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Buddha games list: Wikis


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The Buddha games list is a list of games which it is reputed that Gautama Buddha said that he would not play. As such it dates back to the 6th or 5th century BC and is the earliest known list of games.

There is some debate about the translation of some of the games mentioned, and the list given here is based on the translation by T.W. Rhys Davids of the Brahmajāla Sutta (Digha Nikaya 1, translated in Dialogues of the Buddha) and is in the same order given in the original. It is also given in a number of other Buddhist works, including the Vinaya Pitaka.

  1. Games on boards with 8 or 10 rows (note that Chess as we know it was not invented at this time, though earlier Chess-like games such as Chaturaji may have existed)
  2. The same games played on imaginary boards
  3. Marking diagrams on the floor such that the player can only walk on certain places.
  4. Using nails to place or remove pieces from a heap with the loser being the one who causes the heap to wobble (such as pick-up sticks).
  5. Throwing dice
  6. Hitting a short stick with a long stick (there is still some debate about the translation of this line). This is similar to the Indian game of Gulli-danda or Russian Gorodki.
  7. Drawing a figure on the ground or wall after dipping a finger in lac, red dye, flour or water, and having the other players guess what the picture is going to be (a guessing game similar to Pictionary).
  8. Ball games.
  9. Playing with toy pipes made of leaves.
  10. Ploughing with toy plough.
  11. Somersaulting.
  12. Playing with toy windmills.
  13. Playing with toy measures.
  14. Playing with toy carts.
  15. Playing with toy bows.
  16. Guessing at letters traced with the finger in the air or on a friend's back.
  17. Guessing a friend's thoughts.
  18. Imitating deformities.

H.J.R.Murray 'History of Board Games other than Chess' page 35 refers to Rhys Davids 1899 translation. Murray notes that the 8x8 game is 'Ashtapada' while the 10x10 game is 'Dasapada'. He states that both are race games.




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