By Swami Harshananda
Puspaka literally means ‘that which shines like a beautiful flower’.
Whether the science of aeronautics was known to the ancient people or not, Puṣpaka or Puṣpakavimāna, the most wonderful aeroplane, has often been mentioned in the scriptural works. The Puṣpaka originally belonged to Kubera, the god of wealth. It had been given to him by Brahmā, the creator, as a gift. It had been manufactured by Viśvakarma, the chief architect and engineer of the gods in heaven. It was extraordinarily elegant, highly decorated, could accommodate any number of people by expanding and contracting and could fly independently at the ‘speed of mind’.
Rāvaṇa, the demon-king, had usurped it from Kubera. after conquering him in the battle. When Rāma killed Rāvaṇa, Vibhīṣaṇa offered the Puṣpaka to him to return to Ayodhyā. When Rāma wanted Kubera, the original owner, to take it back, the latter gifted it to Rāma. Rāma then ordered the Puṣpaka to move about freely at will, but to return to him whenever he wanted it.
In the Sundarakānda of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, there is a beautiful and captivating description of this Puṣpaka, as seen by Hanumān. Objections are generally indicated by the word ‘purvapakṣa’. In the Mīmānsā and the Vedānta systems it is the third stage while deciding the correct meaning of a statement in the Vedas.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore