Dear list,

I am trying to make sense of a description of a gameboard occuring in the Krīḍāviṃśati section of the Mānasollāsa (5.826cd-830ab) dated to c. 1131 CE. I am using Gondekar's critical edition from 1961 based on three manuscripts (one of which was merely a copy of one of the other two). No further manuscripts of the Krīḍāviṃśati section are available, and as Gondekar writes in his introduction to the edition: "[a]s all the three mss. are corrupt the constitution of the text became very difficult" (ibid. ix).

My own difficulties at present are mostly concerned with 5.828cd-829 on the ornamentation of the gameboard, but I quote the description in full below for context. While the variant readings offer little help, Gondekar's generally convincing emendations appear in square brackets. The translation is entirely my own.

As a final note, it should be mentioned that the game in question (called Phañjikā) is reminiscent of the cruciform game of paccīsī/caupaṛ which, however, is only attested from around 1500 CE.


aṣṭādaśāṅgulaṃ kāryaṃ caturasraṃ tu maṇḍalam // 826

A square diagram (measuring) eighteen aṅgulas (on each side) should be made.

tādṛśāni caturdikṣu bhastrakāṇi [bhadra°] prakalpayet /

One should arrange such (18x18 aṅgula) projections in the four directions (from the diagram). [NB! This results in a cruciform shape consisting of 5 squares of equal size].

aṅgulī-traya-madhye tu rekhā kāryā samantataḥ // 827

A line should be drawn from all sides between (each unit of) three aṅgulas. [NB! This results in each of the 5 squares being divided into 6x6 squares].

tatas tv [try-]aṅgula-vistāra [°āḥ] kāṇāḥ [ko°] sarve bhavanti ca /

Thereupon, all the squares [catuṣkoṇāḥ] have a width of three aṅgulas (on every side).

ardha-candra-samākāraṃ gehaṃ phañji-viśāradaḥ // 828

prāsādaṃ paṅkajaṃ vāpi khaṇḍa-vāhaṃ sapakṣiṇam /

catur-bhadrāṇi saṃlekhyad dvidvy-evaṃ ca manoharam // 829

One skilled in phañji() should draw [saṃlikhed? Breaks the metre!] the geha [i.e., the central square?] in the form of a half-moon [i.e., with semi-circles indicating the starting positions of the pawns?], (and) the four bhadras [i.e., the four projecting squares?] as a palace, a lotus, or a tree [branch-carrier?] with a bird; and thus the four (become) captivating. [NB! dvidvy-evaṃ might also be emended to vidhy evaṃ, rendering the last line as "and thus you should know (the diagram) as captivating."]

evaṃ maṇḍala-vinyāsaḥ kathitaḥ phañcikā-[°jikā-]vidaiḥ /

Thus the arrangement of the diagram is explained by those who know (the game of) phañjikā.


I was thinking that someone experienced in reading texts concerning the drawing of maṇḍalas or similar might be able to offer some insights. But, certainly, any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Best regards,



Jacob Schmidt-Madsen

Postdoctoral Researcher in Indology

Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies

University of Copenhagen