A yojana (Sanskrit: योजन; Thai: โยชน์; Burmese: ယူဇနာ) is a measure of distance that was used in ancient India, Thailand and Myanmar. A yojana is about 12–15 km.

Unit systemArthashastra
Unit oflength
1 Yojan in ...... is equal to ...
   SI units   m
   Imperial/US units   mi

Edicts of Ashoka (3rd century BCE)Edit

Ashoka, in his Major Rock Edict No.13, gives a distance of 600 yojanas between India, presumably Pataliputra, and "where the Yona king named Antiyoga (is ruling)", identified as King Antiochus II Theos, whose capital was in Babylone.[1] Since Pataliputra and Babylone are at a distance of about 4000 km, this would give a yojana of about 7 km.

....And this (conquest) has been won repeatedly by Devanampriya both [here] and among all (his) borderers, even as far as at (the distance of) six hundred yojanas where the Yona king named Antiyoga (is ruling), and beyond this Antiyoga, (where) four kings (are ruling), (viz, the king) named Tulamaya, (the king) named Antekina, (the king) named Maka, (and the king) named Alikyashudala, (and) likewise towards the south, (where) the Chodas and Pandyas (are ruling), as far as Tamraparni.

— 13th Major Rock Edict. Translation by E. Hultzsch (1857-1927). Published in India in 1925. Inscriptions of Asoka p.43. Public Domain.

Yojana as per "Vishnu Purana"Edit

Yojana is defined in Chapter 6 of Book 1 of the Vishnu Purana(one of the eighteen Mahapuranas) as follows:[2]


Measurement Equals to... (in Hindu measurement) Notes
10 paramanu 1 parasúkshma Paramanu refers to atom.[3]
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 does not 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 at which a cow's call or lowing can be heard) 12,000 feet (3.7 km)
4 gavyutis 1 yojana
1 yojana around 15 kilometers

Variations on lengthEdit

The length of the yojana varies depending on the different standards adopted by different Indian astronomers. In the Surya Siddhanta (late 4th-century CE-early 5th-century CE), for example, a yojana was equivalent to 8.0 km (5 mi),[4] and the same was true for Aryabhata's Aryabhatiya (499).[5] However, 14th century mathematician Paramesvara defined the yojana to be about 1.5 times larger, equivalent to about 13 km (8 mi).[4] A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gives the equivalent length of a yojana as about 13 km (8 mi)[6] throughout his translations of the Bhagavata Purana. Some[who?] 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).[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka p.43
  2. ^ 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 100 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.
  3. ^ "Legends of Science: Kanada – Discoverer of the Atom". 18 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b Richard Thompson (1997), "Planetary Diameters in the Surya-Siddhanta", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 11 (2): 193–200 [196][unreliable source?]
  5. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Aryabhata I", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews
  6. ^ Srimad Bhagavatam 10.57.18 (translation) "one yojana measures about eight miles"
  7. ^ 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 readingEdit