The Dice Game Of Shiva


The seemingly unimportant part of any game, the dice, is actually a repertoire of the entire creation folded into its six sides.

As per modern excavations, the origin dice is attributed to India. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice have been found in Harappan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and surrounding territories, some dating back to the third millennium BCE. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka – small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. Dicing is believed to have later spread westwards to Persia, influencing Persian board games. Early references to dicing can be found in the Ṛig Veda as well as Atharva Veda.


We have all heard of the game of dice between Kauravs and Pandavs and how it cost them not just their empire, but also their self-respect eventually leading to the war of Mahabharat. The Shiv Purana narrates the story of a game of dice between Shiv and Parvati. Consumed in the game, Parvatiji wagers her jewels, while Lord Shiv wagers his trident, and later his serpent and other attributes. At the end of the game, Lord Shiv loses everything to Parvatiji and takes to the forest unmoved, in a state of detachment. Lord Vishnu then appears and asks Shiv to play one more game. This time Lord Shiv wins the game, Parvatiji senses intervention and demands an answer. Lord Vishnu then reveals to her that the dice moved not according to your moves but according to my wish. The game was an illusion, a product of maya. He also went on to say that a game of dice was as unpredictable as life and was always beyond control, sounding the players to be careful before wagering during the game.

The game symbolises the beginning of manifestation. When Parvatiji takes the dice and begins to play, she separates herself from Lord Shiv, the two players, purush and prakriti, leading to creation. As we play the game of dice called life, we think we are winning and collecting more points, while actually it is maya that is keeping us attached to the game, and away from reality, from the Shiv tattva and from pure bliss which lies in merger. The key is to detach oneself from the play that is the state of Shiv, of which we are a part, merger with which is victory, the finality of this journey, the path to which is shown by your Guru.

It is only your Guru who can reveal to you the reality of Creation and the foolishness of getting stuck in maya. That is why it is said that there is no yog without Guru.


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