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The living entities are traveling from one planet to another, but it is not that we can go to any planet we like merely by a mechanical arrangement. If we desire to go to other planets, there is a process for going there. This is also mentioned: yānti deva-vratā devān pitṟn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ (B.G.9:25). No mechanical arrangement is necessary if we want interplanetary travel. The Gītā instructs: yānti deva-vratā devān. The moon, the sun and higher planets are called Svargaloka. There are three different statuses of planets: higher, middle and lower planetary systems. The earth belongs to the middle planetary system. Bhagavad-gītā informs us how to travel to the higher planetary systems (Devaloka) with a very simple formula: yānti deva-vratā devān. One need only worship the particular demigod of that particular planet and in that way go to the moon, the sun or any of the higher planetary systems.
Bhīṣmadeva was respected both by the human beings and by the demigods. The human beings live on earth and similar other planets in the Bhūr and Bhuvar group of planets, but the demigods live in the Svar, or heavenly planets, and all of them knew Bhīṣmadeva as a great warrior and devotee of the Lord. As a mahājana (or authority) he was on the level of Brahmā, Nārada and Śiva, although he was a human being. Qualification on a par with the great demigods is possible only on attainment of spiritual perfection. Thus Bhīṣmadeva was known all over the universes, and during his time interplanetary travel was effected by finer methods than the futile endeavors of mechanical spacecraft. When the distant planets were informed of the passing away of Bhīṣmadeva, all the inhabitants of the upper planets as well as of the earth dropped showers of flowers to show due respect to the departed great personality. This showering of flowers from heaven is a sign of recognition by great demigods, and it should never be compared to the decoration of a dead body.
Saintly persons like Vidura must be treated as well as a denizen from heaven. In those days denizens of heavenly planets used to visit homes like that of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, and sometimes persons like Arjuna and others used to visit higher planets. Nārada is a spaceman who can travel unrestrictedly, not only within the material universes but also in the spiritual universes. Even Nārada used to visit the palace of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and what to speak of other celestial demigods. It is only the spiritual culture of the people concerned that makes interplanetary travel possible, even in the present body. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira therefore received Vidura in the manner of reception offered to the demigods.
It appears from this verse that interplanetary travel by the denizens of higher planets is easy. In many statements in Bhāgavatam, we have observed that the demigods from heaven used to visit this earth to attend sacrifices performed by influential kings and emperors. Herein also we find that during the time of the horse sacrifice ceremony of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the demigods from other planets were visible even to the common man, due to the sacrificial ceremony. The demigods are not generally visible to common men, as the Lord is not visible. But as the Lord, by His causeless mercy, descends to be visible to the common man, similarly the demigods also become visible to the common man by their own grace. Although celestial beings are not visible to the naked eyes of the inhabitants of this earth, it was due to the influence of Mahārāja Parīkṣit that the demigods also agreed to be visible. The kings used to spend lavishly during such sacrifices, as a cloud distributes rains. A cloud is nothing but another form of water, or, in other words, the waters of the earth transform into clouds. Similarly, the charity made by the kings in such sacrifices are but another form of the taxes collected from the citizens. But, as the rains fall down very lavishly and appear to be more than necessary, the charity made by such kings also seems to be more than what the citizen needs. Satisfied citizens will never organize agitation against the king, and thus there was no need in changing the monarchial state.
Even up to the time of Mahārāja Parīkṣit there were interplanetary communications, and the news of Mahārāja Parīkṣit's fasting unto death to attain salvation reached the higher planets in the sky where the intelligent demigods live. The demigods are more luxurious than human beings, but all of them are obedient to the orders of the Supreme Lord. There is no one in the heavenly planets who is an atheist or nonbeliever. Thus any devotee of the Lord on the surface of the earth is always praised by them, and in the case of Mahārāja Parīkṣit they were greatly delighted and thus gave tokens of honor by scattering flowers over the earth and by beating celestial drums. A demigod takes pleasure in seeing someone go back to Godhead. He is always pleased with a devotee of the Lord, so much so that by his adhidaivic powers he may help the devotees in all respects. And by their actions, the Lord is pleased with them. There is an invisible chain of complete cooperation between the Lord, the demigods and the devotee of the Lord on earth.
In this verse the most significant point is that although King Pṛthu's residential quarters were in India, between the rivers Ganges and Yamunā, the demigods also participated in the great sacrifice he performed. This indicates that formerly the demigods used to come to this planet. Similarly, great personalities like Arjuna, Yudhiṣṭhira and many others used to visit higher planetary systems. Thus there was interplanetary communication via suitable airplanes and space vehicles.
It appears from this description that there is regular interplanetary travel between the planets of the demigods. Another significant point is that there is a planet covered mostly by great mountains, one of which is Gandhamādana Hill. Three great personalities—Priyavrata, Nārada and Svāyambhuva Manu—were sitting on this hill. According to Brahmā-saṁhitā, each universe is filled with different planetary systems, and every system has a unique opulence. For example, on Siddhaloka, all the residents are very advanced in the powers of mystic yoga. They can fly from one planet to another without airplanes or other flying machines. Similarly, the residents of Gandharvaloka are expert in musical science, and those on Sādhyaloka are all great saints. The interplanetary system undoubtedly exists, and residents of different planets may go from one to another. On this earth, however, we have not invented any machine that can go directly from one planet to another, although an unsuccessful attempt has been made to go directly to the moon.
In these days, when men are trying to go to the moon, people should not think that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is concerned with something old-fashioned. When the world is progressing to reach the moon, we are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. But people should not misunderstand and assume that we are lagging behind modern scientific advancement. We have already passed all scientific advancement. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that man's attempt to reach higher planets is not new. Newspaper headlines read, "Man's First Steps on the Moon," but the reporters do not know that millions and millions of men went there and came back. This is not the first time. This is an ancient practice. In Bhagavad-gītā (8.16) it is clearly stated, abrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino 'rjuna: "My dear Arjuna, even if you go to the highest planetary system, which is called Brahmaloka, you will have to come back." Therefore, interplanetary travel is not new. It is known to the Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees.
(Easy journey to other Planets)
In supplying information about the advancements of Vedic science, the subject of Vedic airplanes, vimanas, is almost in a classification of its own. Some of this information is so amazing that for some people it may border science fiction. Nonetheless, as we uncover and explain it, it provides serious food for thought.
First of all we need to understand that the Vedic conception of universal time is divided into different periods. For example, a period called one day of Brahma is equivalent to 4,320,000,000 of our years on earth. Brahma's night is equally as long and there are 360 of such days and nights in one year of Brahma. Each day of Brahma is divided into one thousand cycles of four yugas, namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and finally the Kali-yuga, which is the yuga we are presently experiencing. Satya-yuga lasts 1,728,000 years, and is an age of purity when all residents live very long lives and can be fully developed in spiritual understanding and mystical abilities and remarkable powers. Some of these abilities, or mystic siddhis, include changing one's shape, becoming very large or microscopically small, becoming very heavy or even weightless, securing any desirable thing, becoming free of all desires, or even flying through the sky to wherever one wanted to go on one's own volition. So at that time, the need for mechanical flying machines was not necessary.
As the yugas continued, the purity of the people, along with their mystical abilities, decreased by 25% in each age. The age of Treta-yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. During that age, the minds of humanity became more dense, and the ability for understanding the higher spiritual principles of the Vedic path was also more difficult. Naturally, the ability to fly through the sky by one's own power was lost. After Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga lasts 864,000 years, and Kali-yuga lasts 432,000 years, of which 5,000 have now already passed. At the end of Kali-yuga, the age of Satya-yuga starts again and the yugas continue through another cycle. One thousand such cycles is one day of Brahma. Now that we are in Kali-yuga, almost all spiritual understanding disappears, and whatever mystical abilities that remain are almost insignificant.
It is explained that it was not until the beginning of Treta-yuga that the development of vimanas took place. In fact, Lord Brahma, the chief demigod and engineer of the universe, is said to have developed severalvimanas for some of the other demigods. These were in various natural shapes that incorporated the use of wings, such as peacocks, eagles, swans, etc. Other vimanas were developed for the wiser human beings by great seers of Vedic knowledge.
In the course of time, there were three basic types of vimanas. In Treta-yuga, men were adept in mantras or potent hymns. Thus, the vimanas of that age were powered by means of knowledge of mantras. In Dvapara-yuga, men had developed considerable knowledge of tantra, or ritual. Thus, the vimanas of Dvapara-yuga were powered by the use of tantric knowledge. In Kali-yuga, knowledge of both mantra and tantra are deficient. Thus, the vimanas of this age are known as kritaka, artificial or mechanical. In this way, there are three main types of vimanas, Vedic airplanes, according to the characteristics of each yuga.
Of these three types, there is listed 25 variations of the mantrika vimanas, 56 variations of the tantrica vimanas, and 25 varieties of thekritakaah vimanas as we find today in Kali-yuga. However, in regard to the shape and construction, there is no difference between any of thesevimanas, but only in how they were powered or propelled, which would be by mantras, tantras, or mechanical engines.
The controversial text known as Vymaanika Shaastra, said to be by Maharshi Bharadwaja, also describes in detail the construction of what is called the mercury vortex engine. This is no doubt of the same nature as the Vedic Ion engine that is propelled by the use of mercury. Such an engine was built by Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, based on descriptions in the Rig-veda, which he demonstrated in Mumbai (Bombay), India in 1895. I more fully explained this in Chapter Three of this volume. Additional information on the mercury engines used in thevimanas can be found in the ancient Vedic text called the Samarangana Sutradhara. This text also devotes 230 verses to the use of these machines in peace and war. We will not provide the whole description of the mercury vortex engine here, but we will include a short part of William Clendenon's translation of the Samarangana Sutradhara from his 1990 book, Mercury, UFO Messenger of the Gods:
"Inside the circular air frame, place the mercury-engine with its electric/ultrasonic mercury boiler at the bottom center. By means of the power latent in the mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion, a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in the sky in a most marvelous manner. Four strong mercury containers must be built into the interior structure. When those have been heated by controlled fire from iron containers, the vimana develops thunder-power through the mercury. At once it becomes like a pearl in the sky."
This provides a most simplistic idea of the potential of the mercury engines. This is one kind of a propulsion mechanism that thevimanas of Kali-yuga may use. Other variations are also described. Not only do these texts contain directions on how to make such engines, but they also have been found to contain flight manuals, aerial routes, procedures for normal and forced landings, instructions regarding the condition of the pilots, clothes to wear while flying, the food to bring and eat, spare parts to have, metals of which the craft needs to be made, power supplies, and so on. Other texts also provide instructions on avoiding enemy craft, how to see and hear what occupants are saying in enemy craft, how to become invisible, and even what tactics to use in case of collisions with birds. Some of thesevimanas not only fly in the sky, but can also maneuver on land and fly into the sea and travel under water.
There are many ancient Vedic texts that describe or contain references to these vimanas, including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Rig-veda,Yajur-veda, Atharva-veda, the Yuktilkalpataru of Bhoja (12th century A.D.), the Mayamatam (attributed to the architect Maya), plus other classic Vedic texts like the Satapathya Brahmana, Markandeya Purana,Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, the Harivamsa, theUttararamcarita, the Harsacarita, the Tamil text Jivakacintamani, and others. From the various descriptions in these writings, we find vimanasin many different shapes, including that of long cigars, blimp-like, saucer-shapes, triangular, and even double-decked with portholes and a dome on top of a circular craft. Some are silent, some belch fire and make noise, some have a humming noise, and some disappear completely.
These various descriptions are not unlike the reports of UFOs that are seen today. In fact, David Childress, in his book Vimana Aircraft of Ancient India & Atlantis, provides many reports, both recent and from the last few hundred years, that describe eye witness accounts of encounters with UFOs that are no different in size and shape than those described in these ancient Vedic texts. Plus, when the pilots are seen close up, either fixing their craft or stepping outside to look around, they are human-like, sometimes with a Oriental appearance, in clothes that are relatively modern in style. In other reports, we have read where the craft may have alien type beings on board along with ordinary humans navigating the craft.
Does this mean that these are ancient vimanas that still exist today? Are they stored in some underground caverns somewhere? Or are they simply modern-built, using the ancient designs as described in the Vedic texts? The UFOs that have been seen around the world may not be from some distant galaxy, but may be from a secret human society, or even military installation. However, many of the Vedic texts do describe interplanetary travel. So even if these space machines are from some other planet, they may be using the same principles of propulsion that have already been described in the universal Vedic literature. The answer awaits us.