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Jones also fails both from his then slight acquaintance with Sanskrit, and from his crotchet about the Game of Chess being the "glorious and grand conception of one single mind." I beg, however, that it be distinctly understood, that I do not herein claim unto myself any extraordinary degree of merit. The task is much easier for me at the present day, than it must have been to Sir William Jones in his time. He had, most probably, a single and imperfect Sanskrit manuscript to work upon; whereas I have the choice of two printed texts, besides sundry other minor advantages which it were needless to enumerate.
That the reader may understand the difficulties that Sir William Jones had to encounter, I may mention that from the earliest times on record till towards the close of the last century, the Sanskrit language continued to be the sacred and jealously guarded depository of the ancient stores of knowledge possessed by the Hindus. This learned language, which is the key to these treasures, the Brahmans, with tenacious hands, long withheld from all those not of their own faith and caste. Not all the threats and promises of their Muslim conquerors could induce them to unveil the secrets of their ancient Shastras. Even the mild and enlightened Akbar was obliged to have recourse to a little artifice1 in order to gain some information respecting
1 There is a pretty little romance, as we are told, connected with the stratagem here alluded to. Akbar had, in his young days, placed under the care of a learned Brāhman, a very promising Muslim boy named Faizī, giving out that this youth was the son of a Hindū of high rank who had been killed in battle. The Brahman was enjoined to spare neither pains nor expense in training him up in all the learning of the Hindus. So far every thing went on well, till Faizi, in due time, fell in love with his master's daughter, and then confessed that he had all along been a Muslim. The Brāhman's mistake was now, however, past remedy, the lovers were united, and Faizī ever after held a high place at Akbar's court. He also translated from Sanskrit into Persian several of the Hindū scientific and philosophic works with which he had become acquainted. Yea, further, Akbar and himself, by comparing the Muḥammadan and Hindū
the religion of the most numerous portion of his subjects. Little more than eighty years ago, Mr. N. B. Halhed, the first Englishman who was enabled to acquire even the slightest smattering of Sanskrit, states "that very lately only, and that altogether by accident, he had been enabled to procure even the slender information he possessed; that the Pandits were resolute in rejecting all his solicitations for instruction in this language; and that the persuasion and influence of the Governor-General were in vain exerted to the same purpose.
The Honourable Warren Hastings so far prevailed on the Brahmans as to get them to compile a digest of their laws, or of such of them as they were pleased to communicate, in the Persian language. This work was then translated from the Persian into English, by Mr. Halhed, under the title of "A Code of Gentoo Laws, &c.," and published in London, 1781, 8vo. Shortly after the completion of this task, Mr. Halhed states, (Preface xxxv.) "that he had been happy enough to become acquainted with a Bramin of liberal sentiments, and of a more communicative disposition than his brethren, joined to an extensive knowledge acquired both by study and travel; he eagerly embraced the opportunity of profiting by the help of so able a master, and exerted all his diligence upon so curious and uncommon a subject."
religions, concocted a novel and philosophic system of their own, dismissing all that was absurd in the other two. This new religion, as might be expected, met with little favour from either Muslim or Hindu, with the exception of a few of the more intelligent, or indifferent, among the courtiers.
THE term Chaturanga is compounded of the two Sanskrit words, chatur, "four;" and anga, "a member,' or "component part." As an adjective it is very nearly equivalent to our word "quadripartite," and is generally applied to an army composed, in certain proportions, of four distinct species of forces. These were, anciently, elephants, horses, ships (or more recently chariots), and infantry. In this sense we find it used adjectively by the ancient Hindu poet, Vālmīki, in his celebrated epic the Rāmāyana," book ii. cap. 51. "Chaturangam hyapi valam su-mahat prasahemahi," i.e., "we may, indeed, subdue this most mighty quadripartite force."
Chaturanga, as a neuter substantive, denotes the "Game of Chess," which originally represented an image of ancient Hindu warfare; the mimic forces therein employed being precisely the four species above described. It has been objected to this primitive game that the introduction of the ship or boat is an anomaly; but the objection is more plausible than valid and, in fact, it forms one of the best proofs that the game is of Indian origin. It is well known that the vast alluvial plains of the Panjab, as well as those bordering on the Ganges, are, for nearly one-third of the year, flooded with water, arising, in the first place, from the melting of the mountain snow in spring;
and secondly, from the torrents of rain that fall in summer. It is obvious, then, that in such a country ships and boats must have formed a very important item in the matériel of an army, whether for offensive or defensive purposes. On this point the reader will find ample confirmation in the fifth and sixth books of Arian's History, which so graphically detail the expedition of Alexander from Kabul across the Panjab, and thence downwards along the Indus till his return to Persia. The etymological proof of the Indian origin of Chess is still more incontrovertible. It is only in Sanskrit that the term Chaturanga, the name given to the ancient game I am about to describe, fully and clearly conveys to the mind an idea of the thing represented. The term Shatranj, used by the Persians, Arabs, and Turks, is a pure exotic in their respective languages, defying all the ingenuity of their grammarians to make it their own, and clearly proving that it is merely a modification or corruption of the word Chaturanga. But it is needless to dwell more on this point at present. We are, then, inevitably led to infer that the game of Chaturanga was invented by a people whose language was Sanskrit, which brings the invention home to India; and further, it is the representation of a mode of warfare that was most peculiarly adapted to that country in ancient times.
The ancient Hindu account of the origin of the game is not unlike that of many more modern versions of the same tale. But, as I have already observed, the mere occasion of its invention is a point of little or no real importance; our main object at present is to determine the region where, and approximately the time when, it was invented. Sir William Jones states, on the authority of his friend the Brāhman Rādha Kant, "that this game is mentioned in the oldest (Hindu) law-books; and that
it was invented by the wife of Ravan, King of Lankā (the capital of Ceylon), in order to amuse him with an image of war, while his metropolis was closely besieged by Rāma, in the second age of the world." Here again we find an excellent reason why ships are admitted into the game, as being matters of the utmost importance in such an expedition as this, which bears no remote resemblance to that of the Greeks against Troy. In short, whether we consider the game to have been invented in Ceylon during the siege of Lankā, or subsequently in Central India, the admission of the ship, as one part of the four forces, is quite in accordance with the time, place, and circum
The period of the siege of Lanka, according to Hindū authorities, would carry us too far back to meet with the reader's belief; but, in what we may call the heroic or poetic age of Hindu history, we find the game familiarly spoken of in the Purānas, as then known and practised. The authenticity of these poetic histories is much on a par with that of the works of Homer, Hesiod, and Apollonius Rhodius. They are all most probably founded on something of the nature of fact, only the details are highly coloured. The best original account of this very ancient game to which we have yet obtained access, is to be found. in the Sanskrit Encyclopædia, entitled "Shabda-KalpaDruma," published at Calcutta in seven volumes, 4to, within the last twenty years (vide vol. i., under the article
Chaturanga"); also, in a work published at Serampore, in two vols. 8vo., 1834, entitled, "Raghu-NandanaTatwa," or "Institutes (of the Hindu Religion, &c.,) by Raghu Nandana" (vide vol. i., page 88). In both of these works, the text, with very slight variations, is identical, and evidently taken from the same original, viz., that alluded to by Sir William Jones as an abstract from