Once Yogiji was explaining to us about how as one moves up the ladder of evolution, he/she becomes responsible for all those below. The higher you go, the tougher it becomes and if one falters then, the fall is proportionately steep.
Somebody from the audience chirped in, “like snakes and ladders?”
He said, “Yes. Like snakes and ladders. Remember the snake on 99 that brings you down to the beginning of the game?”
Snakes and Ladders is in fact a very deep and profound game. You will be surprised to know that the game was invented in India and was originally called Mokshapat. The snakes signified vices or bad deeds and the ladders meant good deeds. Needless to say, the good deeds take you higher and the bad deeds bring you lower.
I have spent my childhood playing this game with my grandparents on the terrace under cool evening skies. However, back then I was not aware of the deep knowledge encapsulated and codified in this game. Snakes and Ladders is just one of the many in the reservoir of games (or learning, should I say?) that India has to offer.
Created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev, this game was originally played with cowrie shells and dices. Through time the game underwent several modifications, the underlying learning remaining the same, i.e. good deeds take us to evolution and evil to a cycle of re-births.
In the original game, Square 12 was Faith, 51 was Reliability, 57 was Generosity, 76 was Knowledge, and 78 was Asceticism. These were the squares where the ladder was found. Square 41 was for Disobedience, 44 for Arrogance, 49 for Vulgarity, 52 for Theft, 58 for Lying, 62 for Drunkenness, 69 for Debt, 84 for Anger, 92 for Greed, 95 for Pride, 73 for Murder and 99 for Lust. These were the squares were the snake was found. The Square 100 represented Nirvana or Moksha.
The British took the game to England in 1892 and named it Snakes and Ladders and changed it according to Victorian values.