Dude, where's my brahma-astra?

Vikram Kilpady
Vikram KilpadyJan 07, 2015 | 11:21

Dude, where's my brahma-astra?

Like most 1980s kids, my favourite Sunday TV show used to be Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana and BR Chopra's Mahabharata. The two shows, luckily, weren't contiguous like it is now on primetime TV, where channels vie with each other replete with serials on domestic discord/bliss, ersatz mythology and comedy. Wow, the gods and their flying machines.

What you read in Amar Chitra Katha was buttressed by the moving images on TV though the sad scenes got to you courtesy the disturbing violin/sitar bass tones. The times were different, bows, swords and the mace held sway. Schwarzenegger was a few years away to rip into the collective non-violent miasma we lived under, and cowboy westerns were so 19th century. India's anti-capitalist chains were to give way post-1991 showering in cable films on overdrive and westerns from the Turner stable of channels.

As the Ramayana progressed into its final stages, the TV devotees marvelled at the loyalty and might of Hanuman. And we expected every monkey in the zoo or in the jungle to fly like him. Only to be corrected by elders nearby that Hanuman was a god, not just a plain old monkey.

Ravana must have been a cooler dude, a cousin of mine told me. He has ten faces and he had a plane, the Pushpak Vimana purloined/cheated from Kuber, the god of wealth. Ram had given up all his cool stuff for the jungle. So who was hip, he asked me. Ram, I said and forgot about all this until the Indian Science Congress got under way in Mumbai.

A retired pilot is said to have invited ridicule and rebuke for presenting a paper that said rishis of ancient India had written about making aircraft, a la Pushpak Vimana, as early as seven millennia before Christ. The rishi, Maharishi Bharadwaja, had come up with how-tos on making magnificent machines that could fly and with "40 small engines", the original jumbo jet.

The retired pilot, Captain Bodas, also revealed little known nuggets of information. That there was an ideal diet for pilots - cow/buffalo/sheep milk. These guys think of everything (haven't you heard of holistic healing??), even the Vedic pilots' clothing - of leaves and trees grown underwater. Surely, it must be extra-aerodynamic.

I don't know much about flying machines (barring the jeans) but after seeing the Ramayana and the Mahabharata on TV, I can only say if the Indian Army had access to brahma-astras, those things that spewed sparks and drone-like music, we will be ruling the world. Dhat Amrika!

Last updated: January 07, 2015 | 11:21
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