CHAPTER – 2
AUTHORSHIP AND DATING —VYMANIKA SHASTRA
The work ‘Vymanika Shastra’ has been ascribed to the great sage of
ancient India, Maharshi Bharadwaja. From the data available,
references related to the work have transited through earlier times
of known history. It is also claimed that the work is among forty
topics of ‘Yantra Sarwaswa’ that dealt with ‘All about machines’. It
is not a matter of dispute that basic work for translated variants
of Vymanika Shastra (English & Hindi) published in the country was
originated from Sanskrit manuscript dictated by Pundit Anekal
Subbaraya Shastry to a Sanskrit scholar, Sri G Venkatachala Sharma.
There have been doubts and controversies raised in some earlier
reviews regarding the authorship and dating. Treatises of this
nature where documented records of the past are not available due to
various reasons naturally attract such issues. This aspect needs
careful and logical scrutiny. This is especially so in the face of
some critics having made generalized statements that Indians have a
habit of eulogizing the authors and works of such genesis.
Many scientists today look at Mythology with skepticism and accept
only recorded history as gospel truth even if recorded history
itself has suffered distortions. They are antagonistic to the belief
that Mythology preceded history in civilizations the world over.
This is primarily because the links between history and mythology
are loose and not conclusively established. Periods of vacuum
between mythology and history have compounded the problems in the
efforts to bridge the gap. Repeated invasions before and during the
Mogul rule, colonial rule under the British put together spanning
nearly ten centuries (with occasional breathers of domestic
supremacy) contributed a great deal towards suppression and
hibernation of ancient Indian works, Scientific, Spiritual and
It is in the backdrop of such observations that this study exercise
has probed into the subject of authorship and dating. It is for this
reason alone that ‘Background of the work’ conforming to recorded
data from the genesis of Sanskrit manuscripts conveyed by Pundit Sri Subbaraya Shastry has been separately dealt with in earlier
Several natural questions do come up in this context.
Who was Maharshi Bharadwaja, ascribed to be the author of this work
‘Vymanika Shastra’, supposedly a part of ‘Yantra sarwaswa’?
Is this work of Vedic origin? Is it in Vedic language? If not, why
Who is Bodhananda that has written ‘Vritti’ or ‘commentary’ on this?
Why did he have to write commentary? What is his role?
What are the scholastic credentials of seer Bharadwaja for being
ascribed with the authorship?
Did the textual content culled out
from Vedic origin all by himself or others also featured?
Collection of answers to questions of this nature brought out
interesting answers both from Mythology and History.
Regarding Maharshi Bharadwaja:
He is known to be a towering scholar both in science, philosophy and
warfare. His is an august name in the pantheon of Hindu sages who
recorded knowledge in the spiritual, intellectual and scientific
fields. During his period, knowledge was transmitted from mouth to
mouth and ear to ear.
Maharshi Bharadwaja, according to some scholars, belonged to Thretha
Yuga and to Dwapara Yuga to some others, linking him with
Dronacharya’s ancestry. He is known to belong to sixth mandala of
Rigveda. He has also authored Srauta shastra and smriti work. He
figures in the genealogy of Bruhaspati, the principal preceptor of
all Hindu deities and his son being seer Bharadwaja. Bharadwaja’s
son Dronacharya, again was the preceptor of Pandavas and
during Mahabharata era. It should be no surprise that a seer with
this background of generation possessed a vast variety of knowledge
to author a work such as ‘Yantra Sarwaswa’. In this connection,
discussions on the subject with a well-known scholar of Bangalore
Dr.V.Prabhanjanacharya spotlight the subject. This is enclosed as an
appendix to this chapter, which clarifies many doubts.
Maharshi Bharadwaja transcended from one Yuga to another. He is
among the seven prime seers of Mythological era. Whether there were
other seers by his name is not known. It is possible that seers
succeeding him in his Gothra could have been known by the same name.
Nevertheless, he is the only Bharadwaja referred to as one among
Maharshis. He has also authored ‘Anshu Bodhini’ dealing with
cosmology, few sections of which are still available. Its reference
is made to several topics in ‘Vymanika Shastra’. It again features
commentary from Bodhananda. The style of Sanskrit in ‘Vymanika
shastra’ and ‘Anshu Bodhini’ have been studied by Sanskrit scholars
for a possible commonality of authorship. Their opinion confirms
The introductory part of the subject work clearly avers as follows.
Maharshi Bharadwaja’s ‘Vymanika shastra’ or ‘Science of Aeronautics’
is a part of his unknown work ‘Yantra sarwaswa’ or ‘all about
machines’. Here we see no reason why anyone should be attributing
the work to him without any gain for himself. No one else down the
line has claimed the authorship nor has anyone disputed.
Deliberating on the dating aspect of the work, the data gathered by
the study team explains certain crucial issues. The work itself is
not a part of Vedas as is misunderstood by many. Nowhere it is
claimed so either. It is claimed to be the essence and offshoot from
the principles of Vedic knowledge. It is necessary to understand
that Vedas are ‘Anaadi’ or ‘from-time-immemorial’, they had no
relationship with time cycle.
The basic structure of Vedas has remained unaltered, interpretations
however could be different. Nevertheless, essence could have been
communicated by preceptors at many points of time, in any style of
Sanskrit, which could be even in a contemporary structure of the
language. It could even be in a different language conveyed to
someone distant in any part of the world. Hence, going into the
exercise of verifying the number of Vedic Sanskrit words Vis-a-Vis
medieval or modern Sanskrit language is a tangential approach and
serves no useful purpose. In fact, Sri.G.R.Josyer who was himself an
eminent Sanskrit scholar has paid tributes to the high fidelity of
Sanskrit language of the text.
Despite being one of the most knowledgeable seers himself, Maharshi
Bharadwaja has chosen to quote lucid definitions, rules or soothras
of other sages and preceptors. Bodhananda’s commentaries have
referred to expressions from these sages and Acharyas and works on
related ancient sciences. Brief descriptions of other scientific
guides / works in this book have been given in another work of Sri. Madhusudhana Saraswati, ‘Prasthana Thraya’.
Discussing the dating of the work, all that can be said with a fair
degree of certainty is that the work, being a part of ‘Yantra
Sarwaswa’ featured at several points of time in known History.
Science of aeronautics was in existence even earlier than Bodhananda.
Bodhananda chose to write ‘Vritti’ or commentary or explanatory
notes on the seer’s pronouncements for ease of understanding by the
users. This was a traditional treatment given to very many works of
philosophy as well. Bodhananda was known to be in 10th century AD
according to some research sources.
Confirmation on references to the textual content of the work during
the 19th century is discovered by an observation in which Maharshi
Dayananda saraswati had given clarification on the direction of
thrust of propulsive devices of Vimanas quoting Rig-Bhashya Bhumika.
This was dated to be in 1875. As we notice from that text of
‘Vymanika Shastra’ it is a work based on many disciplines of science
and technology, described by core researchers of several fields.
Each ‘sootra’ or ‘rule’ contains references to several topics of
science or technology. Under the given conditions, there is adequate
logic to accept that ‘Yantra Sarwaswa’ was an offshoot of Vedic
knowledge. The Vymanika Shastra came into being in manuscript form
between 1903 to 1918 as revelations by Mystic scholar Anekal
While this much of discussion is devoted for protagonists of Vedas,
mythology, the seers and the like, let us turn to the antagonistic
scholars and scientists who prefer to view the subject of authorship
and dating under their self-imposed scientific frame work. If it is
appropriate and tenable to go by recorded history and ignore the
mythological relationship, let us go by the validation of textual
content and correlate with modern science wherever possible. Let not
such critics be concerned with Bharadwajas of the distant past.
Life-sketch of Sri Anekal Subbaraya Shastri:
In the chain of relating the work to Pundit Anekal Subbaraya
Shastry’s revelations, propriety demands deliberations on his life
sketch as well as linking his work up to the stage it was printed
and published in 1973. This data has been collected from his
biographical sketch, his descendants, younger associates of his time
and other detailed inquiries during the probe of the study.
An autobiography of
Sri Anekal Subraya Shastry was published by Sri M.C. Krishna Swamy Iyengar and
Sri Venkatachala Sharma on 12th March
1972. This was an English version; translated by Sri G.V. Sharma
based on the narration of Sri Shastriji in his vernacular. From this
autobiographic sketch it is evident that Sri Shastriji had committed
to Dr Jagdeesh Chandra Bose, an eminent scientist of the yester
years, that he would send his biographic script. This has been
addressed separately to both Dr. J.C. Bose and Sri Babubhai Iswardas
Ichcharam whom Sri Shastriji had met at Bombay and had close
interaction. Sri Ichcharam, besides being his ardent disciple had
supported him financially too. This biographic sketch, though in
minute detail, has an abrupt ending. It covers his life story up to
the year 1918. Curiously, this sketch does not include a significant
part of a special message conveyed by his godfather Sri Guruji
Maharaj. This special message, however, features in another
Biographic sketch (a much-abridged version) also brought out by Sri
Krishna Swamy Iyengar.
According to his autobiography Sri Shastriji was born in 1866 AD in
a village called Togare Agraharam in Hosur Taluk, Dharmapuri Dist of
Tamil Nadu. He was born as the eldest son in a large orthodox
Brahmin family. His father was a learned and benevolent individual
who supported many students at home. As his own family grew in size,
he found it increasingly difficult to maintain. Eventually he became
penniless even when children were still urchins. Sri Shastriji lost
his parents early in life and had to bear the brunt of supporting
all his younger ones. From then onwards, it is a story of misery and
poverty. Soon he had to take up begging. Compounding his travails
was his marriage with an eight-year-old girl, his own age being
twelve. Fortunately his infant wife had not yet joined him to
undergo suffering. It did not take very long for the lot of children
to choose the pavements for their living. As though this was not
enough, cholera and small pox broke out in the district, killing
people in hundreds. Sri Shastriji’s family was not spared. All but
two brothers fell prey to the deadly epidemic. Eventually it was his
turn to invite infection. His body became a home of infectious
blisters, puss oozing out. His sight was abhorring. People drove him
out. He survived on tender leaves and vegetation around. In short he
felt that the world just discarded him. Left with no option, he sent
his brothers away to fend for themselves.
Then came the ultimate decision to call it a day from this world. He
kept walking for days and reached a forest near a place called Avani
in Kolar Dist. He lived in the wild, visited often by snakes and
tigers. He wondered how he survived in this deadly company, living
on vegetation and water for many years.
There is an end for everything and possibly, for his travails too.
One day, while he was roaming in the forest, he entered a cave and
after some distance he found a vast under-ground enclosure. There,
he came across a woman whom he recalls as his dead mother. He was
consoled and taken care of for some time and she vanished as
mysteriously as she had appeared.
According to Sri Shastriji’s life sketch it was in this underground
cave that he sighted Sri.Guruji Maharaj who bore super human
features. Sri Guruji played a significant role in the rest of his
life. He took care of him and cured his obnoxious disease with one
healing touch. The young lad recovered his normal health.
During this unspecified period of association with
Sri Guruji, he
learnt a number of rituals, physical sciences or Bhoutika Shastras.
Sri Guruji, while precepting Bhautika Shastras had put a stringent
condition that his disciple should assure him of protecting these
shastras from use on for destructive purposes. He had even imposed
total restraint on his participation in debates, social gatherings,
associations with political parties etc., Thereafter, Sri. Guruji
administered a brilliant light on him, which touched his ‘Saraswati-Nadi’.
He started making utterances in Sanskrit, involuntarily.
Sri Guruji wrote something on his tongue with a twig. This
consummated the process of Divine Enlightenment. This was followed
by teaching of Bhoutika shastras. On completion of these rituals,
Sri Shastriji felt that Bhautika Shastras were visible and
accessible to him. At this juncture, he honestly expresses that till
that point of enlightenment in life, he was an illiterate, not
having gone to any school nor learnt any language. He was amazed to
discover in himself not only the knowledge of – Sanskrit but also to
convey Bhoutika Shastras through that medium. In his own admission
he reveals that he learnt the alphabets of Kannada and Telugu after
his return to his village during the post-enlightenment period.
There ended the divine association of Sri. Shastriji and Sri Guruji
Maharaj in the wild forest. He was sent back after serene blessings
to return to his village and continue his mission in pursuit of
propagation of knowledge of Bhautika shastras. Though unwilling to
part from the company of Sri. Guruji, he returned to his village
with a heavy heart, but with a mission ahead. Strangely, a native
Brahmin of a village Malavalli had a premonition that a young lad of
a particular description would appear in the village and he should
take care of him for two months and let him proceed on his mission.
On completion of his sojourn with the noble Brahmin at Malavalli,
Sri. Shastriji left that village again to face the wide world, under
more positive circumstances this time. Feeling physically fit,
psychologically sound, he decided to go to Hosur. There, he met his
surviving brother. A little latter he joined his wife at Anekal and
started a family life. Sri Shastriji spent subsequent twenty-five
years at Anekal. During this period he had three sons and three
daughters. All his sons and one daughter died very young. He moved
to Bangalore and stayed in a locality called Cottenpet in the midst
of the old city. For some time he remained an unknown individual,
but not for long.
The news of his potent knowledge of
Bhoutika Shastras had reached
many intellectuals. Visitors streamed in to discuss with him. His
recitations and pronouncements from Bhautika Shastras impressed
The breakthrough in his life came with a visitor from Bombay,
Sri. Poonjilal Giridhar, a noted industrialist of Bombay and Ahemdabad.
He had come at the instance of one Sri. Babubhai Iswardas Ichcharam,
who invited Sri. Shastriji to go over to Bombay. On acceptance of
their invitation, elaborate arrangements for a sizeable retinue of
Sri Shastriji was made. He received a rousing welcome and was their
guest for several months.
A significant meeting at Bombay was with
Dr. Talpade who had
conducted experiments on constructing aeroplanes. Dr. Talpade
consulted him in this matter. It was here that Sri. Shastriji first
referred to Sri. Maharshi Bhardwaja’s Vymanika Shastra, which he
explained it to Dr. Talpade. The latter continued his experiments
but suffered a serious set back in the progress due to ill health.
The project came to a halt on his demise. By then he had conveyed
that vimanas were not toys of someone’s fancy nor were objects of
mythology. Possibly this is the first attempt of construction of aeroplane around 1900AD by an Indian. Unconfirmed reports have
Dr. Talpade’s successful flying of aeroplane over Chowpati
beach, Mumbai in the last decade of the nineteenth century
The visitors at Sri Shastriji’s flat at Bombay multiplied day by
day. They included Philosophers, Scientists, Rulers of erstwhile
princely states of India and the elite of Bombay and outside. He
thanks Sri Guruji Maharaj for his guidance in answering questions of
his visitors and discussions with them. His audience was spell bound
by his mystic knowledge. Some called him a walking lexicon, a genius
and a super human.
A number of Sri.Shastriji’s followers met at Bombay to decide that
the treasure of spoken knowledge of “Bhoutika Shastras” should be
scripted by him and published. Sri Babubhai agreed with this
proposal and offered to fund the activity. Sri Shastriji agreed to
undertake this request but not before he got the consent from his
Guru. It is thus seen in his life that before taking any major
decisions Sri. Guruji had guided him all along. He agreed to do so
on his return to Bangalore.
Sri Shastriji returned to Bangalore after an emotional farewell from
a host of his admirers. In the next three years not much of progress
could be made in writing of Bhoutika Shastras for various reasons.
All through this period Sri Bhabubhai had been regularly funding
This is where the autobiography being conveyed to
Dr. J. C. Bose
ends abruptly. In the concluding paragraphs Sri Shastriji recalls
his meetings with Dr. Bose at Bombay. From his life sketch it
becomes evident that he was a honest and unassuming person. All
along he maintained that he was a mere conveyer of the Shastras
pronounced through him by divine source.
As an appendage to his biographic sketch, Sri G.V. Sharma had made
some interesting remarks. As per this the former had been specially
chosen for his Sanskrit knowledge to transcript dictations of the
latter’s revelations and he associated with him all through his
life. Even later he was a joint custodian of his works. Sri Sharma
refers to a brief life sketch brought out in January 1911 as a part
of ‘Bouthika Kala Nidhi’ published by Sri B. Suryanarayana Rao, a
noted astrologer and a staunch admirer of the pandit. Sri Sharma has
also given a list of published works of the pandit which include
‘Anshu Bodhinee’, ‘Prasthana Thraya’, ‘Bruhad Madhusudana Smriti’
‘Raja Bhakti’, Desha Bhakti’, ‘Panchagavya Shastra’, ‘Jala Tatwa
Prakashika’, ‘Maha Sankalpa Vichara’ etc., espounded by Sri Guruji
through the pandit.
Drawing curtains on Sri Shastriji’s life- sketch a few observations
seem to be appropriate. Even though he had set forth on a mission to
convey Bouthika Shastra for the benefit of mankind, he had an innate
feeling of a lost mission. The contemporary political situation in
the country must have had adverse impact on propagation of such
native scientific knowledge.
The latter part of Sri Shastriji’s life found him to be a dejected
and disappointed person with an unfulfilled mission. Freedom
struggle in the country barricaded his routes to the elite. This
legendary person left behind him a treasure of works with his
adopted son Sri Venkatrama Shastri. The surviving members of the
family living in an innocuous house in Bangalore hardly know what
their illustrious ancestor had left for the intellectual world. It
is ironical that his life story makes a pensive reading. He did not
live long to see his contribution freezing in cold storage for many
decades. It would have been even more agonizing had he stayed long
enough to see his work hibernating.