Robotics in Ancient India


Join us on an extraordinary journey as we delve into the documentation, cultural significance, social impact, and technological advancements of robotics during ancient times in the Indian subcontinent. This groundbreaking project aims to shed light on the existence and utilization of robots imbued with artificial intelligence during that epoch, as depicted in ancient texts and historical references.

This project has been sponsored to the Centre for Human Sciences, Rishihood University, by the IKS Division of AICTE, Ministry of Education, Government of India, under IKS Internships Program 2023-24 (भारतीयज्ञानसंवाहनकार्यक्रमः -3)

Unearthing Ancient Marvels

Ancient Indian civilization was not only renowned for its spiritual and philosophical heritage but also for its remarkable advancements in technology. Our research proposal draws upon noteworthy references, such as King Bhoja’s Samarangana Sutradhara, a text that intricately describes the construction of mechanically moving robots. These robots, fashioned from wooden bodies and clad in artificial skin, closely resembled human forms and possessed astonishing capabilities, including hand gestures and musical performances, among others.


The Captivating Tale of Barbarik

One of the most captivating narratives in ancient Indian literature revolves around Barbarik, a legendary warrior known for his extraordinary abilities. The story, found in the Kumārikā Khaṇḍa of the Skanda Purāṇa, tells of Barbarik’s encounter with Shree Krishna during the era of the Mahabharata war. Barbarik’s responses to queries and stimuli appeared mechanical, similar to those of robots, and his mind operated akin to artificial intelligence. The story not only astounded Shree Krishna but also presented him with a moral quandary, ultimately resulting in Barbarik’s physical disablement.

Reviving the Past

Yoga Vasistha and Sambarasura’s War Machines: In our quest to uncover ancient Indian robotics, we explore texts such as the Yoga Vasistha, which provides accounts of war machines or robots crafted by Sambarasura. These lifeless machines, namely Dama, Vyala, and Kata, were initially invincible but succumbed to vulnerability when emotions were artificially induced within them by the Adityas.

Expected Outputs and Outcomes

Through this comprehensive research endeavor, we aim to achieve the following outputs and outcomes:

  • Compilation of a comprehensive literature review on ancient texts and historical references pertaining to robotics in ancient India.
  • Documentation of detailed descriptions and functionalities of robots as described in ancient texts.
  • Analysis of the cultural significance and societal impact of robots in ancient India based on textual references.
  • Examination of the technological advancements and construction techniques employed in creating robots during ancient times.
  • Identification of ethical dilemmas and moral quandaries presented in ancient narratives and texts regarding robots with artificial intelligence.

Contribution to the IKS Mission and NEP 2020

Our project aligns with the mission of the Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) division, aiming to preserve, promote, and revitalize India’s rich indigenous knowledge systems and traditions. By researching and documenting the references to robotics in ancient India, we actively support the preservation and promotion of indigenous knowledge systems. This project also directly advances the mission of the IKS division to implement the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 by integrating traditional knowledge systems into the modern educational framework, fostering research and innovation, and promoting interdisciplinary approaches.

Furthermore, our research on robotics in ancient India has significant implications for various fields, including history, archaeology, engineering, and philosophy. By unearthing the technological marvels of the past, we not only contribute to the academic understanding of ancient Indian civilization but also inspire innovation and creativity in contemporary robotics and artificial intelligence.

In addition to the scholarly outputs, we plan to organize workshops and seminars to disseminate our findings and engage with experts, scholars, and enthusiasts in the field. These events will provide a platform for intellectual discourse, knowledge exchange, and collaborative initiatives in exploring the intersection of ancient Indian wisdom and modern technology.

Moreover, our research proposal recognizes the importance of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. We aim to establish partnerships with experts in robotics, archaeology, history, and Indology, ensuring a holistic and comprehensive approach to our investigation. By leveraging the expertise and insights of diverse disciplines, we can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, scientific, and philosophical aspects of ancient Indian robotics.

Expected Impact

The research proposal on robotics in ancient India aims to make a significant impact on several fronts. Firstly, it will contribute to the academic and scholarly understanding of ancient Indian civilization, showcasing the technological prowess and cultural richness of the past. This knowledge will enhance the existing narratives of ancient history and provide a deeper appreciation for the intellectual achievements of ancient Indian society.

Secondly, our research will bridge the gap between traditional knowledge systems and modern technology, aligning with the objectives of the IKS division and the NEP 2020. By integrating ancient wisdom into contemporary education and innovation, we can create a more inclusive and holistic approach to technological advancements.

Lastly, this research has the potential to inspire and influence advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence. By exploring the construction techniques and functionalities of ancient Indian robots, we can uncover novel ideas and concepts that may inform the development of future robotic systems. The fusion of ancient knowledge with modern technology has the potential to revolutionize various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, and automation.


The research proposal on robotics in ancient India aims to unearth the hidden treasures of technological marvels from the past. By delving into ancient texts, historical records, and cultural narratives, we seek to shed light on the existence and utilization of robots imbued with artificial intelligence during ancient times in the Indian subcontinent. This interdisciplinary endeavor holds the potential to contribute to academic knowledge, bridge the gap between tradition and innovation, and inspire future advancements in robotics and AI. Join us on this extraordinary journey as we revive the past and reimagine the future.

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