As prescribed by Paulina Constancia
After a week of stories from yoga professionals, I now feature something that relates to the country of origin of Yoga; I bring you Snakes & Ladders. Yes, it’s a special series inspired by the board game that few may know originated from India (just like Yoga).
Origins of SNAKES & LADDERS
According to Princeton University
Snakes and Ladders originated in India as a game based on morality called Vaikuntapaali or Paramapada Sopanam (the ladder to salvation). This game made its way to England, and was eventually introduced in the United States of America by game pioneer Milton Bradley in 1943.
The game was played widely in ancient India by the name of Moksha Patamu, the earliest known Jain version Gyanbazi dating back to 16th century. The game was called Leela and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life. Impressed by the ideals behind the game, a newer version was introduced in Victorian England in 1892, possibly by John Jaques of Jaques of London.
Moksha Patamu was perhaps invented by Hindu spiritual teachers to teach children about the effects of good deeds as opposed to bad deeds. The ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, humility, etc., and the snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder, theft, etc. The moral of the game was that a person can attain salvation (Moksha) through performing good deeds whereas by doing evil one takes rebirth in lower forms of life (Patamu). The number of ladders was less than the number of snakes as a reminder that treading the path of good is very difficult compared to committing sins. Presumably the number “100” represented Moksha (Salvation). In Andhra Pradesh, snakes and ladders is played in the name of Vaikuntapali. via princeton.edu
The Game’s Original Content and Mechanics
According to the Himalayan Academy
The Western children’s game Snakes and Ladders, or Chutes and Ladders, comes from the Indian game for adults called Gyan Chaupar, the “Game of Knowledge”. Gyan Chaupar teaches the Hindu spiritual path to moksha, which is liberation from reincarnation.
Play the game online or download the board and full instructions at hinduismtoday
Versions of Snakes and Ladders
“The game was sold as Snakes and ladders in England before Milton Bradley introduced the basic concept in the United States as Chutes and ladders, an “improved new version of … England’s famous indoor sport.” Its simplicity and the see-sawing nature of the contest make it popular with younger children, but the lack of any skill component in the game makes it less appealing for older players.” via pinceton.edu
“The game was transported from India to England by the colonial rulers in the latter part of the 19th century, with some modifications. The modified game was named Snakes and Ladders and stripped of its moral and religious aspects and the number of ladders and snakes were equalized.” – V Venkata Rao, Ahmedabad via timesofindia
Here are a few curious versions of Snakes and Ladders through the years:
And in more recent years…
Through the years the game Snakes and Ladders has definitely adapted a variety of themes – from Chaplin to Dora, and very lately- even Disney’s Frozen. Some designers do not stop with theme though, they have also gone bigger and outdoors…
Make your own Snakes and Ladders board game, check out these Free Templates from Shauna
So do…play board games for family bonding, but if you can play a game that also instills good values even better!