Hinduism,Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.

Art of Navigation 6000 yrs old in Sindhu River


The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindhu 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Navgatih’. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit ‘Nou’.

In those days India had colonies, in Cambodia (Kambuja in Sanskrit) in Java, (Chavakam or Yava dwipa) in Sumatra, in Borneo, Socotra (Sukhadhara) and even in Japan. Indian traders had established settlements in Southern China, in the Malayan Peninsula, in Arabia, in Egypt, in Persia, etc., Through the Persians and Arabs, India had cultivated trade relations with the Roman Empire.

Sanskrit and Pali literature has innumerable references to the maritime activity of Indians in ancient times. There is also one treatise in Sanskrit, named Yukti Kalpa Taru which has been compiled by a person called Bhoja Narapati. (The Yukti Kalpa Taru (YKT) had been translated and published by Prof. Aufrecht in his ‘Catalogue of Sanskrit Manu scripts. An excellent study of the YKT had been undertaken by Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji entitled ‘Indian Shipping’. Published by Orient Longman, Bombay in 1912.)

A panel found at Mohenjodaro, depicting a sailing craft. Vessels were of many types Their construction is vividly described in the Yukti Kalpa Taru an ancient Indian text on Ship-building.
This treatise gives a technocratic exposition on the technique of shipbuilding. It sets forth minute details about the various types of ships, their sizes, the materials from which they were built. The Yukti Kalpa Taru sums up in a condensed form all the available information

The Yukti Kalpa Taru gives sufficient information and date to prove that in ancient times, Indian shipbuilders had a good knowledge of the materials which were used in building ships. Apart from describing the qualities of the different types of wood and their suitability in shipbuilding, the Yukti Kalpa Taru also gives an elaborate classification of ships based on their size.

The primary division is into 2 classes viz. Samanya (ordinary) and Vishesha (Special). The ordinary type for sea voyages. Ships that undertook sea voyages were classified into, Dirgha type of ships which had a long and narrow hull and the Unnata type of ships which had a higher hull.
The treatise also gives elaborate directions for decorating and furnishing the ships with a view to making them comfortable for passengers. Also mentioned are details about the internal seating and accommodation to be provided on the ships. Three classes of ships are distinguished according to their length and the position of cabins. The ships having cabins extending from one end of the deck to the other are called Sarvamandira vessels.

These ships are recommended for the transport of royal treasure and horses. The next are the Madhyamarnandira vessels which have cabins only in the middle part of their deck. these vessels are recommended for pleasure trips. And finally there is a category of Agramandira vessels, these ships were used mainly in warfare.




There were Sanskrit terms for many parts of a ship. The ship’s anchor was known as Nava-Bandhan-Kilaha which literally means ‘A Nail to tie up a ship’ . The sail was called Vata Vastra a which means ‘wind-cloth’. The hull was termed StulaBhaga i.e. an’expanded area’. The rudder was called Keni-Pata, Pata means blade; the rudder was also known as Karna which literally means a ‘ear’ and was so called because it used to be a hollow curved blade, as is found today in exhaust fans. The ship’s keel was called Nava-Tala which means ‘bottom of a ship’. The mast was known as Kupadanda, in which danda means a pole.
Even a sextant was used for navigation and was called Vruttashanga-Bhaga. But what is more surprising is that even a contrived mariner’s compass was used by Indian navigators nearly 1500 to 2000 years ago. This claim is not being made in an overzealous nationalistic spirit. This has in fact been the suggestion of an European expert, Mr. J.L. Reid, who was a member of the Institute of Naval Architects and Shipbuilders in England at around the beginning of the present century. This is what Mr. Reid has said in the Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xiii., Part ii., Appendix A.

“The early Hindu astrologers are said to have used the magnet, in fixing the North and East, in laying foundations, and other religious ceremonies. The Hindu compass was an iron fish that floated in a vessel of oil and pointed to the North. The fact of this older Hindu compass seems placed beyond doubt by the Sanskrit word Maccha Yantra, or fish machine, which Molesworth gives as a name for the mariner’s compass”.
It is significant to note that these are the words of a foreign Naval Architect and Shipbuilding Expert. It is thus quite possible that the Maccha Yantra (fish machine) was transmitted to the west by the Arabs to give us the mariner’s compass of today.

Indian shipping has thus had a long and brilliant history covering a period of about five millennia from the very dawn of India’s civilization in the Indus Valley. Both Hindu and Buddhistic texts are thus replete with references to the sea-borne trade of India that directly and indirectly demonstrate the existence of a national shipping and shipbuilding. It was one of the great national key industry of India. Indeed, all the evidence available clearly shows that for full thirty centuries India stood at the very heart of the commercial world, cultivating trade relations successively with the Phoenicians, Jews, Assyrians, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans in ancient times, and Turks, Venetians, Portuguese, Dutch and English in modern times.
Professor Basham is not the only scholar to have underplayed India’s achievements with regard to ship-building, navigation, and sea travel. The colonialist bias against Indian culture is fully matched by the Indian ‘Marxist’ bias against culture.
For example, Marxist historian, B.S. Sharma’s oversimplification of facts for children plays havoc with the subject matter of history. He writes: “In early times the ancient Indians obtained some knowledge of navigation, and they contributed to the craft of ship-building. But since political powers had their seats of power far away from the coast and since there was no danger from the sea-side, the ancient Indian princes did not pay any particular attention to navigation.” The italics clearly manifest Sharma’snegative treatment of India’s accomplishments whereas the obliteration of Pallavas and Cholas from his memory – important political power which were not far away from the coast – divulges his northern, perhaps Aryan and Brahmin bias.
There is enough evidence to prove that Indians maintained their maritime activity through out the ancient and mediaeval periods, naturally with variations in its extent and excellence, over such a long period of time. Both Basham and Marxist historians of India have presented untruth, and half truth as truth.
George Coedes French historian and author of Indianized State of South East Asia has said: “I am convinced that such research will reveal numerous facts which will indicate a much deeper Indianization of the mass of the population than the sociologists will at present admit.”
Sylvain Levi French art Historian has shown how references in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Mahaniddesa and Brihat-Katha that the products of Burma and Malaya Peninsula were known to Indian merchants and sailors and also some of its ports such as Suvarnakudya, Suvarnabhumi, Takkolam, Tamlin and Javam from at least first century A.D.
(source: Ancient India – By V. D. Mahajan p. 752-753).
That Indian traders and settlers repeatedly undertook journeys to Southeast Asia, despite the hazards and perils involved, speaks well for their physical prowess, courage, and determination, even if allowance for the pull of profit is made.
Historian K. M. Panikkar, who in his brilliant exposition, India and the Indian Ocean, speaks about the ‘influence of the Indian Ocean on the shaping of Indian history.’ For Panikkar, the geographical ‘imperative’ of the Indian Ocean – and indeed the Himalaya in the North – has conditioned and shaped the history and civilization of this subcontinent. ‘The importance of geographical path on the development of history is only now receiving wide and general recognition,’ he says.
Nand Kishore Kumar wonders:
“It will be hard to find a secondary source from any part of the world which will endorse Professor Basham’s view. Indeed it is difficult to understand, how in view of incontrovertible primary evidence proving Indian maritime activity, extensive respect of space and time-span, intensive in terms of variety, tonnage and value, and altogether of far reaching consequences in material as well as ideational spheres, Professor Basham could have belittled that is when he found it worth a mention at all – this aspect of Indian civilization. Is it because it is hurtful to the pride of a native of the British Isles which conquered the world through military strength but cannot compare with its erstwhile colony which for over a millennium dominated the world through civilized means?”
(source: Bias in Indian Historiogarphy – Edited By Devahuti D. K. Publishers’ Distribution. New Delhi. 1980. p. 90-100).
Dr. Vincent Smith has remarked, “India suffers today, in the estimation of the world, more through the world’s ignorance of the achievements of the heroes of Indian history than through the absence or insignificance of such achievement.”
(source: Eminent Orientalists: Indian European American – Asian Educational Services. p.314).

U.S. adopts Indian Catamaran technology:

Washington May 28 2003: The United States adopted ancient Indian catamaran-making technology to construct fast ships which were used with dramatic effect in the Iraq war, says a media report.
Among the equipment the Americans used to win the Iraq war were 100-feet catamaran ships to ferry tanks and ammunition from Qatar to Kuwait.
The ships, built with technology adapted from ancient Tamil methods to make catamarans, can travel over 2,500 kms in less than 48 hours, twice the speed of the regular cargo ships, and carry enough equipment to support about 5,000 soldiers, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
Having a shallow draft, the boats can unload in rudimentary ports, allowing troops to land closer to the fight. — PTI

(source: U.S. adopts Indian Catamaran technology – hindu.com and tribune.com).
Sailing down the seas of history:
Charting the coastline from Mumbai to the very end of Gujarat, where India ends and Pakistan begins, the 1,000 nautical mile voyage that will end on February 11 is in preparation for another, more ambitious voyage. The sailors, calling themselves the Maritime Exploration and Research Group, is getting ready to follow the path of ancient Indian mariners from south India all the way to Indonesia.

Inspired by the Chola kings of the 11th century, who discovered the present-day Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Bali, the group is preparing to replicate the feat using traditional instruments and a boat resembling the vessels of yore.

Called the Simulation of Chola Navigation Techniques, the forthcoming expedition will attempt to cover the distance between Nagapatnam in southern India and the Indonesian islands.”The expedition will aim to show that our ancient seafarers were in no way inferior to their Western counterparts,” said B. Arunachalam, a researcher who is the moving spirit behind the expedition. The expedition has cost the team members nearly Rs.100,000 but they have received substantial assistance from the Indian Navy.

(source: Sailing down the seas of history – newindpress.com).

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This entry was posted on April 2, 2014 by in HINDUISM SCIENCE and tagged .

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