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War Machines or Yantras in Ancient India

Apart from the arms and armors which were used actively in the battlefield, Hindus also used yantras or war machines. Yantras occupied an important place in the fortification of fortresses, both as defensive measure and weapons of attack in ancient India.

Kautailya mentions both chala (movable) and achala (immovable) machines. (Arthashastra II.18).

Some of the immovable war machines used by Ancient Hindus were:
  • sarvatobhadra (a small cart capable of hurling stones on sides),
  • jamadagnya (a large machine to shoot arrows), and
  • parjanyaka (a water-machine to extinguish fire).
The above said machines due to their huge and cumbersome nature, were fixed on the ramparts and gates of the forts, the relatively lighter ones could be moved around.

Some of the movable war machines used by Ancient Hindus were:
  • Pancalika – a wooden beam with sharp points outside the fort wall
  • Srikarika – a leather wall to protect the roads and towns against stone pelting
  • Audaghatima – a machine to pull down towers.
The extent of weapons used, the skill used in their fabrication and the range of use they were put to, confirm that ancient Hindus had a developed science of warfare.




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