Shivkar Bapuji Talpade

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Shivkar Bapuji Talpade
Shivkar Talpade.jpg


Bombay (now Mumbai)
Died 1946[1]
Cause of death
Nationality Indian
Education Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art
Children Three (two sons and one daughter)

Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade (born in 1864 in Mumbai, Maharashtra)[1] was an Indian scholar who is said to have constructed and flown an unmanned airplane in 1895.[2] Talpade lived in Mumbai and was a scholar of Sanskrit literature and the Vedas.[3] He belonged to the Pathare Prabhu community who were the early settlers of Bombay (now Mumbai) city.

Early Life and Inspiration[edit]

Talpade lived at Dukkar Wadi (now renamed Vijay Wadi), Chira Bazaar, near Mumbai (Bombay). He completed his school education in Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art. During his time there he came to know about ancient Indian aeronautics through his teacher Chiranjilal Verma, who led Talpade to read Swami Dayanand Saraswati's works related to ancient aeronautics, such as ‘Rigvedādic Bhāshya Bhumikā’ and ‘Rigved and Yajurveda Bhāshya’. However, some sources also suggests that his works were based on the work done by Maharishi Bharadwaja in Rigveda. Inspired by these texts he decided to construct the Vedic Vimāna described in the Vedas, and started learning Vedic Sanskrit language.

Pratap Velkar, in his book on the Pathare Prabhu community, says that Mr. Talpade also studied the achievements of aviation pioneers like Thomas Alva Edison who flew in a balloon. Mr. Talpade's study included the experiment of machine gun inventor Hiram Maxim who made a captive steam-driven aircraft. According to Mr. Velkar, Mr. Talpade studied these flights, which inspired him to make an aircraft and fly.[4]

Marutsakhā - first Indian unmanned plane == Talpade's airplane was named Marutsakhā, derived from the Sanskrit Marut ('air' or 'stream') and sakhā ('friend') which together mean 'Friend of wind'. As suggested by D. K. Kanjilal's 1985 Vimana in Ancient India: Aeroplanes Or Flying Machines in Ancient India, as well as contemporary reports in the Marāthi-language newspaper Kesari,[5] Marutsakhā is supposed to have been inspired from Vimāna, meaning 'flying vehicle' in Sanskrit. Vimanās have a very ancient existence in Hindu mythology.

One of Talpade's students, Pt. S. D. Satawlekar, wrote that Marutsakhā sustained flight for a few minutes.[6] According to K.R.N. Swamy "a curious scholarly audience headed by a famous Indian judge and a nationalist, Mahadeva Govinda Ranade and H H Sayaji Rao Gaekwad, respectively, had the good fortune to see the unmanned aircraft named as ‘Marutsakthi’ take off, fly to a height of 1500 feet and then fall down to earth".[1] The presence of Mahadev Govind Ranade and Sayajirao Gaekwad III during the flight is also cited in "Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute".[7] A former Indian defense officer stated in 2004 that Marutsakhā failed to operate to its full design limits due to technical reasons.[6]

Contemporary accounts of a successful flight or evidences of such an achievement are scarce and the technical feasibility is dubious. The technical basis of the Vedic Ion Design which was supposedly used by Talpade has been debunked by research into the technological feasibility of such flights.[8] This issue was also raised by Steven J. Rosen [9] in his book 'The Jedi in the Lotus: Star Wars and the Hindu Tradition'. After the experiment, Marutsakhā apparently was stored at Talpade's house until well after his death. Velakara quotes one of Talpade's nieces, Roshan Talpade, as saying the family used to sit in the aircraft's frame and imagine they were flying.[5] A model reconstruction of Marutsakhā was exhibited at an exhibition on aviation at Vile Parle, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has preserved documents relating to the experiment.[6]

Popular culture[edit]

A film based on life of Talpade, Hawaizaada, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, was released on 30 January 2015. The film was earlier titled Bambai Fairytale.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Flying high". Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. December 16, 2003. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  2. ^ Sentinels of the Sky. Air Headquarter, Indian Air Force. 1999. p. 2. ISBN 8185250286. 
  3. ^ Asia: Asian Quarterly of Culture and Synthesis, American Asiatic Association, Published 1942, Page 40
  4. ^ "A flight over Chowpatty that made history". The Times Of India. The Times Of India. 18 October 2004. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Pratāpa Velakara, Pāṭhāre prabhūñcā itihāsa: nāmavanta lekhakāñcyā sas̃́odhanātmaka likhāṇāsaha : rise of Bombay from a fishing village to a flourishing town, Pune, Śrīvidyā Prakāśana (1997)[1]
  6. ^ a b c A flight over Chowpatty that made history, Times of India (18 October 2004)
  7. ^ Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Volume 69. The Institute. 1989. p. 365. 
  8. ^ Mukunda, H.S.; Deshpande, S.M., Nagendra, H.R., Prabhu, A. and Govindraju, S.P. (1974). "A critical study of the work "Vyamanika Shastra"" (PDF). Scientific Opinion: 5–12. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  9. ^ Rosen 2010