Sanskrit
units of mass

From the Mānava-Dharmásāstra, chapter 8.

dharaṇa

pala

10

suvarṇa

4

40

māṣa

16

64

640

kṛṣṇala

5

80

320

3200

yava

3

15

240

960

9600

gaurasaṣapa

6

18

90

1440

5760

57,600

rājasarṣapa

3

18

54

270

4320

17,280

172,800

likṣā

3

9

54

162

810

12,960

51,840

518,400

trasareṇu

8

24

72

432

1296

6,480

103,680

414,720

4,147,200

approximation
according to Olivelle


 


 


 


 

39
mg

118
mg

0.59
g

9.44
g

37.76
g

377.6
g

 

silver dharaṇa or purāṇa

silver māṣaka

16

kṛṣṇala

2

32

approximation according to Olivelle

118
mg

250
mg

3.776
g

copper kārṣika = kārṣāpaṇa = paṇa

one silver Śatamāna = 10 dharaṇa

One niṣka = 10 suvarṇa.

In the recent critical edition Professor Olivelle, editor and translator, says of this passage that “its authenticity is subject to serious doubt.” Regarding the names of the units, he states (page 312), “I have refrained from translating these terms because they are as much technical terms as our foot, yard or mile; their common meanings have no bearing on their technical usage.” That is an excellent policy; would that more translators followed it. There is reason to believe, though, that seeds of Abrus precatorius (kṛṣṇala) actually were used as scale weights. The units smaller than the yava are probably purely conceptual.

For those who are interested in the terms' origins:

trasareṇu dust mote visible in a beam of light, floating in the air
likṣā egg of a louse
rājasarṣapa black mustard seed
gaurasaṣapa white mustard seed
yava barley corn
kṛṣṇala seeds of Abrus precatorius
māṣa bean
suvarṇa gold
pala
dharaṇa

Patrick Olivelle, with the editorial assistance of Suman Olivelle.
Manu's Code of Law. A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānava-Dharmásāstra.
Oxford University Press, 2005.

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