Mana Paribhasha: Ayurvedic System of Weights and Measures

Ayurveda has its own system of measurement, under the title “Mana Paribhasha”. The word mana means to measure. Mana is nothing but a system of measurement which includes height, weight, volume, length, capacity etc.

Importance of Mana

‘Mana’ is measurement, through which weight, volume, length etc. are measured.

न मानेन विना युक्तिर्द्रव्याणां जायते क्वचित् ।
अतः प्रयोगकार्यार्थं मानमत्रोच्यते मया ॥
(शार्ङ्ग्धरसंहिता, प्रथमखण्ड, १/१४)
na mānena vinā yuktirdravyāṇāṃ jāyate kvacit |
ataḥ prayogakāryārthaṃ mānamatrocyate mayā ||
(śārṅgdharasaṃhitā, prathamakhaṇḍa, 1/14)

It is not possible to use any substances without the help of “mana”. Hence this concept is explained here for practical use.
Mana is an essential concept to understand a science in terms of quantity. It plays an important role in
Anatomy – shareera Rachana,
Physiology – shareera kriya,
Pharmaceutics – Bhaishajya Kalpana
Cooking – Paaka Shastra
and all the eight branches of Ayurveda.

There are many “systems of measurement”, mentioned in different texts of Ayurveda like Charaka samhita, Sushruta samhita, Sharangdhara Samhita, Bhaishajya Ratnavali etc.

Types of Mana

There are four types of Mana

  1. Pautava mana / pautava māna ((Measurement of weight)
  2. Druvaya mana / druvaya māna (Measurement of volume)
  3. Payya mana / pāyya māna (Measurement of length)
  4. Samaya mana / samaya māna (Measurement of time)

Pautava mana / pautava māna

Its used to measure weight of substances. Depending on the area in which they prevailed, pautava mana is of two types, they are –
1. Magadha mana (māgadha māna)
2. Kalinga mana (kaliṅga māna)

Magadha mana is considered superior among both according to Acharya Sharangadhara. This was followed by Acharya Charaka and Kalinga mana was followed by Acharya Sushruta.

Difference between māgadha māna and kālinga māna

Magadha manaKalinga mana
Prevailed in Maurya dynasty (Present Bihar and surrounding region)Prevailed in dynasty of Kalinga kings (Present Odisha and surrounding region)
It was followed by acharya CharakaIt was followed by acharya Sushruta
According to this, 6 gunjas will be one masha (750 mg)According to this, 8 gunjas will be one masha (1000 mg)

Magadha Mana

Sharangadhara Magadheeya Pautava mana (Magadha Mana)

Ayurveda UnitEquivalent toEquivalent to (In modern units)
30 Paramanu1 Vamshi0.05 mg
6 Vamshi1 Marichi0.32 mg
6 Marichi1 Rajika1.92 mg
3 Rajika1 Sarshapa1.95 mg
8 Sarshapa1 Yava31.25 mg
4 Yava1 Gunja/1 Ratti/1 Rakti125 mg
6 Gunja1 Masha (Rajamasha, Hema< Dhanyaka)750 mg
4 Masha1 Shana (Tanka, Dharana)3 grams
2 Shana1 Kola (Kshudraka, Vataka, Drankshana)6 grams
2 Kola/1 Kshdraka/1 Vataka1 Karsha (Aksha, Akshapichu, Panitala, Tinduka, Karamadhya, Hamsapada, Suvarna)12 grams
2 Karsha  1 Shukti (Ashtamika)24 grams
2 Shukti1 Pala (Prakuncha, Chaturtika)48 grams
2 Pala1 Prasruti96 grams
2 Prasruti1 Kudava (Anjali, Ashtamana)192 grams
2 Kudava1 Sharava384 grams
2 Sharava1 Prastha768 grams
4 Prastha1 Adhaka3.072 grams
4 Adhaka1 Drona12.288 Kg
2 Drona1 Shurpa24.576 Kg
2 Shurpa1 Droni49.152 Kg
4 Droni1 Khari196.608 Kg
2000 Pala1 Bhara96 Kg
100 Pala1 Tula4.8 Kg

Simplified Magadha Mana
There is a shloka in Ashtanga Hrudaya which helps in easy understanding of Pautava mana. It says –
शाणं पाणितलं मुष्टिं कुडवं प्रस्थमाढकम्|
द्रोणं वहं च क्रमशो विजानीयाच्चतुर्गुणम्||
(अष्टाङ्गहृदय, कल्पस्थान, ६/२२)
śāṇaṃ pāṇitalaṃ muṣṭiṃ kuḍavaṃ prasthamāḍhakam|
droṇaṃ vahaṃ ca kramaśo vijānīyāccaturguṇam||
(aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya, kalpasthāna, 6/22)


It says –

4 shana – 1 Panitala
4 Panitala – 1 Mushti
4 Musti – 1 Kudava
4 Kudava – 1 Prastha
4 Prastha – 1 Adhaka
4 Adhaka – 1 Drona
4 Drona – 1 Vaha

माषटङ्काक्षबिल्वानि कुडव: प्रस्थमाढकम् ।
राशिर्गोणि खारिकेति यथोत्तर चतुर्गुणा: ॥ शा. प्र. खं. १/३३ 
māṣaṭaṅkākṣabilvāni kuḍava: prasthamāḍhakam |
rāśirgoṇi khāriketi yathottara caturguṇā: || śā. pra. khaṃ. 1/33 

māṣa, ṭaṃka, akṣa, bilva, kuḍava, prastha, āḍhaka, rāśi, goṇī and Khari – each of these succeeding units are four times of the preceding units.

•1 masha = 750 mg
•4 māṣa = 1 ṭaṃka = 3 g  
•4 ṭaṃka = 1 akṣa = 12 g
4 akṣa = 1 bilva = 1 pala = 48 g,  
4 bilva = 1 kuḍava – 192 g
•4 kuḍava = 1 prastha = 768 g
4 prastha = 1 āḍhaka = 3.072 kg,
4 āḍhaka = 1 rāśi = Droni = 12.288 kg 
4 rāśi = 1 goṇī = 49.152 kg
•4 goṇī = 1 khārī = 196.60 kg

Kalinga Mana

Sharangadharokta Kalinga mana

12 Gaura sarshapa1 Yava
2 Yava1 Gunja (ratti) 125 grams
3 Gunja1 Valla – 375 grams
8 Gunjas1 Masha – 1000 mg – 1 gram
4 Masha1 Shana – 4 grams
6 Masha1 Gadyanaka – 6 grams
10 Masha1 Karsha – 10 grams
4 Karsha1 Pala (10 Shana) – 40grams
4 Pala1 Kudava – 160 grams

Pautava mana of Rasavagbhata

6 Anu1 Triti
6 Triti1 Liksha
6 Liksha1 Yuka
6 Yuka1 Raja
6 Raja1 Sarshapa
6 Sarshapa1 Yava
6 Yava1 Gunja
2 Gunja1 Nishpava
3 Gunja1 Valla
2 Valla1 Masha
2 Masha1 Dharana
2 Dharana1 Shana (Nishka, Kala)
2 Nishka1 Kola (Vataka)
2 Kola1 Tola (Karsha)_
2 Karsha1 Shukti
2 Shukti1 Pala
2 Pala1 Prasruta
2 Prasruta1 Kudava (Anjali)
2 Kudava1 Manika
2 Manika1 Prastha
2 Prastha1 Subha
2 Shubha1 Adhaka
4 Adhaka1 Drona (Kumbha, Nalvana, Armana)
100 Pala1 Tula
4000 Pala1 Bhara

Bharateeya Pautava Mana

6 Ratti1 Aanaa weight
24 Ratti4 Aanaa weight
48 Ratti8 Aanaa weight
96 Ratti1 Rupee weight
5 Tola1 Chataka
4 Chataka1 Pava
8 Chataka0.5 Sera
16 Chataka1 Sera
40 Sera1 Mana
27 Mana1 Ton

Druvaya mana / druvaya māna

It is used mesure the capacity or volume of liquid substances. Smallest unit of Druvaya mana is ‘Bindu’. One Bindu is equal to the quantity of liquid in a drop, which falls from index finger after it is ligted from it.
Only available units of Druvaya mana are:

8 Bindu1 Shana (16 drops ill make 1 ml)
32 Bindu1 Shukti
64 Bindu1 Panishukti
Kudava patraA vessel measuring four angula length, breadth and depth.

Payya mana – Length

It is used in the measurement of length, breadth, height etc. The basic unit of Payya mana is ‘Yava’. One yava is equal to the diameter of the center of one barley grain.

Measurement of time

AYURVEDA UNITEQUIVALENT TO (IN MODERN UNITS)
1 Yavodara0.24 cm
1 Angula1.95 cm
1 Vitasti22.86
1 Aratni41.91 cm
1 Hasta45.72 cm
1 Rajahasta/1 Nrupahasta55.88 cm
1 Vyama182.88 cm

Samaya mana / samaya māna

It is used in the measurement of time, The basic unit of Samaya mana is ‘Matra’. Matra is the time required for blinking the eye for once.

Measurement of time

AYURVEDA UNITEQUIVALENT TO (IN MODERN UNITS)
1 Kshana0.4 seconds
1 Laava0.8 seconds
1 Nimesha1.5 seconds
1 Kastha4.66 seconds
1 Kala2 minutes 20 seconds
1 Ghati24 minutes
1 Muhurta48 minutes
1 Yama3 hours
1 Ahoratra24 hours
1 Paksha15 days
1 Masa30 days/1 month
1 Rutu2 months
1 Ayana6 months
1 Samvatsara12 months/1 year
1 Yuga5 years

Importance of Mana Paribhasha

Time of raw drug collection
Eg: Branches, leaves = raining season and spring season.
Root is usually collected in Summer and winter
Bark – Sharath (Autumn) season. etc
Taking appropriate number and quantity of ingredients,
Controlling the amount of heat
Processing for a particular amount of time
Eg: Pishti (paste prepared out of gems.)
Mukta pishti – Purified pearls + rose water / aloe vera juice and triturate in Khalva yantra (mortar and pestle) for 1 Yama = 3 hours of time -> Mukta pishti -> hypertension, fever treatment, Pitta disorders such as bleeding disorders etc.
Deciding on the raw material: final product ratio, loss etc matters related to Ayurvedic medicine manufacturing is entirely dependant upon māna paribhāṣā.
Dose of the medicine
Dose of Prakṣepa = spices added at the end
Dose of anupāna= co drink
Preparation of Ahara kalpanās = food preparation

Taking appropriate amount of ingredients for medicine making
In any formulation the proportion of ingredients is crucial for its efficacy. The quantity mentioned specifically for the respective preparations should not be changed. If changed, then the quality of the medicine suffers or the preparation may go wrong.

Example of Chyawanprash
Take 500 Amla fruit – suspend it in water + herbs -> Kashaya -> Filter.
Take out pulp.
Pulp + Kashaya + sugar candy + ghee -> heat.
Then add honey + spices (prakshepa).
Measurement at each step above is very crucial.

Amount of heat in herb preparations (kashaya (herbal tea) , Avaleha (jams) etc:
•The amount of heat is usually common when we are dealing with only herbs (without metals, minerals etc.)
•Usually Mandagni – low fire / mild fire is the preferred amount of heat.
•Once the kashaya (decoction) reaches the boiling point (100 degree celsius), usually the fire is reduced to maintain between 90 degree celsius.
•In this heat itself, the kashaya will still be boiling due to conduction, convection forms of heat.

•In any herbal preparation, over heat / Teekshnagni should be strictly avoided.
•If heat is increased, herbs will get burnt.
•Potency is lost.
•Charred herbs may settle down at bottom of the vessel and they stick to the bottom of vessel. This will destroy the quality of the entire batch of liquid herbal medicine.

Controlling the amount of heat:
•In any process involving heat, the specific amount of heat given decides the quality of the product.
•e.g. in giving gajapuṭa of heat, 1000 upala (cow dung cakes) should be used = 800-900 degree celsius
•Maha Puta – Heat generated by burning 1500 cow dung cakes = 950 degree celsius

Eg: Pravala Bhasma preparation – coral calx
Purification – Shodhana -> pound into fine powder + shathavari swarasa or aloe vera juice or cow milk -> grind it -> prepare cake -> taken in a closed mud container -> 1 gaja Puta heat
800 – 900 degree Celsius for 3 – 4 hours. 

Processing for a particular amount of time:

e.g. If milk is used in preparation of any oil / ghee, then heat processing of oil should be done in two days time.
Swarasa (juice extract) – 3 days
Takra (buttermilk), Aranala(fermented liquids) . – 5 days
Kwatha prepared with roots and climbers – 12 days
Vrihidhanya (grains) and Mamsarasa (meat soup) – 1 day (Samisha mahamasha taila)
Black gram as main ingredient, along with goat meat.
This oil is used for treating paralisys, muscle weakness,
Muscular dystrophy, gait disturbances, parkionson’s disease.

Knowledge of raw material: final product ratio, loss etc:

•It is important to predict the final yield of medicines. This can be done on trial and error method. With the help of māna, we can know the raw materials: final product quantity ratio by repeated observation.
•e.g. in svarṇa bhasma  (gold) manufacturing, there should be absolutely no loss.

Dose of medicine:

•māna plays vital role in fixing the dose of medicine. Right medicine will be efficacious only in right dose. Each dosage form should be given in appropriate dosage to obtain the desired results in the patient.

Eg: Juice extract – Swarasa – half pala – 24 g if prepared from fresh herb.

48 ml if prepared by boiling the herbs with water.

Quantity of prakṣepa –
spices added to herbal jams
Quantity of prakṣepa is specified for specific dosage forms.
e.g.  for kwātha, the quantity of cūrṇa prakṣepa is 1 śāṇa.

For swarasa – juice extract –

Based on requirement, to the Swarasa, honey, Jaggery, Kshara, cumin seed powder, black salt, ghee, oil or herbal powders can be added in a dose of 1 Kola – 6 grams.

Quantity of anupāna:
Anupāna which is given along with some main medicine, also should be administered in particular quantity.

e.g. anupāna/co-drink – general dose is told as 48 ml.

Preparation of āhāra kalpanā
In  all food preparations, the amount and ratio of dhānya and water etc to be added are also mentioned by following māna (measurements) only.
E.g. –  
For preparing maṇḍa kalpanā,
•śāli dhānya (rice / grains) – 1 part
•Water – 14 parts are taken.
Hence for any medicine manufacturing, māna plays a vital role.



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