Vastu-shastra (4): Palace Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 13,158 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes The Aeroplane (Vimana-yantra) which is chapter 3f of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fourth part (Palace architecture). This part deals with (1) the construction of Royal establishments, (2) Accessory Buildings, (3) Palace pleasure-devices such as yantras (mechanical devices), etc. and (4) Other public buildings.

Chapter 3f - The Aeroplane (Vimāna-yantra)

In the notice of the manifold varieties of Yantra, the Vimāna machine was reserved for this last section as it is the most curious of the yantras described in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is the only text which gives some details of its actual construction. Numerous references to this class of Yantra, though found in many places in the literature, the details of its actual construction and the mechanism thereof, are the contribution of this rare treatise on Yantra.

The wooden Vimāna machine flying in the air, wooden bird machine travelling in the sky—these are two yantras which illustrate this class of Vimāna-yantra. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra says:—

laghudārumayaṃ mahāvihaṅgaṃ dṛḍhasuśliṣṭatanuṃ vidhāya tasya |
udare rasayantramādadhīta jvalanādhāramadho'sya cātipūrṇam || 95 ||
tatrārūḍhaḥ pūruṣastasya pakṣadvandvoccālaprojjhitenānilena |
suptasvāntaḥ pāradasyāsya śaktyā citraṃ kurvannambare yāti dūram || 96 ||
itthameva suramandiratulyaṃ sañcalatyalaghu dāruvimānam |
ādadhīta vidhinā caturo'ntastasya pāradabhṛtān dṛḍhakumbhān || 97 ||
ayaḥkapālāhitamandavahniprataptatatkumbhabhuvā guṇena |
vyomno jhagityābharaṇatvameti santaptagarjadra sarājaśaktyā || 98 ||

“Make a huge bird-like shape with a wing on each side fully carved out of a light wood with a space in the bottom for fitting up a mechanism full of fire and the Pārā in its proper (the middle) place. Now the traveller on, (the switch also on) and with the air produced by the two wings, the Pārā will be in action and with its power so generated, the machine will go a great distance in the sky, giving amusement both to the man on it and those below it—the spectators”.

“And just like this, make a heavier wooden aeroplane in imitation of a vimāna-house. In it, place four strong jars full of Pārā and then also place an iron pot full of fire underneath them. Thus heated these jars generate power by means of the Mercury, Rasarāja, the Pārā, and they will make the machine move and by the power of the Rasarāja, Pārā, it will go up in the air and be the ormenament [ornament?] of the sky”.

Reading this passage we find only two elements in this mechanism of an aeroplane as described by the Text, the Pārā and the Fire. They are really most essential conductors in any machine performing a similar job. The reader here in the description of these two passages does not find any other mechanism. Apart from these two principal things, nothing else is described for the full comprehension of the mechanism. The mechanism of the whole structure however, must be something of an advanced nature, otherwise the results as indicated in the text could not have been obtained. The unfolding of the secret of machine making is not done.

The author for this makes an apology:

pāramparyaṃ kauśalaṃ sopadeśaṃ śāstrābhyāso vāstukarmodyamo dhīḥ |
sāmagrīyaṃ nirmalā yasya so'smiṃścitrāṇyevaṃ vetti yantrāṇi kartum || 87 ||

If the art of the construction is not unfolded, it is not for the lack of knowledge, but for the simple reason to keep it a secret, otherwise if made public, these yantras would not bring out the desired, result. Mystery is the key-note of the ancient lore.

It was never unfolded to the uninitiated, uncultivated and unprepared and the author himself says:—

yantrāṇāṃ ghaṭanā noktā guptyarthaṃ nājñatāvaśāt || 79 ||
tatra heturayaṃ jñeyo vyaktā naite phalapradāḥ |

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