Sissa The Wise

by Ashley
(Windsor Ontario Canada)

Sissa The Wise

Sissa The Wise

For my Legend on how Chaturanga was invented, we have to go back in time, back to the east where we find a wise Brahmin by the name of Sissa. At this time however, it wasn’t referred to as Chaturanga, but instead Jaturanga, a Sanskrit word that refers to how the game is played. It refers to the four arms which formed the division of the Indian army during Verdic times; first you have the elephants, followed by the cavalry, then the chariots and finally the infantry.

The board it was played on also had a name, it was referred to as Vastu Purusha Mandala which was composed of 8x8 squares, thought to be mythical and was used by the Antic architects to plan the cities design because this board was thought to represent the universe. This was later renamed Ashtapada by Indian players.

During these times, there seemed to be somewhat of a gambling issue in India, due to the prevalence of dice based games. A large number of his people were becoming addicted to these games of pure luck, and playing for high stakes. The Rajah Balhat summoned Sissa to create a game that required mental skill instead of being purely chance, this game was also required to be able to enhance mental qualities in its players such as prudence, foresight, judgement, valor, endurance, circumspection and reasoning ability.

From these instructions, Sissa the Wise created Chaturanga. One of the myths of chess tells of Sissa being asked by the Rajah what reward he would like for making such a game and Sissa replied that he wanted one grain of wheat for the first square of the board and each square in succession the number of wheat would have to be doubled, the king was annoyed because he thought this a modest request; but at the 64th square he would have owed him 18,445,744,073,709,551,515 grains of wheat, to put that into perspective, that’s more than the world was able to produce for hundreds of years.

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