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Bharat Ki Den - 1

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While this might not be something you’re used to seeing on this platform, we do understand how important it is for Indians to know about their country, its eventful history, and its diverse culture. These things are what make India – India, and as an Indian, we should know about important facts about our country. For example, did you know the game of chess actually originated in India? Well, the story goes something like this…

During the 6th Century, there was an Indian king named Balhait (also known as Shahram or Ladava in some versions of the legend) who ruled over a kingdom in Northern India. The kingdom was supposedly called – Taligana. King Balhait wasn’t quite fond of board games that ran on luck. He simply didn’t like the idea of letting a dice decide the fate of a game. His vision was to develop a game that challenged its players mentally. Something that tested a person’s mental abilities like prudence, foresight, valour, judgment, endurance, analytical and reasoning ability. His time also saw the life of Indian Brahmin – Sissa ( Some versions of this story also refer to him as Sissa ibn Dahir or Lahur Sessa. In some places, his name is also spelt as Sassa or Sessa). Brahmin Sissa was also known to be a reputed mathematician and analyst, which is why king Balhait chose him to bestow upon the responsibility of bringing his vision into material. 

And thus, Sissa invented Chess. Originally known as Chaturanga, chess was played on a 8X8 checked board known as “Vastu Purusha Mandala” which was used by ancient architect to plan and design the cities in that time. The rules of the game were a little different from the ones we have now, because as the game travelled from India to the rest of the world, it was improvised and modified in different areas by different intellectuals. The chess we play today is known as the modern chess, after the original version went through uncountable modifications.

When Sissa finally introduced the game to the King of Taligana, he was impressed beyond limits. The king was so fascinated and content with Sissa that he promised to fulfil any one of his wish, as a reward. Sissa then made a very strange request. He requested the king to give him a particular amount of grains, through a math problem. Yes, that’s very mathematician of you Sissa. The task was to place one grain on the first square of the chess board and then double the amount of grains for every consecutive square. He wished to receive the total amount of grains used in this activity. The king laughed at his strange request. The wise Brahmin could’ve asked for anything, all the money, all the luxury, but instead he asked for a few grains. Such a meagre demand, isn’t it?

However, the king was shocked when his ministers reported that this little request had actually drained their entire granary and it was still far from being even minutely fulfilled. This problem is now known as “The Wheat and Chessboard Problem”, that can in fact be solved by simple addition. The total amount of grain is actually 2000 times more than the annual production of wheat worldwide so we would totally understand if the king did not fulfil his promise to Sissa XDXD!

What did we learn from this story?

  1. Chess was invented in India by an Indian Brahman.
  2. India has pioneered many such inventions that are heavily used worldwide.
  3. Never trust a person that loves Math :) (Nothing personal!) 

We will be back very soon with another cool fact about India, after we are done cribbing about Mathematics.

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