Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy (b. 1935) belongs to a scholarly family hailing from Ardikoppa and Sringeri. After obtaining Master's degree and Ph.d. degree in Indology, he studied at Harvard University (USA) as a Fulbright scholar.
After a brief service in the Archaeological Survey of India, he joined Mysore University and retired as Professor and Head of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeol-ogy. He was also a UGC Emeritus Fellow.
Prof. Murthy is an internationally acclaimed numismatist and has been honoured by many gold medals from The Numismatic Society of India, Banares Hindu University, Varanasi. He was also its General Secretary and President. He is also the General Secretary of South Indian Numismatic Society, Chennai. He has A!-. published many books in English and Kannada among which mention should be made of Coins and Currency System in Karnataka, Studies in Karnataka Numismatics. Early Historic Archaeology and Numismatics of Karnataka, f Coins and Currency System of the Vijayana-gara Empire, The Sevunas of Devagiri, Archaeology of Karnataka etc. Scholarly world honoured Prof. Murthy with a Felicitation Volume (2 parts) titled Narasimhapriya. Widely travelled in India and abroad Prof. Murthy is now the Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mysore Kendra. In this book, the author has given a comprehensive account of our coin Heritage in a lucid manner.
Study of Indian coins is a fascinating branch of Indology started by Western scholars atleast two hundred years ago. It was continued by Indian scholars and today it has grown into an academic discipline with its own methods and aims. The development of museums in and outside the country has further encouraged the study and appreciation of our coin heritage. Literally thousands of coin collectors spread all over the country have popularised the study of this subject. Numismatic organisations, coin societies and coin clubs have taken birth in different parts of the country and have been rendering yeoman service to the coin heritage. The numismatic study and research have gained academic status in universities also.
Encouraged by these developments, scholars have written excellent monographs on coins of a particular region, dynasty or compiled catalogues of coins in various museums and they have become popular among and useful to serious students and research scholars. However, scholars have not shown the same enthusiasm in writing popular books on Indian coins devoid of technical and academic discussions, which project our genius in the field of coinage. Educating our public regarding the value of our coin heritage which induces them to preserve our valuable heritage is the need of the hour. I have written this work with this aim in view so that an intelligent common reader could get a bird's eye view of our coin heritage in all its aspects.
This book contains ten chapters. The first one is in the form of an introduction, while the next chapter discusses the technology of minting. The third chapter focusses attention on the special features of our coinage. The next five chapters are devoted to a study of coins of various dynasties from the ancient period to the modern times. The ninth chapter highlights the part played by coins in understanding the religious and cultural conditions of the various periods. Finally there is an evaluation of our coinage as made by ancient and medieval foreign travellers.
In writing this book, I have received help from many scholars and coin collectors for the past many years, in addition to my own research. Actually, the real inspiration behind this book is my revered friend Prof B.V. Subbarayappa, an eminent scientist and project Co-ordinator and Member Secretary of the National Commission for the History of Science in India. He requested me to write an article on 'Coinage in India - A perspective' which was published in volume IV, part I titled Chemistry and Chemical Techniques in India, edited by him under the General Editorship of Dr. D.P. Chattopadhyaya in the project 'History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization' (1999, New Delhi, pp.106-147). The present book is a modified, updated, enlarged and restructured version of the above article. I am grateful to the authorities of the above project, particularly to Prof B.V. Subbarayappa for according permission to republish the same in the present form and title.
I am also grateful to Prof. B.N. Mukherjee, well known scholar and numismatist for permitting me to reproduce the illustrations of the technology of coinage, originally published by him in the book 'Technology of Indian Coinage' by B.N. Mukherjee and P.K.D. Lee, Indian Museum, Calcutta, 1988.
I am singularly fortunate that pujya Dr. D. Veerendra Heggadeji, Dharmadhikari of Sri Kshetra, Dharmasthala gave me an opportunity to prepare a catalogue of coins in the museum, Manjusha, at Dharmasthala. This broadened my horizon of numismatics. During this period I could visualise the visionary activities, discipline, concern for the poor and education and above all his interest in preserving and nourishing our great heritage. The Dharmotthana Trust working under the guidance of the Swamiji has been renovating ancient temples all over the country. His interest in numismatics was attested to when the Sri Kshetra hosted All India Numismatic Conference in 1992.
The study of coins of any country helps us to take a peek into the history and the culture of the inhabitants of that country. Though diminutive in size, coins are a rich source from which one can make an authentic study about the political, religious and cultural history of the people.
Indian coins, perhaps, are among the most ancient coins of the world. Indians have been using coins more than 3000 years ago and have won the admiration of the ancient and medievel world. In terms of variety, technical virtuosity and as a source of valuable information Indian coins are rated as the richest by the students of numismatics all over the world. Depiction of Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Lord Vishnu, Lord Siva, Mother Lakshmi, Lord. Venkateswara, Mother Durga, Lord Hanuman, Garuda and Nandi and Buddha and later of the Christian Cross and Saint Mark etc., on Indian coins reveals interesting data. The gold coins of the Gupta period and of the illustrious Vijayanagara Kings, the Moghals and the Sultans are a source of excellente in calligraphy and are prized for their value by connoisseurs of numismatics and its students.
The fascinating story of coins is graphically told in this book by the learned author who is an expert in Indian numismatics, the science of coinage. This is written in a lucid style so that it will be useful for common readers, students, coin collectors and those who are interested in the study of Indian culture. I thank Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy for offering this work' as a publication of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I also thank Sri N. Ramanuja, Chairman, BVB, Karnataka, for making this scholarly work part of the valuable Bhavan's Book University. I am sure that this book will inspire the younger generations to take up the study of Indian coins and also inspire them to collect coins as a useful and cultural hobby.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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