Hindu scriptures have always considered dāna or giving gifts to worthy and needy persons as an act of great religious merit.
Gifts of certain kinds are called mahādānas or great gifts. (See MAHĀ-DĀNAS.) Out of them the tulāpuruṣa (or tulābhāra) is also one. It consists mainly in weighing oneself against gold and distributing it to the guru, the priests and other worthy persons.
The whole procedure consists of religious rites like homa (offering oblations into a duly consecrated fire), worshipping the tulā or the weighing scale specially set up and honouring the brāhmaṇas as also poor and helpless people.
Obviously only great kings could perform it.
Gradually, weighing oneself against silver, camphor or other useful materials and donating them came into vogue. This practice is seen, sometimes, even now.
Matsyapurāṇa (Chapter 274) gives some interesting details.
See DĀNA also.