Two Famous Board Games Gifted To World By Ancient India
Two Famous Board Games Gifted To World By Ancient India
In olden days, our ancient seers had designed several games for the upliftment of our spiritual development and mental development as well. This time, I am going to dig deep to find out the origin of two widely played board games around the world…. which are none other than ‘Snakes & Ladders’ and ‘ Chess’.
Snakes & Ladders
Every kid in every household knows the snake and ladder board game. But very little is known to children about its relevance in ancient India..
The board game, today called Snakes and Ladders, originated in ancient India, where it was known with the name MOKSHAPAT or MOKSHA PATAM. It’s not exactly known when or who invented it, though it’s believed the game was being played at a time as early as 2nd century BC. Several researchers opine that poet-saint Gyandev had developed this game…..but that has not been unanimously confirmed.
Role of virtues(ladders) and vices(snakes)
Modern day Snakes & Ladders board
The game was associated with traditional Hindu philosophy. The game taught about the effects and consequences of evil and good deeds.It contained many symbolic images, including snakes and ladders . At the top of the board were pictures of God and the like, while at the bottom were pictures of animals and people.The ladder was a symbol of different virtues like faith, generosity, compassion, humility etc… while the snake was a symbol of vices like anger, greed, igo, jealousy etc…
The underlying message of the game was that salvation( that is…reaching at the last square denoting 100) comes from good deeds. It was only after British rule in India the game became known worldwide…In the US , the same game is called ” Chutes and ladders”.
I hope. .the phrase ‘back to square one’ is thought to have originated from this game of ‘snakes and ladders’ . The reason is obvious. After death ,when someone gets rebirth and starts a new life, then it is nothing other than ‘back to square one’. That means back to the original place of inception without any progress having been made. So the underlying message of the game is great deeds take us to paradise and evil and unethical practices lead us to a cycle of rebirth.
The Game of Chess
The game of intellectuals, which is none other than chess was also developed in ancient India….In the old days , this game was principally being played by imperial families . During those days, the name of chess was Chaturanga (Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग).
A rockcut Chaturanga playingboard found from Indus Valley Civilization area which is approximately 4400yrs old.
Relief of Shiva Parbati, playing a certain board game called CHAUPAR , believed to belong to 10th century A.D. Kalachuri Dynasty.
Displayed at Rani Durgavati Museum, Jabalpur
As indicated by Shiva Purana and Skanda Purana, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were playing CHAUPAR ( a kind of dice game being played on a board) . This game CHAUPAR is being considered as the precursor of Chaturanga with some alternations. In the game Lord Shiva betted his spear, his drum and even Nandi( His carrier,the bull). Furthermore, loses them all to Goddess Parbati. While he needs to stop the game, she needs to continue playing. In the interim, in the base line Ganesh and Skanda watch this heavenly round of win and lose. Shiva ‘s ‘ganas’ attempt to play with the bull. It’s anything but an euphoric second, loaded with fun and giggling. Here the underlying message is a genuine one : the dice is time, the pieces are the individuals ( or people who are nothing but dolls perfectly in the control of time). Our fortunes change as the time changes. Notwithstanding our astuteness (Shiva), at last Nature (Parvati) wins. Our inventiveness (Ganesh) our ruinous motivation ( Skanda) simply observe as a passive spectator. Like the bull, our faculties should be controlled. Nature is incomparable having ultimate authority.
Lord Krishna playing Chaturanga with his consort Radha, 18th century miniature.
Chaturanga is an old Indian policy and technique game that is commonly speculated to be the basic progenitor of the board games like chess, xiangqi( Chinese Chess Variant), shogi( Japanese Chess Variant), sittuyin( Burmese Chess Variant) and makruk( Thai Chess Variant).
The word Chaturanga in a real sense signifies “four limbed”.The name comes from a fight arrangement referenced in the Indian epic Mahabharata, alluding to four divisions of a military, specifically elephantry, chariotry, cavalry and infantry.
Chaturanga was played on a 8×8 uncheckered board, otherwise called ashtāpada ( literally implies eight squares on both sides of the board).
It has been ascertained that Chaturanga was being played during the Gupta Empire in India in the sixth century CE. During the seventh century, it was embraced as chatrang (shatranj) in Sassanid Persia, which thus was the type of chess brought to late-archaic Europe
Banabhatta’s Harsha Charita (c. AD 625) contains the earliest reference to the name chaturanga . Harsha Charita is the lifestory of the king Harsha and Banabhatta was his court poet.
An early reference to this old Indian board game is several times credited to Subandhu in his Vasavadatta, dated between the fifth and seventh century AD.
In Arabic, a large portion of the phrasing of chess is brought straightly from chaturanga. Modern chess itself is called shatranj in Arabic, and the ‘Bishop’ is known as the ‘Elephant’ .
The game was first acquainted with the West in Thomas Hyde’s De ludis orientalibus libri duo, printed and made available in 1694. Consequently, interpretations of Sanskrit records of the game were printed and made available by Sir William Jones.
The incredible thing about conventional Indian games is that they’re so natural to set up and play and the playing equipments are not expensive at all…. At the same time, these games impart a great deal of vital, scholarly and profound learning to the inquisitive minds of the children . Mahabharata and Ramayana are sagas that should be an essential part of the school educational program, similarly as Iliad and Odyssey are instructed in the West as significant markers of western civilisation. Notwithstanding, the information and knowledge should be bestowed in such a pleasant way that will associate with the family value system so as to nurture our children as conscientious and responsible world citizens……🤔🙏🙏🌹. Please never forget to deliver your valuable opinions in the comment section below.If you would like to get informed,everytime I post something new, then please click the follow button .
Dr. Manoj Mishra
A game of human chess in Leningrad, Russia 1924