India
units of mass in the smṛti tradition
200 bce – 1000 ce

These units are described in a sequence of legal texts stretching over more than a millenium. The units were described for official purposes; for example, for levying fines. They are similar to but not necessarily the units used in commerce.

Sub-divisions of the Rati
     

rati or kṛishṇala

       

yava

3

   

gaura-sarshapa

6

18

raja-sarshapa

3

18

54

likhyá or liksha

3

9

54

162

trasareṇu

8

24

72

432

1296

weight estimated by Thomas

2.1 mg

6.3 mg

from the Gloss of Balambhatta: “Similarly when it is said ‘four suvaranas must be considered equal in weight to a niska,’ it does not mean that when one says ‘Give him a niska’ that one should give silver weighing four suvaranas, but it means gold weighing four suvarnas. In other words, the thing measured with a gold measure must be gold and not any other metal.”

 

Weights for Silver
   

satamana

dharana or purana

10

mashaka

16

160

rati

32

320

Weights for Gold
       

dharana

   

pala or nishka

10

 

suvarna

4

4

masha

16

64

640

rati

5

80

320

3200

Sources

1

Manusmṛti (Laws of Manu)
200 bce – 200 ce

§ 131. Those names of copper, silver, and gold (weights) which are commonly used among men for the purpose of worldly business, I will now comprehensively explain.

§ 132. The very small mote which may be discerned in a sunbeam passing through a lattice is the first of quantities, and men call it a trasareṇu.

§ 133. Eight of those trasareṇus are supposed equal in weight to one minute poppy-seed (likhyá), three of those seeds are equal to one black mustard-seed (rája-sarshapa), and three of these last to a white mustard-seed (gaura-sarshapa).

§ 134. Six white mustard-seeds are equal to a middle-sized barley-corn (yava), three such barley-corns to one kṛishṇala (or raktika), five kṛishṇalas of gold are one másha, and sixteen such máshas one suvarṇa.

§ 135. Four suvarṇas make a pala, ten palas a dharaṇa, but two kṛishṇalas weighed together are considered as one máshaka.

§ 136. Sixteen of those máshakas are a silver dharaṇa (or purána), but a copper kársha is known to be a pana or kárshápaṇa.

§ 137. Ten dharaṇas of silver are known by the name of a ṣatamána, and the weight of four suvarṇas has also the appellation of a nishka.

Graves Chamney Haughton, ed. and trans.
Mānava-dherma-sāstra; or, the Institutes of Menu.
London: Printed by Cox and Baylis, 1825.
The text was tweaked by Edward Thomas's "friend Mr. John Muir," and we reformatted it for the web page.

2

Yajnavalkya Smriti
3rd – 5th centuries ce

§ 362. A particle of dust in the sunbeams as they shine through a window, is held to consist of three atoms and is called a Trasareṇu, eight of them make a Likṣâ, three of the latter make a Râja-sarṣapa.

§ 363. Three of the latter make a Gaura-sarapa, six of the latter make a middling barley seed. Three of the latter make a Kriṣṇâla, five of the latter make a Mâṣa, sixteen of the latter make a Suvara.

§ 364(a). Four Suvaras make a Pala or, it has also been declared that five Suvaras make a Pala.

§ 364(b). Two Kriṣṇâlas make a silver Mâṣa, sixteen of the latter make a Dharana. Ten Dharanas verily make a Satamâna Palam.

§ 365(a). A Niṣka is equal to four Suvaras.

§ 365(b). A kârṣika is a pana of copper (its name is Pana).

Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vidyarnava, translator.
Yajnavalkya Smriti, with the commentary of Vijnanesvara called The Mitaksara and notes from the Gloss of Balambhatta. Book 1. The Achara Adhyaya.
Allahabad: Printed by Apurva Krishna Bose, 1918.

3

Viṣṇu Smṛti
700 – 1000 ce
Chapter IV.

1. The (very small mote of) dust which may be discerned in a sun-beam passing through a lattice is called trasarenu (trembling dust).

2. Eight of these (trasarenus) are equal to a nit.

3. Three of the latter are equal to a black mustard-seed.

4. Three of these last are equal to a white mustard-seed.

5. Six of these are equal to a barley-corn.

6. Three of these equal a Krishnala.

7. Five of these equal a Mâsha.

8. Twelve of these are equal to half an Aksha.

9. The weight of half an Aksha, with four Mashas added to it, is called a Suvarna.

10. Four Suvarnas make a Nishka.

11. Two Krishnalas of equal weight are equal to one Mâshaka of silver.

12. Sixteen of these are equal to a Dharana (of silver).

13. A Karsha (or eighty Raktikas) of copper is called Kârshâpana.

14. Two hundred and fifty (copper) Panas are declared to be the first (or lowest) amercement, five hundred are considered as the middlemost, and a thousand as the highest.

6. Krishnala (literally, 'seed of the Gunga creeper') is another name for Raktikâ or Ratî, the lowest denomination in general use. According to Prinsep (Useful Tables, p. 97) it equals 1.875 grains = 0.122 grammes of the metrical system. According to Thomas (see Colebrooke's Essays, ed. by Cowell, I, p. 529, note) it equals 1.75 grains.

7-10. These names refer to weights of gold.

Julius Jolly, translator.
The Institutes of Vishnu.
The Sacred Books of the East, vol. 7, F. Max Müller, editor.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1880.

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