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I found this site which claimed that Ancient India was an extremely advanced civilization whose technology equaled & in some cases even surpassed current technology. None of the claims have external, reliable citations. Can anyone support or debunk any of the claims made?

Guns:

Some people in medieval Europe heard of powerful fire weapons of the India. Marco Polo (in 13th century) was financed by the king of his country with the specific purpose of finding the secret of the Indian fire weapons. Marco Polo was given gold coins and precious stones.

And finally,

Who invented nuclear weapons?

You may have heard about the great Astras mentioned in our Puranas. But you may not have read about them in detail:

“The Mahabharata – an ancient Indian epic compiled 3000 years ago – contains a reference to a terrible weapon. Regrettably, in our age of the atomic bomb, the description of this weapon exploding will not appear to be an exaggeration: ‘…. a blazing shaft possessed of the effulgence of a smokeless fire (was) let off…’. That was how this weapon was perceived. The consequences of its use also evoke involuntary associations. ‘… This makes the bodies of the dead unidentifiable. … The survivors lose their nails and hair, and their food becomes unfit for eating. For several subsequent years the Sun, the stars and the sky remain shrouded with clouds and bad weather’. This weapon was known as the Weapon of Brahma or the Flame of Indra

As far as I know, the Mahabharata is just a story. But even if we assume that the technology described in the book is not a product of the author's imagination, then could anyone confirm whether the above paragraph is actually taken from a reliable translation of the epic? It is possible that the writer of the article perverted the story to fit his hypothesis.

And also: Did our ancients know radars and laser weapons?

Yes, the technology was given in the Sanskrit manuscript Samarangana Sutra Dhara.

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    I'm new to skeptics. What is the recommended policy for answering (dare I say) questions with quite ludicrous assertions? – Joel Cornett Jun 11 '12 at 2:16
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    Sounds like someone is reading what they want to read in a poetic interpretation. I'm sure you could read a passage in Moby Dick and get something that describes a nuclear submarine if you try hard enough... – JasonR Jun 11 '12 at 11:29
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    It's almost impossible to prove something DIDN'T happen. Prove me there is no blue dinosaure living somewhere on Earth right now! "Nobody saw one" doesn't prove anything. – Alexis Dufrenoy Jun 11 '12 at 15:30
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    @GreenNoob: In this situation, I believe the burden of proof is on the proponents of this (not widely accepted) assertion to present evidence in support of it. The site you linked to contains many inaccuracies and it seems to use only a wikipedia article, and a website called "hinduwisdom" as it's sources. – Joel Cornett Jun 11 '12 at 16:04
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    @GreenNoob: What sort of evidence would it take to falsify this website's assertions? – Joel Cornett Jun 11 '12 at 16:09
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The text

Aiming at all his visible and invisible foes, the preceptor's son, the slayer of hostile heroes, inspired with mantras a blazing shaft possessed of the effulgence of a smokeless fire, and let it off on all sides, filled with rage. Dense showers of arrows then issued from it in the welkin.

can be found on page 481 of this translation. The context does not suggest nuclear weapons any more than other massive weapons. And nuclear weapons are not normally associated with arrows. This extra context seriously undermines the interpretation of the partial quote given in the source.

An free e-book edition of volume 6 of The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated Into English Prose from the Original Sanskrit Text by Pratap Chandra Roy can be found here

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    This isn't a full referenced answer, but more of a clarification. Please expand it into a full answer – Sklivvz Jun 12 '12 at 23:30
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    @Sklivvz: Not a clever comment. The question was "could anyone confirm whether the above paragraph is actually taken from a reliable translation of the epic?". I have shown with a full reference where the phrase ‘…. a blazing shaft possessed of the effulgence of a smokeless fire (was) let off…’ came from in the Mahabharata, with a link, the title of the book, the name of the translator and the original page number. – Henry Jun 12 '12 at 23:41
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    You are still only very partially addressing the question, though. Yep, I know it's a wide one... – Sklivvz Jun 13 '12 at 20:26
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No, it did not.

Those are imaginary weapons of the gods like Thor's lightning.

Jason Colavito has answered this and written a free PDF book: Ancient Atomic Bombs.

There is a new scholarly translation of the Mahabharata and it does not say this. The so-called "Roy" translation included such invented statements as it was written after WWII.

The 1983- translation by Buitenen, J. A. B. van. It is multi-volume set.

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    Welcome to Skeptics! This looks like it might be the basis of a good answer, but it is currently rather unclear. What are Colavito's arguments? Why would we trust him? Why does it matter than van Buitenen didn't include the details in the 1983 translation? What is the Roy translation, and why do you say the statements were invented? – Oddthinking Apr 7 '18 at 1:20

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