Sanskrit
units of mass

Several factors make it difficult to make sense of the Sanskrit units: the apparent wealth of synonyms, the vast areas some of the treatises cover, and not least the indiscriminate mixing of purely imaginary units, invented to make a philosophical point, with those actually used in trade.

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1

From Barnett's¹ Antiquities of India:

Attributed to Manu-smṛiti (vii. 132ff) and Yajnavalkya-smṛiti (i. 361 ff.)

 

kṛishnala or raktikā (seed of Abrus precatoria)

yava (middle-sized barleycorn)

3

gaura-sarshapa (white mustard seed)

6

18

rāja-sarshapa (black mustard seed)

3

18

54

likshā (nit)

3

9

54

162

trasa-reṇus (dust mote)

8

24

72

432

1296

 

 

 

 

 

 

From this point the system diverges into two: one for gold and copper, and the other for silver.

For Gold and Copper
   

dharaṇa (of gold)

 

pala or nishka

10

karsha, aksha, tolaka or suvarṇa

4

40

māsha (bean)

16

64

640

kṛishṇala or raktikā

5

 90

360

3600

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Silver
   

sata-māna (pala)

dharaṇa or purāṇa

10

 

māsha

16

 160

kṛishṇala or raktikā

5

80

800

 

 

 

 

Attributed to the Brihaspati-smṛiti

dināra

dhānaka

12

karsha (of copper, also called paṇa, kārshāpaṇa, or aṇḍikā*)

4

48

 

 

 

* The aṇḍikā is also a measure of silver.

Attributed to the Nārada-smṛiti

suvarṇa or dīnāra

dhānaka

12

kārshāpaṇa or aṇdikā

4

48

māsha or pala

20

80

960

kākaṇi

4

80

320

3840

 

 

 

 

 

“The Nārada-smṛiti (App. 57 ff.) states that in the South, the kārshāpaṇa is a silver coin, and in the East was equal to 20 paṇas.”¹

“The aṇdikā is sometimes said to be 4 yavas.”¹

āchita

bhāra

10

hāra

100

1000

tulā

2

200

2000

nishka or pala

100

200

2000

20,000

suvarṇa

5

500

1000

100,000

1,000,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

karsha

dharaṇa or tanka

4

māsha

8

32

raktikā

6

24

96

 

 

 

 

Attributed to the Ganita-sāra-sangraha of Mahā-vira (9th century)

For Gold

pala

karsha

4

dharaṇa

2

8

paṇa

8

16

64

gunja raktoka

5

40

80

320

gaṇdaka

4

20

160

320

1280

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Silver
(standard of Magadha)

pala

karsha (or purāṇa)

4

dharaṇa

2.5

10

māsha

16

40

160

gunjā

2

32

80

320

dhānya

2

4

64

160

640

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Metals

satera

dīnara

2

drakshūṇa

2

4

bhāga

6

12

24

amsa

4

24

48

96

yava

4

16

96

192

384

kala

25

100

600

1200

2400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in Addition

bhāra

tulā

10

prastha

16

160

pala

12½

200

2000

 

 

 

 

Attributed to the Līlāvatī

gadyāṇaka

dhaṭaka

1 1/7

dharaṇa

2

valla

8

14

16

raktikā (“two large barleycorns”)

3

24

42

48

 

 

 

 

 

nishka (of silver)

dramma (of silver, also purāṇa

16

paṇa or kārshāpaṇa

16

256

kākiṇi

4

64

1024

varāṭaka

20

80

1280

20480

 

 

 

 

 

1. Lionel D. Barnett.
Antiquities of India, an account of the history and culture of ancient Hindustan.
London: P.L. Warner, 1913.

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