The Yoga of Snakes and Arrows

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-05-30
  • Publisher: Destiny Books
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A guide to observation of the inner self through the ancient Indian game of Leela

• Comes complete with foldout game board and commentary for the 72 spaces

• Mirrors the path of obstacles and insights one encounters in self-development

• Repeated play offers lessons in self-understanding

Chutes and Ladders, the popular children’s game, is derived from the ancient Hindu game Leela, or Snakes and Arrows, which charts the ups and downs of the soul’s path toward reunion with the Infinite. Snakes and Arrows was designed by the seers and saints of India as a tool for understanding the relationship of the individual self to the Absolute Self. For thousands of years the 72 spaces on this game board have enabled players to chart the paths that represent the course of their lives. Each space represents a virtue or a vice, an aspect of consciousness, or a plane of reality and is accompanied by a commentary explaining its meaning. The player’s progress on the board is dictated by the fall of a die corresponding to the forces of karma. Repeated encounters with the snakes and arrows on the board reveal the full meaning of the commentaries and can give shape to habitual patterns of the player, resulting in greater self-understanding and even a gradual detachment from the ego’s delusions.

The Yoga of Snakes and Arrows assists the seeker through the stages and trials of self-development, mirroring both the obstacles of karma and the rewards of self-obtained insight. There is really only one game in life and that is Leela, the game of self-knowledge and the universal play of cosmic energies.

Author Biography

Harish Johari (1934–1999) was a respected teacher, artist, and composer who studied with many of the great saints of India. He worked for decades to introduce the culture of his homeland to the West and authored 12 books on Eastern spirituality, including Breath, Mind, and Consciousness; Chakras; Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine; The Healing Power of Gemstones; Numerology; and Tools for Tantra.

Table of Contents



1    Rules of Play

2    Meaning of the Game

3    Numerology of the Game                                                                                                                         

The Commentaries

4    First Row: The Fundamentals of Being

        1. Genesis (janma)
        2. Illusion (maya)
        3. Anger (krodh)
        4. Greed (lobh)
        5. Physical plane (bhu-loka)
        6. Delusion (moha)
        7. Conceit (mada)
        8. Avarice (matsar or matsarya)
        9. Sensual plane (kama-loka)

5    Second Row: The Realm of Fantasy

        10. Purification (shuddhi)
        11. Entertainment (gandharvas)
        12. Envy (eirsha)
        13. Nullity (antariksha)
        14. Astral plane (bhuvar-loka)
        15. Plane of fantasy (naga-loka)
        16. Jealousy (dwesh)
        17. Mercy (daya)
        18. Plane of joy (harsha-loka)

6    Third Row: The Theater of Karma

        19. Plane of action (karma-loka)
        20. Charity (daan)
        21. Atonement (saman paap)
        22. Plane of dharma (dharma-loka)
        23. Celestial plane (swarga-loka)
        24. Bad company (ku-sang-loka)
        25. Good company (su-sang-loka)
        26. Sorrow (dukh)
        27. Selfless service (parmarth)

7    Fourth Row: Attaining Balance
        28. Apt religion (sudharma)
        29. Irreligiosity (adharma)
        30. Good tendencies (uttam gati)
        31. Plane of sanctity (yaksha-loka)
        32. Plane of balance (maha- or mahar-loka)
        33. Plane of fragrance (gandha-loka)
        34. Plane of taste (rasa-loka)
        35. Purgatory (narka-loka)
        36. Clarity of consciousness (swatch)

8    Fifth Row: Man Becomes Himself

        37. True awareness (gyana; traditionally, jnana)
        38. Plane of life energy (prana-loka)
        39. Plane of elimination (apana-loka)
        40. Plane of circulation (vyana-loka)
        41. Human plane (jana-loka)
        42. Plane of fire (Agni-loka)
        43. Birth of man (manushya-janma)
        44. Ignorance (avidya)
        45. Right knowledge (suvidya)

9    Sixth Row: The Time of Penance

        46. Conscience (vivek)
        47. Plane of neutrality (Saraswati)
        48. Solar plane (Yamuna)
        49. Lunar plane (Ganges or Ganga)
        50. Plane of austerity (tapa- or tapar-loka)
        51. Earth (prithvi)
        52. Plane of violence (himsa-loka)
        53. Liquid plane (jala-loka)
        54. Spiritual devotion (bhakti-loka)

10    Seventh Row: The Plane of Reality

        55. Egotism (ahamkara)
        56. Plane of primal vibrations (Omkar)
        57. Gaseous plane (vayu-loka)
        58. Plane of radiation (teja-loka)
        59. Plane of reality (satya-loka)
        60. Positive intellect (subuddhi)
        61. Negative intellect (durbuddhi)
        62. Happiness (sukh)
        63. Darkness (tamas)

11    Eighth Row: The Gods Themselves
        64. Phenomenal plane (prakriti-loka)
        65. Plane of inner space (uranta-loka)
        66. Plane of bliss (ananda-loka)
        67. Plane of cosmic good (Rudra-loka)
        68. Cosmic Consciousness (Vaikuntha-loka)
        69. Absolute plane (Brahma-loka)
        70. True nature (satoguna)
        71. Activity (rajoguna)
        72. Inertia (tamoguna)

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