Shivkar was a scholar of Sanskrit and from his young age was attracted by the "Vaimanika Sastra" (Aeronautical Science) expounded by the great Indian sage Maharishi Bhardwaja which includes topics like "definition of an airplane, a pilot, aerial routes, food, clothing, metals, metal production, mirrors and their uses in wars, varieties of machinery and yantras, planes like ‘mantrik’, ‘tantrik’, and ‘kritak’" and four planes called Shakuna, Sundara,Rukma, and Tripura are described in great details.
Orville Wright demonstrated on December 17th 1903 that it was possible for a ‘manned heavier than air machine to fly’. But, in 1895, eight years earlier, the Sanskrit scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade had designed a basic aircraft called'Marutsakha'(Friend of the Winds) based on Vedic technology and had it take off unmanned before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay.
The importance of the comparison done with Wright brothers lies in the fact, that the aircraft by Wright Brothers was a manned flight which took the spin for a distance of 120 feet and Orville Wright became the first man to fly. But Talpade’s unmanned aircraft flew to a height of 1500 feet before crashing down and the historian Evan Koshtka, has described Talpade as the‘first creator of an aircraft’.
Acclaimed by scholars-
One western scholar of Indology Stephen-Knapp has put in simple words or rather has tried to explain what Talpade did and succeeded!
According to Knapp, the Vaimanika Shastra describes in detail, the construction of what is called, the mercury vortex engine the forerunner of the ion engines being made today by NASA. Knapp adds that additional information on the mercury engines can be found in the ancient Vedic text called Samaranga Sutradhara. This text also devotes 230 verses, to the use of these machines in peace and war.
The question that comes to one’s mind is, what happened to this wonderful encyclopaedia of aeronautical knowledge accumulated by the Indian savants of yore, and why was it not used? But in those days, such knowledge was the preserve of sages, who would not allow it to be misused.
According to scholar Ratnakar Mahajan who wrote a brochure on Talpade. ‘Being a Sanskrit scholar interested in aeronautics, Talpade studied and consulted a number of Vedic treatises like Brihad Vaimanika Shastra of Maharishi Bharadwaja Vimanachandrika of Acharya Narayan Muni Viman yantra of Maharish Shownik Yantra Kalp by Maharishi Garg Muni Viman Bindu of Acharya Vachaspati and Vimana Gyanarka Prakashika of Maharishi Dhundiraj’. This gave him confidence that he can build an aircraft with mercury engines. One essential factor in the creation of these Vedic aircraft was the timing of the Suns Rays or Solar energy (as being now utilised by NASA) when they were most effective to activate the mercury ions of the engine.
India during that time was in the clutches of British Empire headed by 'The East India Company' and this success of an Indian scientist was not liked by the Imperial rulers. Warned by the British Government the Maharaja of Baroda stopped helping Talpade.
His dream got 'Wings'-
One day in 1895 (unfortunately the actual date is not mentioned in the Kesari newspaper of Pune which covered the event) the history in the making was witnessed before a curious scholarly audience of India at Chowpathy Beach alongwith some famous Indian names like Mahadeva Govind Ranade andSayaji Rao Gaekwad who had the good fortune to see his unmanned aircraft named as ‘Marutsakha(friend of wind)' take off.
Post success struggle-
It is said that the remains of the Marutsakha were sold to ‘foreign parties’ by the relatives of Talpade in order to salvage whatever they can out of their loans to him. Talpade’s wife died at this critical juncture and he was not in a mental frame to continue with his researches. But his efforts to make known the greatness of Vedic Shastras was recognised by Indian scholars, who gave him the title of Vidya Prakash Pradeep.
Talpade passed away in 1916 un-honoured, in his own country. Some documents relating to his experiment have been preserved at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bangalore.