more ads
Kamat's Potpourri Amma's Column .
Kamat's PotpourriNew Contents
About the Kamats
Feedback
History of India
Women of India
Faces of India
Indian Mythologies
geographica indicaArts of India
Indian Music
Indian Culture
Indian Paintings
Dig Deep Browse by Tags
Site Map
Historical Timeline
Master Index
Research House of Pictures
Stamps of India
Picture Archive
Natives of India
Temples of India
Kamat Network
Blog Portal

'

Durable Link to this BlogSaturday, April 14, 2007

Gambling, 5000 Years ago in India

The Rigveda, the oldest surviving text book of mankind, contains references to games and amusements. The game of dice (aksha) seems to have been very popular in ancient India and later developed in betting and gambling. Play-halls for gambling existed. The habitual gamblers are ridiculed as pillars of the hall(sabha-sthanu). From the scanty information available, it appears that four or five dice were used, each having a name.

A board was used on which marks were made. Cheating was frequent. The word "Kitava" to mean a gamester or cheat was used in the same sense in later classical Sanskrit literature.

The "Lament of the Gambler" is a secular poem in Rigveda (X .34) which according to Prof. A.A. Macdonell is the oldest composition of the kind in existence. He considers it as a most remarkable literary product.

In the poem, the gambler deplores his weakness and inability to throw off the spell dice. Though he is very much aware of the ruin the gambling is bringing to him and his family, he is helpless.

The Lament of the Gambler

Downward they fall, then nimbly leaping upward,
They overpower the man with hands, though handless.
Cast on the board like magic bits of charcoal.
Though cold themselves, they burn the heart to ashes.
It pains the gambler when he sees a woman,
Another’s wife, and their well-ordered house-hold:
He yokes these brown steeds early in the morning,
And, when the fire is low, sinks down an outcaste.
“Play not with dice, but cultivate thy cornfield:
Rejoice in thy goods, deeming them abundant:
There are thy cows, there is thy wife, O gambler,
-This counsel, Savitr the kind gives me

Translatiom by Arthur A. Macdonell: in "A History of Sanskrit Literature", Oxford 1899. Indian Reprint 1986

Later, game of cards might have replaced game of dice. But man's weakness for gambling continues through one form or other. This addiction had ruined fortunes and happiness of countless families over the ages. This poem throws light on one of the earliest vices & remorse accompanying it.

See Also:
• The Gambling Brahmin
• Song of Cockfight Wager
• Ganjifa Playing Cards

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

More Entries...

Browse Amma's Column by Tags

1920s - ancient India - avatars - banana - bangalore - buddha - calcutta - christmas - coins - colin mackenzie - colonel - conference ii - conversions - cousin - cows - customs - dalit - democracy - dhols - dr narayan - drums - dung - fables - far east - gandhi - gandhiji - great deluge - guru - hinduism - home library - human body - idolatry - kalpa - karnataka - kautilya - kingdoms - krishna - manners - marriage - new books - new year - nuances - obituary - old temple - patience - personalities - peru - pontiff - postal service - prime source - queen - rao - relevance - religion - revolt - romance - runners - saga - saints - Saints of India - salt satyagraha - science - shaven heads - sher - sri lanka - suresh - terracotta - tradition - trauma - tsunami - tulunadu - unity - universality - women - zen - 11th century - 75th anniversary - alberuni - all india radio - amrita - ancient art - ancient india - ancient indians - animals - anmori - arthashastra - autobiographical notes - b_g_l_swamy - babies - basham - bedas - belief - bengaluru - bhagat singh - Bhagatsingh as seen by Kamaladevi. - bhagavata purana - bhagirath - Bhakti Cult - bharata - bhat - blouse - brahmin - brute - buddha jayanti - card games - cart - caste system - centenary tribute - centennial - chanakya - chariot - cheers - chilli - chinese monk - Christmas - christmas eve - cloud messenger - cockfights - code of manu - colonel colin - complete works - conch shell - cuisine - curry - customs - dasa - demons - dessert - devil worship - dhyan - dikshit - dikshitar - discovery - doldrums - eknath - elephant - empire - epigraphy - fanny - festival foods - festive - forest scene - freedom - gandhi - gandhiji - ganesh - gautama buddha - gayatri mantra - gesture - Goa - gods - gramophone record - grandmother - great men - grinder - guru - happy new year - haste - helping hands - hind swaraj - hind_swaraj - hindu - hindu religious symbols - hindu texts - hinduism - hindus - history conference - humanist - hunger - idolatry - indian civil service - indian names - indians - institution of marriage - interviews - jaina - juggernaut - kamath - kannada - karnataka - kasaragod - kavya - keladi - krishna - laughing buddha - legacy - lotus - loving touch - m n srinivas - mallya - mama - mango season - manu - masters - materialism - medieval india - memories - middle path - midwife - misadventure - moorthy - music tradition - musical - musings - narad - narada - new articles - night life - obituary - offerings - old photo - Om - ornaments - pai - pampa - panchatantra - peacock - peacock dance - peacock dress - pearls - philanthropist - pigeons - poet - poetess - potpourri - prayer - prehistory - promising artist - prostitutes - queen - quilt - rahul - rajasthan - rajendra - ramayana - ramdas - rao - rare volume - robber - roots - rubaiyat of omar khayyam - saints - sane guruji - saraswati - saraswats - science - scorn - sea navigation - sedam - serpent worship - shameful practice - sharana - shastra - shivaji - silver art - sorab - south east asia - south india - subba rao - sunset - swami - swamy - swastika - tara - tea - temple school - temple town - terracotta_town - three books - tiger - titan - tonsure - torave_ramayan - tradition - translator - travelogue - tree of life - tribute - tsunami damage - Tulasidas - tuluva - upanishad - vedanta - vedas - viswanath - Viswanath Kashinath Rajwade - vivekananda - w h sleeman - wall paintings - what is in a name - wilks -

Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


Introduction


ARCHIVES


Search Amma's Column


More articles by Jyotsna Kamat

 

 

 

Kamat's Potpourri Jyotsna KamatAmma's Column

© 1996-2016 Kamat's Potpourri. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without prior permission. Standard disclaimers apply

Merchandise and Link Suggestions

Top of Page