Coinage of Chhattisgarh
[Former Professor and Head, Sos in A.I.H.C and Arch. Pt. R.S.U. Raipur, Chhattisgarh. (Note: Present Article is a Key-Note Address delivered by author in National Seminar (16th-18th Sep. 2016) at Raipur organised by Directorate of Culture and Archaeology, Govt. of Chhattisgarh). Purāmanthana: Current Advances in Indian Archaeology Number 9, 2018]
Chhattisgarh is a state which came into existence on 1st November, 2000 by bifurcating the state of Madhya Pradesh. Geographically, Chhattisgarh is situated in the heart of India. The state is situated in the northern latitude in between 17°46' to 24°5' and eastern longitude between 80°15' to 84°20'. The total area of the state is 1,35,133 sq.km. The state is surrounded by Jharkhand and Odisha on the eastern side Uttar Pradesh on the northern side, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra on the western side and Telengana on the southern site. The area of Bastar, south to the Telinghat was forming the territory of ancient Dandakaranya or Mahakantara and remaining portion of Chhattisgarh, was part of Dakshina Kosala, in which present areas of Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Bolangir of Odisha were also included. The South Kosala and Dandakanya were having separate identification in ancient times but at present area is known as Chhattisgarh which is having the same territory split from Madhya Pradesh.
Chhattisgarh is full of natural beauty, wild life, minerals and tribal heritage. It also having very rich in cultural traditions and archaeological wealth. We should remember the contribution of Raibahadur Dr. Hiralal, Pt. Lochan, Prasad Pandey, Dr. V.V. Mirashi, Dr. D.C. Sircar, Prof. K.D. Bajpai, Dr. M.G. Dixit, Dr. A.M. Shashtri, B.C. Jain, Dr. Sudhakar Pandey, Dr. R.N. Mishra and Dr. V.S. Thakur in the field of Ancient History and Archaeology of Chhattisgarh. We know much more about the art, architecture and epigraphy of this state but a study of numismatic seems to be in the margin. Even though some significant contribution done by various scholars must be mentioned here. Pt. Lochan Prasad Pandey is known for his contribution in this field. He has very good interactions with the prominent scholars of his time. These scholars have thrown light on the coins of Chhattisgarh for which raw material was provided by Pt. Lochan Prasad Pandey. Next to him the contribution of B.C. Jain is remarkable. Even some scholars of the present time also contributing on various aspects of numismatic of Chhattisgarh.
The origin and antiquity of the coinage in India is well discussed by the scholars therefore it is not needed to discuss this issue here. However, the actual period of the origin of coins in India is not conclusively known. Let it be said at the outset that the coins are sure index of economic condition of the region in particular and the country in general. There was probably no state coinage system in initial stage and the coins were minted by private individuals or guilds who gave their own impressions on the coins, it is therefore conclusively believed that the earliest coins of India were Punch marked sliver or copper pieces. Coins of this pattern were discovered in quite a large number from various part of the country; earliest of them are those, which are found only in a particular area or locality. These coins were issued by the Janapadas or Mahājanpadas, which existed after the Bharat war and later on gradually merged by the great rising of Magadha Empire, which rose in 5th-6th century BC. The kingdom of Magadha spread over the whole country by the end of 4th century BC. Some are probably many of Janapadas or Mahājanapadas, have been using the metal as currency or money during the period of Brahmaņas and Upanişadas, i.e. circa 8th century BC. Thereafter sometimes, the idea of coins might have been originated in some of these states. Thus, it can be safely presumed that coins of these states were current in these states prior to 5th century BC and gradually disappeared by the end of 4th century BC when Magadha Empire expanded.
The Punch marked coins, issued prior to rise of Magadha empire, are known as local coins. In the Chhattisgarh, coins of these patterns were discovered first time at Tārāpur1 in Raipur district. These coins are having four symbols viz.- 1) Elephant, 2) Standing bull, 3) a pallet surrounded by girdle of dots and 4) Kosalan symbols or Golangala (a pair of bulls with plough). These coins weigh 1.0254 to 1.1773 grammes (approximately 12 rattis). A hoard of the coins of this variety was also discovered at Dhapewārā2in Balaghat district. Recently coins of this pattern have also been found at Arang3 and Udela4 both situating in Raipur district. These coins may be assigned as Şaņā5 or Pādakārsāpaņa of pre Nand Maurya period because of the weight of Kārsāpaņa in this time was fixed 32 rattis, subsequently the ardhakārsāpaņa happens to be of 16 rattis. Moreover the number of symbols found in the coins of Nand-Maurya period is five. Coins of Nand-Maurya age have been also found at Bayer (of Bar)6, Akaltarā7, Thathāri8 and Bilaspur9. The Akaltarā hoard was consisting of 253 silver (of them 85 were minute coins of māșaka series and 2 copper coins, out of which only 233 could be acqulred and distributed to various museums. 177 coins of this hoard are rectangular and 29 are round in shape and having five symbols on the obverse belonging to B.M.C. classes 2 and 6, while minute silver coins (No. 85) having different solitary symbol of class 9 of B.M.C. From the hoard of Thathari, 259 silver Kārsāpaņa and Masaka coins were found. These coins belong to B.M.C. classes 1.1, 2.II, 2.IV, 6II and 6.III. Thus coins of this style found from various places of Chhattisgarh came in the circulation under the sovereignty of Mauryan Two light weight Punch marked coins with four symbols placed at the cornerns along with assembles similar to taurine or Ma of Brāhmi script are found at Malhar10.
After the decline of Mauryan kingdom, the area of South Kosala was probably come under the control of Sātavāhanas. No coins of any Sātavāhana ruler is discovered from this region. One coin of Āpīlaka was found at Bālpur11 and two coins were discovered from Malhār12. It is believed the name of this ruler is found in Puranic list of Andhra kings with slight variation with period of 12 years reign. This coin is round in shape with size of 1 inch and weight of 65 grains, on the obverse an elephant standing right is depicted, in front of elephant, above a symbol is found with legend round the edge of coin, rāno sivasiris- Āpilakasa. K.N. Dixit13 has assigned this coin belonging to the end of second century or beginning of third century A.D. but according to Puranic description this ruler seems to be earlier and occurs in eighth place in the genealogy. The reading of legend is revised by P.L.Guptal4 as Sāpilaka whereas Susmita Bose Majumdar15 reads the name of King Silalusirī. Coins of Achadasiri and Dhamabhada who seem to be local rulers of Malhār. Coins of some Magha rulers bearing the names Maghasirī, Sirīya Magha and Sivamagha are also known from Malhar16. Some coins of discovered from Malhar have been identified as Bhūmitra are Śarbha but Susmita Bose Majumdar suggested that these coins should be considered as the coin of Bhaliga.
A hoard of 20 copper square, inscribe coins, is also discovered from village Bālpur, out of which four coins are published by A.S. Altekar17. On the obverse of the coins, rudely stretched elephant is found, while the reverse, Naga or standing female is depicted. Altekar feels that these coins have been issued by the local rulers after the downfall of Sātavāhanas, hence they have tried to imitate the coins of Sātāvahanas. B.C. Jain has suggested that these coins may be considered as local coins of South Kosala, when he published 12 coins of this pattern preserved in M.G.M. museum, Raipur18. Few more coins of this class are also found at Bālpur19 and Malhar20. Availability of these coins clearly indicates the Sātavāhanas sovereignty in this region. The fact is also evidently proved with various inscriptions and accounts of famous Chinese pilgrim Yuawn-Tsang21.
Discovery of sufficient number of Kuşāna copper coins from Chhattisgarh is a surprising problem of the history of this area. Kuşāna coins are found at Kenda22 Jhajhapuri23 Pendhrawa24 Bilaspur25 and Malhar26. The excavations at Tarighat and Damru have also yielded copper coins of Kuşānas. A copper coin of Yaudheya republic was also associated in the Pendharawan hoard. Nothing is known by any other sources about the Kuşāna sovereignty in this region. Simultaneously the discovery of Roman gold coins from Bilaspur district is interesting. Total 6 gold coins have been so far known, out of 4 from Bilaspur27 itself and belonging to Roman rulers Hardin, Seotemivs, Seoverus and Commodus, rest two coins are found at Chakarbeda28 and issued by Commodus and Divus Marcus Aurelius, Antonius respectively. Probably these coins migrated in this part of country by the travellers and traders. Malhar has yielded some imitation of Roman coins, one coin is made of base gold and another is of copper.
The Sovereignty of Imperial Gupta is well known in the Chhattisgarh29. In 1969, a hoard was discovered in village Banabarada30 of Durg district containing 9 gold coins of Gupta kings, out of which one belongs to Kācha, seven to Chandragupta II (Archer type-6, horseman type-I) and remaining one to Kumārgupta I (Archer type). This hoard is very important because of coins of Kācha are found either with Chandragupta-Kumardevi type of coins or with the coins of Samudragupta. In this present hoard both of these coins are absent. A silver coin of Kumaragupta I is also known from Arang31.
In the Gupta and post-Gupta period the area of Chhattisgarh was ruled by the various local dynasties. During this period few of them have issued most unusual type of gold coins. They are thin in fabric and repousse in technique weigh about 19-20 grains. This type of coins are unknown elsewhere in India in any other period of history. The coins bear within a circle of dots a device described below in the upper half of the coin while in the lower half, name of issuer in box-headed Brahmi script of 5th-6th century A.D. are found. At least eight rulers are known issuing this type of coins32. The coins of three rulers Prasannamātra, Mahendrāditya and Kramāditya bearing the device of Garūļa. Prasannamātra is famous ruler of Sarabhapuriya dynasty. Recently a solitary coin of this king bearing Chakra symbol is found at Madaguda33. One silver coin of Prasannamātra is discovered from Tala during debris clearance and one copper coin is in possession of Gulab Singh of Malhar34. Identification of Mahendrāditya and Kramāditya is not beyond the controversy. A group of scholars attribute them as Gupta kings Kumārgupta I and Skandagupta on the basis of their titles and Garuda emblem, while other scholars feel that these coins must be assigned to some local dynasties. Second category of repousse gold coins is bearing the device of bull. Coins of three rulers, Varāharāja, Bhavadatta and Arthapati belonging to the Nala dynasty of Bastar, were discovered from Edenga hoard35. Earlier on the basis of epigraphic record Bhavadatta was known as a first king of this dynasty but by the discovery of this hoard information regarding his predecessor Varāharāja came into knowledge. Simultaneously the Kulia hoard36 introduced two new rulers Nandanrāja and Stambha, both having device of bull. Nandanrāja is not known from any record of this region but so far the Stambha is concern, he may be identified with a prince of Nala dynasty, mentioned in Podāgarh inscription of Bhavadatta. His name is earlier restored as Skandavarman. In the light of discovery of this coin inscription may be correctly reread. These two rulers may be suggested, probably belonging to Nala dynasty of Bastar-Koraput region, on the basis of style and pattern.
Few Chinese coins have also been discovered from Chhattisgarh region. One copper coins of Kai-Yauan (713-741A.D) was found in Sirpur excavation37. It is evidence that even after the Yuwang-Tsang Sirpur was point of attraction for the Chinese pilgrims. Three silver and one copper Chinese coins are also known from Bālpur38.
After the Šarabhapurias and Nalas the Pānduvamsis established their power in this region. Archaeological materials of this period are quite large found in entire Chhattisgarh but no coins belonging to this dynasty is discovered so far. A solitary gold coin bearing legend Kesari found at Bālpur39. L.P. Pandey believes that probably he was brother of Mahāśivagupta Balarjuna but nothing can be positively suggested in absence of definite evidences.
Nothing is known about the coinage of Chhattisgarh after this period and prior to the establishment of Kalchuri power but few hoards consisting of the coins of some rulers of other regions are worth to be referred. A hoard having three silver Adivarāha drammes was found at village Bastar40 in 1887. Similarly 139 Indo-Sussanian copper coins were acquired from village Sirsa4l of Durg district.
Number of coins of Kalchuri rulers, discovered from various places, is quite a large42. It is well known that Krisṇarāja, the founder of Mahişmati branch of Kalchuris, has issued silver coins but Chhattisgarh was not under this control therefore no coins of this ruler is found from this region. After Krişnarāja, next ruler, who issued the coin was Gāngeyadeva of Tripururi branch of Kalchuris. He has issued coins in gold, silver and copper.
The Kalchuris of Ratanpur were under the suzerainty of Gāngeyadeva. His nine coins have been so far discovered from Chhattisgarh, two of them from Sonsari hoard43, three from village Geji44 of Sarguja district and reaming four from Tingamali45. Recently some coins of this ruler have been also discovered from Chhattisgarh. All these coins are made of gold and of usual type with a figure of four-armed Laxmi seated within a dotted circle on the obverse. The Goddess is holding lotuses in her upper hand and her lower hand are spread out at her sides. On the reverse side name of the ruler is engraved in three lines as (1) śrīmadgā (2) ñgeyada (3) vāh.
During the reign of Jājalladeva I, Ratanpur branch of Kalchuris became too much powerful. To indicate his strength, he issued the coins in his name. This practice was continued by his successors Ratnadeva II, Pritvīdeva II and Pratāpmalla. Jājalladeva I have issued the coins in gold and copper coins of Ratnadeva II and Pritvideva II are made of gold, silver and copper46, while Pratāpamalla has issued the coins both in gold and copper. Gold coins of these rulers are of two denominations. Weight of bigger coins are 61-62 grains and size about 0.8 inch. The smaller coins having weight about 15 grains and size about 0.5 inch. In all the coins a lion attacking on an elephant is depicted on the obverse side while reverse side is bearing legend in two or three lines in brahrni script as Śrīmad Jājalladeva, Śrīmadratnadeva and śrīmadprithvideva. Silver coins issued by the Ratnadeva II and Prithvideva II are in the design and style of their gold coins. Copper coins are issued by four rulers Jājalladeva I, Ratnadeva II, Prithvīdeva II and Pratāpamalla. In the obverse side of these coins various devices such as, effigy of Hanumana, flying or trampling on demon, figure of lion or a Purāmanthana: Current Advances in Indian Archaeology symbol of sword are depicted while reverse side of coin bearing the legend in usual form. Coins hoards of these rulers are found from various places of Chhattisgarh.
In the Bastar region, Naga dynasty was ruling contemporary of Kalchuris of Ratanpur. From the Sorisari47 hoard four gold coins of Someswara of Naga family were found. On the obverse of the coins, their dynastic insignia - a roaring tiger and a dagger in the front and sun and moon above is placed while on the reverse side name of ruler Śrīmadasomeśvaradevasya is engraved in three lines.
The above mentioned Sonsari hoard is quite important because it bears 600 gold coins out of which 501 are belonging to kings of Ratanpur branch of Kalchuris; remaining of the coins belonging to Govindachandra Gahadawal of Kanauj [2 coins], Gāngeyadeva of Tripuri [2 coins) and Someśvara of Bastar [4 coins). This hoard is consistent with the other known facts of history. Ratanpur stone inscription of Jājalladeva I, refers that he has established friendly relations with the kings of Chedi, Kānyakubja and Jejākabhugti. Simultaneously rivalry between the Kalchuris of Ratanpur and Chhindaka Nagas of Chakrakota (Bastar) is referred in the inscriptions of both dynasties. Similarly relation between the Kalchuris of Ratanpur and Telgu-chod-ganga rulers is also reflected in their inscriptions. Ratnadeva II has made failure the tremendous attack of Ananta-varman-chodganga, one of the most powerful king of that period. Discovery of a hoard, from Raipur48 containing 32 gold coins of Anantavarman is also an evidence of this incidence.
It is worth to mention that few copper Coins datable to Circa 11th century A.D. were discovered from village Malhar49, out of which one square coin bears the legend Kumāghabhijhubha. No proper identification has been made above this coin untill.
Very little information is available on the history of Chhattisgarh after Pratāpamalla but well known rājaprasasti of Hemadrišo informs that Singhna, the Yadava king of Devagiri has 'captured an elephant crop belonging to king Jajalla. Thus we have come to know about a king named Jājalla (III) who ruled after Pratāpamalla. The victory of Singhana is proved by the discovery of Parsadih hoard51, containing five gold coins out of which three belong to Singhana, one unidentified and another is a muhara of Nasiruddin Mohammad I.
During the downfall of the Kalchuri very few of them and their cotemporary rulers have issued the coins from Chhattisgarh. One coin discovered from Balpur52 is bearing legend Vikramsāi. Detail of this coin is not available even then it was suggested that this ruler seems to be some later chief of Ratanpur branch of Kalchuris.
The excavations at Pachrahi have thrown new light on the numismatic history of Chhattisgarh by discovery of Coins of Phaņi Nāgvamshis. For the first time the excavation revealed five coins of this deynasty53. Among these coins, one, gold coin is of Nakkaņadev is very significant and remaining is made of silver belonging to Śrīdhar dev and Dharanidhar dev. Name of these rulers are mentioned in Madwa Mahal inscription of V.S.140654. Similarly another new king of this dynasty came in to the knowledge by a hoard discovered at village Sondra55 in Raipur district. The coin is made of gold and within dotted end linear circle, a figure of king in walking posture and holding a sword in his right hand is depicted on the obverse side. On the reverse side of the coin name of the issuer, Mahārāja Śrī Satimadeva is engraved in three lines. Along with these coins, 31 gold coins in style of Padama-tankas of Yadavas of Devagiri were also found. Earlier the king was considered as a ruler of Raipur branch of Kalchuris because of this name was not available in any record. The problem of identification of this ruler is now solved by the discovery of Madwa Mahal Sati Pillar inscription of V.S 1407 (1349/50AD) which records the name of ruler Satimadeva56.
After sometimes Chhattisgarh came under the control of Marathas and ultimately to British administration. During this period, coins popular in the other parts of country were in circulation, even in this region.
Thus, it is clear from above studies that Chhattisgarh in the numismatic history of India, is quite significant. The glorious tradition of the coinage originated here along with the origin of the coins itself in India and continued all the arrivals of the Marathas and Britisher. The coins of this are, are not only minted in various metals such as gold, silver, copper and billon but they are finest examples of workmanship and art of early history of India.
Notes and References
1. Journal of Andhra Historical Research Society (J.A.H.R.S), III, p.181; Journal of Numismatic Society of India (J.N.S.I.),XIX, p.108; Jain, B.C., 'Numismatic Notes and Monographs', No.5, entitled- Inventory of the hoards and finds of coins and seals from Madhya Pradesh. Varanasi, 1957. (Here in after referred as N.N.M. No.5) P.1
2. N.N.M. No.5, p.1.
3. Six coins discovered from Arang are now preserved in MGM Museum, Raipur (Acc. No. 15080-85). These coins are presented by Dr. R.N. Mishra.
4. Seven coins were discovered by Shri Vinay Kumar Nigam of Saraipali, who has sent these coins to the author.
5. For Sana, please see, Agrawal, R.C., 'Sana as a weigh denomination', J.N.S.I. XV, p. 151-52, Sircar, D.C, 'The Sana', J.N.S.I, XIV, p. 40 ff.
6. J.N.S.I, XXVII, p.139.
7. N.N.M. No. 5, p. 2; M.G. Dikshit has mentioned only 215 coins. There is lot of confusion regarding the number of coin see his book, Madhya Pradesh Ke Pruattatva Ka Ruparekha, (in Hindi), p.43. Mr. Rahul Kumar Singh, the then curator of Bilaspur Museum has also discovered five silver punch marked coins in 1981 and sent to the author.
8. Allan, J., Catalogue of coins in the British Museum, Ancient India introduction, iii.
9. N.N.M., No. 5, p. 4, Nine Silver coins are known from the hoard and belong to BMC Class 2.
10. Bose Majmdar, Susmita., Coins of Malhar, Anjaneri, Nasik, 2000, p. 3.
11. Numismatic Supplement, XLVII, article No. 344; J.A.H.R.S., X. p. 225.
12. Raizada, Ajit., “Inscribed Coins from Malhar” in The Bounteous Tree-Treasures in Indian Art and Culture (ed.) K.K. Chakravarti, 1994, p. 204.
13. Numismatic Supplement, XLVII, article No. 344.
14. Gupta, P.L., “Three Malhar coins revisited” Numismatic Digest, Vol. 14, pp. 10-11.
15. Bose, Majumdar, Susmita, op. cit.
17. J.N.S.I, IX, p. 31 ff.
18. Ibid. XIX, p. 72-73.
19. Indian Archaeology-A Review (IAR), 1958-59, pp. 107-08.
20. Bajpai, K.D & Pandey, S.K., Malhar, p. 34.
21. Watters, T.W., On Yuwang-Travels in India, Part II, p. 200 ff.
22. J.N.S.I, XVII, p. 109 ff.
25. N.N.M., No. 5, p. 10.
26. Bajpai & Pandey, op.cit.
27. N.N.M., No. 5, p. 23.
28. J.N.S.I, VII, p. 6-10. p. 28-37.
29. Nigam, L.S., "Chhattisgarh men Gupta Adhisatta", (in Hindi) Medha, Raipur, No. 10.
30. Ibid, Foot note no. 39, Sharma, R.K., Madhya Praesh Ke Puratatva Ka Sandarbha Granth, in Hindi), p.446, S.N.2350/1.
31. Prāchya-Pratibhā, Vol.V. No. II, p.198.
32. For details of Repousse Gold Coins, Please refer Nigam, L.S., “Numismatography of Rapousse Gold Coins to be published in Prof. K.D. Bajpai Felicitation Volume, Delhi”.
33. J.N.S.I., XLIII, part II, p. 40
34. Ibid, Vol. L, p. 30-32.
35. Ibid, I, p.31 ff.
36. Prāchya-Pratibhā, Vol.V, No.1, p. 69-74, J.N.S.I, XI, Part-II, p. 108.
37. I.A.R, 1955-56, p. 60-61, J.N.S.I, XVIII, p. 64-66.
38. J.N.S.I, X, p.161.
39. J.A.H.R.S. III. p. 181.
40. N.N.M., No. 5, p. 14.
41. I.A.R., 1954-55, p. 63.
42. For detail of Kalchuri Coinage, please refer Mirashi, V.V. C.I.I. Vol IV introduction.
43. J.A.H.R.S. XII, Part-III, p. 177-78, J.N.S.I, III, p. 27. Ibid. XVII. p. 54.
44. Mr. Salimuddin, Curator, MGM Museum, Raipur informed that total 4 gold coins found from this place are belonging to Gangeyadeva and another coin is Gajapati coin.
45. J.N.S.I, X, XLII, Part-II, p. 72ff.
46. No Silver coin of Ratnadeva wa earlier known. For the first time, Ku.Usha Jain has published coin of this ruler (J.N.S.I, XLIII, Part-II, p. 70ff.). She feels that this ruler must be of Ratnadeva I, while Dr. Lallanji Gopal says that identification of Ratnadeva of Silver coin with Ratnadeva I or II should be substantiated by other evidences. (Ibid, Foot note-2). Author is in view to accept this coin as an issue of Ratnadeva II. Recently two gold coins of Pratarnpalladeva retrieved from the excavation at Pachrahi,dist.Kabirdham
47. J.N.S.I, XVII, p. 54ff.
48. N.N.M. No. 5. p.20
49. IAR, 1976-77, p.71.
50. Please see, Bhandarkar, R.G., Early History of Deccan, p. 540.
51. J.N.S.I, VIII, p. 147ff.
52. I A R, 1958-59, p. 66.
53. Yadav, S.S and Pradhan, A.K., Excavations at Pachrahi (2007-09), Raipur, 2010, p. 55.
54. Hiralal, Inscriptions in C.P and Berar, No. 305.
55. MP Cronicle and Nav-Bharat (Hindi) daily News papers published from Raipur, Dated 5.12.1982. 56. Jain, B.C., Utkriņ Lekh (Revised edition by Raikwar, G.L, and Singh, Rahul), Raipur, 2005, p. 232.