Four things are necessary for one or
more to play Leela: the Leela book and game board, a
die (of karma)
and a significant object that belongs to the player,
such as a ring, to serve as the player's symbol during
the game. Each of the seventy-two squares on the board
of Leela represents a virtue or vice, an aspect of human
consciousness or a plane of being. The players' progress
is dictated by the fall of a die corresponding to the
forces of karma. The seven planes through which the
player must pass before he reaches the eighth plane
- the plane beyond all planes - are the seven chakras.
Leela is not merely an entertainment but a serious method
of understanding the phenomenal world of Maya
(Illusion), and the spiritual nature of our individual
self that leads us to the journey towards liberation.
who invented this game used the game-board to recognize
the present state of their own being. By playing the game
time and again they consciously observed which snake brought
them down and which arrows took them up. Observing their
own inner self, they could tell whether they had understood
what it is to be not involved. The uniqueness of Leela
- the game of self-knowledge - is that it is a study of
scriptures and discovery of the self at the same time.
Recently this books was republished under a new name : "The Yoga of Snakes & Arrows".
Extracted Preface of the Book that
is included with the game :
There is really only one game,
the game in which each of us is a player acting out
his role. The game is Leela, the universal play of
cosmic energy. Leela is divine play. It is present
in the nature of the Supreme Self. It is this playful
nature which creates the world of names and forms
- the phenomenal world. Leela is life itself, energy
expressed as the myriad forms and feelings presented
continuously to the self.
The essence of the player
is his ability to become, to adopt a role. That which
is the essence of the player can enter into any role.
But once the player enters into the game, once he assumes
the identity of the persona he adopts, he loses sight
of his true nature, and gets caught by maya (illusion).
He forgets the essence of what it is to play the game.
His moves are decided by the karma die.
The purpose of this small
game is to help the player gain this ability to withdraw
from his identifications and see how he might become
a better player. For this game is a microcosm of the
larger game. Contained within the seventy-two spaces
of the game- board is the essence of thousands of years
of self-exploration, the heart of Indian tradition.
As the player moves from
space to space, square to square, he begins to see patterns
in his own existence, emerging with ever-deepening clarity
as his understanding of the game broadens. His sense
of detachment grows as he sees each stage as temporary,
some thing to move beyond. And once the temporality
of any space becomes a reality for the player, he can
detach from that space, let it go as he seeks to discover
ever more about the wonder that is Being.
As with all games, here too
there is a goal, an object to be attained. Because the
essence of the player is his ability to identify, his
only chance of 'winning' the game is to identify with
that which is his Source. This is Cosmic Consciousness,
the essence of pure Being, which transcends time and
space and knows no limits, is infinite, absolute, eternal,
changeless, the All, without attributes, beyond both
name and form. The game ends when the player becomes
himself, the essence of play. This is Leela.
Neither the author nor the
date of origin of the game we now call Leela is known.
As a general rule in the Indian literary tradition,
the name of the author is considered unimportant. He
is but the pen in the hands of God, a tool of expression;
and so the name has not been recorded. The influences
apparent in the formulation of the game point to an
age of at least 2,000 years. The creators of the game
saw it foremost as a tool for understanding the relationship
of the individual self to the Absolute Self.