The iron pillar next to the Qutab Minar in Delhi has been the centre of attraction for metallurgists from all over the world. For nearly 1600 years, it has been standing undaunted under the open skies, during all type of weather conditions. In so many years, it has not rusted; this has been a matter of surprise for the world.
As far as the question of it history is concerned, it was made in the 4th century. According to the Sanskrit inscription on it, it was set up as a flag post in front of the temple of Lord Vishnu on the Vishnu mountain in Mathura by Chandra Raj. It may have been made to place Garuda on top of it. That is why it is also called the Garuda pillar. It was brought to Delhi in 1050 by Anang Pal, the founder of Delhi.
The pillar is 735.5 cms tall, of which 50 cms is below the earth and 45 cms is in the stone platform around it. It has a circumference of 41.6 cms at the base, and 30.4 cms above. It might once have a statue of Garuda on top of it. The total weight of the pillar is 6096 kg. A chemical examination in 1961 showed that the pillar is made of surprisingly good quality steel and contains much less carbon in comparison to the steel of today. Dr. B.B.Lal, the chief chemist of Indian Archaeological Survey has conclude that the pillar is made by joining 20-30 kgs of hot iron pieces. It is believed to have been manufactured in 15 days by 120 workers. The fact that 1600 years ago the technique of joining pieces of hot iron, was known to us, is a matter of amazement by itself because not a single joint can be seen in the whole pillar. The fact that despite remaining in the open, and weathering it out for 16 centuries, it has not rusted, has amazed expert scientists. It has more of phosphorous and less of sulphur and manganese. Large quantities of slug by itself or collectively increases resistance to rust. Besides this, a 50-600 micron (1 micron=1000th part of 1mm) thick layer of oxide also protects the pillar from rusting.
3. Mercury? Until the 17th century, the Europeans did not know what mercury was. Hence in documents of the French Government, it was called quick silver?another kind of silver because it shone and could move from one place to another. The government also made a law that those Indian medicines which contained mercury, could be used only by specialists.
In India, people not only knew about mercury, they were using it on a large-scale in pharmaceuticals also for thousands of years. Al Baruni was the first foreigner who stayed for a long time in India in the 11th century. He had, written in detail, in his book, about how to manufacture mercury and how to use it, and acquainted the world with it. We shall discuss how to purify mercury when we discuss chemistry, but it is believed that Nagarjuna, who was born in 1000 AD, knew how to make gold with mercury. What is surprising is that he chose mercury, and not any other metal, to convert it into gold. Modern science says that a metal is produced on the basis of the number of protons in an atom of a metal and it is amazing that while there are 80 protons and electrons in Mercury, in gold there are 79 protons and electrons.
4. Gold-Silver? A. Delmar, in his book A History of Precious Metals?1902, New York, says that there are two islands named Chryse an Agyre at the origin of the River Sindhu, where particles of gold and silver can be found in the soil of the entire land.
The 7th mantra of the 61st sookta of the 6th division of the Rigveda names the Saraswati and Sindhu (Indus) as Hiranyavartani, that is gold.
Gold and silver are mentioned in the scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagwat Gita, Raghuvansh, Kumar Sambhava, etc. The tradition of using, gold ash, for medicinal purpose has been prevalent in India for centuries.
Similarly, we find references of the use of gold, copper and lead in the Atharvaveda, Rasa Tarangini, Rasayan saar, Skukra Neeti, Aashwalayan grihyasootra, and Manusmriti. In the Rasaratnsamuchhay Granth, the process of making the ash of many metals and using them to cure various diseases, is given in detail. This shows that metallurgy had developed in India in ancient times and used in various ways for the welfare of man.
When Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi went to a place called Aaranmuda, in Pattanam Titta district of Kerala, he found that the families there knew the technique of preparing mirrors from metal by hand. When he showed these to his friends in the science committee, they could not believe that they could have been made by hand and not by machine, and that for ages, they were being exported from India. We never tell our students that such a technique is present in India, and despite the fact that these people live in poverty, they are not prepared to leave it for fear that this traditional art might vanish. The country must take care of such people.
It is generally believed today that man'sdream of flying like birds was fulfilled when the Wright Brothers made the aeroplane on December 17, 1903 and that aeronautics is the west'sgift to the world. There is no doubt that this knowledge has made tremendous progress but during the Mahabharata period, and even before that, it had been developed in India too. Not just aeroplanes, cities too had been created in space. A number of references to this have been found in the Indian texts. In explaining the meaning, of the 1st mantra of the 36th sookta of the Rigveda, Vidyavachaspati Pandit Madhusudan Saraswati in his book, Indra Vijay says that the Ribhus had made a three-wheeled chariot, which could fly in space. In the Puranas, the various Gods, and Goddesses, the Yakshas, etc. travelled by air. The Tripurasur, that is the three demon brothers had constructed three invincible cities in space. They could commute between earth, water and sky. They were destroyed by Shiva. The Ramayana has reference to the Pushpak Viman. In the Mahabharata, the plains of Sri Krishna and Jaraasandh are mentioned. Bhagwat also refers to Sage Kardam, who because of his penance, could not pay attention to his wife. When he realised it, he took her in his aircraft and showed her the entire universe.
When today'sexperimenting and logical person reads or hears this, he naturally thinks that they are all fantasies and imaginations to entertain human beings. It is natural to get such thoughts because no books or ancients remnants have been found to prove the fact that these planes were present in ancient times and that people knew the technique of building them.
Fortunately, at least one book is available which tells us that in ancient time, people in India had knowledge about planes and it was quite developed. This book, its contents, and its descriptions, have been attracting the attention of scholars in our own country and abroad for years.
(This book is available with Ocean Books (P) Ltd, 4/19 Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-110 002.)