Lost civilizations with flying saucers

By Devdutt Pattanaik

This school is sometimes called the Atlantis school. It rejects what traditional history has to say about prehistory; that after the Ice Age man moved from being a cave-dwelling hunter-gatherer to a settled agriculturist or nomadic herdsman, and then to a city dweller, an empire builder, and finally a scientist. It postulates that the Ice Age marks the end of a great civilization known to the Greeks as Atlantis. When scriptures talk of a Golden Age they refer not to an imagined utopia but a real period in human history whose memory remains only in myth. The people of this civilization were mathematicians, and hence scientists. They applied their knowledge to the stars, to buildings, and to technology to create a highly evolved culture. They knew how to harness the forces of nature using telepathy, crystals, and sound. The exact science is forgotten but remnants remain in astrology, numerology, and geomancy. In present times these subjects are deemed “occult”; most people do not realize that these subjects were once “sciences.”

In Hindu scriptures, there is repeated mention of Rishis who knew the secrets of the Veda and who transmitted it orally to worthy students. The antediluvian school believes the Rishis were the keepers of Atlantian wisdom. Stories such as the following have caused many to speculate that ancient Hindu Rishis knew the art of in vitro fertilization.
The sage Vyasa had blessed Gandhari that she would bear a hundred sons. Unfortunately, Gandhari gave birth to a ball of flesh, as hard and cold as metal, after two years of pregnancy. Distraught, she approached Vyasa, who asked Gandhari to cut the ball of flesh into a hundred pieces and place each piece in a jar of clarified butter. Vyasa then chanted hymns and blessed the pots. Nine months later the pots were broken. In each pot there was a male child. Thus the hundred sons of Gandhari, the Kauravas, were born.

The following story from the Mahabharata is taken as evidence that the ancients knew ballistic and probably even nuclear technology.

The war was over. The Pandavas had won, having killed all the Kauravas. Only three warriors in the enemy army had survived. One of them was Ashwathama. Determined to avenge the Kaurava defeat he raised his bow, chanted a dreaded formula, transformed his arrow into the Brahmastra missile, and let it go. Arjuna, the Pandava archer, saw the missile approach and let loose a similar missile to counter Ashwathama’s attack. “Stop,” cried Vyasa, grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas. “Reverse the formula, recall the missile; otherwise the collision will destroy all life. The world will crumble, forests will burn, seas will dry up, and nothing will remain.” Arjuna did as he was advised. Ashwathama did not know how to recall his missile so he directed it toward the womb of Uttara to kill her unborn child. Krishna came to the rescue of the fetus: He entered Uttara’s womb, countered the missile, saved the unborn child, came out, and cursed the dastardly Ashwathama that he would live forever, his body covered with sores and ulcers that would never heal.

The science-fiction school is an offshoot of the antediluvian school. Here the wisdom of Atlantis is perceived as a gift of extraterrestrial beings who visited earth on spaceships. Followers of this school believe that only this extraordinary event can explain the existence of grand and mysterious structures like the pyramids of Egypt and South America, Earth images on the Nazca plateau in the Andes that can only be seen aerially, the Serpent Mound in North America, and Stonehenge in England. To these believers tales of cities in the sky are not fantasy but ancient records of spaceships. The following story from the Shiva Purana is thus viewed as a great war between missile-shooting Atlantians and spaceship-riding extraterrestrials.

Three asuras secured the boon to build three aerial cities that could only be destroyed by a single arrow. When these cities of gold, silver, and iron were built the asuras roamed across every plane of existence, causing mayhem wherever they went. The devas went to Shiva, who said that the asuras were invulnerable until they respected the Veda. So Vishnu entered the city as the wily sage Mayamoha Buddha and deluded them with his logic until they abandoned the Veda. Then Shiva prepared himself, for the earth was his chariot, the sun and moon served as its wheels, the Veda were its horses, and Brahma was its charioteer. Mount Meru was his bow, Ananta Sesha was his bowstring, and Vishnu himself was his arrow. Shiva chased the cities for a thousand years, waiting for them to align themselves in a single line. This happened for just a moment, and Shiva fired a missile that ripped through the three cities and destroyed them in an instant. The cries of the asuras filled the three worlds as the aerial cities tumbled down. Shiva wept when he heard their cry, for the asuras were his devotees. Such was his wailing, more heart wrenching than his war cry, that he came to be known as Rudra, the howler. From his tears came the Rudraksha beads that are sacred to every devotee of Shiva.  Shiva also smeared his forehead with three horizontal lines of ash to remind all of this terrible event.

The Srimad Bhagavata which retells the story of Krishna also narrates the tale of how Shalva attacked the city of Dwarka with what appears to be a flying saucer.

On learning of Shishupala’s death, his friend, Salva, invoked Shiva and secured from him a flying saucer, a vimana that could travel anywhere in the world, in air, on the ground, under the sea. Using this vimana, Salva launched an attack on Dwaraka determined to avenge his friend’s death. Both Krishna and Balarama were in Indraprastha attending Yudhishtira’s coronation when this happened. So the defence of the city was left to the other Yadavas. Dwaraka was pounded by missiles from the skies. Krishna’s sons and grandsons put up a brave fight but were no match for Salva. When news of the aerial attack on Dwaraka reached Krishna, he hurried home and entered the battlefield immediately. First he shot an arrow with the Sharanga bow and brought Salva’s vimana down as if it was a bird. He then hurled the Kaumodaki mace and smashed the vimana to dust. Then raising the Nandaka sword, he beheaded Salva. The Yadavas were jubilant in victory.

Even the Ramayana talks about a flying chariot called pushpaka-vimana. To many the account of this chariot is not poetic imagination but historical evidence that airplanes existed in Vedic times. The chariot belonged to the yaksha-king Kubera. Ravana took it by force after driving Kubera out of Lanka. Ravana used the chariot to abduct Sita. After killing Ravana and rescuing Sita, Rama returned to the city of Ayodhya on this flying chariot.

There are those who believe that these great scientific abilities of the ancient world, which included knowledge of flight, are historical facts. Others who believe that these are purely flights of poetic fancy. One hopes that one day the truth will be out. Till then we have great tales to spice up that boring thing called life.

This article was originally published in and republished with permission from Devdutt.

Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian mythologist and writer known for his work on ancient Indian scriptures.