Sarah's Chess Journal
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The History and The Culture of Chess
Physically, Lord Balaram was the brother of Krishna. Spiritually, they were essentially both incarnations of Vishnu, distinguishable only by the hue of their skin. They were raised as cow-herders. During their life, they were inseparable and had many adventures together, particularly dealing with the demons who seemed to have infested India at the time.
Bishop Berkeley directed me to a delightful story about Lord Balaram (Balarama, Baladiva and 997 other names) and his adventures in Chess. [note: Chess, even in its earliest manifestation, did not exist at the time this story was created. Obviously the story refers to some chess-like board game to which the translators applied the term "chess." ]
Lord Belaram punishing Rukmi for cheating
This version came from
this beautiful site:
"The King of Kalinga was
a friend of Rukmi's and he gave him ill advice to play with Balarama and thus
defeat Him in a bet. Amongst the ksatriya kings, betting and gambling in chess
was not uncommon. If someone challenged a friend to play on the chessboard, the
friend could not deny the challenge. Sri Balaramaji was not a very expert chess
player, and this was known to the King of Kalinga. So Rukmi was advised to
retaliate against the family members of Krsna by challenging Balarama to play
chess. Although not a very expert chess player, Sri Balaramaji was very
enthusiastic in sporting activities. He accepted the challenge of Rukmi and sat
down to play. Betting was with gold coins, and Balarama first of all challenged
with one hundred coins, then 1,000 coins, then 10,000 coins. Each time, Balarama
lost, and Rukmi became victorious.
In spite of this divine voice, Rukmi insisted that Balarama had lost, and by his persistence it appeared that he had death upon his head. Falsely puffed up by the ill advice of his friend, he did not give much importance to the oracle, and he began to criticize Balaramaji. He said, "My dear Balaramaji, You two brothers, cowherd boys only, may be very expert in tending cows, but how can You be expert in playing chess or shooting arrows on the battlefield? These arts are well-known only to the princely order." Hearing this kind of pinching talk by Rukmi and hearing the loud laughter of all the other princes present there, Lord Balarama became as agitated as burning cinders. He immediately took a club in His hand and, without any further talk, struck Rukmi on the head. From that one blow, Rukmi fell down immediately and was dead and gone. Thus Rukmi was killed by Balarama on that auspicious occasion of Aniruddha's marriage.
These things are not very uncommon in ksatriya society, and the King of Kalinga, being afraid that he would be the next to be attacked, fled from the scene. Before he could escape even a few steps, however, Balaramaji immediately captured him and, because the King was always showing his teeth while criticizing Balarama and Krsna, broke all the his teeth with His club. The other princes who were supporting the King of Kalinga and Rukmi were also captured, and Balarama beat them with His club, breaking their legs and hands. They did not try to retaliate but thought it wise to run away from the bloody scene.
During this strife between Balarama and Rukmi, Lord Krsna did not utter a word, for He knew that if He supported Balarama, Rukmini would be unhappy, and if He said that the killing of Rukmi was unjust, then Balarama would be unhappy. Therefore, Lord Krsna was silent on the death of His brother-in-law, Rukmi, on the occasion of His grandson's marriage. He did not disturb either His affectionate relationship with Balarama or with Rukmini. After this, the bride and the bridegroom were ceremoniously seated on the chariot, and they started for Dvaraka, accompanied by the bridegroom's party. The bridegroom's party was always protected by Lord Krsna, the killer of the Madhu demon. Thus they left Rukmi's kingdom, Bhojakata and happily started for Dvaraka."
-Krsna Book, Chapter 61
chess - general
chess - history
Mark Week's History on the Web
Chess Journalists of America
Chess History Newsgroup
Chess Tourn. & Match History
Super Tournaments of the Past
La grande storia degli scacchi
Bill Wall's Chess Pages
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