The Economy of India History of Indian Currency

History of Indian Currency

Vedic age:

  • Uninscribed punchmarked coins were probably minted from 6th century B.C onwards

  • Among the earliest silver specimens are those in the shape of small bent bar, the largest of which, the Satamana, weighted 180 grains (11.66 grams).

  • The basic silver punch marked coin was Karsapana or Pana, of 57.8 grains (3.76 grams): Masa or Masika weighted one-sixteenth of this (3.6 grains or 0.25 grams)

  • Punchmarked copper coins: a masa of 9 grains (0.58 grams) and a Karshapana of 144 grains (9.33 grams), Quarter-masas in copper or Kakini (2.25 grains or 0.13 grams)

  • Nisaka and Hiranyapinda and Pala were Gold lum-sum

Kushanas:

  • The Dinaras or Suvamas were based on the Roman

  • Denarius and were of 124 grains (8.04 grams).

  • The Copper coins were large, of from 26 to 28 Masas, or 240 to 260 grains (15.55 to 16.85 grams)

Satavahanas:

  • Issued Lead coins and Potin (Base silver) coins

Pre-Guptan and Guptan Coins:

  • The Gold coins were called Dinaras, derived from Kushanas, with the weight 144 grains (9.33 grams)

  • Silver coin was called . Rupaka based on Sakas of Ujjaini, weighted 32-36 grains (2.07-2.33 grams)

  • According to Fa Hsien COWRIES were very common means of exchange

  • Cowry shells - Varataka

Delhi Sultanate:

  • Gold Coins called Tanka were equivalent to the Greek Drachm standard of 67 grains

  • Silver coins: dramma, tanka

  • Gahadavalas of Kanauj: 40 Rati standard Gold coinages were the highest.

  • The earliest Gold issued in the name of Muzzuddin Mohd. Bin Sam with conventionalized usage of goddess Lakshmi on the obverse and the name of the ruler in Nagari characters on the reverse.

  • Thakkura Pheru: Under Mubarak Kahlji - left a valuable treatise written in Apabhramsa regarding exchange rate.

  • Pure silver-extremely scarce; only prevalent in Bengal, according to Juzhani; were broad struck bull and Triglyph (Tridhari) coins of Chandra Dynasty. 300 coins have been found from Mainamati in 12th century.

  • Iltutumish coins bear Sanskrit inscription: Gaura-Vijaya, recorded weight -170.8 and 172.18 gram

  • 1 Tola and 96 Ratis (Gunjaseeds)

  • Jital was a silver coinage weight of 32 ratis.

  • Earliest Gold and Silver tankas remitted in Bengal -Bull and Horseman

  • One tankas was equivalent to 48 Jitals

  • 1 tankas = 192 Dangs

  • 1 tankas = 480 Dirams

  • 1 dang was called Fils = 40 ratis: pure copper coin

  • Dirams: single or multiple smaller coins

  • During MBT Gold coins l/16th above and l/16th below the 196 Rati standards were issued

  • Ibn Batuta mentions that in 1330, 80 rati billion tanka replaced the relatively pure silver tanka; and also Cowaries were prevalent.

  • During FST - only four silver 96 rati pure silver tankas have been recorded.

  • During Lodi Dynasty: Sikanderi - a copper coin with small silver alloy; Ruppayya was the silver coin.

  • Muzzaffaries in Malwa

  • Mahmudis in Gujarat

  • During Sher Shah, Rupaya, basically of copper, was used; One Rupaya was equivalent to 178 grains

  • During the Mughals: Muhr or Ashrafi of 169 grains prevalent; Dam was of 323 grains, a copper coin; During Aurangzeb Dams debased by 2/3rd;

  • During Aurangzeb highest number of mints around 40 and during Akbar it was 14 only

  • Do-Dani: when the treasury issued coins in payments, these charges through deduction of 5 per cent.

  • Officially one Rupee was equivalent 40 Dams

Weight and Measures:

  • The basic unit was Raktika, which was equivalent to 1.83 grains (.118 grams)

  • According to Manu:

  1. 5 Raktikas = 1 Masa

  2. 16 Masas = 1 Karsa, tolaka, or suvarna

  3. 4 karsa = 1 Pala, was 37.76 grams; one Partha was equivalent to 16 Pala and one Drona was equivalent to 16 Parthas

  4. 10 Palas = 1 Dharana

Measurement of Length:

  1. 8 yava = 1 Angula, i.e. 2 cm

  2. 12 angulas = 1 Vitasti (9inch; or 23 cm)

  3. 2 Vitastis = 1 Hasta or aratni (cubit, 18 inch; 47 cm)

  4. 4 Hastas = 1 dand (Rod) or Dhanus (bow, 6ft, 1.82 cm)

  5. 2,000 Dhanus = lKrosa (cry) or goruta (call-call, 2 and quarter miles; 3.6 kms)

  6. 4 Krosas = 1 Yojana (stage, 9 miles approx, 14.5 Km)

Measures of Time:

  1. 18 Nimesas = 1 Kastha (3 and half seconds)

  2. 30 Kastha = 1 Kala land 3/5 mins.

  3. 15 Kalas = 1 Nadika or Nalika (24 mins)

  4. 30 Kalas or 2 Nadikas = 1 Muhurta or Ksana (48 mins)

  5. 30 Muhurtas = 1 aho-ratra (day and night, 24 hours)

Eras:

  1. Vikrama Era: (58 B.C): traditionally founded by a king called Vikramaditya, who drove Sakas out of Ujjaini.

  2. Saka Era: (78 A.D): Founded by Kanishka

  3. Gupta Era: (320 A.D): Founded by Chandra Guptal

  4. Harsha Era: (606 A.D): Founded by Harshavardhana

  5. Kalacuri Era (248 A.D): Founded by Traikutaka Dynasty

  6. Lakshmana Era: (1119 A.D) Founded by Lakshmana Sena

  7. Saptarsi or Laukika Era: Current in Kashmir in middle ages, recorded in cycles of one hundred years, each cycle commencing 76 years after each Christian era.

  8. Nevar Era: (878 A.D): of Nepal

  9. Kollam Era: (825 A.D): of Kerala

  10. Era of Vikramaditya VI Chalukya: (1075 A.D)

  11. Era of the Kaliyuga (3102 B.C)

  12. Buddha Era: (544 B.C) in Ceylon.

  • Sita means Furrow or Goddess of Agriculture: Sita as a daughter of Janaka has been mentioned in Brihadanayaka Upanishad.

  • Kutumbin: A big family of Farmers

  • Kshetrapati or Lord of the field

  • Kautambaksheyra: Field owned by the cultivators themselves

  • Sakta: owned by certain individuals

  • Prakrsta or Krsta: tilled by certain individuals.

  • Prasthika: applied to a field that accommodated a prastha- full of seeds.

  • Sulgava and Baudh-yavihara: ceremonies to propitiate Rudra.

  • Vrishotsarga: ceremony for cattle breeding

  • Yakshma: a wasting disease affecting cattle.

  • Panyasiddhi: Ensuring success in trade.

  • Hiranyakesi - Grihya-sutra:" If we carry on trade to acquire wealth by means of our old wealth, may Soma .............prosper that."

  • Vamasadi Gana mentions several forest products

    1. Vamsa

    2. Kutaja

    3. Ikshu (Sugarcane)

    4. Madhya (liquor)

  • Panini mentions coins like

    1. Pana

    2. Krshapana

    3. Pada

    4. Vaha

  • Measures and weights like

    1. Adhaka

    2. Achita

    3. Patra

    4. Drona

    5. Prastha

  • Apastamba Grihyasutra: "Goddess who spun and wore"

  • Samitri: actual a priest

  • Sanataka: student as a householder