From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Dyuta means ‘gambling’.

Gambling with dice play, was an ancient pastime especially for kings.

Dyuta in Ṛgveda[edit]

The Ṛgveda[1] contains the piteous laments of a gambler.

Dyuta in Mahābhārata[edit]

The notorious game of dice between Yudhiṣṭhira and Śakuni on behalf of Duryodhana, described in the Mahābhārata, is now history. It was the root-cause of the Kurukṣetra war.

Dyuta in Purāṇas and the Dharmaśāstras[edit]

In the purāṇas and the dharmaśāstras there are statements of condemnation of the gambling with dice-play. At the same time, rules to regulate it also have been described. It was perhaps necessary to control it since it existed as an unavoidable evil.

Regulation of Dyuta[edit]

  • The dice pieces are made of vibhītaka wood.[2]
  • The game has to be conducted in a public place supervised by a sabhika[3] and some expert gamblers, who will act as umpires.
  • The defeated person has to pay a part of his loss to the king as tax which may be 5 to 10 per cent.
  • It is the duty of the sabhika or the agents of the king to see that the stake money is paid by the losing party to the victor.
  • In circumstances where the loser loses everything, becoming a beggar, the king prevents it by providing for the bare maintenance of the loser.
  • The kings used to permit gambling centers as one of the methods for finding out thieves and criminals. An arranged dice-play is a ritual part of the Rājasuya sacrifice.


  1. Ṛgveda 10.34
  2. Vibhītaka wood is a kind of myrobalan.
  3. Sabhika is the one who gives the place and collects some rent for it.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore