Can you name the famous board game which all of us played during our childhood ? Snakes and Ladders, of course !
This game was created by the 13th century poet of India, Saint Gyandev. It was originally called ‘Mokshapat’ with the ladders representing virtues and the snakes representing vices.
It was also called called Vaikuntapaali or Paramapada Sopanam (the ladder to salvation) or Leela and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life.
Over the years it has undergone several modifications, another amended name for this classic children’s board game played worldwide is chutes and ladders. It is played between 2 or more players on a playing board with numbered grid squares.
Once the player reaches the second last square, he has to have the patience to wait for the right number to fall, so that he can finally reach home.
Through its several modifications over the decades, however, the moral of the game has remained the same – 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. And the number "100" represented Moksha (Salvation)
In the original ‘Mokshapat’, the squares of virtue are faith (12), reliability (51), generosity (57), knowledge (76), asceticism (78), while the squares of evil are disobedience (41), vanity (44), vulgarity (49), theft (52), lying (58), drunkenness (62), debt (69), murder (73), rage (84), greed (92), pride (95) and lust (99). The last square (100) represents Nirvana!