‘Samarangana about the actual construction of vimanas.(Sharma‘Samarangana about the actual construction of vimanas.(Sharma

‘Samarangana Sutradhara’ of Bhojadeva is
one of the rare treatises in Sanskrit literature which has substantial
information about yantras. Chapter 31 of this book ‘Yantravidhanam’ describes
various mechanical contrivances of that era. Bhojadeva also describes two types
of Dharu Vimanas and its applications. They are:

Laghu Dharu Vimana

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Dharu means wood, Laghu Dharu Vimana
means aircraft made of light wood. Verses 95-96 of chapter 31 of Samarangana
Sutradhara describes Laghu Dharu vimana. Even though this book gives the barest
details, this book is one of the few Sanskrit texts which speak about the
actual construction of vimanas.(Sharma 2012 : 363 – 404)

“Laghu dharumayam mahavihangam dhruda suslishta
tanum vidhaaya tasya|

Udare rasayantram aadadeetha jvalanaadhaaramadho
asya chaati poornam||

Taroodaha purushastasya
pakshadwandwochaallaprojjitena anilena|

Sputasvantaha Paaradasyasya shaktya chitram
kurvannambare yaati dooram||” (Sharma
2012 : 380-81)

According to Bhojadeva, main material of
the body of vimana is lightwood i.e. ‘Laghu Dharu’, shape of the vimana is that
of a huge bird i.e. ‘maha vihanga’ with a wing on each of the sides. He
explains that the internal structure has a fire chamber with mercury placed
over flame which acts as a motive force. The power generated by the heated
mercury, helped by the concurrent action of the wings which are flapped by a
rider inside, makes the yantra go up and travel far. (V. Raghavan 1952 : 23-24)

Alaghu Dharu Vimana

Verses 97-98 of chapter 31 of
Samarangana Sutradhara describes Alaghu Dharu vimana which is a heavier Dharu
vimana.

“Ityameva suramandiratulyam sanchalatyam alaghu
dharuvimanam|

Aadadheetha vidhinaa chaturo antastasya paaradabruthan
drudhakumbhaam||

Ataha kapaala ahita manda vahni pratapta tat kumbha
bhuvaa gunena|

Vyomno jhagityabharanatvameti santapta garjad
rasarajashaktya||”(Sharma 2012 : 381-82)

While laghu Dharu vimana is in the shape
of bird, alaghu Dharu vimana is in the shape of temple. It flies along a heavy
aerial car made of wood. It is a heavier Dharu vimana which contains four
pitchers of mercury over iron ovens. When mercury i.e. ‘rasaraja’ is heated, it
explodes quickly and becomes an object of decoration in the sky mainly because
of pots heated by the slow ignition burnt within the steel or Iron potsherds. Our
research article titled “Mechanical Contrivances and Dharu Vimanas described in
“Samarangana Sutradhara ” of Bhojadeva” describes in detail about the
Dharu Vimanas described by Bhojadeva. The very interesting fact here is the use
of ‘suta’ or ‘mercury’ as one of the constituent elements and ‘vijayat’ or ‘ether’
as the medium of action. While Laghu Dharu Vimana flies like a bird in air,
Alaghu Dharu Vimana requires a launcher to fly high in air. Mercury engines used
in dhaaru vimana can be compared with mercury vortex engines used in SERT1
launched by NASA in the year 1964.  (Rajani and Shruthi K R 2015 : 16-20)  

Indologist ‘William Clendenon’ has
described Mercury Vortex Engine in his translation of Smarangana Sutradhara as
follows.

 “Inside the
circular air frame, place the mercury­ engine with its electric/ultrasonic
mercury boiler at the bottom center. By means of the power latent in the
mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion a man sitting inside may travel
a great distance in the sky in a most marvelous manner. Four strong mercury
containers must be built into the interior structure. When these have been
heated by controlled fire from iron containers, the vimana develops
thunder-power through the mercury. And at once it becomes like a pearl in the
sky.” (Childress,
Vimana Aircraft of Ancient India and
Atlantis 1991)

Bhojadeva mentions that the terrific
noise produced by boiling mercury ovens can scare away the elephants and hence can
be used in battles for this purpose. The elephants can be thrown completely out
of control by strengthening the mercury chambers and increasing the roar. According to Mr. V. Raghavan,
this specific military use of aircraft against elephants tempts one compare
Hasti-yantra advocated by Kautilya against elephants with the heavier
Dharu-vimana described by Bhoja. (V. Raghavan 1952)