The Origin of Artificial Intelligence: Hindu Epics’ Surprising Connections to AI, Robots, and Cosmic Weapons
Step into a realm where gods and mortals intertwine, where ancient civilizations dreamed of technologies far beyond their time. Journey with us as we delve into the captivating world of Hindu epics, where myth and imagination converge to reveal astonishing tales of artificial intelligence, robots, and cosmic weapons. In this grand exploration, we unravel the enigmatic connections between ancient myths and the origin of artificial intelligence and advance technologies.
Prepare to be transported back through the mists of time, to an era when the boundaries between gods and humans blurred. Our guide on this extraordinary journey is Adrienne Mayor, a distinguished historian of ancient science and folklore. Drawing upon her meticulous research and latest book, “Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology,” we embark on a quest to unlock the secrets buried within the epic sagas of India.
Imagine a time long before the advent of modern technology, where the seeds of scientific curiosity were sown in the fertile grounds of mythology. Mayor reveals how the ancients envisioned the creation of artificial life, the existence of automatons, and the marvels of self-moving devices. These incredible stories, first whispered through ancient oral traditions, were eventually transcribed thousands of years ago in the works of Homer.
However, the realm of such extraordinary myths extends beyond the Greek epics, with Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata also weaving tales of technological wonders.
Prepare to be awe-inspired as we uncover the captivating similarities between the divine engineers of Hindu mythology, Vishwakarma and Maya, and their Greek counterparts, Hephaestus and Daedalus. These master craftsmen forged automatons and machines, capturing the essence of ancient dreams of advanced technology. We delve into the notion that these ancient myths may, in fact, be the world’s earliest science fiction stories, envisioning a world where humans possessed the divine creativity and abilities of the gods.
Yet, our exploration does not stop at the boundaries of ancient India. We traverse the vast landscapes of cultural exchange, where Indian and Hellenistic civilizations influenced and borrowed from one another. We unveil the fascinating interplay between these cultures, from the invention of armoured war chariots to the mastery of distillation and hydraulics. These technological echoes reveal a world where the exchange of knowledge defied geographical boundaries, fueling the imagination and propelling the march of progress.
Join us as we bridge the chasm between myth and reality, between ancient dreams and modern scientific knowledge. Prepare to embark on a journey that challenges our understanding of technological progress and ignites the imagination. The time has come to unlock the secrets of the past and witness the astonishing visions of AI, robots, and cosmic wonders that lie within the pages of ancient Hindu epics.
Unveiling the Technological Marvels of Ancient Hindu Epics and Origin of Artificial Intelligence: Gods, Robots, and Cosmic Wonders
Adrienne Mayor, a historian of ancient science and folklore, and a research scholar at Stanford University, delves into the fascinating realm of ancient cultures and their visions of futuristic technologies in her latest book, “Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology.” Mayor uncovers captivating tales from epics and scriptures, revealing how ancient civilizations imagined advanced technologies that are eerily similar to modern concepts such as artificial intelligence and robots. She sheds light on intriguing narratives, including one about the guardianship of Buddha’s relics, where robots purportedly played a role.
When asked about the belief in India that ancient Indians invented a wide range of technologies, from spacecraft to missiles to the Internet, Mayor explains that her research into the roots of scientific curiosity led her to the realm of mythology. She discovered that ancient people first conceived the idea of creating artificial life, automatons (or robots), and self-moving devices, long before the technology existed to bring them to life.
These stories about robots and machines were initially passed down through ancient oral traditions and were later transcribed about 2,700 years ago during the time of Homer. However, these tales of automatons and machines were not exclusive to Greek mythology. Similar narratives can be found in Hindu epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. In Hindu mythology, automatons were crafted by the engineer god Vishwakarma and the sorceress Maya, while in Greek mythology, they were created by the god of technology Hephaestus and the skilled artisan Daedalus.
Mayor considers these myths to be the earliest examples of science fiction stories in the world. Advanced technological dreams were not confined to a single civilization but rather permeated various ancient cultures, including Greek, Etruscan, Egyptian, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, and many others. These myths pondered the wonders that could be achieved if humans possessed the divine creativity and abilities of the gods. However, Mayor clarifies that it is not possible to draw a direct developmental line from ancient mythology to modern scientific knowledge spanning millennia.
Regarding the mutual influence between Indian and Hellenistic cultures in the realm of technological imagination, Mayor highlights that the cultural exchange and influence began around the 5th century BC, gaining momentum after Alexander the Great and King Porus established relations in the 4th century BC. Jain texts mention that engineers in ancient India invented armored war chariots with spinning blades, potentially inspiring later Persian scythed chariots.
Furthermore, Indian engineers possessed powerful machines capable of hurling massive boulders even before Philip II of Macedon acquired torsion catapults. India’s knowledge of perpetually burning oil lamps, suggesting familiarity with naphtha, was unknown to the Greeks and Romans until much later. The Greek sage Apollodorus of Tyana witnessed automated servants and self-propelled carts in the court of an Indian ruler, indicating that India was centuries ahead of Europe in distillation and hydraulic technologies. Mayor suggests that there was likely more interaction and mutual exchange of knowledge than what can be definitively known.
Mayor then explores other cultures that have their own depictions of cosmic weapons, robots, and flying chariots. Flying chariots, synthetic swans, animated servants, giant robots, and various machines can be found in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kathasaritsagara, Harivamsa, and other works of Indian mythology. Egyptian texts and Homer’s Odyssey mention self-navigating ships, while Homer’s Iliad and Chinese chronicles describe androids and animal automatons. The prevalence of such narratives extends across numerous cultures and time periods.
Finally, Mayor shares the story of the android warriors guarding Buddha’s relics, as detailed in the Lokapanatti, a complex compilation of Burmese tales. According to this account, after Buddha’s passing, King Ajatasatru concealed his bodily remains in a hidden chamber beneath a stupa. These precious relics were safeguarded by bhuta vahana yantra, or spirit movement machines—robotic warriors armed with whirling swords.
The legend bears resemblance to the king’s novel war machines equipped with spinning blades. While Greek myths also depict automaton guardians in human and animal forms protecting palaces and treasures, the historical and technological nuances of this particular legend make it unique. According to the story, the robots were constructed based on plans secretly brought to Pataliputra from Roma-visaya, the Greek-influenced West, by a yantrakara, a robot maker originally hailing from Pataliputra.
These automaton soldiers faithfully guarded Buddha’s relics until the great Indian emperor Ashoka learned about the secret chamber. Ashoka engaged in battle with the robots, eventually defeating them and mastering their control. Historically, it is known that Ashoka did indeed uncover and distribute long-concealed Buddha relics throughout the land.
When asked about whether ancient civilizations built automatons as described in the scriptures, Mayor reveals that by the third century BC, craftsmen and engineers in Greece, Alexandria, Arabia, India, and China began constructing self-moving devices, flying bird models, animated machines, and automatons similar to those depicted in myths. These contraptions varied in size, from miniature to monumental, and employed various mechanisms such as springs, levers, pulleys, water, air, and heat.
Adrienne Mayor’s research unearths the captivating connections between ancient myths and the imaginings of advanced technologies. Her exploration highlights the universality of the human desire to create and transcend technological boundaries, as evidenced by the remarkable similarities found across diverse cultures and their ancient epics.