Nagaratna/ Cobra Jewel, Rubies and Emeralds in Brhat Samhita

3 stones in 1

Written by London swaminathan

Research Paper No 1643; Date:- 11th February 2015

Varahamihira devoted sixty six verses for gem stones in his Sanskrit encyclopaedia Brhat Samhita. He was more interested in pearls than any other gem stones in the Nava Ratna. He dealt with pearls in 36 verses but dismissed Emerald in a single verse.

He says that gem stones are beneficial. About emeralds, he says,

Suka vamsa pathra kadali sirisa kusuma prabham gunopetham

Sura pithru karyam marakatham athiva subadham nrunaam vihitham

“An emerald of the hue of parrots’ wings, bamboo leaves, banana trunk (greyish yellow) or Sirisa flower (Albizza lebbeck in whitish yellow colour) and of good qualities is highly beneficial to people when they wear it at ceremonies in honour of Gods and Manes.


Emerald Stones from Colombia, South America

Snigda prabhaanulepi swachcho archismaan guru susamsthana:

Antha prabo athirago maniratna gunaa: samasthaanaam

The general qualities of all excellent gems are smoothness, illumination with rays, purity, sparkle heaviness, fine shape, brilliance within and bright redness.

This verse proves that gems have spiritual powers that can be utilized both for remedial and progressive purposes.

He says that rubies are born of sulphur (Saugandika), Kuruvinda (corundum) and crystal.

Padmaraga, Manikya,Kuruvinda are all red colour stones.


Ruby Stone

Nagaratna (Snake Jewel)!!

Varahamihira gives interesting information about Nagaratna (Cobra Jewel). The lore about Cobra jewel is found in 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature and in Sanskrit literature. Shakespeare also heard about it and used his in his drama ‘As you Like it’:

Please read my research paper, “How did Shakespeare know about the Indian Cobra Jewel-Nagaratna?”– Posted on 1 October 2011.

Varahamihira says, “It is said that on the head of the serpents there is a gem with the hue of a bee or peacock’s neck, and shining like the flame of a lamp. Such a gem is to be known as of inestimable value”.

Bramara siki kanta varnor Deepasikasaprabho Bhujanganaam

Bhavati mani khila murdhani yo anargheya: sa vignjeya:

“A king who wears such a serpent gem will never have troubles arising from poison and diseases. Indra will always be pouring good rains in his realms, and as a result of the intrinsic power of the gem he will annihilate his enemies”.


Opal Stones

Price List of Rubies 1500 years ago:-

Ruby weighing a Pala (i.e. 4 karsas) = 26,000 silver pieces or Karsapanas

Ruby weighing half Pala (i.e. 2 karsas = 12,000

Ruby weighing 8 Masas or Rattis= 3000

Four masa weight= 1000

It is very interesting to compare the price of diamonds and pearls (Please see my earlier two papers on Diamonds and Pearls. I Have also given the Tables for Weights)

Earlier Research Articles on Gem Stones in Literature:

Eight Types of Pearls, posted on 9 Feb.2015

Gemmology in Brhat Samhita, posted 8 Feb.2015






Corundum (Kuruvinda in Sanskrit, Kuruntha in Tamil)

Gem Stones in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature

13th February 2012

Pearls in the Vedas and Tamil Literature- posted by me on 17 May 2014

Lord Krishna’s Diamond in USA? –  posted on 23 April 2012


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