COSS, s. The most usual popular measure of distance in India, but like the mile in Europe, and indeed like the mile within the British Islands up to a recent date, varying much in different localities.

The Skt. word is krosa, which also is a measure of distance, but originally signified ‘a call,’ hence the distance at which a man’s call can be heard.1

In the Pali vocabulary called Abhidhanappadipika, which is of the 12th century, the word appears in the form koss; and nearly this, kos, is the ordinary Hindi. Kuroh is a Persian form of the word, which is often found in Mahommedan authors and in early travellers. These latter (English) often write course. It is a notable circumstance that, according to Wrangell, the Yakuts of N. Siberia reckon distance by kiosses (a word which, considering the Russian way of writing Turkish and Persian words, must be identical with kos). With them this measure is “indicated by the time necessary to cook a piece of meat.” Kioss is=to about 5 versts, or 1 2/3 miles, in hilly or marshy country, but on plain ground to 7 versts, or 2 1/3 miles.2 The Yakuts are a Turk people, and their language is a Turki dialect. The suggestion arises whether the form kos may not have come with the Mongols into India, and modified the previous krosa? But this is met by the existence of the word kos in Pali, as mentioned above.

In ancient Indian measurement, or estimation, 4 krosas went to the yojana. Sir H. M. Elliot deduced from distances in the route of the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hian that the yojana of his age was as nearly as possible 7 miles. Cunningham makes it 7½ or 8, Fergusson 6; but taking Elliot’s estimate as a mean, the ancient kos would be 1m miles.

The kos as laid down in the Ain [ed. Jarrett, iii. 414] was of 5000 gaz [see GUDGE]. The official decision of the British Government has assigned the length of Akbar’s Ilahi gaz as 33 inches, and this would make Akbar’s kos = 2 m. 4 f. 183 1/3 yards. Actual measurement of road distances between 5 pair of Akbar’s kos-minars,3 near Delhi, gave a mean of 2 m. 4 f. 158 yards.

In the greater part of the Bengal Presidency the estimated kos is about 2 miles, but it is much less as you approach the N.W. In the upper part of the Doab, it is, with fair accuracy, 1¼ miles. In Bundelkhand again it is nearly 3 m. (Carnegy), or, according to Beames, even 4 m. [In Madras it is 2¼ m., and in Mysore the Sultani kos is about 4 m.] Reference may be made on this subject to Mr. Thomas’s ed. of Prinsep’s Essays, ii. 129; and to Mr. Beames’s ed. of Elliot’s Glossary (“The Races of the N.-W. Provinces,” ii. 194). The latter editor remarks that in several parts of the country there are two kinds of kos, a pakka and a kachcha kos, a double system which pervades all the weights and measures of India; and which has prevailed also in many other parts of the world [see PUCKA].

c. 500.—“A gavyutih (or league—see GOW) is two krosas.”—Amarakosha, ii. 2, 18.

c. 600.—“The descendant of Kukulstha (i.e. Rama) having gone half a krosa.…”—Raghuvamsa, xiii. 79.

c. 1340.—“As for the mile it is called among the Indians al-Kuruh.”—Ibn Batuta, iii. 95.

„ “The Sultan gave orders to assign me” a certain number of villages.… They were at a distance of 16 Kuruhs from Dihli.”—Ibn Batuta, 388.

c. 1470.—“The Sultan sent ten viziers to encounter him at a distance of ten Kors (a kor is equal to 10 versts).…”—Ath. Nikitin, 26, in India in the XVth Cent.

„ “From Chivil to Jooneer it is 20 Kors; from Jooneer to Beder 40; from Beder to Kulongher, 9 Kors; from Beder to Koluberg, 9.”—Ibid. p. 12.

1528.—“I directed Chikmâk Beg, by a writing under the royal hand and seal, to measure the distance from Agra to Kâbul; that at every nine kos he should raise a minâr or turret, twelve gez in height, on the top of which he was to construct a pavilion.…”—Baber, 393.

1537.—“…that the King of Portugal should hold for himself and all his descendants, from this day forth for aye, the Port of the City of Mangualor (in Guzerat) with all its privileges, revenues, and jurisdiction, with 2½ coucees round about.…”—Treaty in S. Botelho, Tombo, 225.

c. 1550.—“Being all unmanned by their love of Raghoba, they had gone but two Kos by the close of day, then scanning land and water they halted.”—Ramayana of Tulsi Das, by Growse, 1878, p. 119.

[1604.—“At the rate of four coss (Coces) the league by the calculation of the Moors.”—Couto, Dec. XII., Bk. I. cap. 4.]

1616.—“The three and twentieth arrived at Adsmeere, 219 Courses from Brampoore, 418 English miles, the Courses being longer than towards the Sea.”—Sir T. Roe, in Purchas, i. 541; [Hak. Soc. i. 105].

“ “The length of these forenamed Provinces is North-West to South-East, at the least 1000 Courses, every Indian Course being two English miles.”—Terry, in Purchas, ii. 1468.

1623.—“The distance by road to the said city they called seven cos, or coru, which is all one; and every cos or coru is half a ferseng or league of Persia, so that it will answer to a little less than two Italian [English] miles.”—P. della Valle, ii. 504; [Hak. Soc.i. 23].

1648.—“…which two Coss are equivalent to a Dutch mile.”—Van Twist, Gen. Beschrijv. 2.

1666.—“…une cosse qui est la mesure des Indes pour l’espace des lieux, est environ d’une demi-lieue.”—Thevenot, v. 12.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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