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
The Ṛgveda contains the piteous laments of a gambler.
Dyuta in Mahābhārata
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
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
- The dice pieces are made of vibhītaka wood.
- The game has to be conducted in a public place supervised by a sabhika 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.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore