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The Story of Vimanas

Post  Jackie (Admin) on Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:52 pm


This article is quoted from http://www.qtm.net/~geibdan/oldufos/vimanas.html



"The Story of Vimanas

"The chariot had all necessary equipment. It could not be conquered by gods or demons, and it radiated light and reverberated with a deep rumbling sound. It's beauty captivated the minds of all who beheld it. Visvakarma, the lord of design and construction, had created it by the power of his austerities, and it's form, "


The Story of Vimanas
By: Dr. Srikumar V. Gopalakrishna

In the Vedic literature of India, there are many descriptions of flying machines that are generally called vimanas. These fall into two cate- gories: (l) manmade craft that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings, and (2) unstreamlined structures that fly in a mysterious manner and are generally not made by human beings. The machines in category (l) are described mainly in medieval, secular Sanskrit works dealing with architecture, automata, military siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in category (2) are described in ancient works such as the Rg Veda, the Maha-bha-rata, the Rama-yana, and the Pura-nas, and they have many features reminis- cent of UFOs. In addition, there is one book entitled Vaima-nika-sa-stra that was dictated in trance during this century and purports to be a transcription of an ancient work preserved in the akashic record. This book gives an elaborate description of vimanas of both categories.

In this chapter, I will survey some of the available literature on vima-nas, beginning with the texts dating from late antiquity and the medieval period. The latter material is described in some detail by V. Raghavan in an article entitled "Yantras or Mechanical Contrivances in Ancient India." I will begin by discussing the Indian lore regarding machines in general and then turn to flying machines.

Mathines in Antienl and Medieval India

In Sanskrit, a machine is called a yantra. The word yantra is defined in the Samarangana-sutradhara of King Bhoja to be a device that "con- trols and directs, according to a plan, the motions of things that act each according to its own nature." I There are many varieties of yantras. A simple example would be the taila-yantra, a wheel that is pulled by oxen around a circular track to crush seeds and extract their oil. Other examples are military machines of the kind described in the Artha- sastra of Kautilya, written in the 3rd century B.C. These include the sarvato-bhadra, a rotating wheel that hurls stones, the sara-yantra, an arrow-throwing machine, the udghatima, a machine that demo,ishes wa,ls using iron bars, and many more.

These machines are all quite understandable and believable, but there are other machines that seem less plausible from the point of view of modern historical thinking. Thus Raghavan mentions a device that could create a tempest to demoralize enemy ranks.2 Such a weapon is also mentioned by the third-century Roman writer Flavius Philostratus, who described sages in India who "do not fight an invader, but repel him with celestial artillery of thunder and lightning, for they are holy and saintly men."3 Philostratus said that this kind of fire or wind weapon was used to repel an invasion of India by the Egyptian Hercules, and there is an apocryphal letter in which Alexander the Great tells his tutor Aristotle that he also encountered such weapons.4

Modern scholars tend to regard Philostratus's work as fictitious, but it does demonstrate that some people in Roman times were circulating stories about unusual fire or wind weapons in India. In ancient epics such as the Mahabharata, there are many references to remarkable wind weapons such as the vayavya-astra and fire weapons such as the sataghni (or "10(' killer"). In general, the weapons described in older works tend to be more powerful and remarkable than those described in more recent works. Some ascribe this to the fantastic imagination of ancient writers or their modern redactors. But it could also be explained by a progressive loss of knowledge as ancient Indian civilization became weak- ened by corruption and was repeatedly overrun by foreign invaders.

It has been argued that guns, cannons, and other firearms were known in ancient India and that the knowledge gradually declined and passed away toward the beginning of the Christian era. This is discussed extensively in a book by Gustav Oppert.s

Robots and Other Automotn

Robots form another category of remarkable machines. There are many stories in secular Sanskrit literature involving a yantra-purusa, or machine-man, that can behave just like a human being. An example Mothines in Ancient ond Nledievol Indio is the story in the Buddhistic Bhaisajya-vastu, in which a painter went to the Yavana country and visited the home of a yantracarya, or teacher of mechanical engineering. There he met a machine-girl who washed his feet and seemed human, until he found that she could not speak.6

Fantastic-sounding robots of this sort often appeared in fictional stories intended for entertainment, and thus they had the same status as the robots of modem science fiction. However, there are many descrip- tions of quite believable automata that were actually constructed and used in the palaces of wealthy kings. These include: singing and danc- ing birds, a dancing elephant, elaborate chronometers with moving ivory figures, and an astronomical instrument showing the movements of the planets.7

The designs of these automata are similar to those of the automata that were popular in Europe in the eighteenth century. Here is a de- scription taken from the twelfth-century Samararigana-sutradha-ra:

Male and female figures are designed for various kinds of automatic service. Each part of these figures is made and fitted sepa- rately, with holes and pins, so that thighs, eyes, neck, hand, wrist, forearm and fingers can act according to need. The material used is mainly wood, but a leather cover is given to complete the impression of a human being. The movements are managed by the system of poles, pins and strings attached to rods controlling each limb. Looking into a mirror, playing a lute and stretching out the hand to touch, give pan, sprinkle water and make obeisance are the acts done by these figures.8

Apart from their practical applications, robots also provided a metaphor for the relationship between the soul and the body. Thus, in the Bhagavad-glta-, Krsna says,

The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all liv,ng entities, who are seated as on a machine (yantra) made of the material energy. 9

Raghavan, for his part, found this metaphor regrettable. He lamented that in other countries machines led to a materialistic civilization, but in India they only reinforced the idea of God and Spirit. Thus, "even writers who actually dealt with the yantras, like Somadeva and Bhoja, saw in the machine operated by an agent an appropriate analogy for the mundane body and senses presided over by the Soul, and for the wonderful mechanism of the universe, with its constituent elements and planetary systems, requiring a divine master to keep it in constant revolution." 1¡

Airplones

There are many stories in medieval Indian literature about flying machines. Thus in Bana's Harsa-carita there is the story of a Yavana who manufactured an aerial machine that was used to kidnap a king. Likewise, Dandl's Avanti-sundar tells of an architect named Mandhata who used an aerial car for such casual purposes as traveling from a distance to see if his young son was hungry. His son, by the way, was said to have created mechanical men that fought a mock duel and an artificial cloud that produced heavy showers. Both of these works date from about the 7th century A.D.t1

In the ninth to tenth centuries, Buddhasvamin wrote a version of the Brhat-kathd, a massive collection of popular stories. Buddhasvamin spoke of aerial vehicles as dkdsa-yantras, or sky-machines, and he attributed them to the YavanasÑa name often used for barbaric foreigners. It was quite common for flying machines and yantras in general to be attributed to the Yavanas in Sanskrit texts.t2

Some scholars take the Yavanas to be the Greeks, and they attribute Indian stories of machines to a Greek origin. For example, Penzer thought that the Greek philosopher Archytas (c. 42347 B.C.) may have been the "first scientific inventor" of devices resembling the Indian yantras, and he pointed out that Archytas "constructed a kind of flying machine, consisting of a wooden figure balanced by a weight suspended from a pulley, and set in motion by hidden and enclosed air." 3

No doubt there was much exchange of ideas in the ancient world, and today it is hard to know for sure where a given idea was invented and how highly developed it became. We do know, however, that fairly detailed ideas concerning airplanelike flying machines were known in medieval India.

Bhoja's Samardngana-sutradhdra states that the main material of a flying machine's body is light wood, or laghu-ddru. The craft has the shape of a large bird with a wing on each side. The motive force is

Mothines in Antient ond Medievol Indio provided by a fire-chamber with mercury placed over a flame. The power generated by the heated mercury, helped by the flapping of the wings by a rider inside, causes the machine to fly through the air. Since the craft was equipped with an engine, we can speculate that the flap- ¥ ping of the wings was intended to control the direction of flight rather than provide the motive power.

A heavier (alaghu) da-ru-vimdna is also described. It contains four pitchers of mercury over iron ovens. "The boiling mercury ovens produce a terrific noise which is put to use in battle to scare away elephants. By strengthening the mercury chambers, the roar could be increased so that by it elephants are thrown completely out of control." 14

There has been a great deal of speculation about just how power generated by heating mercury might be used to drive the vimdna through the air. This was discussed in an early book on UFOs by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski.ls Leslie proposed that the heated mercury mentioned in the Samardngana-sutradhdra may have something to do with the flight of UFOs.

I would suggest that the vimdnas described by Bhoja are much more similar to conventional airplanes than to UFOs. Thus they are made of ordinary materials like wood, they have wings, and they fly like birds. Raghavan suggested that the mercury engine was intended to be a source of mechanical power for flapping the wings as in bird flight. He supported this by noting that Roger Bacon described a flying machine in which some kind of revolving engine caused wings to flap through a mechanical linkage.S

Ramachandra Dikshitar, however, said that according to the Sama- rdngana-sutradhdra, the vimdna "has two resplendent wings, and is pro- pelled by air." 17 This suggests that some kind of jet propulsion was used.

However these vimdnas were actually powered, it seems likely that they relied on some conventional mechanical method that extracted energy from burning fuel and used it to produce a flow of air over wings. We can contrast this with the flight characteristics of UFOs, which don't have wings, jets, or propellers, and seem to fly in a manner that contradicts known physical principles. 1 Were the vimdnas mentioned in Samardrigana-sutradhdra ever actually built, or were they just products of imagination? I don't know. However, the elaborate descriptions of yantras found in medieval Indian texts suggest that many sophisticated machines were made in India long ago. If sophisticated mechanical technology was known in remote times, then it is quite possible that airplanes of some kind were a,so bui,t (ed-?). It is interesting that the Sanskrit astronomical text entitled Surya- siddhdnta mentions a mercury engine used to provide rotary motion for a gola-yantra, a mechanical model of the planetary system.'8 This suggests that at least one kind of mercury engine was used to produce rotary power. The text also says that the design for the mercury en- gine is to be kept secret. It was standard practice in ancient India for technical knowledge to be passed down only from teacher to trusted disciple. An unfortunate consequence of this is that knowledge tended to be lost whenever oral traditions depending on teachers and disciples were broken. It is thus quite possible that many arts and sciences known in ancient times have been lost to us, practically without a trace.

Additional Sanskrit works referring to flying machines are listed in a book by Dileep Kanjilal.9 These are: the Yukti-kalpataru by Bhoja (twelth century A.D.); the Mayamatam attributed to Maya Dfinava but probably dating to the twelth century A.D.; the Kathdsaritsdgara (tenth century A.D.); the Avaddna literature (first-third centuries A.D.); the Raghuvamsam and Abhijndna-sakuntalam of Kalidasa (first century B.C.); the Abhimdraka of Bhasa (second century B.C.); and the Jdtakas (third century B.C.). These dates are often approximate, and the material in the various works is often taken from older works and traditions.

The Vaimaniko-Sastra

The Vaimdnika-sdstra is a highly detailed description of vimdnas, and it is given great credence in a number of books and articles. These include the writings of Kanjilal,2¡ Nathan,2' and Childress.22 In particular, the Indian ufologist Kanishk Nathan wrote that the Vaimdnika-sdstra is an ancient Sanskrit text that "describes a technology that is not only far beyond the science of the times but is even way beyond the possible conceptua, scientific imagination of an ancient Indian, including concepts such as solar energy and photography." 23

It is indeed true that this book contains many interesting ideas about aerial technology. But it is important to note that it was written in the early 20'h century by a psychic process known today as channeling.

The story behind this is presented in the introduction to G. R. Josyer's translation of the Vaimdnika-sdstra. There it is explained that knowledge in India used to be transmitted orally, but as this tradition died out, writing on palm leaves was used. Unfortunately, palm leaf manuscripts do not last very long in the Indian climate, and large volumes of old written material have been lost due to not being regularly recopied.

This is certainly true. But Josyer went on to say that the lost texts "remain embedded in the ether of the sky, to be revealedÑlike televi- sionÑto gifted mediums of occult perception." The medium in this case was Pandit Subbaraya Sastry, a "walking lexicon gifted with occult perception," who began to dictate the Vaimdnika-sdstra to Mr. Venkatachala Sarma on August 1,1918. The complete work was taken down in 23 exercise books up to August 23, 1923. In 1923, Subbaraya Sastry also had a draftsman prepare some drawings of the vimdnas according to his instructions.24

According to Subbaraya Sastry, the Vaimdnika-sdstra is a section of t a vast treatise by the sage Maharsi Bharadvaja entitled Yantra-sarvasva or the ncyclopedia of Machines. Maharsi Bharadvaja is an ancient .rsi mentioned in the Mahdbhdrata and other Vedic works, but I do not know of any reference indicating that he was concerned with machines. The Yantra-sarvasva is no longer extant in physical form, but it is said to be existing in the akashic record, where it was read and recited by Subbaraya

t Sastry. As far as I am aware, there are no references to this work in existing literature. This is discussed in Kanjilal's book on vimdnas.25 - Although the Vaimdnika-sdstra could be a hoax, I have no reason 'J@ to suppose that it was not dictated by Subbaraya Sastry in the manner described by Josyer. But is the work authentic? Even if it was existing as a vibrational pattern in the ether, during the process of psychical reading and dictation it might have been distorted or adulterated by material from the unconscious mind of the medium.

In fact, there are good reasons for thinking this might be the case. The text of the Vaimdnika-sdstra is illustrated by several of the drawings made under Subbaraya Sastry's supervision. These include cross sections of the rukma-vimdna, the tripura-vimdna, and the sakuna- vimdna These cross sections show the kind of crude mechanical and E - electrical technology that existed in the period just following World War I. There are large electromagnets, cranks, shafts, worm gears, pis- tons, heating coils, and electric motors turning propellers. The rukma-vimdna is supposedly lifted into the air by "lifting fans" that are powered by electric motors and that are very small compared with the size of the vimdna as a whole. It definitely does not look as though it could fly.

These mechanical devices may well have been inspired by the technology of the early 20th century. But if we turn to the text of the Vaimdnika-sdstra, we encounter material of a much different nature. To illustrate this, here are ten examples taken from a list in the Vai- mdnika-sdstra of 32 secrets that a vimdna pilot should know.26 I will comment on relations between these items and common features of the UFO phenomenon.

1. Goodha: As explained in "Vaayutatva-Prakarana," by harnessing the powers, Yaasaa, Viyaasaa, Prayaasaa in the 8'h atmospheric layer covering the earth, to attract the dark content of the solar ray, and use it to hide the Vimaana from the enemy.

2. Drishya: By collision of the electric power and wind power in the atmosphere, a glow is created, whose reflection is to be caught in the Vishwa-Kriyaa-darapana or mirror at the front of the Vimana, and by its manipulation produce a Maaya-Vimaana or camouflaged Vimana.

3. Adrishya: According to "Shaktitantra," by means of the Vynarathya Vikarana and other powers in the heart centre of the solar mass, attract the force of the ethereal flow in the sky, and mingle it with the balaahaa-vikarana shakti in the aerial globe, producing thereby a white cover, which will make the Vimana invisible.

Here three methods are described for hiding a vimdna from the enemy. They sound fanciful, but it is interesting to note that vimdnas described in the Purdnas and the Mahdbhdrata have the ability to become invisible. This is also a characteristic feature of UFOs, but this was certainly not well known in 1923.

The idea that a glow is created by the collision of electrical power and the wind is interesting. UFOs are well known for glowing in the dark, and this may be due to an electrical effect that ionizes the air surround- ing the UFO. The word "shakti" (sakti) means power or energy.

4. Paroksha: According to "Meghotpatthi-prakarana," or the science of the birth of clouds, by entering the second of the summer cloud layers, and attracting the power therein with the shaktyaakarshana darpana or force-attraction mirror in the Vimana, and applying it to the parivesha or halo of the Vimana, a paralyzing force is generated, and opposing Vimanas are paralyzed and put out of action.

Aparoksha: According to "Shakti-tantra," by projection of the Rohi- nee beam of light, things in front of the Vimana are made visible.

Beams of paralyzing force are often mentioned in UFO accounts, as well as beams of light. The mention of a halo around the vimdna may be significant, since UFOs are often said to be surrounded by some kind of energy field.

6. Viroopa Karena: As stated in "Dhooma Prakarana," by producing the 32nd kind of smoke through the mechanism, and charging it with the light of the heat waves in the sky, and projecting it through the padmaka chakra tube to the bhyravee oil-smeared Vyroopya-darpana at the top of the Vimana, and whirling with 132nd type of speed, a very fierce and terrifying shape of the Vimana will emerge, caus- ing utter fright to onlookers.

7. Roopaantara: As stated in "Tylaprakarana," by preparing griddhra- jihwaa, kumbhinee, and kaakajangha oils and anointing the distorting mirror in the Vimana with them, applying to it the l9th kind of smoke and charging with the kuntinee shakti in the Vimana, shapes like lion, tiger, rhinoceros, serpent, mountain, river will appear and amaze observers and confuse them.

Although these descriptions seem completely wild, it is interesting that UFOs have been known to change shape in mysterious ways, and monstrous creatures have been known to emerge from landed UFOs and frighten people (see pages 331-33). Many of the items in this list of secrets have to do with creating illusions that bewilder enemies, and it seems that UFOs also create such illusions.

8. Saarpa-Gamana: By attracting the dandavaktra and other seven forces of air, and joining with solar rays, passing it through the zig-zagging centre of the Vimana, and turning the switch, the Vimana will have a zig-zagging motion like a serpent.

The ability of UFOs to fly in a zig-zag fashion is well known today, but it wasn't widely known in 1923.

9. Roopaakarshana: By means of the photographic yantra in the Vimana to obtain a television view of things inside an enemy plane.

10. Kriyaagrahana: By turning the key at the bottom of the Imana, a white cloth is made to appear. By electrifying the three acids in the north- east part of the Vimana, and subjecting them to the 7 kinds of solar rays, and passing the resultant force into the tube of the Thrisheersha mirror . . . all activities going on down below on the ground, will be projected on the screen.

The word "television" in item (9) was employed in the English translation of Vaimdnika-sdstra that came out in 1973. The original Sanskrit text was written in 1923 before television was developed.

It turns out that there are many references to TV-like screens inside UFOs. For example, they show up in the following abduction cases described in this book: the Buff Ledge, Vermont, case (pages 116-22), the case of Filiberto Cardenas (pages 174-76), the case of William Herrmann (pages 173-74 and 192-97), and the Cimarron, New Mexico, case (pages 344-49). William Herrmann, in particular, said he was shown a screen on board a UFO that would produce close-up views of objects at ground level. With it he got a clear view of the astonished faces of onlookers who were watching the UFO from the ground.Z7

All in all, the descriptions in the Vaimdnika-sdstra seem luridly fantastic. But there are many parallels between these descriptions and equally strange-sounding features of UFO accounts. I do not know if these parallels are at all significant, but it is curious that they should be there in a book written down between 1918 and 1923, before the UFO phenomenon was widely known. I also note that the technical descriptions given in the Vaimdnika-sdstra seem to be similar in quality to the technical UFO communications received by William Herrmann through automatic writing (see pages 192- 97).

It seems clear that the illustrations in the Vaimdnika-sdstra are contaminated by twentieth century material from the medium's un- conscious mind. Yet the passages I have just quoted mainly contain non-twentieth-century material, and this is expressed in terms of Vedic words and ideas. It may be largely a product of Subbaraya Sastry's imagination as applied to his extensive Vedic knowledge, or it may be a reasonably faithful rendition of an ancient Vedic text preserved as an etheric pattern.

The only way to find out about this is to obtain other obscure Sanskrit texts and see whether or not they confirm some of the material in the Vaimdnika-sdstra. Repeated confirmations would at least indicate that Subbaraya Sastry was presenting material from a genuine tradi- tion, and further investigations would be needed to see whether or not that tradition had a basis in actual fact. At the moment, we should remain open to various possible interpretations of the Vaimdnika-sdstra material.

Vimonas in the Vedic Literoture

The Bhdgavata Purdna, the Mahdbhdrata, and the Rdmdyana are three important works in the Vedic tradition of India. In Chapter 6, I pointed out that these three texts contain a great deal of interesting material involving the aerial vehides called vimdnas. They also describe different races of humanlike beings who operate these vehicles, and they discuss the social and political relationships existing in ancient times between these beings and humans of this earth.

To some, this material is of no value because it seems fantastic and mythological. Thus the Indian ufologist Kanishk Nathan rejected the old Hindu religious texts because they attribute exaggerated feats to gods. He felt that they are simply poetry in which "a writer who is not reporting an actual event can let his imagination move in any direction it wishes to take him." Z8 He also pointed out that these texts belong to a prescientific age, and therefore, "Given the cultural, technological and scientific knowledge of that historical period, a writer can, while enjoying generality and avoiding detail, create inventions and combi- nations that do not actually exist." Z9

One can reply that it has not been established that ancient writers were simply indulging in poetic imagination, with no regard for facts. There is a modern prejudice to the effect that anyone who has spiritual interests must be unscientific, and whatever he writes must be imagi- nary. This viewpoint makes sense as long as all observable data seem to support a mechanistic world model that excludes old religious ideas as exploded fallacies.

But if we carefully examine the UFO phenomenon, we find exten- sive empirical observations that completely contradict our comfortable mechanistic world view. It is noteworthy that this anomalous materialÑ ranging from physically impossible flight patterns to beings that float through wallsÑfits quite naturally into the spiritually oriented cosmologies of the old Vedic texts. It is therefore worth considering that the writers of these texts may have been presenting a sound descrip- tion of reality as they experienced it, rather than simply indulging in wild imagination.

Generol Purpose Vimns

The preceding chapter presented the story of Salva's vimdna, which is found in the Mahdbhdrata and the Bhdgavata Purdna. This was a large military vehicle that could carry troops and weapons, and it had been acquired by Salva from a nonhuman technological expert named Maya Danava. The Purdnas and the Mahdbhdrata also contain many accounts of smaller vimdnas, including pleasure craft that seem to be designed for a single passenger. These were generally used by Devas and Upadevas but not by human beings.

In this section, I will give a series of examples, showing how vimdnas figure as common elements in many different stories from these texts. Each example is extracted from the midst of a larger story, and it is not feasible to present these stories fully in this book. My purpose in present- ing the examples is to show that vimdnas are frequently mentioned in the Purdnas and the Mahdbhdrata. Apparently, they were as commonplace to people of the old Vedic culture as airplanes are to us today.

In the first account, Krsna killed a pythonlike serpent who was trying to swallow his father, King Nanda. By Krsna's arrangement, the soul of the serpent was transferred to a new body of a type possessed by the celestial beings called Vidyadharas. That soul had possessed such a celestial body before being placed in the body of the serpent, and so Krsna asked him why he had been degraded to the serpent form:

The serpent replied: I am the well-known Vidyadhara named Sudarsana. I was very opulent and beautiful, and I used to wander freely in all directions in my airplane. Once I saw some homely sages of the lineage of Angira Muni. Proud of my beauty, I ridiculed them, and because of my sin they made me assume this lowly form.3 In this passage the Sanskrit word vimdnena is translated as "in my airplane." It seems to have been a small private vehicle.

The next story is similar. Krsna had relieved the soul of one King J Nrga from imprisonment in the body of a lizard and had awarded him a celestial body. When the time came for the king to depart, a vimdna from another world came to get him:

Having spoken thus, Maharaja Nrga circumambulated Lord Krsna and touched his crown to the Lord's feet. Granted permission to depart, King Nrga then boarded a wonderful celestial airplane as all the people present looked on.3'

In the next case, we see the effect of a beautiful woman on the pilot of a vimdna. Here the sage Kardama Muni is describing the beauty of his future wife, Devahuti, to her father, Svayambhuva Manu:

I have heard that Visvavasu, the great Gandharva, his mind stu- pefied with infatuation, fell from his airplane after seeing your daughter playing with a ball on the roof of the palace, for she was indeed beautiful with her tinkling ankle bells and her eyes moving to and fro.32

It would seem that Visvavasu's vimdna was a small single-seater. Perhaps he didn't have adequate seatbelts, and he banked too steeply while trying to see Devahuti.

After Kardama Muni married Devahuti, he decided at a certain point to take her on a tour of the universe. To do this, he manifested an aerial mansion (called, as usual, a vimdna) that was lavishly equipped as a pleasure palace. Here the sage Maitreya relates the story of this mansion to his disciple Vidura:

Maitreya continued: O Vidura, seeking to please his beloved wife, the sage Kardama exercised his yogic power and instantly produced an aerial mansion that could travel at his will.

It was a wonderful structure, bedecked with all sorts of jewels, adorned with pillars of precious stones, and capable of yielding whatever one desired. It was equipped with every form of furniture and wealth, which tended to increase in the course of time....

With the choicest rubies set in its diamond walls, it appeared as though possessed of eyes. It was furnished with wonderful canopies and greatly valuable gates of gold.

Here and there in that palace were multitudes of live swans and pigeons, as well as artificial swans and pigeons so lifelike that the real swans rose above them again and again, thinking them live birds like themselves. Thus the palace vibrated with the sounds of these birds.

The castle had pleasure grounds, resting chambers, bedrooms and inner and outer yards designed with an eye to comfort. All this caused astonishment to the sage himself.33

The sage was astonished because he had not actually designed the aerial palace or imagined it in detail. In effect, what he did was men- tally put in an order for a flying palace, and he received it from a kind of universal supply system because he had earned good karmic credit through his austerities and practice of yoga. To understand what was happening here, it is necessary to consider some basic features of the Vedic conception of the universe.

Over the years, many analogies have been used to describe the universe. Thus the Aristotelians compared the universe to a living organism, and the early mechanistic philosophers compared it to a gigantic clock. To understand the Vedic conception of the universe, the modern idea of a computer with a multilevel operating system is useful. On the hard disk of such a computer, there are programs that can be set into action by typing in appropriate code words. When a code word is typed, the corresponding program will executeÑif the computer user has a suitable status. If he does not, then to him the code word is simply a useless name.
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