A critical study of the work - VYMANIKA SHASTRA
By H.S.Mukunda, S.M.Deshpande, H.R.Nagendra, A.Prabhu and S.P.Govindaraju
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore - 1974
A study by aeronautical and mechanical engineering researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1974 concluded that the aircraft described in the text were "poor concoctions" and that the author showed a complete lack of understanding of aeronautics. The study also states 'The Rukma Vimana' was the only one which made sense. It had long vertical ducts with fans on the top to suck air from the top and send it down the ducts, generating a lift in the process."
The researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore found that the heavier-than-air aircraft that the Vaimanika Shastra described were aeronautically unfeasible. The authors remarked that the discussion of the principles of flight in the text were largely perfunctory and incorrect, in some cases violating Newton's laws of motion. The study concluded:
Any reader by now would have concluded the obvious – that the planes described above are the best poor concoctions, rather than expressions of something real. 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. The text and the drawings do not correlate with each other even thematically. The drawings definitely point to a knowledge of modern machinery. This can be explained on the basis of the fact that Shri Ellappa who made the drawings was in a local engineering college and was thus familiar with names and details of some machinery. Of course the text retains a structure in language and content from which its 'recent nature' cannot be asserted. We must hasten to point out that this does not imply an oriental nature of the text at all. All that may be said is that thematically the drawings ought to be ruled out of discussion. And the text, as it stands, is incomplete and ambiguous by itself and incorrect at many places.
The authors expressed puzzlement at the contradiction and errors in the Vaimanika Shastra text, especially since its compilers supposedly had access to publications that did not make such errors (such as, Dayanand Saraswati's commentary on the Rigveda published in 1878 or earlier).
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