Dice Play and Origin of Chess in Sanskrit Literature

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Dice Play and Origin of Chess in Sanskrit Literature
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It is interesting to study the origin and evolution of chess, one of the most intellectual games of the world today, and to see its roots in the dice play. The relationship between chess, caturanga and the dice-play which is discussed at length in this book is of great significance as it throws much light on the changes it has undergone from time to time. The book throws more light on its association with board games namely, board, pieces, and their movements on the board etc., besides arguing that the concept of the divinity of the king which is found in Sanskrit literature has led to the concept of immortality and Inviolability of the king both in war and in the game of chess. The principal strength of this book lies in the comprehensive range of primary sources on which it is based. It also displays great familiarity with and critical use of a wide range of secondary literature. The book proceeds logically and systematically step after step, to cover each and every aspect of dice-play and origin of chess in Sanskrit literature.


About the Author

Professor Dr C Panduranga Bhatta who superannuated from the IIM Calcutta in 2017 is a renowned Indologist and has contributed immensely to the field of Sanskrit Studies. He has taught Indology and Sanskrit at Post-Graduate level and guided many M. Phil and Ph. D students at the RKM Vivekananda College, Chennai and Pondicherry Central University. He has applied Indology to Management while teaching at the IIM Calcutta for more than 20 years. He has edited the book Pandit N.R. Bhat Felicitation Volume along with Filliozat, PS and Narang, S.P. (1994) and written the books viz., Contribution of Karnataka to Sanskrit (1997), Introduction to Sanskrit Poetics (2020), The Art of Leading in a Borderless World with Pragyan Rath (2020). Prof. Bhatta has secured Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Award in 1973 and 1975 for the distinctions achieved in Academic field and was honoured with Dewang Mehta Award in 2010 for Best Teacher in Business Ethics and Communication. He has also been honoured with a gold medal by the Association of Indian Management Schools for securing the prestigious "AIMS-ICFAI Best Teacher Award-2011". He was deputed to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations' Chair Professor of Sanskrit at Silpakorn University, Bangkok for two academic years by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.



Once upon a Time....

How many thousand books have been written about CHESS, the Indian Game Caturanga?

All we know: the number is as good as uncountable. And how many books have been written on DICE-PLAY? I would expect easily countable! This comparison is the more surprising since the History of the Game of Chess goes only 1500 years back, while the History of Dice-Play and Dice-Games is so old that know body knows!

R.C. Bell summarizes in the introduction to Volume I of his book "Board-and Table-Games from many Civilizations": "Ninety-one games are described and the oldest was played some five thousand years ago."

Stephan Puille, once archaeologist at the Roemisch GermanischeZentralmuseunm in Mainz (Germany), delegated in 1994/95 to excavations at Durankulak on the Black See in Bulgaria, discovered four knucklebones (Astragalus) which were dated "late copper time", i.e., 3500 BC, the earliest find in Europe, which even out-dates the age of gaming-pieces and dice of the Harappan-Culture, excavated in Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal, witnesses of the earliest Indus civilization. Ulrich Schädler reported of knucklebones used for gaming 5000 BC; and "Boards" (Planograms) are known from 6-7000 BC and even from the Neolithic era.

So the present re-publication of "Dice-Play in Sanskrit Literature" expanded by "The Origin of Chess in Sanskrit Literature" in a compilation with several further articles on.

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