In ancient India, Yuga and Yojana were two measures that were used frequently.
Yuga was used as a measure of time, while Yojana was used as a measure of distance.
In our ancient texts
For example, the Ramayana text states that the bridge, Rama Setu when it was constructed was 100 Yojana in length and the breadth was 10 Yojana.
The Ramayana Text gives the dimensions of the fort of Ayodhya as,
- 12 Yojana in the North – South direction
- 3 Yojana in the east – west direction along the river and
- 3 Yojana in width.
More on this in our book, Ayodhya, War and Peace.
Similarly, it is mentioned in our texts that Krishna, when He started constructing Dwaraka city, requested Samudra Deva, the Divinity of the Sea, to withdraw a little and provide Him land for building His city. In accordance with Krishna’s wishes Samudra Deva yielded and gave 12 Yojana (a measure) of land.
More on this in our book, Historical Krishna.
Is Yojana a fixed measure of distance, like kilometer and miles?
There are many varieties of Yojana for measuring different types of distances, such as Bhu Yojana for measuring distances on Earth scale, Bha Yojana for measuring distances with respect to light, Nara Yojana for distances with respect to man etc.
The term Yojana was more a generic unit of measure rather than a fixed measure. These units varied from region to region as they were also based on local references.
Hence with just the term Yojana, we cannot always calculate absolute values for those measures.
The Ramayana text states that the bridge, when it was constructed was 100 Yojana in length and the breadth was 10 Yojana, making it a ratio of 10:1.
Today, in the same ratio of 10:1 as mentioned in the texts, the bridge from Dhanushkodi in India to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka, measures approximately 35 km in length and 3.5 km in breadth, as is the naturally available sea ridge, the base beneath, on which it was built as an accretion.
From this, the measure of 1 Yojana is derived to be 0.35 km.
Dimensions of Rama Setu, Adam’s Bridge
More on this in our book and film, Historical Rama.
Similarly, there are other measures for Yojana in our texts.
In “Vishnu Purana” chapter 6 of book 1, a measure of Yojana is expressed. Using that we can arrive at the relationship between Yojana and Miles using the following steps:
Yojana to Miles
From the above calculation, we can derives a Yojana to be 14.63 kms, by converting miles into kms.
In the case of Rama Setu, Yojana was calculated to be .35 kms, while in the above content from Vishnu Purana, a Yojana is 14.63 kms.
Yojana as a unit of measure varies from time to time, through the ages and also from place to place, geographically.