The empire fulfilled its mission for three and half centuries when it patronised and nourished the ancient Hindu culture of the country. The empire disappeared. But the literature, stone & copper inscriptions, monuments and coins of that period still survive. Treasure troves of Vijayanagara coins are found throughout South India. These coins, now, are not just relics of the past. They furnish information pertaining to contemporary political, economic and cultural history.
With the foundation of the empire, the currency system in South India became well regulated. Money economy became more regular though, to some extent trade transactions were done by way of barter. The scarcity of coins in the earlier medieval South India was completely removed. Harihara I established at Hampi a separate department of mints to regulate the minting operations. There was a central mint at Hampi and smaller mints were set up at various provincial capitals and other important places such as Barakur, Mangulur, Gandikota, Penukonda, Tirupati, Gutti, Adoni, Tadapatri, Madurai and Mysore. Because of the need for mass production of coins the government allowed some select feudatories also to mint their own coins. Lakkana Dandanayaka, the governor of Tekkali Rajya under king DevarayaII, minted his own coins with the sanction from the king.
VIRA HARIHARA I 1336-1354
BUKKA RAYA I 1354-1377
VIRUPAKSHA RAYA I 1404-1405
BUKKA RAYA II 1405-1406
DEVA RAYA I 1406-1422
BUKKA RAYA III 1422-1423
DEVARAYA II 1423-1446
VIRA DEVARAYA 1446-1447
MALLIKARJUNA RAYA 1447-1465
VIRUPAKSHA RAYA II 1465-1486
SALUVA NARASINGA RAYA I 1486-1493
SALUVA NARASINGA RAYA II 1493-1501
VIRA NARASIMHA RAYA I 1501-1502
VIRA NARASIMHA RAYA II 1502-1509
VIRA SADASIVARAYA 1543-1568
TIRUMALA DEVARAYA II 1568-1572
SRI RANGA DEVARAYA I 1572-1586
VENKATAPATI DEVARAYA II 1586-1614
SRI RANGA DEVARAYA II 1614-1615
RAMA DEVARAYA 1615-1633
VENKATA DEVARAYA III 1633-1646
SRI RANGA DEVARAYA III 1646-1672
The structure of Vijayanagara currency was carefully standardized. The monetary system was made uniform throughout the empire. Varaha, a gold coin with an approximate weight of 3.4 grams( 52 grains) was made the basic monetary unit. This coin was also called as Gadyana and Pon or Hon. To the English the coin was known as Pagoda. There were three varieties of varahas:-
Suddhavaraha. The Gold issues of the first two kings namely HariharaI and BukkaI were debased. In these coins the gold content was less compared to the subsequent issues of HariharaII and his successors.
TABLE OF COINS WITH THEIR RELATIVE VALUES AND WEIGHTS
Dodda varaha = Dodda gadyana =2 varahas = 120 grains
1 gadyana = 1 varaha = 1 pon or hon = pagoda = 52 grains
1 varaha = 2 pratapas = 52 grains = mada
1 pratapa = 2 katis = 26 grains = half varaha
1 kati = 13 grains = quarter varaha
1 varaha = 1- pana (each 5-6 grains)
1 chinna = one eigth varaha =6.5 grains
1 pana = 4 haga = 5-6 grains
1 haga = 2 bele =1.5 grains
1 bele = 0.75 grain
The coinage was sub-divided into several denominations. Coins were issued in gold, silver and copper. The coins were mostly circular in shape and were undated. The lowest denomination coin was a copper piece which was equal to 1/3600 of gold varaha. The coins were hammer-struck.
Tara = Tairh = Tare = Tara = One of pana
Tara (another variety) = One sixteenth of pana
Duggani = 2 kani or kakini = 250 grains
kani = 125 grains = 2 Ara kani
Jital = One third of Tara
Kasu = 30 grains
Ara Kasu = 15 grains
The weight standard of the gold coins was based upon the Kalanju, an indigenous seed, or Molucca bean (Caesalpinia bonduc). The manjadi seed (Odenathera pavonina) served as the radical unit of measurement. Ten manjadis were regarded as equivilant to one Kalanju seed. The seeds are popularly known as Gundumani in Tamil and Guruginja in Telugu. Metallic pieces cut to the weight of these seeds were used. At a particular time and place the actual might vary from the average, for the coins were liable to deterioration or debasement. Reduced weight may also be a result of the increase in the price of the metal. Assaying and weighing were necessary before a coin could be accepted in payment for materials. Assaying was a regular occupation of goldsmiths. For purposes of testing and verification, touchstones and in some cases a gold bar of the royal standard of purity were kept, and the coins were received after a process of testing. Goldsmiths also acted as money changers and bankers. They used balances which were so sensitive that they would turn by a hair of the head.
This monetary system governed the public economy of the era in its various aspects:- Taxation, Defence Expenditure, Industry and Commerce, Cost of Living - Foreign trade et cetra. We can have an approximate idea of Varaha's external value (foreign exchange parity) and internal value (purchasing power-price levels) by studying the following:
Foriegn Exchange Parity
In the brisk foreign trade of the empire, currencies of foreign countries played a vital role. The Dinar of Egypt, the Portuguese Cruzado, Venecian Ducat and Sequin and the Florentine Florine were nearly equal to the varaha coins in weight. Example: The weight of Venecian Sequin was 52.40 grains and Duct was 53.40 grains whereas Varaha weighed 52 grains. This weight standard of varahas facilitated the foriegn trade of the empire.
Import of horses
Import of horses played a prominent part in the foreign trade. The effective demand for war-horses arose to meet the requirements of cavalry which formed an important wing of the army. The strength of the cavalry may be gauged from the observations of Fernao Nuniz, a Portuguese traveller "The King (Krishnadevaraya) every year buys thirteen thousand horses of Ormus, of which he choses the best for his own stables and gives the rest to his captains... He took them dead or alive at three for a thousand Pardaos, and of those that died at sea they(horse-merchants) brought him the tail only, and he paid for it just as if it had been alive". The animals were shipped from Arabia, Syria, Turkey and neighbouring countries through the ports of Dufar, Bahrain and Ormus and were disembarked at Bathecala , Cannanore and the Portuguese port of Goa. From the port-towns the animals were transported overland to Vijayanagara city where the sale and delivery were effected. The King of Portugal recieved a duty of 40 Cruzados on each horse and on the whole collected a revenue of 40,000 Ducts per annum. During the year 1516, the purchase price per horse paid to the foreign horse-traders for four consignments were first Consignment - 500 cruzados, second Consignment - 600 cruzados, third Consignment - 400 cruzados and fourth Consignment - 300 cruzados. Sassetti, a foreign traveller noted that during good years the horse trade produced a revenue in the city of Goa 120 to 150 thousand Ducts. These prices must be considered fairly high considering the purchasing power of the money. (Note- Pardaos, Cruzados and Ducts were the denominations of Portuguese money during that period). During the reign-period of Portuguese king Dom Manuel I(1495- 1521 A.D.) of De Aviz dynasty, the following types of coins were struct at Goa Mint.
Name of the coin Metal Weight in grams
Manoel or Cruzado gold 3.45
Half Manoel gold 1.67
Half Esfera or vintem Silver 1.79
Leal Copper 11.8
Half Leal Copper 8.5
Dinheiro Copper 4.00
Cepaica Copper 3.1
From the above it can be seen that in the currency systems of both Vijayanagara and Portugal the weight standards of gold coins were identical. This fecilitated the trade relations between the two countries.
Vijayanagara was at the zenith of its glory and material prosperity during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya. During this time Domingos Paes, a Portuguese traveller visited the capital during 1520-1522 A.D. He chronicled in detail, among other things, the prices at which various commodities were sold at the markets of Vijayanagara. Assuming that the value of Varaha is Rs 4/- a comparison of the prices prevailing at the time of King Krishnadevaraya at Vijayanagara city and the market prices that prevailed in 1979 can be arrived at as follows.
Typology of coins
The typology of the coins is that on the obverse side the figures of Hindu Deities, animals, symbols and on the reverse side the issuing king's name or his title in Nandi Nagari or Deva Nagari or Kannada or Telugu or Tamil Script is depicted.
The deities shown are 1. Hanuman, Garuda, Siva-Parvati, Lakshmi Narayana, Lakshmi Narasimha, Brahma-Saraswathi, Nandhi, Venkateswara and Sita Rama.
The animals that are portrayed are bull, camel, elephant, horse, lion, varaha(boar) and the mythological double-headed eagle Gandabherunda.
The symbols that are appearing are Sankha, Chakra, Damuru, Parasu, Ankusa and Sword(Khadga).
The titles that are found are Sri Nilakantha stands for Devaraya I and Rayagajagandaberunda & Gajavetekara stands for Devaraya II. Each King chose his favourite of Dieties/Animals/Symbols as a device for his coinage.
Besides the above mentioned regular issues commemorative coins were also struck as detailed below:-
To strengthen his army Devaraya II modernised his Armed Forces by induction of a Camel Corps. At that time, these animals which were native to the deserts of Rajasthan were brought into South India.To commemorate this event copper coins were issued wherein the figure of camel was shown on the obverse. visit catalogue.
Krishnadevaraya offered a gift of Navarathna Prabhavali - Makara - Thorana to his Istadevta Lord Venkateswara at Thirumala on 15th October 1515. To commmemorate this event a special gold coin weighing 119.7 grains was issued known as Dodda Varaha or Double Varaha. The coin bears on the obverse a well delineated figure of Lord Venkateshwara inside a Makara Torana or Prabhavali. The Prabhavali is not only beautifully portrayed but also given great importance in the coin's design.
The same monarch in the course of his military campaign against the Gajapathi king of Kalinga (Orissa) captured in the year 1514 the important fort of Udayagiri (District Nellore). There he siezed as a war booty a beautiful image of seated Balakrishna, carried it off to his capital Hampi and there he installed the same in a newly built temple and arranged regular worship. To commemorate this historical event special gold coins were issued. On the obverse of this coins is shown an image of seated Balakrishna with the right hand holding a lump of butter. He attatched great importance to the celebration of Krishna Jayanthi festival. visit catalogue.
It is well known that Timmarasu was responsible for the accession of Krishnadevaraya to the Vijayanagara throne against the wishes of Vira Narasimha. Timmarasu became the Prime Minister of Krishnadevaraya and enjoyed a special status. Krishnadevaraya performed Kannakabishekam to Timmarasu. To commemorate this great event special copper coins were issued in which the Kannada legend 'Krishnadeva' on the obverse and 'Timmarasaguru' on the reverse was inscribed. This is the unique coin where the name of the Emperor and his Prime Minister appear together. visit catalogue.
Portrait coins (copper) were issued by King Sriranga I. The unusual design adopted make this coin unique. On the reverse is shown the figure of a standing person holding in his right hand a sword pointing downwards. The left hand is placed on the chest. Tuft of hair is made in the shape of sideknot (Koppu) and thrown a little to the left of the head. On the obverse the following is depicted. The varaha(boar) to right facing a khadga with the Sun and the Moon above. The standing person portrays a youthful figure with a regal bearing and could represent king Sriranga. The varaha was the Raja Lanchana of the Vijayanagara Empire. This coin is the only known, so far, portrait type coin of the Vijayanagara monarch. visit catalogue.
Impact on post-Vijayanagara Coinage
Even after the decline and disappearance of the Vijayanagara kingdom, its coinage had widespread impact on the coinages of the various successor-powers such as the Nayakas of Keladi, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Gingee, the Wodeyars of Mysore, Sultan Haider Ali and the East India Company.
On 22nd August 1639, King Venkata Devaraya III granted the privelege of coining money to the Honourable English East India Company so that it can meet the needs of its commercial necessities with a stipulation that the English should not fail to preserve on their coinage the representation of that Diety, who was the favourite object of his worship namely Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathy. The company commenced the minting of gold Pagoda coins showing on the obverse,
the figure of Lord Venkateswara with and without His two consorts - Sri Devi & Bhu Devi. The last Vijayanagara king Sri Ranga Raya III died on 16th December 1672. On that day the last great Hindu kingdom ended. But the impact of Vijayanagara coinage did not end. It continued in the English merchants' coins of Vijayanagara typology that circulated as legal tender money until 1818. The Pagoda coinage was issued in three series - Three Swamy Pagodas, Star Pagodas and Gopuram Pagodas.
Hampi is situated on the Southern bank of the Tungabhadra river, in Hospet Taluk, in Bellary District of Karnataka State, India(lat. 15ο-20', long. 76ο-25'). With the blessings and guidance of Sri Vidyaranya Swamy,the Jagadguru of the Sri Sarada Peetham, Sringeri, on Saturday, 4th May 1336 (corresponding to S.S. 1258, Dhatri, Vaisakha, Su, 7, Pusya, Hari), Vira Harihara, at Hampi, celebrated his coronation as the king of the just founded kingdom. Simultaneously the construction of a new capital city began with the name of Vijayanagara- Victory City. The kingdom came to be called after its capital city. The idea that a new city built around the Hemakuta hill originated in the mind of Sage Vidyaranya. He commanded his royal disciples, Harihara and Bukka, to give material shape to the idea. They obeyed his command. Harihara entrusted to his younger brother Bukkaraya, whom he appointed as Yuvaraja the task of constructing the city. Accepting the orders of his Guru and his Sovereign, Bukka erected the new city. Vidyaranya supplied the idea; Harihara gave the necessary sanction and Bukka carried it into execution. It took seven years to complete the construction. In the year 1343A.D. the capital was shifted from Anagondi to the newely built city. Anegondi was the mother-city of Vijayanagara city. Just nine years earlier, in the year 1327 A.D., the Hindu kingdom of Kampila (with its capitals Kummata about 12kms northwest of Hampi and Hosamaledurga about 22kms south of Hampi) fell. Its king Kampilaraya and his son Kumararama died in the battlefield safeguarding the land from Muslim invasions. This sacrifice did not go waste. From the ashes of Kummatta and Hosamaledurga arose the mighty empire of Vijayanagara in 1336A.D just after nine years. Foundation of Vijayanagara took place on the same soil amidst the two capitals of the erstwhile Kampila kingdom. The people connected with the governence of the old kingdom might have actively helped in the formation of the new. Varaha was the Raja-Lanchana (State emblem) of the kingdom. The emblem was the picture of a boar facing a sword with the Sun and the Moon above. On the national flags the varaha figures were displayed and were known as Panni Kodi(Tamil)/Varaha Dwaja(Sanskrit). The highest denomination gold coins were named after the varaha and was called as such. As one among the ten Avatharas of Lord Sri Mahavishnu, Lord Varaha Swami was, since the days of the Chalukyas of Badami, Symbolically portrayed in the form of an animal of a boar. A constitutional concept of those times was the use of sign manual. The Vijayanagara monarchs never affixed their personal signatures to the state documents. Instead they used the sign manual of 'Sri Virupaksha'. Sri Virupaksha(by which name Lord Siva is worshiped at Hampi) is the tutelary God of the kings of Viajayanagara. This kingdom became the mighty Viajayanagara Empire (1336-1672) which ruled for 336 years the whole of peninsular India, South of the Tungabhadra- Krishna rivers with its influence, at times, extending to Sri Lanka. However the extent of territory depended largely on the personality of sovereign. Areas were added under strong kings and were lost under week ones. Goa was captured in 1369 during the reign of King Bukka I and was lost in 1471 during the reign of King Virupakasha II. Progressive reduction of territories began in 1565 when in that year the seat of government was shifted southwards from the Tungabadra banks to the Pennar valley and in 1592 when it was once again shifted further south to the Swarnamukhi valley and once again sifted after some time still further south to the Palar river bank. The longest extra-territorial influence can be seen in an inscription of King Krishnadevaraya dated July 2nd of 1521 at the Vishnupada Temple, Gaya, Bihar. THE CAPITAL CITIES OF THE VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE 1. Sringeri, Dwarasamudra and Hospatna Mobile Capitals 2. Anegundi 1336- 1343 3. Vijayanagara 1343- 1565 4. Penukonda 1567- 1592 5. Chandragiri 1592- 1606 6. Vellore 1606- 1672 The name 'VIJAYA'- City of Victory- Survived the fatal shock of A.D. 1565 and the capital of the monarchs was always called 'VIJAYA' whether at Anegundi, Hampi, Penukonda or Chandragiri. CENSUS The populaton of the kingdom during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya was estimated at 18 millions. The capital city with one lakh houses had population of five lakhs. Army of six lakh soldiers fought at Raichur in 1520. MONARCHS The aim of the kings was the preservation and protection of Hindu dharma and tradition against the onslaughts of Islam. Over this vast territory 26 monarchs belonging to 4 dynasties- the Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva and Aravidu- reigned with regal splendor.
The empire was divided for the purposes of administration into a number of provinces called Rajyas. They were also known as Mandalams. A governer was appointed over each province by the central government at Vijayanagara. They enjoyed a good measure of local autonomy within their jurisdiction without interference from the central government as long as they discharged their obligation to it regularly. They held their own coarts and maintained their own armies. Besides there were areas which were adminsrtred through feudal vassals who claimed to enjoy a semi-independent status. They had the same status and powers of Governers. These high officers were known by different names like Samantas, Nayakas, Dandanayakas, Mandaleswaras et cetra. Home Objective History Portrait Sculptures Architecture Arts& Social lifeCoinage Catalogue Profile Bibliography
The coins issued by the Vijayanagara rulers have been studied by eminent scholars. Useful catalogues on the Vijayanagara coinage have appeared from Mysore, Andhra Prdesh and Tamil nadu. It is therefore needles to discuss in detail the Vijayanagara currency system. However, to give a fullness for the study of Tamil coinage, a brilliant chapter on Vijayanagara coinage written by Dr. N. Ramesan, in his Catalogue of the Vijayanagar coins of the Andhra Pradesh Government Museum is reproduced for the benefit of the readers.
“There were four main dynasties of the Vijayanagar kings. The first dynasty was the Sangam dynasty, under which the empire was started, and under which they struggled to fame. The second on the Saluva dynasty was merely a translatory dynasty for two decades, where new and fresh blood was introduced into the administration of the empire The third dynasty was the Tuluva dynasty, under which Vijayanagar rose to the heights of its fame and glory, and under the last or the Aravidu dynasty, the empire after the great battle of Tallikota in 1565 A. D. held is own, till it came to a close finally in the 17th Century A. D. Of these dynasties, the coins finally in the 17th Century A.D. Of these dynasties, the coins of the Saluva dynasty are practially unknown since the dynasty itself lasted only for two decades or so. From an analysis of the coins of the other dynasties. We can broadly deduce that the following were the classification of the emblems, on the Vijayanagar gold and copper coins in the various periods.
(A) Sangam dynasty : (a) Hanuman and Garuda in different poses. (b) Vrishabha or the bull with a sword. (c) Elephant, Elephant and king. (d) Umamahesvara, Lakshminarayana, Saraswathi and Brahma, and Lakshminarasimha
(B) Saluva dynasty: (a) Nil. (C) Tuluva dynasty: (a) Lion. (b) Venkatesvara. (c) Umamahesvara. (d) Balakrishna. (e) Vrishabha or bull (f) The Gandabherunda. (g) Garuda. (h) Lakshminarayana. (D) Aravidu dynasty: (a) Sri Rama. (b) Sankha and Chakra. (c) Garuda. (d) The Varaha. (e) Elephant. (f) Vrishabha or the bull in a couchant form. (g) Venkatesa with and without Goddesses. (h) Hanuman.
An interesting conclusion can be arrived at from a study of the above symbols. It is known that the sangama dynasty was predominantly Saivite in its faith, though it also favoured Vaishnavism. The Tuluva and the Arrvidu dynasties were however predominantly Vaishnavite, and were followers of Vaishnavism. This is no wonder because Lord Venkatesvara of Tirupati has been the guardian deity of the later dynasties. However, all the Vijayanagar kings, without exception are known to have given grants of lands, villages etc. to various temples and institutions both Saivite and Vaishnavite, in the country. The symbols representing both Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu appearing in the coins thus prove the religious catholicity of the various Vijayanagar kings.
We can also classify king by king, the symbols used in the Vijayanagar coins as follows:
(A) SANGAMA DYNASTY 1 Harihara-I : (a) Hanuman. (b) Garuda. 2 Bukka-I : (a) Hanuman. 3 Harihara-II : (a) Umamahesvara. (b) Lakshminarayana. (c) Saraswati and Brahma. (d) Vrishabha or the bull. 4 Bukka-II : (a) Vrishabha or the bull. 5 Devaraya-I : (a) Umamahesvara. (b) Lakshminarayana. (c) Vrishabha or the bull. 6 Ramachandra: (a) Elephant 7 Vijayaraya-I : (a) Vrishabha. 8 Devaraya-II: (a) Elephant. (b) Elephant and king fighting. (c) Umamahesvara. 9 Vijayarya-II : (a) Elephant. 10 Mallikarjuna: (a) Elephant.
(B) SALUVA DYNASTY The coins of the Saluva dynasty are not known.
(C) TULUVA DYNASTY
1 Viranarasimha : (a) Coins of this king are practically unknown except a doubtful coin of the Narasimha, type 2 Krishnadevaraya : (a) Venkatesa. (b) Siva and Parvati. (c) Balakrishna. (d) Vrishabha or the bull. (e) Garuda. 3 Achyutaraya : (a) The Gandabherunda. 4 Sadaasiva : (a) Garuda. (b) Lakshminarayana.
THE ARAVIDU DYNASTY
1 Tirumalaraya-I : (a) Sri Rama. (b) Sankha and Chakra (c) Garuda (d) Vrishabha or the Bull (e) Elephant (f) Varabha or the Boar. (g) Vishnu and Lakshmi seated with the king’s hands folded. 2 Sri Ranga Raya-I : (a) Venkatesvara. 3 Venkatapati : Devaraya-II : (a) Venkatesvara standing as at Tirupati. (b) Garuda. (c) Hanuman. 4 Sri Ranga-II : (a) Vrishabha or the Bull in a couchant pose. 5 Venkatapati Devaraya-III : (a) Venkateswara with Goddesses. 6 Sri Ranga Raya-III : (a) Venkatesvara.
The above are the broad and the typical classifications of the types of coins issued by the various kings of the Vijayanagar empire. It must, however, be noted that each is not exclusive of the other, and that several symbols of several kings were all mixed up and were being used together by the people.
9. THE WEIGHT AND DENOMINATIONS OF THE VIJAYANAGAR COINS
In South India, the seed called Kalanju and Manjadi known in Telugu as Guruginja; was the basis for the metric system of coins originally. As time went on, metallic pieces out to the weight of these seeds were used, In Maharashtra and Konkan the heavy Gadyana weighed 72 grains. In Tamilnad, the Kalanju of 20 Manjadi was equal in theory to the same weight. Between these two areas, the light Gadyana which was used in Andhra and Karnataka areas of the same weight as the coin of the name i.e. 50 to 52 grains. These coins were bearing the same name as the weights as for example, the Gadyana, the Dharana etc.
During Vijayanagar period the coins were divided into numerous denominations both in gold and in copper. From a study of epigraphic evidence and other information from literary sources, the following principal coins would appear to have constituted the currency of the Vijayanagar period.
1 Gold. 1 Gadyana or Varaha or Pon Or Pagoda. Pratapa or Mada or Madai. Kati Pana Haga. 2. Silver. 1 Tara. 3. Copper. 1 Pana. Jital. Kasu.
We get from the contemporaneous writings of Abdul Razack who was in Vijayanagar territory in 1443 A.D. that king Devaraya-II issued the following currency with the smaller denominations also.
1 Gold. 1 Varaha 2 Partab = ½ Varaha. 3 Fanam = 1/10 of Partab i.e 1/20 of Varaha. 2 Silver. 1 Tar = 1/6 of Fanam or 1/120 of Varaha. 3 Copper. 1 1/3 of Tar i.e. 1/360 of Varaha
Though this contemporaneous evidence of a man who lived in the Vijayanagar empire is not exhaustive still it gives us a clear insight into the coinage prevalent then. Just as a rupee was divided into 192 pies, it would appear that the lowest denomination was a copper-piece which was equal to 1/360 of a Gold Varaha.
The value and the mutual relationship both in weight and in currency value of the coins of Vijayanagar can be obtained from various epigraphic and other literary evidences. The following is a resume of the information contained in them.
A. GADYANA OR VARAHA OR A PAGODA
From the Karkal inscription of Bhairava-II it is seen that these terms denoted the same coin and were generally known as the Pagoda and weighed 52 grains. According to Yajnavalkya a Gadyana is a weight equal to 32 Gunjas or approximately 62 grains. Thus what Yajnavalkya statted as a term for weight, would appear in course of time to have been adopted to denote the name of a coin having the same weight of 62 grains. This would appear to have been brought down in weight and standardized in Vijayanagar period to 50 to 52 grains which was the weight of Vijayanagar Gadyana or Pagoda. This is also known by the name of Varaha which is very popular in the South and which is derived from the “Varaha Lanchana” of the Western Chalukvas who first adopted in their mint. The following description of the minting of the Gadyana or the Varaha coins would be of interest. “It is coined in certain cities of this kingdom of Narasinga. . . This coin is round and made in a mould” (Barbosa). “It bears impressed on it on one side two images and on the other name of the king who commanded it to be struck” (Paes). “These coins have two devils stamped on one side of them and certain letters on the other” (Varthema).
There are three varieties of this same coin known as follows:
1 Ghatti Varaha 2 Dodda Varaha 3 Suddha Varaha
The Suddha Varaha is the same as the ordinary Varaha or the Gadyana of 52 grains. The relationship between the Dodda Varaha and the Ghatti Varaha to the Suddha Varahais not known clearly.
However from epigraphic evidence in Tamilnad it is seen that 140 Pon equaled 100 Ghatti Venkatrayan Varahas. Since Pon is the same as a Varaha or a Pagoda, the relationship between an ordinary Varaha and a Ghatti Varaha may be deduced from this, as 7 : 5.
The Dodda Varaha appears to have been a coin of higher value. It has been worked out on the basis of the coinage of the East India Company, whih has the following copper fractions viz. the Duddu (three pies) Fhatti Duddu (4 pies) and Dodda duddu (6 pies), that the relationship between the Duddu and Ghatti Duddu works to 7 : 5 .25 which is approximately the same as the relationship between a Varaha and Ghatti Varaha. Since dodda Duddu is double the ordinary Duddu, it can therefore be inferred, that Dodda Varaha was double the weight or value of the ordinary or Suddha Gadyana or Varaha.
Elliots “Coins of Southern India” mentions a rare instance of the Dodda Varaha of Krishnadevaraya which weighed 119.7 grains. It is stated that Varthema who visited Vijayanagar court in 1504 A.D. mentions that a Gadyana or Varaha was equal to 20 Panas. From this also it may be inferred that the Varthema’s Varaha was the Dodda Varaha while Razak’s Varaha was the Suddha Varaha, and this also adds corroborative evidence to the fact that Dodda Varaha was double the weight and the value of the ordinary or Suddha Varaha.
There is a coin called Chakra Gadyana belonging to the reign of Achyutaraya which is a coin with a symbol of Chakam impressed upon it.
(B) PRATAPA AND KATI
The Pratapa is the coin next in value to the Pagoda or the Varaha and would appear to be half its weight and value. The half pagoda was probably known as the Pratapa. The Kati is a quarter Pagoda.
The Tamil Madai and Telugu Mada are Probably counter-parts of this Pratapa. This Pratapa and Kati were introduced for the first time in Vijayanagar period and it is of interest to note that the prefix Pratapa was for the first time applied to Harihara-II as he called himself Pratapa Harihara-II whereas his predecessors called themselves only as Vira Harihara and Vira Bukka.
A Pana is 1/10h of a Gadyana or a Varaha. There is a royal order of Sriranganatha of Chandragiri wherein it is stated that the Jodi amounting of 1316 ¼ Pana or equal to 131 Varahas and 6 ¼ Panas should be remitted. Thus it is clear from this order that 10 Panams were equal to one Varaha or one Gadyana. This relationship is confirmed from other records from Mysore and Maharashtra area. But an inscription of Krishnadevaraya would give a value of 5 Panas to a Varaha. Similarly an inscription of Saka 1340 of Devaraya-II states that 17 Gadyanas and 11 Panas made up 18 ½ Varahas which give the value of about 5 Panas to a Varaha. Probably the Gadyana referred to in the inscriptions is the Pratapa Gadyana which was half the value of a Suddha Varaha.
The denomination after the Pana was Haga which was also ¼ of a Pana or 1/40 of a Varaha. This Haga was also known as a Kakini. The work Siva Tatvartharatnakara contains the following references to a Kakini:
This coin is said to have been current in the north. In this connection it is interesting to ntoe that the Lilavati of Bhaskara which is a famous work in Sanskrit in Mathematics mentions the Kakini and gives the equation of 4 Kakin is equal to one Pana.
The only silver coin of Vijayanagar is known as Tara and a description of it has been published by Dr. Hultzsch. It belongs to Pratapadevaraya and bears on the reverse the figure of an elephant. The name of Tara as a coin occurs frequently in Canarese inscriptions. According to Abdul Razack it was equal in value to 1/6 of a Fanm, while according to Mahaun it was 1/15 of a Fana and according to Varthema to 1/16 of a Fanam. It is interesting to note that Kautilya’s Artha Sastra mentions the word Tara in the division dealing with mints etc.
(F) COPPER COINS
The copper coins of Vijayanagar are numerous. The Parasara Madhava and the Mitakshara prove beyond doubt that Pana was a copper coin. Kasu would appear to have been a copper coin whose weight varied according to local conditions. Abdul Razack’s report refers to a copper coin as a Jital.”
The currency system of Tamilnad between 15th and 17th Century A.D. ould be studied from Epigraphical records as well. The Thiruppati recors of Vijayanagar rulers give a vivid picture of the coins and their relative vlalues. They furnish interesting data about the prices of various commodities, the payments made to different temple servants, the expenses in connection with various festivalate. A such records are given in the appendix for the benefit of readers.
Most of the grants record in terms of Panam while detailing cash endowments and these are invariably indicated both in symbols and in words. Several hundred records, mentioning over million Panams are thus found in Thiruppati. Does this worrd Panam stand for silver or gold coin? It is well known that very few silver coins of this age have come down to us. Several thousand gold coins, called Virarayapanams are being found in Tamilnad. It is not unlikely that the word Panam stands for a gold coin probably identical with these ‘Vira Raya Panams’. Some of the records of Thirupati, refer to gift of over 15,000 panams, which would indicate that minting of the Panams was the main function of the Royal mints. Reference to such Panams are seen from the beginning of the Vijayanagar rule(1). A record of 1360 (A.D. 1438) mentions Sakra Panam(2). From Karaiyur, in Pudukkottai district, dated in the reign of Virupaksha (Saka 1391 A.D.), A.D. 1476, mentions 400 anradu Valangum Sakram Panam, as a price for 4 ma of land(3).
Panams are referred to by various names such as Gulikai Panam(4) Rasi Panam, Adura Panam, Sakra Panam, and Pulli Gulikai Varaha Panam, in the 15th Century records of Pudukkottai district. 150 Valal Valitirandn gulikai panams are recorded in Peraiyur in the reign of Devaraya, Saka 1343 (A.D. 1421). Another record, dated 1443 A.D. of the reign of Devaraiya, mentions Adura Panam. What this Adura Panam means is not certain. A certain Vira Pandya, ruled as a subordinate of the Vijayanagar rulers in Pudukkottai region in the 15th Century A.D. He ruled for over 40 years. In one of his inscriptions, dated in the 40th year from Neyvasal 12 rasi panams were gifted(4). In the reign of the same ruler, dated Saka 1371 (A.D. 1449) 3200 Adura Panams are mentioned(5) 150 Anradu Valangiya Pulli Kuligai Varahan Panams were decided as sale price in the reign of Vira Pandya, at Alattur(6). Another record of the same age of Parakrama from Pinnangudi mentions gulikai Panam(7). A number of inscriptions of Thiruppati, refer to Rekhai Pon and Panams. From the values mentioned in these records it is evident that 10 Panams made 1 rekhai Pon. Obviously 1 rekhai Pon was equal to one Varahan (one Varahan was equal to ten Panam).
NAVARATNA PRAAHA – COIN OF KRISHNADEVARAYA
The Thiruppathi recors furnish further interesting data. The most important of these is the gift made by Krishnadevaraya. In the year 1514 AD., the Imperial monarch captured udayagiri fort and on his return to the capital visited the temple of Sri Venkateswarra, performed Kanakabhishekam with 30,000 chakram pon and presented various other valuable ornaments.(8) Earlier in 1513 A.D., the emperor gifted a Navaratna Kirita to Lord Venkatesvara.(9). From the point of numismatic history, Krishnadevaray’s gift of a Navaratna Prabhavali-makara torana is the most important record. The record states that the mighty emperor defeated the Gajapati of Orissa, captured several fortresses and on his way to the capital proceeded to Dharanikota Amaresvara, performed Tulapurusha mahadana and while ruling the kingdom on 25-10-1515 A.D. he presented to Sri Venkatesvara the remarkable Navaratna pabhavali.
“1-2. Hail, Prosperity! Sriman Maharajadhiraja Rajaparamesvara Muvarayaraganda Ariyarayavibhata Ashtadikraya-manobhayankara Bhashagutappuvarayaraganda, Purva-dakshina-paschima-Samudra dhisvara Yavanarajyasthapanachaya, Gajapativibhata, Sri Virapratapa Sri Vira Krishnaray Maharaya-
“2-12. started from his capital Vijayanagara on an eastern expedition occupied the fort Udayagiri, captured Tirumala Rautaraya Mahapatra in one single campaign, took Addanku, Vinikonda, Bellamkonda, Nagarjunikonda, Tangedu, Ketavaram and other forts situated on hills and plains, next marched to Kondavidu fortress, laid siege to it, erected square sheds round the fort, demolished the rampart walls, occupied the citadel, captured alive Virabhadraraya, son of prataparudra Gajapatideva, Naraharideva, son of Kumara Hamvirapatra, Rachuri Mallukhan, Uddandakhan, Janyala Kasavapatra, Pasupati Rachiraja, Srinatha Ramaraja, Lakshmipatiraja, Paschimabalachandra Mahapatra and other Manneyars (Zamindars), granted them their lives and proceeding to Dharanikota Amaresvara in the presence of God Amaresvara on the banks of the river Krishnaveni, performed Tulapurusha Mahadana himself an causing his queens Chinnaidevi and Tirumaladevi to offer Mahadanas (great gifts) with their own hands, returned to Vijayanagara occupied the jeweled throne, ruled the kingdom and on the third day of the dark fortnight of the Kartika month in the cyclic yar Yuva, current with the Saka era 1437, he (Krishnadevaraya) presented to God Tiruvengadanatha (Sri Venkatesa) a nava-ratna Prabhavaii or makara-torana set with nine kinds of precious stones consisting of :
25 Kirtimukha-leaves 13,835 vommechchu beads, 16… weight of the gold wire, 7,978 weight of the solid gold, 20 silk fringes hanging on the head of the makara-torana, and 5,474 weight of the above-said gold fringes, thus making up a grand total of 27,287.
The following nine kinds of gems are fixed in different parts of the (above said) makara-torana :
81 rubies, 10,994 red stones, emeralds, 530 sapphires, 40 cat’s—eyes, 45 agates, 74 topazes, 920 old diamonds, 3, 933 pearls, 4 prominent sapphires fixed in the place of the eyes, 6 corals and 30 conch-shells,
thus the total weight of the arch of the Makara-torana (described above) is 14, 711; grand total of the whole Prabhavali (including the lower and the upper portions) being 31, 124.
12. In this manner this record of charity, executed as this (Krishnadevaraya’s) service, shall be conducted till the lasting of the moon and the sun”.
In this connection, a gold coin of great interest should be mentioned. Illustrated as No. 112 by Elliot, the coin bears on the reverse, a legend in Nagari reading Sri Krishnaraya’. The description of the obverse as given by Elliot is “Vishnu under an arch”. Later writers have identified the image of Vishnu as Lord Venkatesvara. There are two points worthy of note with reference to this coin. The coin bears on the obversae well delineated figure of Lord Venkatesvara inside a makara torana or prabhavali. The Prabhavali is not only beautifully portrayed but also given great importance in the coin. There is no other Vijayanagar coin which portrays makara torana so elegantly as this coin. In fact that coin itself is carefully made and executed that it is clear that it belongs to the class of special issues. The second point of interest is that this coin weighs 119.7 grain, and was considered a dodda varaha or double varaha. I am of the opinion that this coin might have been issued by Krishnadevaraya, to commemorate his gift of Navaratnaprabhavali makara-torana to Lord Venkatesvara on 15th Oct. 1515. This gift was made by Krishnadevaraya, after his conquest of Gajapathi of Orissa and several fortresses. It is known that among Vijayanagar coinage, the coin with the figure of lord Venkatesvara appears only from the reign of Krishnadevaraya.
Similarly another series of coin issued for the first time, by Krishnadevaraya is the Balakrishna gold coins. On the obverse of this coin, is an image of Balakrishna seated with navanita in right arm. The reverse carries the legend in Nagari ‘Sri Pratapa Krishnaraya’ it is well known that Krishnadevaraya, attached great importance to Krishna Jayanti, and also that he brought an image of seated Balakrishna from Udayagiri. It is likely that the Emperor introduced this series after his expedition to Orissa
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE VIJAYANAGARA KINGS
No. Name of the King Reign Period A.D.
1. VIRA HARIHARA I 1336-1354
2. BUKKA RAYA I 1354-1377
3. VIRA HARIHARA RAYA II 1376-1404
4. VIRUPAKSHA RAYA I 1404-1405
5. BUKKA RAYA II 1405-1406
6. DEVA RAYA I 1406-1422
7. BUKKA RAYA III 1422-1423
8. DEVARAYA II 1423-1446
9. VIRA DEVARAYA 1446-1447
10. MALLIKARJUNA RAYA 1447-1465
11. VIRUPAKSHA RAYA II 1465-1486
12. SALUVA NARASINGA RAYA I 1486-1493
13. SALUVA NARASINGA RAYA II 1493-1501
14. VIRA NARASIMHA RAYA I 1501-1502
15. VIRA NARASIMHA RAYA II 1502-1509
16. KRISHNADEVARAYA 1509-1530
17. ACHUTHADEVARAYA 1530-1542
18. VENKATADEVARAYA I 1542-1543
19. VIRA SADASIVARAYA 1543-1568
20. TIRUMALA DEVARAYA II 1568-1572
21. SRI RANGA DEVARAYA I 1572-1586
22. VENKATAPATI DEVARAYA II 1586-1614
23. SRI RANGA DEVARAYA II 1614-1615
24. RAMA DEVARAYA 1615-1633
25. VENKATA DEVARAYA III 1633-1646
26. SRI RANGA DEVARAYA III 1646-1672