follows the paramanu. It represents the first of the ‘material’ weights or
measures. The trasarenu is made up of not less than thirty atoms and is
visible as a mote in a sunbeam. Five trasarenu make one renu, which is
sometimes described as a settled speck of dust. The weight of one grain of
dust stirred up by a passing chariot is called ratha-dhuli, ‘chariot-dust’, and is
equal to 8 trasarenu. The balagra, ‘hair-tip’, is equal to 8 ratha-dhuli. The
egg of a louse, called likrita, is the weight, or the length of 8 balagra. The
mustard seed, or sarshapa is equal to 3 likrita or 24 trasarenu. The gaura or
‘white’ mustard seed is equal to 3 sarshapa or 72 trasarenu, and the yava, or
barley grain is equal to 3 gaura.
Like weights, measures are also extremely unsystematised, vary from
region to region and from period to period. In measuring a man (for
sculpture), house (for building), or other object, special measures and canons
of proportion are used. Like weights, measures of length also start from the
hypothetical anu or atom, and proceed to the dvyanuka, the paramanu, the
yava, etc. and are said to be equal to the length of an atom, two atoms, a grain
of barley and so on.
Troy weights (for weighing precious metals and stones)
1 pala or nishka = 4 karshas
1 karsha or suyama = 16 mashakas
1 mashaka = 2 rattis (raktikas or red berries)
1 ratti = 2 gunja berries
1 gunja = 2 yavas (barley grains)
*Gunja is the smallest of the jeweller’s weights.
Avoirdupois weights (for weighing all other goods)
1 bhara = 20 tulas or 70 kilos
1 tula = 100 tolas or 3.5 kilos
1 pala = 10 dharanas or 35 grams
1 dharana = 320 gunjas or 3.5 grams
*The basic weight in this category is the dharana.