All in the shape

Episode 43: Hanuman learns more about aerodynamics as he listens to the story of his birth

Updated - July 21, 2023 12:00 pm IST

Published - July 21, 2023 08:11 am IST

After listening to the various versions of the rabbit on the moon story, Hanuman tries to create a map of the world using rabbits and pebble leaves, as Vaayu watches. Hanuman then has a question.

Hanuman: How is it that Kesari is my biological father and you are my celestial father?

Vaayu: It’s a multi-layered story. Your mother, Anjana, is an incarnation of one of the apsaras from Devaloka. Due to a curse by Sage Durvasa, she was born as the daughter of King Viraj.

Hanuman: Why did Durvasa curse her?

A sage’s curse

Vaayu: She was a very talented and beautiful apsara. She distracted Durvasa by moving around. So he cursed that she would be born as a monkey on Earth. Your mother pleaded with him to temper the curse. When he calmed down, he explained that he couldn’t take it back but she would be relieved from the curse once she gave birth to a very powerful being.

Hanuman: But what was your role?

Vaayu: Wait! This is just the beginning. When Anjana grew up, she married Kesari, the king of Sumeru Parvat. For a long time, they didn’t have children so they prayed to me to bless them with a child.

Hanuman: So what happened then?

Vaayu: I am coming to that. Around the time, your parents were praying to me, King Dasaratha of Ayodhya was performing the Putrakameshti yagna. At the end, Agni appeared and gave him a special pudding. He distributed it to his wives Kausalya and Kaikeyi but, as he was turning to give it to his third wife Sumitra, a bird came out of nowhere and snatched a portion of the pudding.

Hanuman: Where did a bird come from now?

Vaayu: Again, this bird was an apsara under a curse. To regain her form, she had to help in the birth of a powerful being. So, the bird took the pudding and began flying towards the Kishkindha mountains. As she got there, she began to regain her original form and the pudding began to drop.

Hanuman: Oh! So, what happened next?

Vaayu: You have already learnt that everything below 85-100km gets pulled down by gravity and most items burn up during free fall in high speed.

Hanuman: Like meteors and meteorites.

Vaayu: Exactly. So, I had to create an aerodynamic shape that would ensure the pudding would land safely in Anjana’s hands without burning up.

Hanuman: Wait! How is that possible? Can you show me?

Aerodynamic effect

Vaayu takes a bowl of water and throws it up. As the water begins to fall, Vaayu sends a heavy gust of wind in its direction. The water takes on the form of a teardrop. Vaayu then freezes it.

Vaayu: This is one of the most aerodynamic shapes in Nature. The air molecules, our Vaayusena, create an air shield to gain that shape. (Refer Episode 3 and Episode 4) We can change the direction by changing the angle of attack.

Hanuman: What does angle of attack mean?

Vaayu: Angle of attack refers to the angle at which the wind hits an aerodynamic body with respect to its centre of axis or reference line.

Hanuman: And how is this applicable in the human world?

Vaayu: All aircraft, re-entry vehicles, reusable rockets use this idea.

Hanuman: Okay. Let’s go back to the story. What happened after the pudding fell?

Vaayu: After I got the pudding to land safely in Anjana’s hands, I told her to eat it. You know the rest.

Hanuman: What happened to Queen Sumitra?

Vaayu: The other two queens shared their portions with her.

Hanuman: Who were those children?

Vaayu: Kausalya’s son was Rama, Kaikeyi’s was Bharata and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrugana.

Hanuman: Can you tell me more about them?

Vaayu: You will learn in due course, Hanuman.

The author is the founder and CEO of Vaayusastra Aerospace, an IIT-Madras incubated ed-tech startup that offers Air Science workshops for children between five and 14 years.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.