Rules of Play

Four things are necessary for playing Leela: the game hoard, a die (half a pair of dice), the commentary section of this book, and an object, such as a ring, that belongs to the player and is small enough to fit in the squares; this serves as the player’s symbol during play. The rules are simple. Each player places his symbol in square 68, the square of Cosmic Consciousness. One by one, the players throw the die and pass it on to the player on the right (this conforms with the natural movement of upward-f1owing energy).

The first player to throw a six moves to the first square, genesis, and from there to the sixth square, delusion. Until a six is thrown, the player must wait unborn in Cosmic Consciousness. Each time a six is thrown, at any stage in the game, the player rolls the die again. The exception to this is that a player who has rolled three sixes in a row (and has moved eighteen squares), and then rolls another number, must return to the place where he started before he began to throw the sixes, and move whatever number of squares is shown on the fourth roll. If, for example, a player throws three sixes and then another number on his fourth roll at the beginning of the game when his first six took him into play, he then returns to genesis (square 1) and counts forward the number shown on the fourth roll. But if, instead, he rolls four or more sixes, he continues to take additional turns until a number other than six is shown, at which point he moves the total number of squares he has thrown and passes the die.

When the players symbol lands on the base of an arrow, he moves the symbol upward along the shaft of the arrow to its tip. If he lands on the head of a snake, it swallows him and deposits him at the tip of its tail. In this way, egotism leads to anger and spiritual devotion leads to Cosmic Consciousness. Thus the player throws the die and moves back and forth and up and down the board, taking care to move through the squares in ascending numerical order.

Returning to the sixty-eighth square is the object of play. If the player should reach the eighth level but pass by Cosmic Consciousness into the sixty-ninth, seventieth, or seventy-first square, he must wait to throw either the exact number required to land on tamoguna, the seventysecond square, or a lower number that would allow him to move one or two squares. From rajoguna, the seventy-first square, the throw of a one will return the player to earth, and back into the game. Play ends only when the player lands exactly on the sixty-eighth square, either by the arrow of spiritual devotion or by numerical ascension (such as being on square 66 and throwing a two).

In the course of play, the player will usually find that he has a characteristic pattern of landing on the same arrows and the same snakes. The game will take on its fullest meaning when the player reads and understands the commentaries, wherein are explained the meanings of each space, arrow, and snake.

If the player lands on square 69, the absolute plane, he cannot reach Cosmic Consciousness, which is square 68. In that case he has to reach square 72, where tamoguna can bring him back to earth, after which he can reach Cosmic Consciousness by gradual progression or by throwing a three and reaching spiritual devotion — the direct arrow to Cosmic Consciousness. While he is on square 69 he needs a three; on 70 he needs a two; on 71 he needs a one; all other numbers played by the karma die are useless, since he cannot make use of them any more than he can make use of a six when he is on 67. Throwing a one can bring him to 68, the place where the game stops, but the game continues if he throws a two, three, four, or five.

To have full advantage of the game, the player should note down the course adopted by the symbol that moves with the throw of the die on the game board. In a series of such recordings he would discover some common features: some friendly snakes and helpful arrows. 1'his would compel him to find out the relationship between external and internal patterns. Saints have used this method to discover their inner pattern: it makes Leela, the yoga of snakes and arrows, a game of self-knowledge“Gyan Chau pad.”