Rishi Valmiki writes in the Ramayana that Ravana – or Sri Ravana as he is called in Sri Lanka – was the owner of many aircraft. Of course, the ‘Pushpak’ is the most famous one and there is a detailed description of the Pushpak in chapter 7 verse 11 of the Sunder Kanda.:
पुष्प आह्वयम् नाम विराजमानम् |
रत्न प्रभाभिः च विवर्धमानम् |
वेश्म उत्तमानाम् अपि च उच्च मानम् |
महा कपिः तत्र महा विमानम् || ५-७-११
“There the great Hanuma saw a great Vimana, the best among best of aerial cars, shining with the name of Pushpaka with the rays of precious stones, and capable of traveling long distances”.
Chapter 8, Verse 2 of the Sundar Kanda says:
कृतम् स्वयम् साध्विति विश्वकर्मणाः |
दिवम् गतम् वायुपथप्रतिष्ठितम् |
व्यराजतादित्यपथस्य लक्ष्मिवत् || ५-८-२
“That plane shone like symbol for solar path standing in the aerial path obtaining the sky. Manufactured by Vishvakarma himself and praised by him as one without comparison in beauty.”
Another aircraft of the Treta Yuga (the era of Sri Rama), by the name of ‘Mayura’ is mentioned in the Vaimanika Shastra (aviation scripture) of India. The local legend of Sri Lanka also says that Ravana owned a plane by the name ‘Dondu Monara Yantra’. In Singhalese ‘Monara’ means ‘mayura’ or ‘peacock’ and ‘Dondu’ means ‘that which can fly’. Way back in the year 1864 Galle Face Hotel of Colombo chose for its logo, the ‘Dondu Monara’ – a peacock shaped ‘yantra’ (machine).
The first flight in modern times, the one that was operated by Wright brothers, did not happen until the year 1903*. It is therefore significant that the Galle Face Hotel had a ‘flying machine’ as its logo many years before that. The Art of Living publication ‘Ramayana in Lanka’ says that it is most likely that the ‘Monara Dandu’ of the Singhaese legends is the same ‘Mayura’ that is mentioned in the Vaimanika Shastra.
Sri Lankan legend also mentions many airports that existed in Lanka in the Treta Yuga during the times of Sri Rama and Ravana. Here are a few:
1. ‘Werangantota’ in Mahiyangana – in the Singhalese language this word means ‘a place for an airport to land’. In Sanskrit, ‘varanka’ (वारङ्क) means ‘bird’ and ‘ghatta’ (घट्ट) means ‘landing place’ and is is the source of the word Werangantota. Singhalese itself is a Sanskrit derived language. Legend has it that ‘Werangantota’ is the airport where the Pushpaka Vimana landed when Sita is abducted and flown to Lanka. The Ashoka Vatika where Sita is held in captivity site is located about 10 km from Werangantota.
|A temple stands today at the Ashoka Vatika site
in Sri Lanka, not far from the site of Werangantota ancient airport.
It is also quite evident that Jatayu, the so so-called bird that tries to forestall the flight of Ravana is also an aircraft. How else could a bird battle the Pushpaka vimana and attempt to stop the flight of an aircraft. Of course, the pilot in the aeroplane named Jatayu has been confused for the aircraft itself. One may have noticed that whenever a powerful machinery is mentioned in the Ramayana, Valmiki, the author describes it by saying that the person involved ‘changes his shape at will’. For example, every time Hanuman takes off in the air he always transforms his shape. His arms extend out but his legs become comparatively shorter. His chest extends, he presses the ground with his chest, there are huge gusts of wind, there are loud noises and then he is airborne. That’s Hanuman in an aircraft!
2. ‘Thotupola Kanda’ (at Hoton Plains): The word ‘thotupola’ means a port, a place that one touches during ones journey, ‘kanda’ means rock. In Sanskrit ‘ghattan’ (घट्टन) means ‘a landing place’ and ‘katha’ (काठ) means ‘rock’. The Singhalese word ‘Thotu’ may be a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘ghatta’. Thotupola Kanda is a flat land over a rocky range 6000 feet above sea level in Lanka. ‘Pola’ may be derived from Sanskrit ‘pura’ meaning city. ‘Pura’ appears in the name Singapore as ‘pore’ and as ‘por’ in Por Bajin (Siberia) etc.
3. Wariyapola (Mattale): The word Wariyapola is said to have been derived from ‘watha-ri-ya-pola’ meaning place for landing and taking off. The source of ‘watha’ is the Sanskrit ‘vithi’ (वीथी) which means ‘path’, ‘atarya’ (आतार्य) is related to ‘landing’, ‘tarya’ (तार्य) is related to ‘carrying freight’. Or ‘wariya’ may just be a distortion of the sanskrit ‘varanga’ which as mentioned above means ‘bird’. In fact va (वा), vata (वात), vaha (वाह) all are realated to air, flight and flying. ‘Pola’ is probably a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘pura’ which means ‘place’.
* In India, of course, the story of Wright brothers is no longer accepted. For more on this subject click here.
From Bharata to India: Chrysee the Golden by M. K. Aggarwal