In early India,
games and sports were very much concerned about the development of the physique
and for the art of offence and defence.
Also games were considered a kind of recreation, which played a vital role in the development of a man's personality.
Important of them included indoor games, music, fishing and boating, singing
and dancing, water sports, etc.
has a rich heritage of these activities as can be found in the archaeological
excavations of Mohenjadaro and Harappa, the Vedic literature, The Ramayana and
the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the literary works of Kautilya, Kalidasa, Panini
and Dandin as well as a whole lot of Buddhist and Jain literatures. Various
archaeological evidences like coins, inscriptions and monumental carvings support
civilization (3250 BC to 2750 BC)
WAS A FAVORITE
GAME IN EARLY INDIA
A statuette found
in the Mohenjadaro Remains is that of a dancer, which points out that the important
pastime of the people then was dancing and singing. The other important game
was swimming which has strong evidence as to the presence of the "Great Bath"
which is analogous to the present day modern
and dice were used for games and dicing was the important game as is evident
from lots of dices unearthed. Besides, a type of board game resembling
the modern chess was also prevalent. A cylindrical gamesman resembling
the present-day game of Draught has also been excavated at Harappa.
the next important game. Seals showing men using bows and arrows for killing
wild boars and deers have been found. Punching or boxing was also played.
A number of toys of children made of clay have been found which shows
that children engaged themselves with lots of games.
period (2500 BC-600 BC)
The Vedic women received
a fair share of masculine attention in physical culture and military training.
The Rigveda tells us that many women joined the army in those days.
A form of chariot
race was one of the games most popular during the Vedic period. People were
fond of swinging. Ball games were in vogue in those days by both men and
women. Apart from this, a number of courtyard games like" Hide and seek"
and "Run and catch" were also played by the girls. Playing with dice became
a popular activity. The dices were apparently made of Vibhidaka nuts. From
the Rigveda, it appears that the Vedic Aryans knew the art of boxing.
Hindu period (600BC-320BC)
much interest in games during this period. Ayodhya, Kiskindha and Lanka
the three great places related with this period were centers of many games
and sports. Chariot -riding and horse- riding were popular. Hunting was
taken as a royal sport. Swimming was also popular and it is learnt that
Ravana had a beautiful swimming pool in Asoka Vatika where he used to sport.
Gambling with dices was also well known. "Chaturang" or chess as we call
it today developed during this period and India is proud to be called the
homeland of this great sport. Ball games were popular with the women.
has been made of games and gymnastics during this period. Jumping, arms
contracting, wrestling, playing with balls, hide and seek, chasing animals
were some of the games prevalent during this period. Ball games were popular
and it is said that Lord Krishna played ball-games with maidens on the banks
of the Yamuna." Iti-Danda " or "Gullidanda" was also one of the games
played and it involves one long and one short stick. Bhima was well versed
in this and this is similar to the present day cricket. There is
also a mention of the Kauravas and the Pandavas playing Gulli Danda in the
Yudhistar had a great liking for dicing and it is known
that he lost his whole kingdom, his brothers and his wife in this game
to his opponents. People also enjoyed water sports. Bhima was a great
swimmer. Duryodhana was an expert in swimming. All the Pandava and Kaurava
Princes, on the invitation of Duryodhana, went to the Ganges for some
The use of Discus
was very popular. At times, the attack of sword was also rendered useless by
the discus. The Munda monster is said to have used it.
Rope fighting or
Pasi-Yuddha was also prevalent. The rope was the main weapon of some of the
Gods and because of the use of rope, Varuna is called Pasi. The art of using
silambu or long sticks, lathi and slings was also taught during this period.
and Jain Literatures
of chess is found mentioned in the canonical texts of Jainism. Chess was
found prevalent in the campus of Nalanda. Archaeological excavations have
found gambling dice in monasteries and other Buddhist sites. Another item
of amusement was swimming. The Viharas offered the pleasure of bathing
pools. Boxing was also popular.
Archery is found mentioned in the
Jataka stories. The Bhimsena Jataka tells that Boddhisatva learnt archery at
Takshila. Wrestling was popular and descriptions of such breath-holding bouts
in wrestling are available in the Jataka stories. Two kinds of games called
Udyana Krida or garden games and Salila Krida or water sports are also mentioned.
Period (320AD-1200 AD)
Great Universities like Takshila
and Nalanda developed during this period. Takshila was famous for military training,
wrestling, archery and mountain- climbing. In Nalanda, swimming, breathing exercises
and yoga formed an integral part of the curriculum. Harshavardhana, of the Gupta
dynasty was a great sportsman and he encouraged his subjects as well. Another
great contemporary of Harsha, Narasimhan or Mamallah was also a great wrestler.
He belonged to the Pallava dynasty.
Archery was also popular among the
women during this period, as can be seen from the Ahicchatra images. Hunting,
elephant fighting, Ram fighting, and Partridge fighting were the other important
games of this period.
Yoga occupied in the cultural history
of India , from times immemorial, an unparalleled and distinct recognition as
the one and only practical system of physical, mental, moral and spiritual culture.
In ancient India therefore, every known school of thought, every creed of symbolism
and diverse traditions of religions in spite of their inherent contradictions
accepted Yoga as the ultimate achievement in life metaphysically and theologically.
Yoga was one of the fundamental
doctrines devoted to the means of attaining perfect health and mental poise.
Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese traveler, visited the Nalanda University to
learn the "Yogasastra".
The process of imparting knowledge
on yoga, the science and art of living has been in vogue for thousands of years.
A statue excavated from the Indus valley civilization shows a man in a yogin
attitude, which further justifies the old age of yoga. . The yoga art flourished
under its own intrinsic vitality, guarded by the Yogins who handed down the
treasure of knowledge to their disciples.
In the later Vedic and post -Vedic
age, yoga had been an integral part of the ancient civilization and blossomed
during the later Vedic period in the forests. This fact has been aptly illustrated
in the verses of the Yajurveda.
In the post-Vedic times, the practice
of Yoga was developed into a formal system with detailed textbooks. Buddha himself
revels in the terrain of yoga and his biography reveals the existence of yoga
techniques. Between 4 BC and 4 AD, yoga literatures with a definite methodology
were available. The Bhagawad Gita itself is considered as a great Yogasastra.