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Gold In Vedas – Ancient India

Gold is referred to in Vedas as hiranya. The metal is known to be precious from Vedic times. Gold artifacts dating to the pre-Harappan period have been reported in ancient India. Alloy of gold with silver has been mentioned in the Rig Veda. Ever since discovery in Hinduism, it has been mostly used for making murtis of gods and goddesses, jewelry, domestic utensils, decorative articles, icons, and temple decorations. In ancient times, its fine powder had been used for painting and in hieroglyphic writings. In Ayurveda, its medicinal value has been recognized.

In ancient India, gold is generally found in the sand beds of the rivers in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam. Placer deposits have been reported near Manasarovar Lake in the Himalayas,  Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh, near Hyderabad as well as at Kolar and Hatti in Karnataka. Evidence of mining of the gold-bearing rock (generally quartz) as been found at all these places. The gold ornaments of Harappa and Mohenjodaro have been reported contain ten to eleven percent silver. This gold-silver alloy is known as Electrum, and the gold from Kolar and Hatti mines has the same composition, proving beyond doubt that a gold trade was going on even as early as 2500 BCE.

Gold has been used as the medium of exchange from ancient times in international trade. Greek and Roman historians have given a detailed account of the gold trade from India. Achin has mentioned that Greek Drachmas and Roman Dinars were probably minted from Indian gold in Karnataka and exported. In the accounts of the Old Testament, Ophir has mentioned the export of silver and gold from India. Megasthenes has also mentioned the mining of gold in various parts of India during the Neolithic, Chalcolithic as well as Megalithic periods. The richness of the ancient gold industry and its trade can be inferred from the description of ancient India as the “Bird of Gold.”