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Unit system Arthashastra
Unit of length
Symbol Yojan 
Unit conversions
1 Yojan in ... ... is equal to ...
   SI units    12300 m <-- based on standard used for the Kos (unit) wiki article -->
   imperial/US units    7.64 mi
403408 ft

A Yojana (Sanskrit: योजन) is a Vedic measure of distance that was used in ancient India. A Yojana is about 12–15 km. (i.e. 4 Kosh = 1 Yojana and 1 kosh is 2 - 3.5 km)

Yojana as per "Vishnu Purana"[edit]

Yojana is defined in Chapter 6 of Book 1 of the ancient vedic text “Vishnu Purana” as follows:[1]

Clearly defined[edit]

Measurement Equals to... (in Hindu measurement) Notes
10 Paramanus 1 Parasúkshma Paramanu refers to atom.
10 Parasúkshmas 1 Trasarenu
10 Trasarenus 1 Mahírajas (particle of dust)
10 Mahírajas 1 Bálágra (hair’s point)
10 Bálágra 1 Likhsha
10 Likhsha 1 Yuka
10 Yukas 1 Yavodara (heart of barley)
10 Yavodaras 1 Yava (barley grain of middle size)
10 Yava 1 Aṅgula (finger-breadth) 1.89 cm or approx 3/4 inch – here angula doesn't mean 1 inch rather 3/4 inch
6 fingers 1 Pada (the breadth of a foot) other sources define this unit differently: see Pada (foot)
2 Padas 1 Vitasti (span)
2 Vitasti 1 Hasta (cubit)
4 Hastas [1] Dhanu
1 Danda 2 Nárikás equals 6 feet (1.8 m) [1] Paurusa (a man’s height)
2000 Dhanus 1 Gavyuti (distance to which a cow’s call or lowing can be heard) 12,000 feet (3.7 km)
4 Gavyutis 1 Yojana
1 Yojana 5 miles or 8 kilometers

Variations on length[edit]

The length of the yojana varies depending on the different standards adopted by different Indian astronomers; in the Surya Siddhanta of the 5th century, for example, a yojana was equivalent to 8.0 km (5 mi),[2] and the same was true for Aryabhata's Aryabhatiya (499).[3] However, 14th century scholar Paramesvara defined the yojana to be about 1.5 times larger, equivalent to about 13 km (8 mi).[2] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gives the equivalent length of a yojana as about 13 km (8 mi)[4] throughout his translations of the Bhagavata Purana. Some other traditional Indian scholars give measurements between 6.4 km and 8 km (4–5 miles) or thereabouts.[citation needed] In The Ancient Geography of India, Alexander Cunningham says that a yojana is traditionally held to be between 8 and 9 miles and calculates by comparison with Chinese units of length that it could have been between 6.7 mi (10.8 km) and 8.2 mi (13.2 km).[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vishnu Purana, Translated to English: 45:6 In the other three Puráńas, in which this legend has been found, the different kinds of inhabited places are specified and p. 46 introduced by a series of land measures. Thus the Márkańd́eya states, that 10 Paramáńus = 1 Parasúkshma; 10 Parasúkshmas = 1 Trasareńu; 10 Trasareńus = 1 particle of dust, or Mahírajas; 10 Mahírajasas = 1 Bálágra, 'hair's point;' 10 Bálágras = 1 Likhyá; 10 Likhyás= 1 Yúka; to Yúkas = 1 heart of barley (Yavodara); 10 Yavodaras = 1 grain of barley of middle size; 10 barley grains = 1 finger, or [an] inch; 6 fingers = a Pada, or foot (the breadth of it); 2 Padas = 1 Vitasti, or span; 2 spans = 1 Hasta, or cubit; 4 Hastas = a Dhanu, a Danda, or staff, or 2 Nárikás; 2000 Dhanus = a Gavyúti; 4 Gavyútis = a Yojana. The measurement of the Brahmáńd́a is less detailed. A span from the thumb to the first finger is a Pradeśa; to the middle finger, a Nála; to the third finger, a Gokerna; and to the little finger, a Vitasti, which is equal to twelve Angulas, or fingers; understanding thereby, according to the Váyu, a joint of the finger; according to other authorities, it is the breadth of the thumb at the tip. (A. R. 5. 104.) The Váyu, giving similar measurements upon the authority of Manu, although such a statement does not occur in the Manu Sanhitá, adds, that 21 fingers = 1 Ratni; 24 fingers = 1 Hasta, or cubit; 2 Ratnis = 1 Kishku; 4 Hastas = 1 Dhanu; 2000 Dhanus = l Gavyúti; and 8000 Dhanus = 1 Yojana. Durgas, or strong holds, are of four kinds; three of which are natural, from, their situation in mountains, amidst water, or in other inaccessible spots; the fourth is the artificial defences of a village (Gráma), a hamlet (Khet́aka), or a city (Pura or Nagara), which are severally half the size of the next in the series. The best kind of city is one which is about a mile long by half a mile broad, built in the form of a parallelogram, facing the northeast, and surrounded by a high wall and ditch. A hamlet should be a Yojana distant from a city: a village half a Yojana from a hamlet, the roads leading to the cardinal points from a city should be twenty Dhanus (above too feet) broad: a village road should be the same: a boundary road ten Dhanus: a royal or principal road or street should be ten Dhanus (above fifty feet) broad: a cross or branch road should be four Dhanus. Lanes and paths amongst the houses are two Dhanus in breadth: footpaths four cubits: the entrance of a house three cubits: the private entrances and paths about the mansion of still narrower dimensions, such were the measurements adopted by the first builders of cities, according to the Puráńas specified.
  2. ^ a b Richard Thompson (1997), "Planetary Diameters in the Surya-Siddhanta", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 11 (2): 193–200 [196] 
  3. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Aryabhata I", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
  4. ^ Srimad Bhagavatam 10.57.18 (translation) "one yojana measures about eight miles"
  5. ^ Alexander Cunningham, Measures of Distance. Yojana, Li, Krosa. in The Ancient Geography of India: I. I. The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang, Trübner and Company, 1871, pp. 571-574

Further reading[edit]