Ancient Vedic ‪‎Shipcraft‬

Discussion in 'Hindu' started by Speechless world, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Ancient History and Origin of "Navigation" & Maritime
    Ancient history of shipping, trading on oceans date back to many years and evidence of trade between civilizations dates back at least two millennia are found. Indians and Chinese have the oldest known history of shipping and during 3rd millennium BCE inhabitants of the Indus Valley initiated maritime trading contact with Mesopotamia. After the Roman annexation of Egypt, roman trade with India increased. Even in ‪‎Puranas‬ and ‪‎Vedas‬, ships are mentioned. During Lord Krishna’s regime in ‪‎Dwarka‬ (more than 5000 years ago), maritime trading between India and Mesopotamia existed. Silk and other commodities were traded.

    Ancient History states that Greeks were known to have traveled to India through sea route for trade and cultural exchange. In Puranas and Vedas, ships are elaborately mentioned. During Krishna’s regime in Dwaraka (more than 5000 years ago), maritime trading between India and Mesopotamia existed. Silk and other commodities were traded. The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh more than 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word "NAV Gatih".The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit `Nou‘. In Rigveda 1.25.7; 7.88.3 and other instances, Samudra (Ocean/Sea) is mentioned together with ships. In RV 7.89.4 the rishi Vasishta is thirsting in the midst of water. Other verses mention oceanic waves (RV 4.58.1,11; 7.88.3). Some words that are used for ships are Nau, Peru, Dhi and Druma.A ship with a hundred oars is mentioned in RV 1.116.There were also ships with three masts or with ten oars. In RV 9.33.6 says: ‘From every side, O Soma, for our profit, pour thou forth four seas filled with a thousand-fold riches'.Rig Veda mentions the two oceans to the east and the west, (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) just as they mention ships and maritime trade. In Ramayana, Guha carries Ram, Sita, Lakshman in his boat while they were in exile. When Ram’s brother Bharat comes later to the same place along with the whole royal household, citizens of Ayodhya and a large army, with the intention of bringing Rama back to Ayodhya from exile, Guha, suspecting Bharata’s intentions, takes precautionary measures by ordering five hundred ships, each manned by one hundred youthful mariners to keep in readiness, should resistance be necessary. Those ships are described to have ‘Swastika’ sign on them. In Mahabharata, the ship contrived by Vidura for the escape of Pandavas is described as : “the ship strong enough to withstand hurricanes, fitted with machinery and displaying flags“.

    Even Greek History describes war at Troy started with journey on many ships and it ended with Trojan Horse.

    Ship building technology of Ancient India

    Chandragupta Maurya’s minister, Chanakya alias Kautilya, around 320 BCE devotes a full chapter to waterways under a Navadhyaksha ‘Superintendent of ships’.

    His duties included the examination of accounts relating to navigation, not only on oceans and rivers, but also on lakes (natural or artificial).

    Fisheries, pearl fisheries, customs on ports, passengers and mercantile shipping, control and safety of ships and similar other affairs all came under his charge.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2015
  2. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Yukti Kalpataru and Samarangana Sutradhara are two books written by paramara King Bhoja of Dhar (early 11th century AD), which described about construction of sailing large vessels which can travel in oceans or big rivers.

    Evidence was found of a compass made by iron fish floating in a vessel of oil and pointing north, which was used by mariners of Indus Valley Civilization.

    Yukti Kalpataru gives 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 to any other class of wood. The third class of wood is soft and heavy.

    Lastly the fourth kind is hard and heavy.

    ► According to Bhoja, a ship made out of the second class of wood, brings wealth and happiness. Ships of this type can 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.

    Bhoja says that care should be taken that no iron be used, in joining planks, but they be subjected to the influence of magnetism, but they are to be fitted together with substances other than iron. Bhoja also gives names of the different classes of ships:

    River-going ships – Samanya

    Ocean-going ships – Visesa

    ► In temple of Jagannath at Puri, a sculpture shows oarsmen paddling with all their strength and water is thrown into waves. The boat is of the Madhyamandira type, as defined by King Bhoja in the “Yukti Kalpataru”.

    ► One of the ‪‎Ajanta paintings is of “a sea-going vessel with high stem and stern with three oblong sails attached to as many upright masts. Each masts is surrounded by a truck and there is carried a big sail. The jib is well filled with wind. A sort of bowspirit, projecting from a kind of gallows on deck is indicated with the outflying jib, square in form,” like that of Columbus ships. The ship is of the Agramandira type, as described in the “Yukti kalpataru”.

    ► Temple of Borobudur in ‪‎Java (previously in India/Bharat) contains sculptures recalling the colonization of Java by Indians. One of the ships tells more plainly than words, the perils, which the Prince of Gujarat and his companions encountered on the long and difficult voyages from the west coast of India.

    ►► The world’s ‪‎first tidal dock was built in ‪‎Lothal around 2500 BC during the Harappan civilisation at Lothal near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast. Ancient Indians were the first to use maritime instruments like ‪‎Sextants (used to measure angles of elevation above the horizon) and the Mariners ‪‎compass (known as the Matysa (Maccha) Yantra in Sanskrit).

    ► Historian Strabo says that in the time of Alexander, the River Oxus was so easily navigable that Indian wares were conducted down it, to the Caspian and the Euxine sea, hence to the Mediterranean Sea, and finally to Rome. Greeks and Indians began to meet at the newly established sea ports, and finally all these activities culminated in Indian embassies, being sent to Rome, from several Indian States, for Augustus himself says that Indian embassies came frequently.

    Abundant Roman coins from Augustus right down to Nero, have been found in India.

    Indian Kingdoms of ‪‎Kalinga, Vijayanagara, Chola, Pandya, Chera, Pallava etc established maritime trading relations with Islands in Indian and Pacific oceans.


    In Mythology, ship's existence goes back to Lord ‪‎Manu/Noah. Origin of word "‪‎Manushya" comes from Lord Manu.


    The eminent Indian archaeologist Dr. Bahadur Chand Chhabra concludes:

    “It may be a surprise even to an Indian today to be told that in the ancient world India was in the forefront in the field of shipping and ship-building. Her ships, flying Indian flags, sailed up and down the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and far beyond to Southeast Asia. Her master-mariners led the way in navigation. Riverine traffic within the country, shipping along the entire length of India’s coastline, and on high seas were brisk until as recently as the days of the East India Company. Owing however, to historical competition by the British, ancient Indian shipping was wiped out without a trace. No wonder then the common man in India today readily believes that Indians are not only now learning the ABC of navigation. It would have been odd indeed if, bounded on three sides by great oceans, and gifted with a remarkable spirit of enterprise and invention, India had registered no advancement in the sphere of navigation while she had gone far in other arts and sciences. [7]

    Kanji Malam - A Gujarati Merchant & Vasco Da Gama
    Few people know that an Indian Merchant cum naval pilot, named Kanji Malam, was hired by Vasco da Gama to captain his ships and take him to India.
    ► Since long we have been taught that Vasco-da-gama discovered sea route to India, but facts and research says ancient Indian pioneered in sea navigation as well. When Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered Europe-to-India sea route, he had a Gujarati by his side to show him the way.[1]
    ► Vasco da Gama, At the start of this period, Vasco da Gama, lacking knowledge of celestial navigation, could not navigate the Indian Ocean, and needed an Indian pilot to guide him across the sea from Melindi in Africa, to Calicut in India. Some of Europe's acclaimed “discoveries” in navigation were in fact appropriations of a well-established thriving trade system in the Indian Ocean. Contrary to European portrayals that Indians knew only coastal navigation, deep-sea shipping had existed in India as Indian ships had been sailing to islands such as the Andamans, Lakshdweep and Maldives around 2,000 years ago.[2] ‪‎Kautilya‬ describes the times that are good and bad for seafaring. There is also extensive archival material on the Indian Ocean trade in Greek, Roman, and Southeast Asian sources.
    History and Research Facts
    ON THE AFTERNOON OF 22 APRIL 1498, a few kilometres off the shore of the East African port of Malindi, (See Map) Captain-Major Vasco da Gama was a happy man. After drifting for four frustrating months up the continent’s southeastern coast, from Mozambique to Mombasa, facing the hostility of local rulers and Arab and African merchants, the Portuguese captain had finally found a navigator who could take him to ‪‎India‬.
    The man who steered da Gama across the Indian Ocean to Calicut—and into the history books as the “discoverer” of the ocean route to Asia—was a Gujarati named Kanji Malam. A trader of cotton and indigo from Kutch, Malam made regular voyages to the African coast to barter his goods for gold and ivory.
    That it was a ‪‎Gujarati‬ who led da Gama to India should come as no surprise. The Gujarati aptitude for navigation, seafaring and commerce was already legendary, and Gujarati merchants had established trading routes stretching from the Persian Gulf to present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. "Kanji's Ship was 3 times bigger than the Vasco Da Gama Ships".
    For two millennia before the Portuguese arrived, Gujarat had been at the junction of the world’s two main trading axes: the Silk Road and the Spice Route, and it was a principal distribution hub for goods from African, Arab and Asian ports entering the subcontinent. From the coast, one inland trade route went east to Bihar; another north to Mathura; and a third south to Marathwada. Merchants from Greece, Arabia, Persia, Africa and China came to do business in Gujarat centuries before European explorers set foot in India. Vasco da Gama's ship St Gabriel sailed on April 26th 1498 and set foot at ‪‎Koyilandy‬ not Kappad on May 20, 1498. [3,4]



    [2] Jeewan S.Kharakwal & Shruti. HISTORY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – A NEW PERSPECTIVE. Infinity Foundation Princeton, pp-15


    [4] The career & legend of Vasco D agama – Sanjay Subrahmanyam

    [5] Hellquist, Elof, Svensk Etymologisk Ordbok, Lund, Sweden: C.W.K. Gleerups Forlag, 1966, p.701.

    [6] Valmiki Ramayana, Sundar Kand.

    [7] Hindu America: revealing the story of the romance of the Surya Vanshi Hindus and depicting the imprints of Hindu culture on the two Americas - By Chaman Lal with foreword by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. 3d ed. (LC History-America-E) 1966).

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