Translated from the Sanskrit text of the

Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana is all about the activities of the Hindu god Vishnu in his various incarnations (avatars), and particularly as Krishna. It includes an account of a war between the evil King Salva and his attempt to destroy the city of Krishna called Dwarka. In the process it describes weapons which have all the earmarks of modern rocketry and aerial vehicles which have capabilities far beyond conventional aircraft.

The 45 feet long scroll of the Bhagavata Purana (a 17th century copy), hosted by the Rylands Library at the University of Manchester

It is common for most modern Hindu translators to render the Sanskrit vimana as "airplane". But since the aerial vehicles described in this document move through the air using neither wings nor conventional engines, I prefer to leave the Sanskrit term intact so the reader will know that these are not ordinary aircraft. Likewise, the Sanskrit term usually translated "arrow". From the descriptions given within the text, it is easily seen that such, on occasion, are some sort of high-tech missile; therefore, I consider the use of the term "shaft" or "missile" to be more applicable.

Lord Krishna's home base is the legendary city known as Dwarka. His mortal enemy, King Salva, has requested an extremely high-tech aerial vehicle (i.e., a vimana) by which he might destroy the city of Dwarka and kill his hated enemy, Lord Krishna. The accomplished architect/engineer Maya Danava fulfills Salva's request. The details can be found in the Sanskrit Bhavagata Purana:

"Salva chose a vimana that could not be destroyed by Devas, Asuras, humans, Gandharvas, Uragas nor Rakshasas, that could travel anywhere he wished to go, and that would terrify the Varishnis."

"Lord Siva said, 'So be it.' On his order, Maya Danava, who conquers his enemies' cities, constructed a flying vehicle made of iron named Saubha, and presented it to Salva."

Delighted with his new wonderful and powerful airship, the wicked King Salva gathers his army about him and heads for the city of Krishna to do battle.

"This unassailable vehicle was filled with darkness and could go anywhere. Upon obtaining it, Salva, remembering the Varishnis' enmity toward him, proceeded to the city of Dwarka.

Salva besieged the city with a large army, O best of the Bharatas, decimating the outlying parks and gardens, the mansions along with their observatories, towering gateways and surrouding walls, and also the public recreational areas.

However fortunes turn, and in short order King Salva's forces are decimated. Infuriated, King Salva makes use of his newly acquired aerial contrivance to attack the city with every means at his disposal.

"From his excellent vimana he threw down a torrent of projectiles . . . A fierce vortex arose and blanketed the entire area with billowing dust."—Bhavagata Purana (10.76)

Lord Krishna suddenly appears in his shining chariot to confront King Salva in battle. When Salva saw Krishna's chariot on the battlefield, he thereupon released a great and powerful weapon which "flew through the sky with a roaring sound like a great meteor". The text describes it as being so bright that it literally "lit up the entire sky". This sounds a lot like a blazing rocket! As Krishna began his counterattack, Salva engages the special powers of his vimana in an all out effort to avoid destruction. A modern translator provides us with the graphic details:

"The airplane occupied by Salva was very mysterious. It was so extraordinary that sometimes many airplanes would appear to be in the sky, and sometimes there were apparently none. Sometimes the plane was visible and sometimes not visible, and the warriors of the Yadu dynasty were puzzled about the whereabouts of the peculiar airplane. Sometimes they would see the airplane on the ground, sometimes flying in the sky, sometimes resting on the peak of a hill, and sometimes floating on the water. The wonderful airplane flew in the sky like a whirling firebrand—it was not steady even for a moment." (Bhaktivedanta, 1986)

[The last sentence, containing the statement of Salva's celestial vehicle looking like a "whirling firebrand," should cause one to look twice at the so-called "wheels" of Ezekiel as described in the Hebrew Bible. The similarities are striking. Did Ezekiel encounter four ancient vimanas on several occasions during his captivity in Babylonia? For a complete exegetical analysis of this possibility, click on "Ezekiel's Wheels".]

Lord Krishna first destroyed King Salva's "great weapon," by discharging his own missile, described as being "bright as the sun in the sky". (These sound more like hi-tech missiles and anti-missils rather than what we think of as ordinary "arrows"!) He then disabled Salva's vimana completely by releasing an overwhelming shower of destructive missiles; and eventually "Salva's wondrous vimana burst into pieces and fell into the sea".

Salva miraculously escapes the doomed vimana at the last minute, and on foot, rushes vehemently at his hated enemy. The latter, "shining like the sun rising over the mountains," ushers forth the final blow by utilizing a "brilliant discus". Thus, after a tremendously high-tech battle, the evil King Salva and his flying machine are finally brought to an ignominious end.

Sanskrit scholars and other non-Hindu intellectuals tend to look at such tales as these as if they were nothing more than highly imaginative mythology with no basis in fact. No doubt, over time such stories have been embellished with religious overtones; but the often highly technological details embedded in some of these early texts remain difficult to explain.

According to the Vishnu Purana, the entire city of Dwarka was submerged by the sea shortly after the death of Lord Krishna. This is all considered to be nothing more than Indian mythology. But what if the underwater ruins of the city were actually discovered? In such a case should we continue to consider all this as nothing more than pious fiction?

As it happened, on 19 May 2001 India's science and technology minister Murli Manohar Joshi announced the finding of ruins in the Gulf of Khambhat after indications were first noted by a team from the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in December 2000 using acoustic techniques. A follow up investigation was conducted by the same institute in November 2001, which included dredging to recover artifacts.

A round of further underwater explorations was made of the site by the NIOT team from 2003 to 2004, when samples were obtained of what was presumed to be pottery, and sent to laboratories in Oxford, UK and Hannover, Germany, as well as several institutions within India, for dating purposes. Evidence indicates that the submerged city of Dwarka has been discovered. Not suprisingly, western archeologists believed the odd formations were natural as opposed to being of human origin (Witzel, 2006).

However, certain wooden objects, obviously manmade and carbon dateable, were found by Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archaeologist of the Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India. This, and other discoveries by NIOT using C-14 dating, established an age of 7,500 years for the various artifacts excavated from the submerged site (Sundaresh & Tripati, 2004). The depth of the underwater ruins, resting some 150 feet below the surface, tends to support this early date.

Dr. Richard L. Thompson (1993) of Cornell University, whom I admire for his honesty and forthrightness, is one of the few western scholars who has given the subject a sympathic look. He wonders how these "unsophisticated" authors of ancient India could so brilliantly describe rocketry and ray weapons, as well as highly sophisticated aircraft, without having observed them in action? A good question!

And with the recent discovery of underwater ruins exactly where Dwarka was said to have been located, academians should be asking themselves the question: Can we be so certain that there is not a core event behind this startling account? Rather than cast the subject aside as unworthy of our credibility, shouldn't we be regarding this account as deserving of our interest and academic scrutiny?


Bhaktivedanta, Swami Pradhupada, A. C., (translator) in Krsna, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, 1986.
Sundaresh, S. Gaur & Tripati, Sila, "An ancient harbour at Dwarka: Study based on the recent underwater explorations", Current Science, Indian Academy of Sciences, May 10, 2004.
Thompson, Richard L., "Alien Identities," Goverdhan Hill Publishing, Alachua FA, 1993, pp. 212-219.
Witzel, Micheal, Rama's realm: Indocentric rewritings of early South Asian archaeology and history in Fagan, G. G., ed., Archaeological Fantasies, Routledge Taylor, and Francis Group, New York, 2006.

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Latest update: 9 December 2010.