Goue muntstukke - Gupta -tydperk

Goue muntstukke - Gupta -tydperk


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Die gebruik van goue muntstukke deur gewone mense in die Guptatydperk

Die Gupta -tydperk word die Goue Eeu van antieke Indië genoem. Dit is moontlik nie waar op die ekonomiese gebied nie, omdat verskeie dorpe in Noord -Indië gedurende hierdie tydperk afgeneem het.

Beeld met vergunning: destinationinfinity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/IMAGE_278.jpg

Maar die Guptas het 'n groot hoeveelheid goud besit en hulle het 'n groot aantal goue munte uitgegee. 'N Belangrike feodale ontwikkeling wat onder die Guptas verskyn het, was die toekenning van fiskale en administratiewe toegewings aan priester en administrateurs.

Die praktyk het 'n gereelde aangeleentheid geword. Godsdienstige funksionarisse is vir ewig sonder grond toegestaan, en hulle is gemagtig om belasting in te vorder wat na die keiser kon gegaan het. Dit was die begin van feodalisme. Of staatsamptenare in Gupta -tye met grondtoelaes betaal is, is nie duidelik nie. Oorvloed van goue muntstukke dui daarop dat hoër amptenare steeds kontant betaal word. Die goue munte wat deur Guptas uitgereik is, is dinars genoem. Gewoonlik in grootte en gewig, kom dit in baie soorte en subtipes voor. Maar hierdie goue muntstukke was nie so suiwer soos Kushan nie. Dit toon dat gewone mense nie goue muntstukke mag gebruik nie. Hierdie munte het die amptenare in die weermag en administrasie betaal, maar ook om aan die behoeftes van die verkoop en aankoop van grond te voldoen.

Na die verowering van Gujarat het die Guptas 'n goeie aantal silwer muntstukke uitgereik, hoofsaaklik vir plaaslike ruil. Met die agteruitgang van handel en handel as gevolg van feodale opset wat deur grondtoelaes na vore gebring is. Verskeie historici het genoem dat gewone mense cowry vir ruil gebruik het.

Wat die begin van die feodalisme betref, meen sommige gedagtes dat die sosio -ekonomiese verhouding gedurende die Gupata -periode die teken kan wees van die begin van feodalisme. Daarom is hulle van mening dat gewone mense ook goue muntstukke gebruik wat deur byna elkeen van die Gupta -konings uitgereik is.


Heropbou van die vroeë Indiese geskiedenis is moeilik moontlik sonder die hulp van inskripsies en muntstukke

Die grootste gebrek in die behandeling van die geskiedenis van antieke Indië, beide polities en kultureel, is die afwesigheid van 'n definitiewe chronologie.

Die literêre genie van Indië, wat so vrugbaar en aktief was in byna alle studierigtings, is op een of ander manier nie toegepas op die kronieke van die rekords van konings en die opkoms en ondergang van die state nie.

Beeld met vergunning: maxon.net/uploads/pics/CastleRockSmoothBoulders_05.jpg

Antieke Indië het nie historici soos Herodotus en Thucydides van Griekeland of Levy of Rome en die Turkse historikus Al-beruni opgelewer nie. Ons het 'n soort geskiedenis in die Puranas. Alhoewel dit ensiklopedies is, bied die Puranas dinastiese geskiedenis tot aan die begin van die Gupta -reël.

Hulle noem die plekke waar die gebeure plaasgevind het en bespreek soms die oorsake en gevolge daarvan. Verklarings oor gebeure word in die toekomende tyd gemaak, hoewel dit baie na die gebeurtenisse opgeteken is. Inskripsies en munte word dus baie belangrik om die vroeë Indiese geskiedenis te rekonstrueer.

Inskripsies is op seëls, klippilare, rotse, koperplate, tempelmure en bakstene of beelde uitgekap. In die hele land is die vroegste inskripsies op klip aangeteken. Maar in die vroeë eeue van die Christelike era het koperplate daarvoor begin gebruik. Die vroegste inskripsies is in die 3de eeu vC in Prakrit -taal geskryf. Sanskrit is in die tweede eeu nC aangeneem.

Inskrywings begin in die 9de en 10de eeu in streektale saamgestel word. Die meeste inskripsies wat betrekking het op die geskiedenis van Maurya, Post-Maurya en Gupta, is gepubliseer in 'n reeks versamelings genaamd “Corpus Inscription Indecorum ”.

Die vroegste inskripsies word gevind op die seëls van Harappa van ongeveer 2500 v.C. en in piktografiese skrif geskryf, maar dit is nie ontsyfer nie. Die oudste inskripsie wat tot dusver ontsyfer is, is deur die derde eeu vC deur Ashoka uitgereik. Die Ashokan -inskripsies is die eerste keer in 1837 deur James Prince ontsyfer.

Ons het verskillende soorte inskripsies. Sommige dra koninklike bevele en besluite oor sosiale, godsdienstige en administratiewe aangeleenthede oor aan amptenare en mense in die algemeen. Ashokan -inskripsie behoort tot hierdie kategorie, ander is roetine -rekords van die volgelinge van verskillende godsdienstiges. Nog ander soorte prys die eienskappe en prestasies van die konings en hul persone.

Die inskripsies wat deur keisers of konings gegraveer is, is óf prostese wat deur hofskrywers saamgestel is, óf toekennings van grond wat aan individue toegewys is. Onder die prismatiese keisers is die prasharti van Samudra Gupta gegraveer op die Ashokan -pilaar in Allahabad. Dit is voorberei deur sy hofdigter, Harisena, die opskrif van Hathigumpa-Prashasti van koning Kharavela van Kalinga.

Sommige van die opmerklike inskripsies is die Nasik -inskripsie van koning Gautami Balasree, die Gwalior -inskripsie van koning Bhoja, die Girnar -inskripsie van koning Rudradaman, die Aihole -opskrif van die Chalukaya -koning Pulkesinll, die Bhitri- en Nasik -inskripsies van die Gupta -heerser Skandia Gupta en die Deopara -inskripsie van die Sena -heerser Vijaya Sen. Die inskripsies wat vir die toekenning van grond gebruik is, is meestal op koperplate gegraveer.

Hierdie inskripsies, behalwe nog baie meer, van privaat individue of plaaslike offisiere, het ons die name van verskillende konings, grense van hul koninkryke en soms nuttige datums en leidrade vir baie belangrike gebeurtenisse in die geskiedenis verstrek.

Inskripsies is dus baie nuttig gevind om verskillende feite uit die geskiedenis van antieke Indië te vind. Die geskiedenis van die heersers van Satavahana is volledig gebaseer op hul inskripsies. Op dieselfde manier het die inskripsies van die heersers van Suid -Indië, soos dié van Pallava, die Chalukyas, die Rashtrakutas, die Cholas en die Pandayas, baie gehelp om historiese feite oor die heerskappy van hul onderskeie dinastieë te vind. Sekere inskripsies wat buite Indië gevind is, het ook gehelp om feite oor die geskiedenis van antieke Indië te vind. Een van sulke inskripsies is die van Bhagajakoi in Klein -Asië, wat in 1400 vC ingeskryf is.

Die studie van munte, genaamd numismatika, word beskou as die tweede belangrikste bron vir die rekonstruksie van die geskiedenis van Indië. Muntstukke word meestal in skatte gevind. Baie van hierdie houers wat nie net Indiese munte bevat nie, maar ook dié wat in die buiteland geslaan is, soos Romeinse munte, is in verskillende dele van die land ontdek. Muntstukke van groot dinastieë is gekatalogiseer en gepubliseer.

Die geslaan muntstukke is die vroegste munte van Indië en dit bevat slegs simbole. Dit is regoor die land gevind. Maar die latere munte noem die naam van konings, gode en datums. Die gebiede waar dit aangetref word, dui die sirkulasiegebied aan. Dit het ons in staat gestel om die geskiedenis van verskeie regerende dinastieë, veral van die Indo-Grieke, te rekonstrueer. Muntstukke werp ook beduidende lig op die ekonomiese geskiedenis.

Sommige munte is uitgereik deur die gildes en handelaars en goudsmede met die toestemming van die heersers. Dit toon dat handwerk en handel belangrik geword het. Muntstukke het transaksies op groot skaal gehelp en bygedra tot handel. Ons kry die grootste aantal munte in die tye na Maurya.

Dit was gemaak van lood, doepa, koper, brons, silwer en goud. Die Guptas het die grootste aantal goue munte uitgereik. Dit dui daarop dat handel en handel gedurende die na-Maurya en 'n goeie deel van die Gupta-tyd floreer het. Maar die feit dat slegs 'n paar muntstukke wat na die Gupta-tye behoort, dui op die afname in handel en handel in daardie tydperk.

Ten slotte, sorgvuldige versameling materiaal wat afkomstig is van tekste, muntstukke, inskripsies, argeologie, ens. Is noodsaaklik vir historiese konstruksie. Dit stel die probleem van die relatiewe belangrikheid van die bronne ter sprake. Muntstukke en inskripsies word dus as belangriker beskou as die mitologieë wat in die Epics en die Puranas voorkom.


Hoe regverdig u die standpunt dat die uitnemendheidsgraad van die Gupta numismatiese kuns in latere tye glad nie opvallend is nie?

Volgens sommige geleerdes is die heerskappy van die Gupta -dinastie die mees glorieryke tydperk van die ou Indiese geskiedenis. Hulle regeer groot dele van Noord-Indië vanaf die vroeë 4de eeu tot die middel van die 6de eeu. Die florerende toestand van die ekonomie kan bepaal word uit die groot aantal goue muntstukke wat deur verskillende Gupta -heersers versprei is.

Die Gupta -monarge was bekend vir hul goue muntstukke. Hulle het ook silwer muntstukke uitgereik. Munte gemaak van koper, brons of enige ander legeringsmetale is egter skaars. Die oorvloed goue muntstukke uit die Gupta -era het daartoe gelei dat sommige geleerdes hierdie verskynsel as die ‘ -goudgedeelte beskou het.

Die Gupta -goue muntstuk staan ​​bekend as dinaras. Die goue munte van die Gupta -heersers is die buitengewone voorbeelde van artistieke uitnemendheid. Die muntstukke het die regerende monarg op die voorkant uitgebeeld en legendes gedra met die figuur van 'n godin op die agterkant.

Die kunstenaars het die heerser in verskillende posisies uitgebeeld. Die studie van hierdie beelde is baie interessant. Die beelde het veral die krygskwaliteite en die dapperheid van die heerser gevier. In baie munte van Samudragupta word hy uitgebeeld as 'n byl. By ander dra hy 'n boog in sy linkerhand en 'n pyl in sy regterhand. Die muntstukke van Kumaragupta I (omstreeks 415-450 CE) het hom uitgebeeld wat op 'n olifant gery en 'n leeu doodgemaak het. 'N Ander baie interessante beeld van Samudragupta het hom uitgebeeld as 'n ‘veena ’, 'n snaarinstrument. Daar is ook 'n paar gevalle van Gupta -munte wat gesamentlik deur die koning en die koningin uitgereik is. Die tipe muntstukke is uitgereik deur Chandragupta I, Kumaragupta I en Skandagupta. Hierdie muntstukke het beide die figure van die koning en die koningin in 'n staande posisie uitgebeeld. Kumaradevi, die naam van die koningin van Chandragupta I, is bekend uit hierdie munte. Maar die ander twee konings het nie die naam van hul koninginne in hul gesamentlike uitgawes genoem nie.

Die ‘Asvamedha ’ of perdeoffermuntstukke is uitgereik deur beide Samudragupta en Kumaragupta I.

Byna elke Gupta -muntstuk het die figuur van 'n godin en 'n opskrif agterop. Sanskrit was die taal van die inskripsie. Die godin poseer in sit- of staande posisie. Daar was baie godinne in hierdie muntstukke uitgebeeld. Die algemeenste was die beeld van Laxmi, die Hindoe -godin van rykdom. Ander godinne wat in die Gupta -muntstukke verskyn, sluit in Durga, die Hindoe -godin van dapperheid Ganga, die godin van die rivier die Ganges, ens.

Sommige van die Gupta -munte, hoofsaaklik die silwer, bevat die beelde van Garuda, 'n mitiese voël uit Hindoe -tradisie. Hierdie munte word in groot getalle in Wes -Indië aangetref. In sommige gevalle word die Garuda vervang deur 'n pou. Hierdie verskeidenheid muntstukke is uiters skaars. En dra dus 'n groot waarde vir die numismatici.

Die eerste opslag van die Gupta -muntstukke is in 1783 by Kalighat, in Calcutta, gevind.

Die ineenstorting van die Gupta-dinastie in die vyfde eeu onder die druk van buitelandse invalle uit die noordweste het gelei tot die ondergang van die goue era van Guptas wat die opvallendste weerspieël is in die munt van die subkontinent. In die post-Gupta-tydperk was daar verskillende streekmuntstukke wat arm was ten opsigte van artistieke waarde en geslaan in basiese legerings soos billon (silwer en koper). Die tydperk word beskou as 'n tydperk van numismatiese afname in sirkulasie, met minder muntstukke as muntstukke (begrawe skatte).

Die Guptas is tydelik vervang deur die Huns of die Indo-Hepthaliete wat die westelike dele van die land via Kabul-Qandahar-roete binnegeval en beset het. Toramana, die Hun-leier, het silwer- en kopermuntstukke uitgegee op die munte van die Sassanid-heersers in Noordwes-Indië, en hy het ook silwer muntstukke uitgegee op grond van Gupta-muntstukke wat die koning se kop na links draai en met Toramana Deva ’ opgeskryf die omgekeerde.

Die Indo-Sassanid-muntstukke van Toramana het 'n tipiese borsbeeld van die koning wat regs op die voorkant kyk en 'n Sassanid-vuuraltaar met Gupta Brahmi-legendes op die agterkant. Toramana het tot in 510 nC oor die Malwa -streek geheers, maar sy opvolger, Mihirkula, is deur Malwa verdryf deur die gesamentlike magte van Narsimha Gupta ‘Baladitya ’ en Yashovarman van Malwa in 528 nC. Hy het Kasjmir verower en munte uitgereik op grond van die Sassanid -standaarde met 8216 Jayatu Mihirkula ’ gegraveer in Brahmi aan die agterkant.

Streeksmuntstukke word steeds sterk beïnvloed deur die Gupta -muntstuk in Bengale, twee konings, Samacharadeva en Jayagupta, het afgoue goue munte uitgereik wat lyk soos die boogskutter Guptas met 'n Bull -standaard op die muntstukke. Aan die agterkant sit Lakshmi op 'n lotus wat daarop dui dat Samacharadeva die laaste Gupta -heerser, Vishnu Gupta, in die middel van die sesde eeu vervang het.

Die volgende groot muntstuk uit Bengale was deur Sashanka, die koning van Gauda, ​​die mededinger van Maukharis van Kannauj en hul beroemde bondgenoot, Harshavardhana. Die muntstukke het beelde van Shiva wat op Nandi aan die voorkant lê en Lakshmi op lotus sit langs 'n olifant aan die agterkant.

Aan die begin van die sewende eeu het die hele Noord -Indië onder die heerskappy gekom van Harshavardhana, die heerser van Thaneswar, 'n klein prinsdom naby Kurukshetra. Harsha was 'n groot beskermheer vir kunste, Boeddhisme, ens. Harsha het egter nie 'n nuwe muntstuk in sy regeringstyd van vier dekades begin nie. In plaas daarvan het hy gekies om die ‘ Oostelike pou ’ tipe Kumaragupta te kopieer met die koning se portret na links gedraai.


Beskikbare bronmateriaal om die geskiedenis van die Gupta -tydperk te rekonstrueer

Rekonstruksie van die geskiedenis van die Gupta -tydperk!

Die tydperk van 200 v.C. tot 300 n.C. word gepas gekenmerk as die ouderdom van die verbrokkeling van die konsep van ryk ”. In hierdie tydperk het die opkoms van baie staatstrukture in verskillende dele van Indië misluk in hul poging om in groot koninkryke te ontwikkel.

Die idee van 'n ryk het weer 'n werklikheid geword met die opkoms van die Guptas in die 4de eeu nC.

Op hierdie agtergrond van klein staatstrukture in belangrike dele van Indië, het die Guptas van onseker oorsprong bekend geword, waarvan die kerngebied oostelik Uttar Pradesh blyk te wees.

Beeldbron: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Scene_from_the_Ramayana,_northwest_India,_Gupta_period,_5th-6th_century,_terracotta,_HAa.JPG

Historici probeer bewustelik hierdie Gupta -tydperk as die ouderdom van ‘Imperial Guptas ’ en ‘the Classical Age ’ uitbeeld. Hierdie geleerdes, in die woorde van B.D. Chattopadhyaya was van mening dat 'n ryk as 'n politieke struktuur beskou word wat opsetlik gebou is deur die militêre eksploite van verskeie charismatiese koninklike persoonlikhede, en dat dit terselfdertyd 'n uitvloeisel was van die bevryding van Noord -Indië van jarelange buitelandse bewind en politieke eenwording wat bereik is deur sentrifugale elemente suksesvol onderdruk ”.

Met hierdie perspektief het R.C. Majumdar het opgemerk dat die Gupta -ryk op volle volwassenheid weer eens eenheid, vrede en voorspoed bring oor byna die hele Noord -Indië. Volgens dieselfde sentimentele perspektief het FN Ghoshal ook opgemerk dat die grootste deel van die land ongetwyfeld hoë welvaart geniet het.

K.K. Dasgupta en R.C. Majumdar het ook opgemerk dat die keiserlike Guptas met wie die bundel oopgaan, die sentrifugale magte in Noord -Indië en die koninkryk, wat deur Chandragupta I gestig is, kortliks deur sy seun, Samudragupta, omskep in 'n ryk. Die Gupta -ryk, opgevoed deur 'n opeenvolging van bekwame heersers, het Noord -Indië nie net politieke stabiliteit en keiserlike vrede gegee nie, maar het ook 'n voorbeeld gestel in alle departemente van lewe en kultuur. Die koms van die Guptas op die politieke verhoog het inderdaad 'n tydperk ingelui wat tereg die Goue Eeu of die klassieke tydperk van die Indiese geskiedenis genoem is.

Hierdie opvatting van 'n keiserlike, goue en klassieke era van die Guptas word geskep, onderhou en volgehou deur 'n groep geleerdes, terwyl hulle tydens die opkoms van die Guptas 'n poging was om die verskillende magsakke in Noord -Indië te verenig. Soos beskryf deur B. Lahiri, diegene wat beheer word deur die laaste heersers van die ‘buitelandse ’ Kusanas die Gana Sangha, Janapadas, oneweredig versprei tussen Punjab en Uttar Pradesh, Himalaya tot Haryana en Rajasthan, en kleinheersers van wat daar was genoem inheemse state ’. ”

Beskikbare bronmateriaal vir die rekonstruksie van die geskiedenis van die Gupta -tydperk is skaars.

Wat beskikbaar is, kan egter geklassifiseer word as:

(3) Chinese reisigers en#8217 rekeninge.

Literêre bronne:

Van al die literêre bronne neem die Puranas 'n belangrike plek in. Die hoof Puranas, Vayu, Vishnu, Matsya, Brahmanda en Bhagavata Puranas is baie nuttig vir die studente in die geskiedenis. Hierdie Puranas is gedurende hierdie tydperk saamgestel en in geskrewe vorm uitgebring. Op grond van die Puraniese bewyse word geglo dat die stigter van die Gupta -geslag oor Prayaga, Saketa en Magadha geheers het.

Kalidasa, die beroemde Sanskrit -dramaturg en digter, word beskou as 'n van hierdie tydperk, maar V. Ramachandra Dikshitar meen dat Kalidas ’ -werke ons nie as bronmateriaal van die Gupta -era help nie. Verder is Kamandaka, Nitisara, Pravarasena en Setubandha Kavya, Kaumudimahotsava 'n drama waarvan die outeurskap betwisbaar is, Visakhadatta Devichandraguptam en Mudrarakshasa en Bana Harshacharita is die ander waardevolle literêre bronne om die geskiedenis te herbou.

Argeologiese bronne:

Epigrafieë, muntstukke, seëls, monumente en skilderye vorm die argeologiese bronmateriaal. 'N Kritiese ondersoek van Gupta -muntstukke help ons om nie net die omvang van die ryk, die artistieke uitnemendheid en godsdienstige oortuigings af te lei nie, maar ook die ekonomiese stewigheid van die Gupta -tydperk. Goue, silwer en koper muntstukke van die Guptas word in oorvloed gevind. Oor die algemeen het die goue munte van die Guptas die figuur van die koning op die voorkant en 'n godin aan die agterkant met gepaardgaande simbole soos altare, Garuda 'n dwerg of 'n Tulasi -plant.

Goue munte van Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta en Skandagupta het bekend geword. Ons het ook goue munte van Purugupta, Kumaragupta II en Narasimhagupta Baladitya. Daar is silwer muntstukke van Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta I en Skandagupta. Ons het kopermuntstukke uitgereik deur Chandragupta II en Kumaragupta I.

Die muntstukke bevat legendes wat dui op hul eerbied vir godinne en grafskrifte. Die muntstukke van Chandragupta I en sy koningin Kumaradevi toon die belangrikheid wat hulle geheg het aan die huweliksverbond met die Lichchavis as 'n manier om politieke gesag te verkry, terwyl die voortreflike goue munte van Samudragupta die ekonomie van die welvaart van die tydperk weerspieël.

Die minderwaardige goue munte van die latere Guptas weerspieël die verslegtende ekonomiese toestande van hul tydperk. Die munte met die Asvamedha -simbool weerspieël hul aanspraak op soewereiniteit. Ons kan tot die gevolgtrekking kom deur op te let dat die goud-, silwer- en kopermuntstukke van die Guptas getuig van die metaalbewerkingsvaardigheid en vakmanskap van die vakmanne van daardie tydperk, behalwe hul ekonomiese toestand.

Byna 42 epigrafieë van die Gupta-tye wat 'n tydperk van 360 na 466 na Christus dek, behalwe 'n aantal nie-Gupta-epigrafies en latere inskripsies, stel ons in staat om die geskiedenis en tye van die Gupta-periode te rekonstrueer. Van die 42 epigrafieë is 19 amptelik, terwyl die oorblywende 23 privaat rekords is wat deur privaat individue uitgereik is. Onder hierdie tekste is 27 op klip gekap en die res is koper of Tamra Sasanas. Die Prasasthis van Samudragupta en twee Prasasthis van Skandagupta is baie handig in die rekonstruksie van die Gupta -geskiedenis. Ons het ook 'n Prasasthi van Chandragupta II gegraveer op 'n ysterpilaar by Mehrauli in Delhi en die res van die veertien koperplate. Oor die algemeen bied die Prasasthis en die koperplate ons die genologie van die ontvanger en die skenker.

Die privaat rekords toon die skenking van grond of gereedskap aan 'n godsdienstige instansie en hierdie privaat verslae noem soms die naam en soms die prestasies van die regerende koning. Van die Gupta -grafika is die waardevolste die Allahabad -pilaar -edik van Samudragupta, geskryf deur Harisena, die Mahadandanayaka van Samudragupta. Dit is 'n baie lang Prasasthi, aangesien dit die prestasies van Samudragupta opteken. Ongelukkig is dit ongedateer. Dit is in 'n versvorm in klassieke Sanskrit geskryf. Interessant genoeg vorm 33 reëls van hierdie epigraaf 'n enkele lang sin. Die Eran -steenepigraaf van Samudragupta bied ook 'n blik op sy prestasies.

Die held van die Mehrauli -ysterkolom, Chandra, is geïdentifiseer met Chandragupta II en hierdie epigraaf handel oor sy prestasies. Die verowerings van Chandragupta II en westelike Indië word aangeteken in die Udayagiri -grotopskrif. So ook verwys die Gadhwal-steenepigraaf, die Bilsad-steenpilaar-epigraaf en die opskrif van die Mankuar-steenbeeld na die prestasies van Kumaragupta. Die Bhitari -pilaar -epigraaf naby Benaras bevat besonderhede van die geveg tussen die Guptas en die Pushyamitras en die Hunas uit die tyd van Skandagupta, die kroonprins van Kumaragupta.

Die Junagadh -rotsegrafieë en die Kahum -pilaaruitgawe word toegeskryf aan die tyd van Skandagupta. Net-Gupta-epigrafieë verwys ook na gebeure wat tydens die Gupta-regime gebeur het. 'N Inskripsie van Kakutsthavarman van die Kadamba -dinastie verwys na sy huwelik met die dogters van die Gupta -dinastie.

'N Hedendaagse inskripsie van die Varman -dinastie toon aan dat hulle die grootste deel van Malwa regeer het. Die opskrif erken nie die hegemonie van die Guptas nie. Dit gee ook 'n idee van die tyd toe die Guptas die gebied beset het. Oor die verbrokkeling en agteruitgang van die Gupta -ryk bied die epigrafieë van Toramana en Mihirakula waardevolle inligting.

Die belangrikheid van hierdie epigrafies lê daarin dat hulle ons in staat stel om die inligting wat in die grafieke van die Guptas gegee is, te staaf. Die later gedateerde epigraaf van die Rastrakutas, die Saranath -epigraaf van Pakaditya en die Nalanda -rekord van Yasodharman verwys ook indirek na die Guptas en hul tyd.

Behalwe epigrafies werp die monumente van die Gupta -tydperk, tempels, kloosters en Chaityas ook waardevolle lig op die godsdienstige en artistieke uitnemendheid van die Gupta -era.

Daar was drie verskillende kuns- en argitektuurskole:

(iii) Nalanda, gedurende hierdie tydperk.

Die grotskilderye van Ajanta en Ellora van die Gupta -tye weerspieël die artistieke smaak en uitnemendheid, sosiale lewe, feeste en Jatras van daardie tyd. Talle robbe wat in Vaishali en sy omgewing gevind word, bied ook baie waardevolle inligting oor die provinsiale en plaaslike regering van die Guptas.

Chinese reisigers ’ rekeninge:

Die inligting wat uit die literêre en argeologiese bronne oor die Guptas verkry is, kan bevestig word uit die verslae van die Chinese Boeddhistiese pelgrim Fahien en 'n later gedateerde verslag van Itsing wat die streek van die Guptas besoek het en sy indrukke opgeteken het. Fahien was nege jaar in Indië, ses van hulle in die Gupta -hof, interessant genoeg het hy drie jaar by Pataliputra self deurgebring en die ander plekke soos Kanauj, Ayodhya, Sravasti, Kapilavastu, Vaishali en Kusinagara besoek.

Sy verslag Fo-Kuo-Kie of ‘The Record of Buddhist Kingdoms ’ gee baie interessante inligting oor verskillende aspekte van die Gupta-era. Fahien swyg vreemd oor die naam van die Gupta -koning. Sy verslag alleen kan nie aanvaar word as 'n waaragtige prentjie van die Gupta -tye wat ons die inligting met ander bronne noukeurig moet bevestig nie.

Itsing het Indië besoek gedurende die laaste jare van die 7de eeu nC. Hy verwys na die bou van 'n plek van aanbidding vir die Chinese pelgrims by Mrigasikhavana deur Sri Gupta. 'N Redelike hoeveelheid kennis oor die tye van die Guptas kan uit hierdie bronne versamel word, sodat die geskiedenis van hierdie tydperk met enkele bronne herbou kan word.


Die Bayana Hoard van Gupta Coins

Wat die vind van skatte betref, was dit miskien die grootste meevaller.

Op 17 Februarie 1946 was Maharaja Brijendra Singh van Bharatpur, 'n afstammeling van die beroemde bouer van die Jat -ryk, Raja Surajmal op 'n jagekspedisie in die dorpe Nagla Chela, binne sy koninkryk. Na die jag, toe die Maharaja en sy gevolg vertrek het, het drie plaaslike dorpskinders in die omgewing begin soek na leë patrone. Vir hulle was dit gewaardeerde versamelstukke. Terwyl hulle op 'n jag was, op 'n wal, in die veld van 'n arm boer, het hulle 'n klein struikie uitgepluk en 'n koperpot onder gevind. Die pot bevat meer as 2000 goue munte uit die Gupta -era. Hierdie toevallige ontdekking deur drie klein kinders in 'n klein, onbeskryflike dorpie, sou 'n sensasie in die wêreld van numismatiek veroorsaak. Wat hulle gevind het, was die nou beroemde 'Bayana Hoard', die grootste bekende skat van ou Indiese goudmuntstukke wat ooit in Indië gevind is!

Wat die ongelooflikste is, is dat hierdie vullis 1500 jaar lank onontdek was. Die pot is iewers begrawe in die beginjare van die bewind van keiser Skandagupta wat tussen 455 en 467 nC regeer het. Ons weet dit, want nie een van die munte van sy opvolgers is in die opgaardam gevind nie.

Die verhaal gaan dat die kinders die pot by hul ouers huis toe geneem het en 'n deel daarvan onder die dorpenaars versprei is. Ongelukkig is ongeveer 300 goue muntstukke gesmelt voordat die staatspolisie in Bharatpur op die toneel aangekom het en die oorlewende 1821 muntstukke in besit geneem het. Die dorpenaars moes 'n boete van R 12,680 betaal vir die smelt van die muntstukke sonder toestemming.

Maharaja Brijinder Singh, wat 'n persoonlike belangstelling in die voorraad gehad het, nooi dr AS Altekar, die voorsitter van die Numismatic Society of India, om Bharatpur in Mei 1947 te besoek om die munte te katalogiseer. Hierdie monumentale werk 'The Catalog of the Gupta Gold Coins in the Bayana Hoard' is die enigste en mees omvattende werk oor hierdie skat. In Maart 1951 het Maharaja hierdie katalogus, saam met die koperpot en ongeveer 209 muntstukke aan die president van Indië, dr Rajendra Prasad, aangebied om in die National Museum Delhi te vertoon. Afgesien van 'n paar stukke in die Bharatpur -museum (78 munte), die CSMVS -museum, Mumbai (20 munte) en die Patna -universiteit (18 muntstukke), is die oorblywende voorraad aan die regering van Rajasthan oorgedra, waar dit tot vandag toe bly. .

Dit is nie die enigste Gupta -muntstuk wat gevind is nie; daar was ongeveer 17 sulke ontdekkings in die afgelope 200 jaar. Die meeste ontdekkings was in Bengale, UP en Bihar. Trouens, die nuutste een is net 5 jaar gelede, in 2013, ontdek tydens 'n snelwegkonstruksie in Murshidabad, Wes -Bengale. Die Bayana -houer bly egter die belangrikste. Hulle is 'n venster na die grootsheid van die Gupta's, groot beskermhere van die kunste, onder wie 'n groot deel van Indië 'n 'goue era' gesien het.

Iewers rondom die 4de eeu nC het die Guptas uit die klein owerheid in Oos -Uttar Pradesh of Bihar opgestaan ​​en 'n ryk gebou wat langer as twee eeue geduur het. 'N Koning met die naam Gupta was die stamvader. Sy kleinseun, Chandragupta I (319-350 CE) was die belangrikste heerser, wat sy koninkryk ver en wyd uitgebrei het. Sy seun Samudragupta (bewind ongeveer 330-375 nC) het uitgebreide verowerings gedoen en sy invloed laat voel oor die heersers van die suidelike streek (Dakshinapatha) sowel as heersers buite sy grense in die noordweste. Sy seun Chandragupta II het die grense van sy ryk nog verder uitgebrei tot Kashmir in die weste en Odisha in die ooste. Die seun van Chandra Gupta II, Kumara Gupta I (415-450 CE), het twee opgevoer Ashwamedha Yajna of perdeoffer, om sy mag te 'verklaar' en bygevoeg tot die ryk, 'n groter deel van Sentraal -Indië, Gujarat en Saurashtra.

Teen die einde van Kumaragupta se bewind was daar terugslae. Die Hunas het aanvalle op die koninkryk uitgevoer en in die volgende twee dekades was die Gupta -konings besig om hierdie bedreiging af te weer. Terwyl Skandagupta (455-467 nC) daarin geslaag het om die Hunas te verslaan, het die uitgestrekte Gupta-ryk teen die tyd dat hy daarin geslaag het, begin verbrokkel. Teen die tyd van Budhagupta (496-500 CE) het die westelike deel van die ryk na hom verlore gegaan, die Guptas was beperk tot Bihar, Bengale en sommige dele van Odisha. Uiteindelik vervaag in die vergetelheid.

Gegewe die belangrikheid van die Guptas in die Indiese geskiedenis, was die ontdekking en herstel van die groot Bayana Gupta Hoard die mees opspraakwekkende numismatiese ontdekking van die tyd. Daar word steeds in verwondering daarvan gepraat.

Oor die algemeen het die Bayana -munte in verskillende kategorieë verdeel. Hulle word geklassifiseer as liriek tipe, die olifant-ruiter tipe, die leeu-vertrapper tipe, die renoster-slayer tipe en die ashvamedha tipe. Al hierdie is van onskatbare waarde.

1. Die tipe koning en koningin: die muntstuk beeld die huwelik van Chandragupta I met die Lichchavi -prinses Kumaradevi op die voorkant uit. Die agterkant van die muntstuk het 'n sitgodin Durga. Die muntstuk beeld Chandra Gupta I. Die muntstuk is egter uitgereik deur sy seun Samudragupta.

2. Die liriese tipe muntstuk van Samudragupta: is baie mooi en uniek. Op hierdie muntstuk word die koning op sy gemak op 'n bank met 'n hoë rug vertoon, waar hy op 'n snaarinstrument speel en waarskynlik 'n eenvoudige lier of luit. Die feit dat die koning 'n beeld van homself as musikant wou bekend maak, is merkwaardig en ook 'n venster op die waardes wat die Gupta -staat hoog geag het. Dit is bekend dat Samudragupta 'n groot beskermheer van die kunste was en inderdaad 'n bekwame musikant en digter was.

3. Die leeuslager-tipe Chandragupta II: Dit is gebaseer op die tipe tiermoordenaar muntstuk wat deur Samudragupta uitgereik is. Kumaragupta reik ook munte van soortgelyke wyse uit. Die agterkant van die muntstuk het 'n godin wat op 'n leeu sit en 'n diadeem in haar hand.

4. Renoster-slayer tipe Kumaragupta: Die voorkant van die muntstuk het die koning te perd met 'n swaard in sy regterhand wat die renoster aanval. Aan die agterkant staan ​​die godin Ganga op 'n makara (mitiese krokodil). Sy hou 'n lotus in haar regterhand. Die muntstuk is van hoë artistieke kwaliteit, let op hoe die renoster met 'n skubberige vel uitgebeeld word.

5. Olifant-ruiter tipe Kumaragupta: Die voorkant van die munt toon die koning wat op 'n olifant sit en 'n staf in sy regterhand hou, terwyl 'n bediende agter hom sit. Die agterkant van die muntstuk het die godin Lakshmi wat na links kyk en haar regterhand uitsteek, asof sy die pou wil troetel.

6. Karttikeya -tipe Kumaragupta: Die voorkant van die muntstuk het die koning staan ​​met sy regterhand uitgestrek en 'n pou na links. Die agterkant van die muntstuk het Karttikeya op 'n pou gesit.

7. Chhatra tipe Skandagupta: Die voorkant van die muntstuk het die koning wat links staan ​​en opoffer by 'n vuuraltaar, terwyl 'n bediende regs staan ​​en 'n parasol oor die koning hou. Die agterkant van die muntstuk het die godin Lakshmi staande met 'n diadeem. Die Chhatra of die Royal Parasol -tipe Skandagupta -muntstuk is uiters skaars. Slegs een eksemplaar van hierdie tipe was bekend uit die Bayana -opgaardam.

Die meeste van die Bayana -muntstukke is tans by die Rajasthan State Government, CSMVS Museum, Mumbai en ook by die National Museum, New Delhi. 'N Mens kan al die Gupta -goue munte in die Numismatiese galery van die Nasionale Museum sien.


Gupta muntstukke

Gupta muntstukke The establishment of the Gupta Empire in the fourth century AD heralded a new era in the history of numismatics. The Gupta coinage started with a remarkable series in gold issued by Chandragupta I, the third ruler of the dynasty, who issued a single type- the king and queen - depicting the portraits of Chandragupta and his queen Kumaradevi with their names on the obverse and the goddess seated on a lion with the legend Lichchhavyah on the reverse. Though some specimens of this type have been discovered from the districts of 24-Parganas (North) and Burdwan, Bengal did not come under the Gupta rule till the time of Samudragupta, whose Allahabad inscription places samatata amongst the frontier kingdoms.

Of the seven types of gold coins issued by Samudragupta three viz. Standard, Archer and Ashvamedha are known to be from Bengal. The standard type discovered from Bangladesh, Midnapore, Burdwan, hughli and 24-Parganas (North) depict the standing king holding a standard and offering oblations on a fire-altar. The reverse show a goddess seated on a throne holding a cornucopia and the legend Parakramah. The Archer type, found from 24-Parganas (North), depicts the king standing, holding a bow and arrow with Samudra written under his left arm. The reverse is the same as on the standard type except the legend, which reads Apratirathah ie 'matchless warrior'. The Ashvamedha type, discovered in the Comilla district, shows an uncaparisoned horse in front of a sacrificial post with a flowing banner. The reverse shows a female (probably the chief queen) standing in front of an ornamental spear (suchi) with a flywhisk over her right shoulder and the legend shvamedhaparakramah. No specimens of the battle-axe, tiger-slayer, lyrist and Kacha types of Samudragupta are known from Bengal.

Only two types of coins of Chandragupta II, who incorporated vanga in the Gupta Empire, are known from Bengal. His Archer type coins, which became the most popular type of coinage with the Gupta rulers after Kumaragupta I, have been found in Faridpur, Bogra, Jessore and Comilla districts of Bangladesh and Kalighat (Calcutta), Hughli, Burdwan, 24-Parganas (North) and murshidabad of West Bengal. This type has two classes (one with an enthroned goddess and the other with a goddess seated on lotus on reverse) with several varieties.

His Chhatra (Umbrella) type depicting a king offering incense on an altar while an attendant holds an umbrella over him on obverse and a goddess standing on lotus on reverse is known from the single specimen discovered from Hughli district.

His Lion-slayer, Horseman, Couch, Standard, Chakravikrama and King and Queen on Couch types have not been found in Bengal.

Kumaragupta I, who issued as many as sixteen types of gold coins, is represented by Archer (Hughli), Horseman (Midnapore and Hughli), Elephant-rider (Hughli), Lion-slayer (Bogra, Hughli and Burdwan) and Karttikeya (Burdwan) types in Bengal. The Horseman type coins depict the king riding a caparisoned horse with weapons like a bow and a sword on the obverse and a goddess sitting on a wicker stool, sometimes feeding grapes to a peacock, on the reverse side. The Elephant-rider type shows a king riding on an elephant holding a goad. An attendant holding an umbrella sits behind him. Its reverse has a goddess standing on a lotus with the legend Mahendragajah. The Lion-slayer type has a king, armed with a bow and an arrow, either combating or trampling a lion on the obverse and a goddess seated on a couchant lion and the legend Sri-Mahendrasinghah on reverse. The most beautiful in the entire series is the Karttikeya (or Peacock) type depicting the king in tribhanga posture feeding a bunch of grapes to a peacock on the obverse and the god Karttikeya seated on a peacock and the legend Mahendrakumarah on reverse.

Two types-Archer (Faridpur, Bogra, Hughli, Burdwan) and King and Queen (Midnapore) - of the four known types of Skandagupta, have been found in Bengal. The latter depicts a king and a queen (identified as goddess Laksmi by some) standing facing each other on the obverse and a goddess seated on a lotus and the legend Sri Skandaguptah on the reverse. Archer type coins of Kumaragupta II (Kalighat, North and South 24-Parganas, Midnapore), Vainyagupta (Kalighat and Hughli) Narasinghagupta (Kalighat, Hughli, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Nadia), Kumaragupta III (Hughli and Burdwan) and Visnugupta (Kalighat, Hughli and 24-Parganas, North) have been found in Bengal. Most have metrical legends inscribed in chaste Sanskrit, highlighting the issuer's achievements on the obverse of the coins. A symbol in geometrical design is usually found on the reverse of Gupta coins and a large number bear a Garuda standard on the obverse.

The Guptas followed a complex metrology for their gold coins. Though they were generally believed to have followed the Kusana weight standard of 122 grains for their early coinage after the Roman aurei, and the Indian suvarna standard of 144 grains from the time of Skandagupta onwards, yet we find a gradual increase in their weight from about 112 in the time of Chandragupta 1 to 148 grains for the coins of the last rulers. It is to be noted that their pure gold content remained 113 grains throughout except for the coins of the last three rulers. It is possible that gold coins were not accepted at their face value but at their real value. The Gupta inscriptions use the terms, dinara and suvarna for them, apparently to distinguish the lighter and heavier types respectively.

Some silver coins of Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta I and Skandagupta were discovered at Muhammadpur near Jessore in 1852 and one coin of Skandagupta has been reported from chandraketugarh. Apart from these coins, no other specimens of silver coins are known from Bengal but reference to them in the Gupta epigraphs from Bengal definitely indicate their prevalence in the country. They were issued on the weight standard of 32 grains and referred to as rupaka in the inscriptions. No copper issues of the Guptas have been reported from Bengal. [Ashvini Agrawal]

Bibliografie AS Altekar, The Coinage of the Gupta Empire, Varanasi, 1957 BN Mukherji, Coins and Currency System in Gupta Bengal, New Delhi, 1992.


A Short History Of The Indian Monetary Standard

Ten-rupee coin shot taken in 2010 in New Delhi, India. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images)
Snapshot

The history of the Indian monetary standard and the conduct of monetary policy in India over the past three millennia.

The Indian rupee – and, more generally speaking, the Indian monetary policy – has been the topic of much discussion in recent months. The rupee reached an all-time low against the United States (US) dollar in October 2018, hitting close to 74.36 units to a dollar. In December, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel tendered his resignation, provoking a debate over monetary policy independence.

This might be a good occasion to reflect on the history of the Indian monetary standard and the conduct of monetary policy in India over the past three millennia.

What is the history of the rupee? How did Indians conduct transactions and store value over centuries? When did India move to a fiat currency? What are the problems in attempting to manage the value of currency unit while not maintaining the discipline to rein in inflation?

These are questions of economics, yes. But they are also moral questions. An examination of the history of the rupee illustrates that monetary economics is a moral minefield. It is not possible to have the cake and eat it, too.

Early Indian Coinage

Ancient India is widely regarded as one of the early innovators in money and among the first countries to start issuing coins. This was observed in the coinage associated with several Mahajanapadas (circa sixth to fourth century BCE).

But we cannot find much literature from the time elaborating on the monetary standard in the Mahajanapadas. What we do have are the coins. For literary elaboration on the nature and type of Indian currency, one of the earliest books is Kautilya’s Arthashastra, usually dated to fourth century BCE.

Die Arthashastra is also interesting as it carries the first clues to the etymology of the modern word “rupee”. According to Kautilya, the Mauryan state managed the mint headed by a superintendent named Lakshaṇādhyakshah. The silver coins manufactured by the mint are referred to as rūpya rūpa. In Sanskrit, rūpya means wrought silver and rupa refers to form or shape.

Kautilya, however, does not suggest that the empire had a silver standard by any means. He also refers to other types of coins besides rūpya rūpa, most notably, copper coins called tāmra rūpa.

Ook die naam rupya rupa appears to be a bit of a misnomer, as Kautilya in the description of the coins mentions that they are not exclusively made of silver. The silver coin in Kautilya’s words consisted of four parts of copper and the one-sixteenth part of any of the following metals: tikshna (iron), sisa (lead), anjana, trapu (tin). One is not sure of the actual silver content in it. Net so, tamra rūpa (copper coins) comprised four parts of an alloy named padajivam.

So, the monetary system was most likely not a silver standard, or even a bimetallic standard, where the currency unit is defined in relation to two metals. But it was definitely a tightly regulated system where legal tender had to conform to certain standards of composition. It’s also interesting that Kautilya’s understanding of money is pretty consistent with the contemporary understanding. He acknowledges its role not just as a medium of exchange but also as a store of value.

It also appears that there was a central banker of sorts, the rūpadarśaka, whose job was to regulate the currency in the state. Kautilya also talks of a premium of 8 per cent levied on new coins issued, referred to as rūpika, which acted as a source of revenue to the treasury.

Now, how did this change over the next 1,000 years?

Judging by the coins associated with the great Gupta Empire of the fourth and fifth century CE, it does seem that gold coins were a lot more common in the Gupta Empire relative to the Mahajanapada or Mauryan periods. Here’s a gold coin issued by Samudragupta, circa 350 CE. Interestingly, the coin was called dinara, possibly a foreign word as opposed to the Indian word for a gold coin, suvarna rupa.

One hypothesis is that gold coins became popular in India after the Kushan rule, which introduced the dinara to the country. This was later adopted by the Guptas. The Gupta Empire also issued silver and copper coins but gold coins were very common.

Monetary Standards During Sultanate Rule

Now, let’s fast forward by some 800 years to the period of the Delhi Sultanates. There was a radical change in monetary standards introduced in India with the coming of the Muslim rule after the twelfth century (at least in North India).

The early Sultans did not depart from the Hindu numismatic standards. The earliest conqueror of the North Indian plain was Muhammad Ghūri, in the late twelfth century. The gold coins issued during his reign adhered to the convention, with goddess Lakshmi on one side and the name of the ruler on the other. The manager of the mint at Delhi during the rule of Alauddin Khilji’s son was one Thakurra Pheru, a Hindu or a Jain, who left behind a book in Apabhramsa on the exchange rate and the details on metal composition in coins of different types.

But, despite the early continuity, there were some significant changes in the course of the thirteenth century. The Delhi Sultanate established a firm exchange rate between gold and silver of 1:10 – a bimetallic standard of sorts that we didn’t quite encounter in earlier classical literature. Also, this was a period of political and cultural upheaval. The Khilji and Tughlaq sultans were notorious for their raids on Hindu temples, which inevitably meant a great deal of gold acquisition and subsequent use of that gold by the mint to issue coins.

This monetary indiscipline in the thirteenth century put a strain on the 1:10 ratio between gold and silver. Gold dominated in the general circulation, because of which the unofficial exchange rate between gold and silver dropped to as low as 1:7, though the official rate was at 1:10. This is one of the early examples in monetary history where a fixed exchange rate came under stress and eventually collapsed because it was not accompanied by monetary discipline and austerity.

The greed of the Sultans is well documented by the fourteenth-century historian Ziauddin Barani, who talks of the token currency in copper and brass introduced by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq to arbitrarily replace silver. This had a disruptive effect on commercial activity, forcing Tughlaq to backtrack and revoke the token currency.

Tughlaq’s token currency was an innovation not inspired by thinking rooted in Indian realities but possibly a fad picked up from China at the time. In China, the Yuan dynasty was experimenting with “Chao”, a paper currency that is usually regarded as the world’s first fiat currency. It is not surprising that the “paper currency” model did not work very well in China, either, which was beset with inflation problems at the time.

The gold surplus in the sultanate period also found its way into many foreign countries including Iran and parts of Russia. A fifteenth-century Persian revenue manual suggests that the royal treasury at Tabriz had more gold sourced from India than from any other source.

Presumably, the sultanate was engaging in imports of luxury goods (furs, slaves, warhorses) from countries on the north-west using the gold surplus. It was clearly a policy that promoted certain trade patterns that suited the tastes of the sultans funded by Indian gold. But the chaos induced by monetary instability appears to have eventually led to the issue of fewer gold coins during the later Tughlaq period and a reversion to the mixed metal currencies and copper coins.

Monetary Policy In Mughal India

During the sixteenth century, under Mughal rule, greater standardisation set in after the chaos of the preceding few centuries. At the onset of Mughal rule, north India largely used copper currency known as sikandari. While southern India, less influenced by the monetary chaos in the north, stuck to the gold currency, with the gold coin going by the name pagode in the Vijayanagar Empire.

Sher Shah Suri’s brief reign from 1540 to 1545 was pivotal in the history of the Indian monetary standard. He established a tri-metallic coinage with strict standards after centuries of debasement:

  • Rupaiya: silver coin (and the principal coin in the Empire)
  • Mohur: gold coin
  • Dam: copper coin

With the spread of the Mughal Empire in southern India in succeeding centuries, the rupee slowly replaced the gold pagode in many provinces, but the pagode continued to be dominant in the Tamil country.

So, how do we judge the monetary standard from sixteenth to late eighteenth century under Mughal Rule?

Dr B R Ambedkar, a fine monetary historian in his own right, speaks positively of the monetary discipline during Mughal rule in his work, Die probleem van die roepee, published in the 1920s. It definitely was a less chaotic period compared to the plunder, indiscipline, and thoughtless monetary innovation of the preceding sultanate period.

The silver rupee was the dominant currency. But was it a silver standard? Not quite. As we discussed earlier, it was a tri-metallic system. The mohur, the rupee, and the dam were linked to each other by a fixed ratio. As we know, fixed currency pegs are dangerous, especially when not accompanied by monetary discipline. But the Mughal mints were relatively more disciplined and they desisted from debasement for the most part.

Radical Changes During East India Company Rule And The Ensuing British Raj

One is not sure if the system changed in any material way when the Mughal Empire declined and power moved into Maratha hands in large parts of the country.

The early years of the Company rule in Bengal saw the first issue of paper currency in India, a first in Indian history. The banks that issued paper currency included the Bank of Hindustan (1770-1832), the General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773-75), and Bengal Bank (1784-91). But the monetary standard in the late eighteenth century remained a bi-metallic or, rather, a tri-metallic system with primarily silver coins (as well as gold and copper in circulation).

However, at the dawn of the nineteenth century, the Company authorities were irked by the lack of uniformity that had probably crept in with the political chaos in India in the eighteenth century. There were three types of rupees – the rupee sicca of Bengal, the rupee surat of Bombay, and the rupee arcot of Madras.

In 1835, there was an act passed that abrogated bimetallic standards and moved British India to a mono-metallic silver standard. Broadly speaking, we can think of the monetary standard in the British period in three distinct phases:

  • 1835-1893: Silver standard
  • 1893-1898: Transition to gold standard
  • 1898 onwards: Gold exchange standard

So, clearly, the silver standard was effective for the longest period.

While standardisation and a single standard may be viewed as positive developments by some, it also created some problems. The biggest issue was that though India moved to the silver standard, its chief trading partner and ruler, Britain, was on a gold standard.

The period of the Raj was unique in the long Indian monetary history. For the first time, the economy was not primarily self-contained as in earlier centuries, but foreign trade (particularly with Britain) increasingly constituted a large part of economic activity. Given the move to a mono-metallic standard in 1835, it may have made sense to move to gold, as Ambedkar mused a century later.

But the move to the silver standard meant that the two countries were on different standards, and the government made futile efforts to fix a ratio between the two. In 1841, a proclamation authorised the treasuries to fix the gold-silver ratio at 1:15. This proved problematic when new gold deposits were discovered in Australia and the US, bringing down the gold price. As the Indian treasury was honouring the fixed exchange rate of 1:15, there developed a market in shipping gold to India to make a profit. This resulted in vast accumulation of gold in the Indian treasuries.

Eventually, attempts to peg the exchange rate were abandoned in the 1850s, following which there was a major fall of the rupee, as illustrated below.

This was in part triggered in the late nineteenth century by two things:

  • Demonetisation of silver in many countries (Germany, Scandinavia in 1870s)
  • Discovery of new silver mines

But this turmoil in exchange rates was not really a negative thing. Indian trade volumes actually increased quite remarkably in this period of rupee decline, as shown below.

Also, the rupee decline was not caused by currency debasement or an irresponsible mint (as we saw in the period of the sultanate). Inflation in India remained under control. So, the point to emphasise here is that letting the currency depreciate was not a catastrophe. Sure, it meant increased payment of home charges to the Britain for maintenance and upkeep. But these were the evils of colonial rule, not so much the fall in the rupee, per se.

Under a lot of pressure, India did move to a gold standard in the late 1890s. While pegging may have created a semblance of stability, it meant the country had a very tight money supply and no monetary independence. This ties back to the maxim of the “Impossible Trinity” in international economics. A country cannot have all three of the following:

In the later years of British Raj, under the gold standard, what we had was a fixed exchange rate and free capital movement. But this naturally meant a surrender of monetary independence and a monetary policy ill-suited to the Indian business cycle. In fact, India did not even have an independent central bank till 1934, the year RBI was instituted.

The Rupee Post-1947

After the country’s independence, elections and political accountability meant that there was much greater emphasis and need for having an independent monetary policy that addressed the Indian business cycle. However, we also continued with a fixed exchange rate, with extremely low volatility. The rupee was pegged to 1 US dollar in 1947. In later decades, the low volatility of exchange rate was maintained despite some depreciation forced by crises.

But the combination of a fixed exchange rate and independent monetary policy was achieved by erecting barriers not just on capital flows but also rather needlessly on the current account trade. It was a period of relative isolation from the world – a huge opportunity cost paid by the economy.

Here’s a look at the rupee’s evolution vis-à-vis the US dollar since independence.

Costs Of Currency Pegging

There is little doubt that India’s currency pegging came at a cost. Even though we had barriers on trade and capital flows for most of the post-independence years, we still had to buckle under pressure to devalue the rupee in 1966, when we faced our first severe economic crisis.

India’s unjustifiably high exchange rate was maintained artificially by placing restrictions on imports and subsidising exports. Nevertheless, perhaps the peg could have been maintained if monetary discipline had prevailed and inflation kept in check.

But inflation went out of control in the 1960s, making Indian goods extremely expensive abroad.

India’s fiscal profligacy meant that the deficit was partly funded through increasing money supply, as evident in the numbers below.

Foreign aid throughout the 1950s and 1960s helped to prevent a major crisis. But things came to a head in 1966 when aid was cut off and India was forced to devalue its currency. Though India devalued the currency practically overnight from Rs 4.8 to Rs 7.1, it was not as sharp a decline as it probably could have been. What was needed then was a removal of trade barriers and a much weaker rupee to make India competitive. Yet, we chose a strong rupee over a strong economy.

There was a repeat of the 1966 crisis in slightly different circumstances in 1990-91. The country tethered on the verge of bankruptcy and India could barely finance three weeks of imports. The reforms were forced upon India, in part by an International Monetary Fund bailout. While the reforms involved many pieces, the centrepiece, of course, was abandonment of the fixed exchange rate policy and letting the rupee depreciate.

The rupee depreciated from 17 to a dollar to roughly 35 to a dollar between 1990 and 1996. It has progressively weakened since, against major currencies.

Yet, the Indian economy has strengthened by the day. Today, it is the strongest that it has ever been, at precisely the moment when the rupee is arguably the weakest it has ever been. That’s not an anomaly at all.

The lesson from this quick examination of Indian monetary history from the Mauryan period to our times is to remind ourselves that the monetary standard by itself tells you very little about the robustness of a country’s economic system.

It is the responsibility of the central bank to maintain monetary discipline. In this time of global integration, it is also the responsibility of the government to reduce barriers to trade and capital that could hurt a developing economy. . But, all said and done, it does not behoove the government to prop up the rupee.

The value of the rupee is best left to the market.

Shrikanth Krishnamachary is a data scientist in financial services based out of New York City, whose interests include economics, political philosophy, Hinduism, American history, and cricket.


Indian Currency History: Post-Independence Era

After independence (1947) when India finally became a Republic in 1950, the modern Rupee returned to the signature design of Rupee coin. The Lion Capital at Sarnath was the chosen symbol for the paper currency. This symbol replaced the banknotes with images of King George VI. Therefore, the first banknote that was printed in India post independence was a one-rupee note.

The Reserve Bank of India printed currency notes with the image of Mahatma Gandhi in 1996. These notes are still in circulation and come with enhanced security measures as well as tangible aids for visually impaired people. However, the use of high-denomination notes of Rs.5000, Rs.10000, and Rs.1000 was stalled because they were being used in illegal transactions. After the demonetization in November 2016, Rs.1000 and Rs.500 notes were replaced with new banknotes of the same value. An addition to the denomination has been the 2000-rupee note.


Some Prized Coins of 2018

As far as the numismatics and coin collectors calendar goes, the Annual Coin, Banknote and Philately Fair organized by the Mumbai Coin Society recently was an important event. Up for grabs were some historic and fairly valuable coins. With the highest prized one being the gold coin of King Krishna of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The annual fair is popular among coin collectors and numismatics enthusiasts , Mumbai being a big center for coin auctions.

Here is a look at the top draws

1. Gold Dinar of Samudra Gupta

Die Ashwamedha goud dinar of Samudra Gupta was auctioned for a whopping price of Rs 6 lakhs by Todywalla Auction House. The Gupta gold coins are known as dinars and they are the most extraordinary examples of numismatic and artistic excellence. Samudra Gupta was one of the most celebrated rulers of the Gupta dynasty (4th – 6th century CE). Die 'Asvamedha’ type coins of Samudra Gupta are unique. In these we find a horse standing before a yupa or a sacrificial post with text around the coin mentioning the King as the conqueror of heaven, earth, and the oceans. The coin presented in the auction was one of the finest specimens seen to date and thus commanded a high price.

2. Gold Pardao of John III of Portugal

John III was the king of Portugal from 1521 to 1557. During his rule, Brazil was colonized and Portuguese possessions extended deep into Asia thus giving him the nickname of ‘o Colonizador’ (The Colonizer).

John III’s policy of reinforcing Portugal’s bases in India, secured Portugal’s monopoly over the spice trade. With the development of trade and commerce in Cochin, there was a great demand for coins. The Portuguese therefore established a mint in this city in 1530 to issue coins. The coin in the picture was issued in Cochin in the name of John III. The gold coin is extremely rare and was sold at the price of Rs. 6 lakh by Todywalla Auctions.

3. Gold Gadyana of Krishna II

Another significant coin was the gold gadyana of Rashtrakuta King Krishna II. The gold coin is extremely rare and is in very good condition.

Rashtrakutas controlled most of the western coast of the subcontinent, and hence trade from here, between the 6th and 10th century CE. The dynastic symbol of the Rastrakutas was the Garuda or the eagle. The coin illustrates a cross-legged Garuda seated on a lotus. The coin has an inscription which reads ‘Shri Shubtunga’ in Nagari script and a pseudo-Arabic legend on both the sides of the coin. Pseudo legend means that the original script is blindly copied on the coin and does not necessarily make sense. The pseudo-Arabic legend indicated that they had trade contacts with Arabs and copied their coins.

Though the coin wasn’t sold in the auction, the opening bid was among the highest, at Rs 7 lakh.

4. Gold Mohur of Jahangir

The coins of Mughal Emperor Jahangir are prized by experts and coin collectors all over the world because of their uniqueness and rarity. This gold mohur of Jahangir, issued at the Burhanpur mint is very rare and was sold at Rs 4.1 lakhs by Todywalla auctions. This very rare gold mohur was issued by Jahangir during the month of Di. The obverse of this coin is inscribed as ‘Nur-Al-Din Jahangir Shah Akbar Shah’. The reverse of the coin is inscribed as ‘Ilahi month Di’, on the top, along with the mint name ‘Burhanpur’ in the middle line and Regnal year 17 at the bottom.

5. Silver Rupee of Shah Alam II

The silver rupee coin of Shah Alam II (1759 -1806 CE), the sixteenth Mughal Emperor was sold by Oswal Auction House for Rs. 1.7 lakhs, though the initial bid was Rs. 75 thousand. This coin issued from the Sirhind mint, was one of the biggest highlights of the auction as it is extremely rare and only one other coin is known to exist. That one is at the British Museum.

The coin marks an important historical event. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the once mighty Mughal Empire was crumbling and the Maratha power reached its zenith. The Mughals became mere titular rulers and the boundaries of the Mughal Empire were protected by the Maratha army. During the reign of Shah Alam II, the Mughals faced the wrath of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afganistan, which led to the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 between the Maratha army and invading forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afganistan and other allies.

The region of Sirhind was in control of the Afgan Governor Abd us-Samad Khan and he was killed by the Marathas when they captured Kunjpura on 13 October 1760. For a short period, between October 1760 and January 1761, Marathas minted and issued coins under the name of Shah Alam II from the Sirhind mint, making the silver rupee of Shah Alam II historic and valuable.