Snakes and Ladders
Author: Anonymous
Published: 2009/8/24 11:59:14
Snakes and Ladders Game Board (This is a page of information on the Snakes and Ladders game published in the October, 2009, issue of Hinduism Today as part of our Hindu History series Chapter Three, "Hinduism Endures: 1100 to 1850." To download the entire lesson and for teaching materials on all three lessons, go to Educational Resources.)


Download The Game Board (9.8MB):

Click to download Snakes and Ladders

Rules for Playing the Game:

  1. You will need to print out the game board on one or more pieces of paper (if you don't have a large format printer) and to make at least an 11 by 17 inches playing surface. You will need one die (or six cowrie shells...) and markers for each player. Two to four players is most common.
  2. The aim of the game is to reach square 68, the plane of Siva. This is moksha, freedom from rebirth.
  3. There are various ways to set the order of play. It is common for each player to roll the die once, with the highest number going first, next highest, second, and so on. Ties at this stage are broken by another roll of the die.
  4. All players start with the markers off the board. As each rolls the die, they advance to the square equal to the number of the die, one to square one, two to square two and so on. On subsequent throws, they advance the number of squares of the die. Notice that the squares are numbered in what is traditionally called "ox plow" fashion: back and forth on the board, after the pattern of an ox plowing a field.
  5. If a player lands on a ladder, he advances to the top of the ladder and continues play from there. If he lands on a snake, he slides down the snake to the square at the tail of the snake.
  6. To complete the game the play has to land exactly on the 68th square. As everyone plays until they reach this square, the game doesn't really have a winner, just as in Hindu philosophy everyone ultimately achives moksha.
  7. A player may land on 67. In this case, if they throw a one, they advance to 68 and are finished. If they throw a 2, 3, 4, or 5, they advance the appropriate number of squares. If they throw a six, they stay on 67 and roll again their next turn.
  8. A player may go beyond square 68 on their roll. If they land on 72, they slide back to 51. However, if they land on 69, 70 or 71, they must throw the die each time it is their turn until they advance to the next possible square. They have to keep throwing the die each time it is their turn until they land exactly on square 72, from which they slide back to 51 for another try.

Playing On-Line

You can click this link, Victoria and Albert Musuem, to play the traditional Jain version of Snakes and Ladders on-line.

Sanskrit Terms for Each Square

  1. janma: birth
  2. maya: illusion
  3. krodh: anger
  4. lobh: greed
  5. bhu-loka: earth plane
  6. moha: delusion
  7. mada: conceit or vanity
  8. matsar or matsarya: avarice
  9. kama-loka: plane of sensuality
  10. shuddhi: purification
  11. gandharvas: devas of music
  12. eirsha: envy
  13. antariksha: higher astral plane
  14. bhuvar-loka: lower astral plane
  15. naga-loka: underworld
  16. dwesh: jealousy
  17. daya: mercy or compassion
  18. harsha-loka: plane of joy
  19. karma-loka: plane of karma
  20. daan: giving
  21. saman paap: atonement
  22. dharma-loka: plane of dharma
  23. swarga-loka: heavenly plane
  24. ku-sang-loka: world of bad company
  25. su-sang-loka: world of good company
  26. dukh: sorrow
  27. parmarth: selfless service
  28. sudharma: true faith
  29. adharma: false faith
  30. uttam gati: good tendencies
  31. yaksha-loka: plane of nature spirits
  32. maha- or mahar-loka: plane of devas
  33. gandha-loka: plane of fragrance
  34. rasa-loka: plane of flavor
  35. narka-loka: netherworld
  36. swatch: clarity
  37. jnana: wisdom
  38. prana-loka: plane of energy
  39. apana-loka: plane of elimination
  40. vyana-loka: plane of circulation
  41. jana-loka: creative plane
  42. agni-loka: plane of fire
  43. manushya-janma: human birth
  44. avidya: false knowledge
  45. suvidya: right knowledge
  46. vivek: conscience
  47. Saraswati: Goddess of Wisdom
  48. Yamuna: River Yamuna
  49. Ganga: River Ganga
  50. tapa-loka: plane of austerity
  51. prithvi: earth
  52. himsa-loka: plane of violence
  53. jala-loka: plane of water
  54. bhakti-loka: plane of devotion
  55. ahamkara: ego
  56. Omkar: plane of first sound
  57. vayu-loka: plane of air
  58. teja-loka: plane of light
  59. satya-loka: plane of truth
  60. subuddhi: positive intellect
  61. durbuddhi: negative intellect
  62. sukh: happiness
  63. tamas: darkness
  64. prakriti-loka: plane of nature
  65. uranta-loka: plane of inner space
  66. ananda-loka: plane of bliss
  67. Vaikuntha-loka: plane of Vishnu
  68. Rudra-loka: plane of Siva
  69. Brahma-loka: plane of creation
  70. satoguna: good qualities
  71. rajoguna: active qualities
  72. tamoguna: dull qualities
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