Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday caused eyebrows to be raised with his interpretation of India's epics, saying that in the "Mahabharata", Arjuna's arrows had "nuclear power" while the "Ramayana" has spoken of aircraft.
Ironically, Dhankhar's comments came during his inaugural address at the 45th eastern India Science Fair and 19th Science and Engineering Fair.
"If we delve into our old scriptures... plane was invented in 1910 or 1911. But in Ramayana, we had uran khatola (aircraft). In Mahabhabharata, we had a situation where Sanjay narrated everything and not from the field. We had those arrows of Arjun that had nuclear power," said Dhankhar.
According to Mahabharata, Sanjaya had the gift of seeing events happening at a distance right in front of him, and narrated them to the blind king Dhritarashtra the action in the climactic battle of Kurukshetra, which includes the Bhagavad Gita.
"The world can no longer afford to ignore India," said Dhankhar.
However, taking a dig at the Governor, Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said "the problem is these Governors appointed by the centre's BJP government are delving into everything. They are know-alls".
He said there was indeed a reference to weapons like 'pashupat astr'0a in Mahabharata which was "capable of destroying the world and the people", and Ramayana did speak of the very speedy "pushpak rath",
"But what people like Jagdeep Dhankhar are totally incapable of fathoming is that great poets have very strong power of imagination."
Echoing Bhaduri, scientist Sandip Chakraborty said: "Mahabharata also says mind travels the fastest. That denotes the power of imagination.
The ancient poets described all these things based on their imagination."
Chakraborty said ancient India had made very good progress.
"But I feel sorry to say people like Dhankhar are damaging the progress made by ancient India," he added.