Chess in India

Arash Zeini ar.zeini at UNI-KOELN.DE
Mon Feb 16 15:53:06 UTC 1998

Dear members of the list,

I am searching for Sanskrit literature about chess, it doesn't matter from which period. Does anyone know  where I can begin to search ?
Are there any references from the Indian side regarding the story of the middlepersian text called  ' wizAriSn i Catrang ud nihiSn i nEwardaSEr', which tells the story of the Indian King Sacidarm (sometimes Iranists refer to him as Divsaram or Devasarm; in the text: 'sacidarm i wuzurg, SahryAr i hindUgAn-Sa'; transliterated as "scyd'lm") who sends a chess-board for the  Sassanian King HusrOg anOSag ruwAn without sending him the rules. HusrOg is asked to find the rules for this play. It is meant to be a test for the Sassanian king.
HusrOg or Khosrow I (Anushirvan) ruled from 531 AC to 579 A.C.  Nyberg believes that 'Sacidarm' is the middlepersian version for Skr. 'Satyadharma'. 

Here the beginning of the story in the translation of  J. C. Tarapore, Bombay, 1932:

(1) It is said thus that during the reign of Khosraw of immortal
soul, Divsaram, a great king of India, for the trial of
the wisdom and knowledge of the Iranians and for securing his
own benefit set up the game of Chatrang (or chess); 16 pieces
were made of diamonds and 16 of red ruby. (2) With that
game of chess were sent 1200 camels loaded with gold and silver
and jewels and pearls and clothes, 90 elephants which carried
selected things came with them and Takhtritus, who was the
vizier among the Indians, came with them.
(3) In the letter it was written thus: "As your name is the
King of Kings, all your emperorship over us connotes that your
wise men should be wiser than ours. Either you send us an explanation
of this game of chess or send revenue and tribute to us."

Are there references in the history of India which refer to such relationship between India and Persia ?
Any comments on this topic are appreciated.

Thanks in advance and with best wishes,
Arash Zeini

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