuries. Flood 1996, p. 37

[2] Witzel, Michael, “Vedas and Upani?ads”, in: Flood 2003, p. 68

[3] Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, version 0.1a_12

[4] Ibid


[6] David Hatcher Childress, Vimana Aircraft of Ancient India, Adventures Unlimited Press (1991)


[8] Mukunda, H.S.; Deshpande, S.M., Nagendra, H.R., Prabhu, A. and Govindraju, S.P. (1974). “A critical study of the work “Vyamanika Shastra”". Scientific Opinion: 5–12.

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Ramayana, Sundarakandam 9