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Buddha games list

The Buddha games list is a list of games which it is reputed that Gautama Buddha said that he would not play. As such it dates from the 5th century BCE and is the earliest known list of games.

There is some debate about the translation of some of the games mentioned, and the list given here is based on the translation by Rhy Davids of Brahma-jala Sutta (Dialogues of the Buddha) and is the same order as was given in the original. It is also given in a number of other Buddhist works including the Vinaya.

  1. Games on boards with 8 or 10 rows (note that Chess as we know it was not invented at this time)
  2. The same games played on imaginary boards
  3. Marking diagrams on the floor such that the player can only walk on certain places.
  4. Using nails to place or remove pieces from a heap with the loser being the one who causes the heap to wobble. (perhaps similar to Jenga)
  5. Throwing dice
  6. Hitting a short stick with a long stick (there is still some debate about the translation of this line)
  7. Drawing a figure on the ground or wall after dipping a finger in lac, red dye, flour or water, and having the other players guess what the picture is going to be.
  8. Ball games.
  9. Playing with toy pipes made of leaves.
  10. Ploughing with toy plough.
  11. Somersaulting.
  12. Playing with toy windmills.
  13. Playing with toy measures.
  14. Playing with toy carts.
  15. Playing with toy bows.
  16. Guessing at letters traced with the finger in the air or on a friends back.
  17. Guessing a friends thoughts.
  18. Imitating deformities.