Surasena Jaanapada

The Silver Single Die Coins found in Sri Lanka

The only coins known are in the cabinet of Mr. Bell, described by the present writer in the Ceylon Antiquary; Vol. I, pt. 3, p. 178. One is a rectangular piece, 0.47 x 0.21 x 0.11 inch in size and 25.9 grains in weight. “The design”, only half of which is on the flan, ” seems to be a solar emblem, consisting of a central ball or boss from which springs a cross-wise, four lines ending in similar balls; in each space so formed in a Taurine (CA, Pl X no 3). The reverse is blank, but possibly has one indentation”- on the rest ” the design consists of a bull, or such animal, in the lower half of the area, and a (?) fish, from whose back spring long rays upwards and , backward in upper half : both objects face to the right and have before them three symbols , which appear to be (a) a crescent at the top, (b) the sun, and at the bottom (c) a Taurine. “The die is all clearly circular”1. Of the four known, two have the reverse blank, one has a few indentations. and the remaining piece one , if not two, punch marks,
1. Rectangular Size : 0.39 x 0.37 x 0.07 in. Weight : 24.4 gr Pl. 3
2. Do. Size : 0.41 x 0.33 x 0.07 in. Weight : 24.7 gr,
3. Do. Size : 0.43 x 0.31 x 0.07 in. Weight : 25.4 gr.
4. (?) Circular Size : 0.47 x .07 in. Weight : 20.6 gr Pl. 4. (C.A.Pl.X, Nos.6-10).


These Coins have been identified as belonging to Surasena Janapadaya of India.

Surasena was one of the sixteen original Mahajanapadas of the Buddhist chronicles. The name of that country is derived for the name of Sura, the King of Surasena and the father of Vasudeva and Kunti. The location is at Braj, the region around Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. The history of this Janapada is is very obscure – the ruling family is known to have styled itself “Yadava” family, and that some of their kings were closely related to the royal family of Avanti. Around 350 AD Surasena was conquered by Mahapadma Nanda of Magadha.

Mathura is mentioned in our Chronicals , Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, is one of the homes of the descendents of Mahasammata dynasty , the origin of the Sinhalese Royalty.In Fact King Vijeya sent a message to King Pandu of Mathura and obtained a Kastriya Princess , who was consecrated as his queen.She came along with many fair Maidens , Elephants withal and horses and Wagons, and a thousand craftsman of 18 guilds[ Mahavamsa Chapter VII Verse 56]. It is not surprising that these coins are found here.

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