June 10, 2002
deutscher Text

Spaceflight in the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata, the largest ancient Indian epos, is at least 2000 years old.
It was written down a long time ago before the technology
which is described in some parts of it, was (re)invented in our time.
Even at the time of the complete literal and close english translation,
in the years 1886-1890, by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, published by Pratap Chandra Roy,
no aircraft ever flew and the first combustion engine was just invented a few month ago.

Now, read this text from
Volume III, Vana Parva, Section XLII (42),
taken from the translation by Ganguli.

Vaicampayana said: "After the Lokopalas had gone away,
Arjuna  -  that slayer of all foes  -  began to think,
O monarch, of the car of Indra!
And as Gudakeça gifted with great intelligence was thinking of it,
the car endued with great effulgence and guided by Matali,
came dividing the clouds and illuminating the firmament
and filling the entire welkin with its rattle
deep as the roar of mighty masses of clouds

Swords, and miscrias of terrible forms,
and maces of frightful description,
and winged darts of celestial splendor,

and lightnings of the brightest effulgence,
and thunderbolts

and Tutagudas furnished with wheels
and worked with atmospheric expansion
and producing sounds loud as the roar of great masses of clouds,
were on that car.

And there were also on that car
fierce and huge-bodied Nagas with fiery mouths,
and heaps of stones white as the fleecy clouds.

And the car was drawn by ten thousand horses of golden hue,
endued with the speed of the wind.

And furnished with prowess of illusion,
the car was drawn with such speed
that the eye could hardly mach its progress

And Arjuna saw on that car the flag-staff called Vaijayanta,
at blazing effulgence, resembling in hue the emerald or the dark blue lotus,
and decked with golden ornaments,
and straight as the bamboo.

And beholding a charioteer decked in gold seated on that car,
the mighty-armed son of Pritha regarded it as
belonging to the celestials. [...]

Matali the charioteer of Cakra, hearing these words of Arjuna,
soon mounted the car and
controlled the horses. [...]

Arjuna blazing like the sun itself,
ascended the celestial car

And the Kuru prince, gifted with great intelligence, with a glad heart,
coursed through the firmament on that celestial car effulgent as the sun
and of extraordinary achievements
And after he had become invisible to the mortals of the earth,
he behold thousands of cars of extraordinary beauty.

And in that region
there was no sun or moon or fire to give light,
but it blazed in light of its own,
generated by virtue and ascetic merit

And those brilliant regions
that are seen from the earth in form of stars,
like lamps (in the sky)
 - so small in consequence fo their distance,
though very large  - were beheld by the son of Pandu,
stationed in their respective places, full of beauty
and effulgence and blazing with splendor all their own. [...]

These, O son of Pritha, are virtous persons,
stationed in their respective places.
It is there whom thou hast seen, O exalled one,
as stars from the earth!"

If you can read sanskrit, I would be very interested in a comment!

Some resources on the Mahabharata:

The complete Ganguli translation is reprinted as a relativly low priced 4 volume softbound edition and can be ordered via bookshops.

Holger Isenberg
June 10, 2002
deutscher Text