Childhood memories are incomplete without board games, aren’t they? Snakes and ladders being one of the most popular ones in India. Why wouldn’t it? Everytime time you rolled the dice the suspense and fear of ending up in a box with a snake’s mouth can’t be replaced with anything! But what if we told you that this childhood favourite was actually invented in India?
Snakes and ladders actually originated in ancient India. Known as Mokshapat or Moksha Patamu, the game has originated since the 2nd century BC according to some historians. While others credit the invention to the 13th century Saint Gyandev.
The game, now played just for entertainment, was actually a medium for children to learn values. The ladders signified good deed while the snakes denoted evil. The final box i.e. 100 was a symbol for moksha. The good deeds or ladders took the player closer to moksha or salvation and the evil i.e. the snakes took the player away from salvation.
The British colony took the game with them to England in the 19th century according to a Times of India report. Originally, the number of snakes was higher than that of the ladders which symbolised that the path to salvation or moksha is difficult. However, the colonial rulers modified the game stripping it of the moral values and made the number of snakes equal to that of the ladders.
The game now has no moral values attached to it but imagine if we still played Mokshapat like how it was meant to be? Teaching children good values would be a piece of cake!