The 20th century is considered as a golden era for humankind. Our world have changed drastically during this time. There have been countless inventions and discoveries that affected our way of living. One such achievement for mankind is the invention of flight.
Aviation has connected the world and helped us achieve the impossible by collaborating with each other. When asked who invented flight? most of the people have a straight answer i.e. The Wright brothers. Well, this is a misconception.
How Mythologies Encouraged Aviation !
The concepts and theories for creating the perfect flying machine was already been developed by many inventors across world even before Wright brothers. Man’s desire to fly was fueled by many legends and mythological stories. Many inventors believed that these were not just stories and these concepts had practically scientific implementations.
Some of the most interesting legends of man trying to flying were :
- The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus
- The British Legend of King Bladud
- The Chinese legend of Wang Mang
- The Indian Legend of Vimanas
Most of the people around the world considered Wright brothers as the inventors of flight. In reality the first flight was created by a John Stringfellow in 1848 however the most detailed design that visualizes the concept of aviation was developed by an Indian in 1895.
An Indian Who Design Airplane Before Wright Brothers
Shivkar Bapuji Talpade was a sanskrit scholar from India. He was quite fascinated by the aeronautical Science also known as Vaimanika Sastra in sanskrit. He lived in Mumbai at Dukkarwadi, Chira Bazaar. He created this incredible aircraft under the guidance of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry who was also the author of Vaimanika Shastra. He named his aircraft as Marutsakha.
“Shivkar Bapuji Talpade (1864–1916) and Subbarāya Shāstry were two Indian scientists who, constructed and flown India’s first unmanned airplane in the year 1895 to a height of 1500 feet. According to aviation historians Mr Talpade used his knowledge of the(Vaimānika Shāstra) to build a plane.”
– Read Quote of Prabhat Prakash Verma’s answer to What trivia (and/or little-known facts) do you find interesting about India?
Credibility of Marutsakha
Historian Evan Koshtka has stated that Talpade was the “first creator of an aircraft”. A news article published by Kesari covered the entire event when Marutsakha flew 1500 feet. The article was believed to be personally authorized by none other than Lokmanya Tilak. The event was witnessed by a huge crowd which included important personalities such as Mahadev Govind Ranade and Sayajirao Gaekwad, The Maharaja of Baroda.
The Science Behind Marutsakha
During that era, experts discarded the concepts and designs developed by Talpade because most of his designs were inspired by mythological legends from the vedas.
Today, scholars across the world have recognized vedas as a source of scientific knowledge. Veda mentions the existence of flying objects like Vimanas. H Childress and Berlitz in their book “the anti-gravity handbook” mentioned the significance of Vaimanika Shastra.
NASA is currently developing “Mercury vortex engine” with an intention to design an aircraft that can be power by the sun (solar energy). Vaimanika Shastra mentions a similar technology with reference to the vedic scriptures from Samarangana Sutradhara.
Why Talpade was denied the fame or respect he deserved?
Along with the finance offered by Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda, Talpade start constructing Marutsakha.
According to the newspaper records from that time, Marutsakha flew 1500 feet and crushed. Talpade didn’t considered it as a failure, he want to upgrade the design and was quite sure that he could fly Marutsakha again. However, the Britishers was very unhappy about Talpade’s expedition in the aviation sector. The British authorities ordered Maharaja of Baroda not to provide finance for Talpade’s research.
To continue his work Talpade took loans from his relatives. Due his wife’s illness, he found it to be very difficult to carry on his research with his limited income. He was in debt and the relatives who loaned him money acquired the remains and documentation of Marutsaktha and sold to Rally Brothers for a good amount of money. It is also said that Rally brothers promised Talpade that they would finance his project if he submitted his research specification to them. It is also believed that Wright brothers bought this designs from Rally brothers and incorporated it in their designs. Still Wright brother’s prototype was only able fly up to 120 feet whereas Marutsakha flew up to 1500 feet.
Where the world appreciated and celebrated the achievements of Wright brothers and Stringfellow; Talpade was ignored by the authorities. Talpade was as good as any inventor of that era but could not survive the restrictions laid upon by his haters. It is unfortunate that the Talpade still remains unhonored for his contributions. Nobody knows about this great Maharashtrian who once dreamt of flying across the world.
In this video, Rajiv Dixit was an Indian social activist talks about the significance and existence of Marutsakha.
While researching on this topic, I found this Facebook post by Bijay Upadhyay. If you are interested about the ancient art of aviation, I would recommend you check out this post. Mr. Upadhyay has accurately listed out these references from Indian scriptures that indicates the existence of science of aviation in the ancient era.
A Petition to Indian Department of Education
Here is an online petition created by a Marutsakha supporter. It is a petition to include Shivkar Bapuji Talpade work in our school syllabus. I would request all my readers to participate and lend their support to this noble cause.