Hinduism,Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.

Ship building in ancient India

Sea-Going and River-Going Vessels

The Sanskrit texts like Vedas, Jatakas, Panini’s Astadhyayi, epics, Arthashastra etc consists of innumerable references to sea voyages and sea-borne trade. Among the surviving indigenous record throwing enormous light on the Ship-building in India is Yuktikalpataru by King Bhoja who is known as well reputed name in literature and history. He is author of many valuable work like Samarangana Sutradhara (architecture), Rajamartanda, Saraswati Kanthabharna, Subhasita-prabandha etc. ‪#‎Yuktikalpataru‬, a Sanskrit manuscript by Bhoja Narapati is something like a treatise, on art of ship-building in Ancient India. The two chapters entitled Nispadayanodesa and Jaghanya Jalayanani under following heads gives description of subjects like Sea and period suitable for ship-building, varieties of wood best suited for ship-building, tying of iron nail to sea-going vessels, classification of River going (Samanya) and Sea-going (Visesa) ships, names and measurements of ordinary type of vessels, two types of special ships – dirgha (according to length) and Unnata (according to height) etc. [6,7]

Yuktikalpataru gives according to Vriksha-Ayurveda (science of plant life), an account of four different kinds of wood. The first class comprises wood that is light and soft, and can be joined to any other wood. The second class is light and hard, but cannot be joined be to any class of wood. The third class of wood is soft and heavy. Lastly the fourth kind is hard and heavy. According to Bhoja, the ship made out of second class of wood, brings wealth and happiness. Ships of this kind be safely used for crossing the oceans. Ships made out of timbers containing different properties are not good, as they rot in water, and split and sink at the slightest shock. The thirty first chapter contains description of various kinds of mechanical contrivances (yantra) such as elephant machine (gajayantra), wooden bird machine travelling on air (vyomacari-vihanga yantra), wooden vimana flying machine and many more. The Samarangana defines yantra as machine which controls the bhutas and make them serve a specific purpose. The main elements of yantra according to Samarangana are four – the earth, water, fire and wind and it states the three varieties of yantra – Jala (water) Yantra, Agneya yantra and Vayu (Air) Yantra. [6,7]

Yuktikalpataru also suggests metals to be used for decorations. According to cabins, ships are to be grouped into three classes:[7]
(1) ‪#‎Sarvamandira‬ Ships, having the largest cabin, from one end of the ship to other basically used for transportation of royal treasury.
(2) ‪#‎Madhyamandira‬ Ships, with cabins for rainy seasons
(3) Ships with cabins near the prows, are called ‪#‎Agramandira‬ and are used for sailing in the dry seasons.
It was in these ships, that the first naval battle recorded in Indian literature, was fought, when Tugra, the Rishi King, sent his son Bhujyu against his enemies inhabiting some Island, and Bhujyu, on being wrecked was rescued by two Aswins. [8] Of the same descriptions are the five hundred vessels mentioned in ‪#‎Ramayana‬ with Swastika flags on it.
In ‪#‎Rajavalliya‬, the ship in which prince Vijaya and his followers were sent away by King Sinhala of Bengal was large enough to accommodate seven hundred passengers.[5] The Janaka Jataka mentions ship wreck of seven hundred passengers too. The ship by which was used for rescuing of Brahmin mentioned in Sankha Jataka was 800 cubits (‪#‎370Meters‬) length, 600 cubits (277m) in width, 20 fathoms (36m) deep and had 3 masts.[6] The ship named ‪#‎SantaMaria‬ used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage, was 18-25 meter long. [1,2] ‪#‎KautilyaArthashastra‬, devotes a full chapter on state department of waterways under Navadhyaksha “Superintendent of ships”. His duties included the examination of accounts relating to the navigation, not only on oceans and mouths of river but also on lakes, natural or artificial, and rivers. Vasco’s ship was the ‘‪#‎SaoGabriel‬‘, a nau of length 27 meters. [3,4]
References and Readings
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_(ship)
[2] http://www.madeira-web.com/PagesUK/santa-maria.html
[3] http://www.shipsonstamps.org/Topics/html/vasco.htm
[4] http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Vasco_da_Gama
[5] From Bharata to India: Chrysee the Golde By M. K. Agarwal
[6] Society, Law and Administration in Ancient India edited by H. S. Bhatia
[7] Chaudhary, M. (1975). Ship-Building in the Yuktikalpataru and Samaranga Sutradhara. Indian National Science Academy, Calcutta.
[8] http://ancientvoice.wikidot.com/rvs:bhujyu

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This entry was posted on March 29, 2015 by in naval power od ancient india, ship building in ancient india and tagged .

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