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The Real History of Virtual Reality Has its Roots in Indian Mythology The real history of Virtual Reality can be traced in the Indian epic 'Mahabharata' written by Ved Vyasa

By Prateek Malhotra

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Some might say, that practical approach on Virtual Reality gravitated from 1950 onwards, when Morton Leonard Heilig; a pioneer in virtual reality technology, created a VR machine named " Sensorama", which could evoke all the human senses. Followed by, Ian Sutherland building first head-mounted device during the 1960s. However, that was a self-experiment to understand its usage.

By 1990s, gaming companies like SEGA starting realizing the need to make VR headset available to the masses; which they did by launching Sega VR, although only the arcade version of the device came to fruition; the home version was canceled, and with that Virtual Reality got buried inside massive technology graveyard. However, this article takes the mythological incident to prove that the science of Virtual Reality dated 5000 BC.

The real history of Virtual Reality can be traced in the Indian epic "Mahabharata" written by Ved Vyasa; the compiler of the longest epic poem ever written. The epic material has influenced generations of philosophers for its philosophical and devotional insights. The story is centered around Kurukshetra war fought between two clan Kauravas and Pandavas for the struggle to win the throne. However, I won't get much into the story but directly jump to one of the instances which marked the existence of the science behind VR.

Those were the times when sage or priests could be bestowed one with magical powers with their blessings. In Mahabharata, Sanjay, an advisor to blind King Dhritarashtra, narrated blow by blow account of the war happening in Kurukshetra. He was given the Divine Power by sage Vaisampayana.

With this divine power, Sanjay was able to see war events at a distance of 80 Km. On receiving the power, Sanjaya said,"Having bowed down to thy father (Veda Vyasa), that (wise and high-souled) son of Parasara, through whose grace, I have obtained excellent and celestial apprehension, sight beyond the range of the visual sense, and hearing, O king, from great distance, knowledge of other people's hearts and also of the past and the future, a knowledge also of the origin of all persons transgressing the ordinances, the delightful power of coursing through the skies, and untouchableness by weapons in battles, listen to me in detail as I recite the romantic and highly wonderful battle that happened between the Bharatas, a battle that makes one's hair stand on end"

Similarly, Virtual Reality is that divine power which allows you to see the world beyond your peripheral vision. By sitting comfortably on your couch or a sofa, you can visualize and hear things across the globe. It teleports you to a place which you always dream of going. It makes you see things closer than before; puts you in a place as if you are living it.

Unfortunately, we are not realizing the true potential of VR devices and are struggling in creating generosity among audiences, but one thing which really excites me is the enriching scientific material inside the Indian epic Mahabharata, which has led me to draw a parallel with one of the emerging technology – Virtual Reality.

Prateek Malhotra is a lover and believer of Virtual Reality and is on a mission to encourage and build VR ecosystem. He has more than two years of experience as a communication strategist for Silicon Valley startups and have been keeping track of VR/AR trends since then. 

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