Wars and Arms and Artillaries -
Since ancient times there has been a legacy of wars in India .The war was called "Dharmayuddh" when it was for a right purpose.When it was for subvertion of monarch and for annihilation of enemy it was Asur Yuddh .And when the war was waged for greed for wealth ,it was called Lobh yuddha.The later two were inculded in the "Kutayuddha" or unrighteous war .The wars were waged upon some ethical values called "yuddha niti" that very much determined the direction of war . Since ancient time kings of India never tried to usurp the land of other kindoms beyond the physical baundaries of India .Though there was a trend of conquering the entire Indian subcontinent by a King ,who wanted to become a great ruler with the title "Chakravarti Samraat" .Even in Mahabharat and Ramayan there are instances of the emperors performing "Ashwamedh yagya" who wanted their sovereignity to be accepted by neighbouring chieftains and other rulers . We can find the elaborated description of wars from many sources of past.I am here going to discuss the importance of the war and its three components - social ,physical and technical accomplishments.
Social resources -
In ancient India society became organised.Those castes who were amenable for wars were Kshtriyas.Kshtriyas were assigned a social rank next to the intellectual and spiritual members of the society .They were responsible for maintaining unity and integrity of a kingdom ,which they governed .They were the rulers and hence had responsibility of governance and defense of their subjects .They were given necessary education ,drill and discipline to cultivate the militarism and thus the art of waging wars was not so common in other castes .They were supposed to inherit the inborn characters of chivalry ,mercy ,nobility etc.But the most admiring thing that could be seen in the Kshatriyas of ancient India is that in the grimmest times of struggle in the wars they never forgot morals and their principles of war .As it has been stated in Agni Purana the principles of war or Dhramayuddh inculded -
An armed soldier should never fight with a man who is not so clad .
One should fight with only one enemy and should cease the war if the opponent is disabled.
Aged men ,women ,children where thought to be weak .So they were not supposed to be attacked .One who surrenders ,also came in this class .
The war should not be waged on the public areas and the army was not allowed to destroy fruits ,flowers,gardens ,and other places of public interests .
The physical structure of an army -Sources say that since ancient Vedic times the army was divided in fourfold of forces that were Chariots, Elephants ,Horsemen and the Cavalry.The army possessing those four parts were called Chaturangini sena .
Technical achievements -
Since childhood the kshatriya children were given technical education in science of arms .Weapons consisted of Astras and Shastras.The former was thrown or cast down by means of machines,charms or fire .They were charmed and tubular.The shastras were such weapon that could inflict a cut in someone's body. Archery was the most important weapon science in the vedic and post vedic periods .The bow (Dhanush) and arrows(Baana) though named differently as Sarang ,Kodand ,Karmuka.Archery was not limited upto the usage of normal arrows .The arrows were first empowered by the formula to be recited like holy hymns: Mantras .Reciting these , the arrow fills with magical and spiritual efficiency and carried specific power with it ,that was strong enough to devastate the enemy in a desired way .There are description of many such arms in the Vedas , Mahabaharat ,Ramayan .The archery called "Dhanurvidya" and the book that gives its knowledge was "Dhanur veda".Dhanurveda classifies the weapons as Amukta (not thrown), Mukta(thrown), Mukta-mukta and Mantramukta (discharged by mantras ) .In Nitiprakasika ,it seems that it has talked about the arrows of three types Mukta ,Amukta and Mantramukta .
We have references from Bhargava that talks about many interesting weapons.Millions of types of arrows such as blazing ,venom tipped ,snake like ."Asani "and "Vajra" meaning "lightening" (generating electrical energy).Vajra was a Amukta weapon assigned to Indra which was made of the bone of Maharshi Dadhichi. "Sammohan baan" rendered those they struck unconciouss.
We get a refrence of the hyper destructive weapons :the Brahmastra and Pashupatastra ,that are described as to be powerful enough that they could cause indiscriminate loss of life.Even biological weapons were known .The Puranas says that there were such arrows ,when shot ,could cause fever and other serious diseases .
A weapon termed Shataghni indicates the presence of a projectile that could kill thousands together.It may be taken as a weapon like cannon .
Asi or the swords were thought to be one of the best types of weapons to fight all types of wars.In the Santi-parva (166,3 ff; 82 ff). Bhisma being asked as to which weapon in his opinion was the best for all kinds of fighting, replies that the sword is the foremost among arms (agryah praharananam), but the bow is first (adyam).
In ancient India the process of making Ukku steel was known that is nowadays is called Damascus steel .It was used to make best swords of the world .The original Damascus steel-the world's first high-carbon steel-was a product of India known as wootz. Wootz is the English for ukku in Kannada and Telugu, meaning steel.
The Puranas refer to certain hyper-destructive weapons: the Brahmastra and Pashupatastra,as the highly resonant incendiary wepons that set fire to everything. Lakshmana in Ramayana so and Arjuna in Mahabharatas' were prevented from using them because they could cause indiscriminate loss of life.
Once I had a discussion with my father on the Brahmastra and pashupatastra and how lord Krishna saved Parikshit in the womb of Uttara when Aswasthama discharged Brahmastra at him. He told me that these weapons were like nuclear weapons that were once when discharged were tough to control and were powerful enough to do a considerable destruction to the earth .Now I am really surprized to see such a statement given by someone else ..
Julius Robert Oppenheimer, the principle developer of the atomic bomb, stated that "The Vedas are the greatest privilege of this century." During the explosion of the first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer quoted several Bhagavad-gita verses from the 11th chapter, such as:
A long exposure shot at Trinity Test
"Death I am, cause of destruction of the worlds..."
When Oppenheimer was asked if this is the first nuclear explosion, he significantly replied: "Yes, in modern times," implying that ancient nuclear explosions may have previously occurred.
You know, thinking of it thrills me from inside .It is really amazing !
There are many instances of naval and aerial war fares in ancient India .
In Shantiparva of Mahabharat ,(by Pitamah Bhishma) it is said that the navy is one of the parts of a complete army.In the Manusamhita (Vii. 192), it is said that boats should be employed for military purposes when the theatre of hostilities abounded in water. Kamandaka (XVI, 50) alludes to naval warfare when he says: "By regular practice one becomes an adept in fighting from chariot, horses, elephants and boats, and a past-master in ery." Manavadharmasastra refers to sea fights and attests to the use of boats for naval warfare. The sailor is called naukakarmajiva. Yukti-kalpataru of Bhoja specifies three types of ships Sarvamadira - cabins everywhere,Madhyamadira - Cabins in the middle (used in rainy season) and Agramandira - cabins towards the prows or in front ( eminently adapted for naval warfare).
Further on in the Veda, this same vessel is described as a plava which was storm-proof and which presented a pleasing appearance and had wings on its sides. Another reference informs us that Tugra dispatched a fleet of four vessels (Catasro navah) among which was the one referred to above. We may infer from these passages that the Asvins were a great commercial people having their home in a far-off island, and that their ruler Tugra maintained a fleet in the interests of his State. There are also other references in the Rig Veda to show that the ancient Indians were acquainted with the art of navigation. For instance, Varuna is credited with a knowledge of the ocean routes along which vessels sailed.The Baudhayana Dharmasastra speaks of Samudrasamyanam and interprets it as nava dvipantaragamanam, i. e. Sailing to other lands by ships. This very term occurs in the navadhyaksa section of the Kautaliya Arthasastra.
Though it is thought generally that science of flying is a gift to us from right brothers,but when you will know the reality ,you will be surprised .Knowledge of aerial warfare was well known to ancient Indians since Vedic period.In one of the Brahmanas of Vedas ,there is description of an aircraft with two wings .It says he ship is the Agnihotra of which the Ahavaniya and Garhapatya fires represent the two sides bound heavenward, and the steersman is the Agnihotrin who offers milk to the three Agnis. Again in the still earlier Rg Veda Samhita we read that the Asvins conveyed the rescued Bhujya safely by means of winged ships.
Samarangana Sutradhara of Bhoja, a whole chapter of about 230 stanzas is devoted to the principles of construction underlying the various flying machines and other engines used for military and other purposes.
The Puranas and epics show that ancient Indians knew well the art of navigating in the air.
Col. Henry S Olcott (1832 – 1907) American author, attorney, philosopher, and co founder of the Theosophical Society in a lecture in Allahabad, in 1881.
He said : “The ancient Hindus could navigate the air, and not only navigate it, but fight battles in it like so many war-eagles combating for the domination of the clouds. To be so perfect in aeronautics, they must have known all the arts and sciences related to the science, including the strata and currents of the atmosphere, the relative temperature, humidity, density and specific gravity of the various gases...”
In Vaimanika Sastra of Maharshi Bhardwaj there has been given a detailed description of the mercury vortex engine .Indologist William Clarindon in his translation of Samaranga Sutradhara quotes "‘Inside the circular air frame, place the mercury-engine with its solar mercury boiler at the aircraft center. By means of the power latent in the heated mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in a most marvellous manner. Four strong mercury containers must be built into the interior structure. When these have been heated by fire through solar or other sources the Vimana (aircraft) develops thunder-power through the mercury."
Shivkar Bapuji Talpade was born in 1864 in the locality of Chirabazar at Dukkarwadi in Bombay.
He was a scholar of Sanskrit and from his young age was attracted by the Vaimanika Sastra . One western scholar of IndologyStephen-Knapp has put in simple words or rather has tried to explain what Talpade did and succeeded!
Surprisingly according to the bi-monthly Ancient Skies published in USA, the aircraft engines being developed for future use by NASA by some strange coincidence also uses mercury bombardment units powered by Solar cells! Interestingly, the impulse is generated in seven stages.
You can find the english translation of vaimanika shastra on http://upload.vedpuran.net/Uploads/121113the_vimanika_shastra.pdf