Silver Dirham of Mahmud Ghaznavi – Mahmudpur Mint



Billah Al-Qadir

La ila illallah

Muhammad Rasul Allah

Yamin al-dawlah

Mahmud wa amin al-millat



bism allah duriba hadhal-dirham bi-mahmudpur sana tis ashr wa arba mia



बिल्लाह अल क़ादिर

ला इलाहा इल्लल्लाह मुहम्मद रसूलुल्लाह

यमीन अलदौला

महमूद व अमीन अलमिल्लत

(बीच में)


बिस्मइललाह ज़ुरिबा हज़ा अलदिरहम बी महमूदपुर सनह तिसा आशर व अरबामिया

(चारों ओर)

باللہ القادر

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله

یمین الدولہ

محمود و امین الملت

(بیچ میں)


بسم اللہ ضربہ ھذا الدرھم

بی محمود پور سنہ

تیسعہ عشر و اربعہ مائہ

(چاروں اور)



By God, Al-Qadir

There is no God but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God

The Right hand of the State, Mahmud and the Guardian of the Nation



in the name of God this dirham was struck in Mahmudpur the year nineteen and four hundred


ईश्वर के नाम से, अल क़ादिर

कोई भी परमेश्वर नहीं है, परमेश्वर के सिवा, मुहम्मद उस ईश्वर के प्रेषित हैं

सरकार का दायाँ हाथ और देश का रक्षक महमूद

(बीच में)


ईश्वर के नाम से यह दिरहम महमूदपुर में सनह चार सो उन्नीस में ढाला गया

(चारों ओर)

باللہ القادر

نہیں ہے کوئ معبود سواۓ اللہ کے محمد اللہ کے پیغمبر ہیں

سرکار کا دایاں ہاتھ اور ملت کا حامی محمود

(بیچ میں)


بسم اللہ، یہ درھم

محمودپور میں سنہ چار سو انیس میں ڈھالا گیا

(چاروں اور)



avyaktam eka muhammada


nrpati mahamudu



ayam tankam mahamudapure ghatitah tajikiyena samvati 419


अव्यक्तमेक मुहम्मद अवतार

नृपति महमूदह

(बीच में)


आयम टंकम महमूदपुर घटित:

ताजिकीएन संवती 419

(बीच में)


اوکتم ایک محمدہ اوتار نرپتی محمودہ

(بیچ میں)


آیم ٹنکم محمود پور گھٹتہ

تاجیکی ین سموتی 419

(چاروں اور)


The Unmanifested is One, Muhammad is the manifestation, Mahmud the king



This tanka was struck at Mahmudpur in the Tajikiya era 419


अव्यक्त जो है वो एक है, मुहम्मद अवतार हैं, महमूद राजा है

(बीच में)


यह टंका महमूदपुर में तुर्क संवत 419 में ढाला गया

(चारों ओर)

غیر ظاہر جو ہے وہ ایک ہے، محمد اوتار ہیں، محمود حکمران ہے

(بیچ میں)


یہ ٹنکہ محمودپور میں 419 حجری میں ڈھالا گیا

(چاروں اور)


Yamin-ud-Dawla Abul-Qasim Mahmud ibn Sebuktegin, commonly known as Mahmud Ghaznavi (reigned: 998-1030) was the founder of the Ghaznavid empire. The Ghaznavids were originally Turkish slaves of the Samanids who ruled parts of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan and central Asia. Eventually Mahmud and his father Sebuktegin were able to replace their Samanid masters and became sovereigns of Afghanistan. But ultimately, he is most well-known for his conquests in India.[i]

Over the course of the following 25 years, from 1000 to 1027 AD, he carried out 17 raids against India, carrying out massive looting, pillage, sacking, and temple destruction throughout North and Western India. His 16th campaign, however, against the Somnath Temple in 1026 AD, is the one that is most well-known in India. According to legend, Mahmud's loot during the Somnath expedition was worth 20 million dinars, or 80 times as much as his previous attack on India.

Mitresh Singh, a famed numismatist, in his paper on this coin writes: “A question usually arises whether Mahmud was simply an invader, out to plunder the riches of India, of which temples formed a significant repository of wealth hence a legitimate target, or was he guided by a missionary zeal for spreading Islam by breaking idols and destroying temples.

The answer is both. Mahmud was indeed an invader as he made no attempts to settle in India or assimilate conquered territories (except Punjab) within the ambit of the Ghaznavid Empire…. However, equally, Mahmud had made a promise to the Abbassid Caliph of waging a Jihad against India annually in return for formal recognition by the Caliph of Mahmud’s sovereign status as an independent ruler.

What Mahmud conveniently overlooked, or chose to ignore, given he was surrounded by a plethora of Islamic clerics and scholars, is the Quranic injunction as per ‘Surah Al-Hajj 22:40’, commentaries on which by Hazrat Hasan-al Basri (Ahkam al-Quran by Imam Al-Jassas 5/83) and Imam Qurtubi (Tafseer Al-Qurtubi 22:40), forbids ‘the wanton occupation, destruction or reduction of the places of worship of non-believers or coercion to abandon their religion or killing of old, feeble men, women, infant or child.’ Similar accounts are also available from the acts, and comments, of various Rashiduns who did not espouse wanton destructions of places of worship, killing of priests or stopping of worship by non-believers.”[ii]

The Coin

This coin is remarkable for having an Arabic inscription on one side and Sanskrit one on the other. The Sanskrit text is written in the erstwhile Sharada script, which is the ancestor of the modern Gurumukhi and Kashmiri script. [iii]

Mahmud was given the title of ‘Yamin al daulah’ (Right hand of the State) by the Caliph Al Qadir.

Here, Mahmudpur refers to Lahore, which had been recently captured by Mahmud from the Hindu Shahi Dynasty. This coin is also the first time that a Hijri date was used on an Indian coin. The ‘Tajikiyen Samvatiti’ is used in place of the Hejirah Era or the Islamic calender. The term Tajik was used in Sanskrit for those of Arab/West Asian descent.

Such bilingual coins only have two known dates: AH 418 and 419, which correspond to 1027 and 1028 AD, respectively, and were both struck solely from Lahore. These coins were struck nearing the end of Mahmud's rule since he passed away at Ghazna a few years later, in AH 421 or 1030 AD.

The Sanskrit Inscription

The Sanskrit translation on the reverse of the coin is said to have been created by Abu Rahyan al-Biruni (973–1050 AD), a brilliant scholar at Mahmud's court in Ghazna who travelled to India with Mahmud on several occasions. He published the treatise "Tarikh al-Hind" (History of India), a study of Indian civilization, in 1017 AD.

The Sanskrit translation of the Islamic Shahada/Kalima on the coin is the first to be considered "official." This implies a certain outreach to the conquered Hindu population because only they were expected to be able to read and comprehend the Sanskrit version of the Shahada. The term "Avyakatya" (Invisible) clearly alludes to the Unseen and All-Powerful God.[iv]

The word "Messenger or Prophet" is translated as "Avatar" in Sanskrit, which means "Descent" or "Manifestation," – the incarnation of a deity in material form to counteract some specific evil in the world. This translation is strange because Mahmud is thought to have been a devout Muslim, but it can be seen on the coin he issued.

“The bilingual dirham coin thus represents an interesting anomaly and interlude to the consistent pattern of destruction of temples and idols by Mahmud during his long and sustained campaign against India. Whether the destruction of the Somnath Temple in 1026 AD represented the ‘Final Frontier’ that finally satiated his ‘idol-destruction’ campaign and led to a waning of religious fervor, leading to the issue of such coins barely a year later in 1027-28 AD, is something we would never know. Or did the experience of the assault on Somnath, including the considerable difficulties encountered during the return to Ghazna, leading to loss of men and equipment, prove to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back; finally unified the Indians against a common aggressor, and made Mahmud wary of subsequent aggression against India?

His has left a lasting impression on the memory of the Indians that has forever poisoned the relations between the followers of two great religions in northern India”

[i] Goenka, S. G. (2022). The Coins of the Indian Sultanates: Covering the Areas of Present Day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. New Delhi: Manoharlal Publishers & Distributors.

[ii] Singh, M. (2013). Mahmud Ghaznavi: An interesting Bi-lingual Silver Dirham post Somnath expedition. World of Coins.

[iii] Mitchiner, M. (1977). Oriental coins and their values: The World of Islam. London: Hawkins Publications.

[iv]Cappelletti, S. (2016). The bilingual coins of Maḥmūd of Ghazna (r. 998-1030) Translating the medieval Indo-Islamic world between Arabic

and Sanskrit. Poster presented at the Workshop “Les Ghaznavides et leurs voisins: nouvelles recherches sur le monde iranien oriental”.