Chausar: Life is Like a Game of Dice

Shiva, Parvati and Game of Chausar
It was 11:15 am and I was at the Mirza Ghalib Haveli. A forgotten place which was once home to the great Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib, and now a museum to raise awareness about him and his poetry. There was no one except me and an elderly security guard cum guide, Dharampal Singh. He told me various stories about Ghalib from his childhood days to the very end of his life.

Besides restored weary walls, a few inscribed boards of poetry and his marble statue, there was absolute nothing about him yet everything was so fascinating. What struck me, the Chausar, an ancient game of dice which led the fall of Yuddhisthira after his consecration as the Chakravrati Samrat. It is the same game which sets the background for the Kurukshetra war.

When I pointed toward the board, he said, it is Chausar, the game of life.

Chauar Stick Dices by Micha L. Rieser
It is said, the game of dice was invented by Shiva and Parvati, and the same game led to the feud between two. Though both soon realized their mistakes and reconciled. And anything that left was the game, which was still favorite of the two.

If you look at the original structure of the Chausar. The board is made up of four pieces of cloths, laid in four different directions which actually signify same, the four directions. Each player has four pawns which signify the four elements of the human life viz. Artha (Money and Power), Dharma (Responsibilities and Moral Obligations), Kama (Leisure), and Moksha (Self Awareness). Lastly, three dices represent the time i.e. the past, present, and future.

If you look at the Yuddhisthira, the man who lost everything i.e. his wife, his brothers and his realm, just a moment after his epic consecration as the Chakravati Samrat. Moreover, in the case of its creator, Shiva and Parvati, it led to the misunderstanding between two. Yet the game never lost its charm and wild addiction, favorite among likes of Akbar and Mirza Ghalib, too.

Life is a game of dice
In both cases, the actors had one grave fault. They were failed to manage their pawns. (On one hand, Shiva was inclined toward Dharma and Moksha, and Parvarti toward Artha and Kama. On another hand, Yuddhisthira was inclined toward Dharma and Kama.)

Though you cannot be sure about the numbers because life is like that, as it throws something bizarre at you when you are sure about the things ahead. But you can be sure about your pawns and good players learn this fact quickly and this is how they won.

They manage their pawns accordingly in all four directions with each throw of the three dices, acknowledging the uncertainty of the life. And I think, this is why they say, Chausar is not a game but a game of life.

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