Is Brahmastra a nuclear weapon?

Picture of India’s mighty missile.


– S .Swaminathan, Tamil
Tutor, SOAS, University of London

Nowadays we see a lot of documentaries on television giving scientific or rational explanations for the Biblical events. But not many things in the Hindu epics or Puranas are explained in the same way. Any one with a scientific bent of mind or rational outlook can find explanations for most of the ‘unusual or abnormal’ phenomena or miracles. While I was working for the BBC World Service twelve years ago I had to interview one Indian doctor who had specialisation in Test Tube (IVF) Babies. Casually I mentioned that Gandhari also might have undergone IVF treatment to give birth to 100 children from the urns where the pieces of flesh were kept. But the doctor laughed at my suggestion.  I was surprised to read my view many years later when Mr Cho Ramaswamy started writing Mahaharata in his magazine ‘Tughlak’.

I am giving below some events from our epics and puranas and modern explanations for the same. They
may raise some questions such as ,Did they have all the modern equipment like today? or Are they just imagination or intuition about the future? I leave it to the judgement of the readers.

Dasavatara and Darwin

Many of us have noticed the similarity between Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and ten avataras of Lord Vishnu . Fish/matsya Avatara, Tortoise/kurma Avatara,, Boar/varaha Avatara, Man- Lion/narasimha Avatara,
Dwarf/vamana Avatara, then Rama, Parasurama, Krishna, Buddha(or Balarama) and Kalki avataras are equated with the life in the sea, amphibians, land animals, half man/half animal-semi civilised state, then full grown intelligent men. This is a reflection of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. While I was writing this , a news item appeared in the British newspapers saying that the have found a fossil of 3 foot tall man. They also added that those people may be there even today in the remote forests. This justifies the Vamana (dwarf) avatara. We already know that there are pygmies in the Congo forests of Africa.

test fire
Brahmos Missile Test Fire.

One Indian scholar explains the Varaha Avatara as follows:

‘One is reminded of the meaningful story full of highly relevant symbolism from our Puranas,
centred round the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as the boar to restore the Mother Earth that had tilted and slipped into the depths of ocean. The moral is when human beings become oblivious of their responsibilities consequent on their inter connectedness and interdependence, God Almighty incarnates as Yagna Varaha-symbol of the principle of sacrifice. When our actions become self oriented and disjointed, breaking the natural inter relatedness, Truth gets devalued and there is atilt. Varaha(boar) comes to remind man of the urgency of bringing the sense of sacrifice into his actions, of raising them into Yagnas, so that harmony and strength are restored as also the balance.

Theory of Time Dilation

If a 16 year old person travels at the speed of light (186000 miles per second), that person will be a ‘Markandeya’ for ever. He will be young for ever. We came to know this fact only after the greatest physicist of our times Albert Einstein gave us the Theory of Relativity. But there is a story in our Puranas about Arjuna’s travel to Swarga (an alien planet?)  in Indra’s chariot driven by his driver Matali. When Arjuna came back to earth he saw people more aged than he expected. When he asked for explanation scholars told him that the time on earth was different from the time of the place he visited. Even now we read in the Puranas about Deva’s day, Manu’s day and Brahma’s day. They have different duration. No other religion in the world described ‘Time’ this way. The concept of time and the way we use adjectives like ‘Surya Koti samaprabha’/light equivalent to million suns show that our forefathers were aware of the modern concepts.

Picture of Agni missile of India.

Futurology and Nuclear Winter

Vanaparvam of Mahabharata describes the end of the world. It says how the world will end at the end of Kaliyuga. It says that all the planets will be aligned in a single line. It also describes the climatic changes at the time. One cant miss the similarity between the nuclear winter (What will happen in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion) and the changed climate. Before reading about the nuclear winter I thought the epic describes some natural catastrophe. Now it is very clear that they describe only the nuclear winter.

Biology in Tamil

There is a proverb in Tamil ‘pulikku piranthathu poonaiyaguma? (Will a cub born to a tiger be a cat? ).The modern zoological classification says that both the animals belong to the same cat family. Did Tamils group both the animals in the proverb by sheer coincidence or did they know a scientific classification. Even the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiyam classifies all the living beings into six groups.


Brahmastra- a Nuclear Missile?

Whenever the use of Brahmastra is mentioned  in our scriptures ,the devastation it caused was also described in detail. They allowed it to use only once, that too only as a last resort. When they gave reason for it, they said that it kills the good and bad together and other living beings also. And we know that it was the most powerful weapon of the epic period. What is this weapon? Is it just a fire weapon or more than that? When we compare this with other weapons of Mahabaharata period such as the Shakti missile used by Karna, the Nagastra (Biological weapon?), Pasupatastra  etc it is very different from them. When Aswaththama and Arjuna released their Brahmastras, Krishna foreseeing the end of the world by such terrible weapons asked both to recall their weapons. When Arjuna did so, Aswaththama was unable to do it as he did not possess the requisite knowledge. At last Krishna had to use his power to save the child (Parikshit) in the womb of Uttara (from the radioactive fallout?) by using his special powers. 

Bhagiratha- a Great Engineer

The story of the descent of river Ganges to the ‘earth’ through Bhagiratha’s several thousand year penance is nothing but a marvelous engineering feat. Three decades ago when engineers wanted to build a dam across
river Nile in Egypt, they removed the massive Abu Simbel statues from the banks of the river and then a bomb explosion diverted the river Nile. The story of Bhagiratha bringing river Ganges to the earth clearly says that several of his forefathers also tried and failed in the mission. That is to say several kings tried to divert the Ganges which was running mostly on the Himalayan mountain but failed.  Bhagiratha with great ingenuity, diverted the river by breaking certain point in the Himalaya and the mighty river descended to the present Gangetic plains of North India. We must remember several thousand years ago there were no people on the Gangetic plains. This is what we read as the ‘descent of the river from sky to earth’. Population slowly spread eastward from the Indus plains. So we may call Bhagiratha the greatest engineer of the ancient world.

Did Agastya drink ocean?

Agastya was one of the greatest travelers of ancient India. He was mentioned in the Rig Veda and the Ramayana. He slowly moved southward and established an ashram at the western ghats-Pothya malai. There are lot of myths about him. All this can be explained scientifically. He did divert the river Cauvery to the present Chola mandala like Baghiratha. But in thousands of years it became a myth and we read a crow tilted the ‘kamandalam’ (pot) of Agastya and thus came River Cauvery.

Another story told about Agastya is that he traveled to the south at the behest of Lord Siva. It is
true that either Siva or a Saivite saint requested him to go to the south to disperse the population. The story of Siva’s(Meenakshi wedding) Tirulkalyanam makes it clear by  saying the overcrowding of the earth tilted the balance and Siva requested Agastya to go southward. Our fore fathers were such a great planners that they did what we are doing today-building satellite cities! This story is in Tiruvilayadal puranam and other books.

Did Agastya drink the ocean? Agastya was the first person to cross the Indian ocean for the first time to establish a great Hindu empire in South East Asia.  We now knew that there was a flourishing Hindu colony in Laos,Vietnam,Cambodia (Angorvat temple) Malaysia,Singapore and Indonesia (Borobudur Stupi) for 1300 years. Now they are all converted as Muslims. Like Columbus and Magellan, he crossed the ocean- that is he ‘drank’ the ocean! It is a symbolic story. Agastya’s statues are displayed through out South East Asian countries even today.

One another myth about Agastya is that he made the Vindhya Hill not to grow again. This is another
symbolic story to say that he crossed the Vindhyas for the first time through the ‘land route’. Before him North and South Indians used coastal sea routes. Tamil literature also makes it very clear in several places that Agastya came to the south with 18 groups of people and he was the one who codified a grammar for Tamil.

Jarasandhan-Siamese Twins?

Jarasandhan was born to two mothers and he came as two balls of flesh. The left and right     sides (child) were thrown into a dustbin by the queens in disgust and fear and a rakshasi (wild shaman woman) by name Jara picked it up and gave it to the king after joining both the parts .The fact is one woman gave birth to a Siamese twins (two children joined together physically) and  threw it in to the bin. Somebody did some surgery successfully and gave the child in good condition back to the king.

I have counted and listed more than 20 abnormal children in the Mahabjharata. Several of them are
stories of cloning. Mandhata was born out of his ‘father’ says the epic. Another story says that Vaidharbi gave birth to a squash fruit and it was divided into several parts and kept in urns. They became sons. The stories of Shisupala, Sikandi and Sthunakarna talk about organ changes. Vashista and Agastya were born in ‘pots’(Kumba Muni or Kumba Yoni). If we remove all the myths about all these miracle children we see clear medical treatment or surgeries/operations!

Who discovered Boomerang?

All of us knew that the Australian aboriginals had a weapon called Boomerang which will come back to
the person who shoots it. But Krishna’s Sudarsana charka also did the same .Whenever Lord Krishna used it, it came back to him. Was it the first boomerang weapon? Did Krishna teach this art to the world?

Miracle or Solar eclipse?

On the fourteenth day of the 18 day Mahabharata war, Arjuna vowed that he would kill Jayadrathan  before sunset or commit suicide. Unfortunately Arjuna couldn‘t kill him. But the story is that Krishna created false sunset using his Sudarsana charka (disc). If we look closely at this event it is nothing but a solar eclipse. The sun light faded for some time because of the eclipse. When all prepared for the withdrawal of the army for the day, the sun came out and Arjuna killed the unguarded Jayadratha. In those days they didn’t fight after sunset.

What I have given here is only very little. If we take the fields of Medicine, Mathematics,
Psychology  ,The power of mind/brain, Extra Sensory perception etc. we may write volume after volume. But I wish someone analyses all such events and publish their findings well before the western scientists reveal them. No one will appreciate if we keep on comparing every new invention with the writings in our old literature.

Pictures are inserted on 26th March 2014 in the original article. The article was written ten years ago for the South Indian Society UK (London) magazine.