Gambling In Hindu Dharma

1. Gods Indulging in Games of Dice/Gambling

1.1 Shiva and Parvati

📚Skanda Purana📚
Śaṅkara and Bhavānī played the game of dice by way of fun formerly. Śaṃbhu was defeated by Gaurī in the game and let off naked. For that reason Śaṅkara became miserable while Gaurī was ever happy.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
On hearing those words, Satī (chaste lady) Girijā laughingly spoke to him: “You know everything, O Baṭu. See, I shall play the game of dice today with Maheśa in front of you.” After saying thus, the daughter of the Lord of Mountains, the most beautiful lady in the world, took up the dice cubes. Even as the great sage stood witness, she stayed there and played the game with Bhava. The couple earnestly engaged in the game were observed by the sage Nārada. With his mind (pleasantly) influenced by surprise, the learned sage went on observing (the game) and he was extremely gratified. The chaste goddess engrossed in the game of dice was surrounded by her friends and attendants. She clashed with Śiva and played the game of dice fraudulently.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 6.122.21-32📚
Siva and Bhavani took to playing with dice as a sport. Laksmi, propitiated by Bhavani remained in the form of a cow. Formerly Parvati vanquished Siva in the game of dice, and sent him away naked. So this Siva is unhappy. Gauri always remains happy. He who gets victory first (passes) the year happily…On the first day, when the sun has risen, Govardhana should be worshipped in the morning and one should play the game of dice at night. Then cows should be decorated…”  (source)

1.2 Krishna

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.69.20-22📚
There he saw the Lord playing at dice with His beloved consort and His friend Uddhava. Lord Kṛṣṇa worshiped Nārada by standing up, offering him a seat, and so on, and then, as if He did not know, asked him, “When did you arrive? What can needy persons like Us do for those who are full in themselves? In any case, My dear brāhmaṇa, please make My life auspicious.” Thus addressed, Nārada was astonished. He simply stood up silently and went to another palace.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.56.5📚
As the people looked at Satrājit from a distance, his brilliance blinded them. They presumed he was the sun-god, Sūrya, and went to tell Lord Kṛṣṇa, who was at that time playing at dice.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.66.36📚
Distraught with fear, the people cried out to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was then playing at dice in the royal court: “Save us! Save us, O Lord of the three worlds, from this fire burning up the city!”  (source)

📚Varaha Purana 160.52-53📚
At Uttarakoti (the northern end), there is again Ganesa. Here Lord Krsna was playing dice with the Gopis. Merrily playing with them, the Lord won all of them and their wealth in the game. He gave them all to the Gopas who commemorated the event there.”  (source)

1.3 Aniruddha, the son of Krishna

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.62.28-31📚
Very agitated to hear of his daughter’s corruption, Bāṇāsura rushed at once to the maidens’ quarters. There he saw the pride of the Yadus, Aniruddha. Bāṇāsura saw before him Cupid’s own son, possessed of unrivaled beauty, with dark-blue complexion… As He sat opposite His most auspicious lover, playing with her at dice, there hung between His arms a garland of spring jasmines that had been smeared with kuṅkuma powder from her breasts when He had embraced her. Bāṇāsura was astonished to see all this. Seeing Bāṇāsura enter with many armed guards, Aniruddha raised His iron club and stood resolute, ready to strike anyone who attacked Him.”  (source)

1.4 Balarama

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.61.27-28📚
After the wedding, a group of arrogant kings headed by the King of Kaliṅga told Rukmī, “You should defeat Balarāma at dice. He’s not expert at dice, O King, but still He’s quite addicted to it.” Thus advised, Rukmī challenged Balarāma and began a gambling match with Him. In that match Lord Balarāma first accepted a wager of one hundred coins, then one thousand, then ten thousand. Rukmī won this first round, and the King of Kaliṅga laughed loudly at Lord Balarāma, showing all his teeth. Lord Balarāma could not tolerate this. Next Rukmī accepted a bet of one hundred thousand coins, which Lord Balarāma won. But Rukmī tried to cheat, declaring “I’m the winner!”  (source)

📚Brahma Purana 92.11-22📚
Balarāma is not perfectly conversant with the game of dice; his indulgence in it is however, very great. Hence, O extremely lustrous one, we shall conquer him in the game of dice alone. “So be it” said Rukmin who possessed great strength, to those kings. He played the game of dice with Rāma, in the assembly. A stake of a thousand Niṣkas (gold coins) was won by Rukmin from Bala. On the second day another thousand was won by Rukmin. Then Rukmin the most excellent one among those who were conversant with the game of dice, put up a stake of ten thousand gold coins againts Baladeva who was desirous of victory. Then, O brahmins, exhibiting all his teeth, the foolish overlord of Kaliṅga laughed at Bala. The haughty Rukmin spoke then: O members of the assembly, this Balarāma devoid of learning has been defeated by me in the game of dice. He is not conversant with either the manner of fighting or the lore of the game. On seeing the king of Kaliṅga with the teeth in his mouth fully exhibited, and Rukmin indulging in harsh words, Balarāma became infuriated. With his mind full of fury Balarāma put up the stake at a crore of gold coins. Rukmin too accepted it. He threw the dice for that purpose. Baladeva won the stake. He said to him loudly “This is won by me”. “The victory is mine” loudly proclaimed Rukmin to Bala in false words. “It is true that this stake was announced by you. But it had not been accepted or approved of by me. That being the case if (you say) you have won how (can’t I say that) I have won? Then loud resonant words rose up in the sky aggravating the fury of noble Baladeva. The speech in the firmament said: “The stake is won by Baladeva. What is uttered by Rukmin is false. Certain things are accepted through actions even without mentioning words.”  (source)

📚Vishnu Purana 5.28.10-28📚
After the wedding had been solemnized, several of the kings, headed by him of Kalinga, said to Rukmin, “This wielder of the ploughshare is ignorant of the dice, which may be converted into his misfortune: why may we not contend with him, and beat him, in play?” The potent Rukmin replied to them, and said, “So let it be:” and he engaged Balaráma at a game of dice in the palace. Balaráma soon lost to Rukmin a thousand Nishkas: he then staked and lost another thousand; and then pledged ten thousand, which Rukmin, who was well skilled in gambling, also won. At this the king of Kalinga laughed aloud, and the weak and exulting Rukmin grinned, and said, “Baladeva is losing, for he knows nothing of the game; although, blinded by a vain passion for play, he thinks he understands the dice.” Halayudha, galled by the broad laughter of the Kalinga prince, and the contemptuous speech of Rukmin, was exceedingly angry, and, overcome with passion, increased his stake to ten millions of Nishkas. Rukmin accepted the challenge, and therefore threw the dice. Baladeva won, and cried aloud, “The stake is mine.” But Rukmin called out as loudly, that he was the winner. “Tell no lies, Bala,” said he: “the stake is yours; that is true; but I did not agree to it: although this be won by you, yet still I am the winner.” A deep voice was then heard in the sky, inflaming still more the anger of the high-spirited Baladeva, saying, “Bala has rightly won the whole sum, and Rukmin speaks falsely: although he did not accept the pledge in words, he did so by his acts (having cast the dice).” Balaráma thus excited, his eyes red with rage, started up, and struck Rukmin with the board on which the game was played, and killed him… When Krishńa heard that Rukmin had been killed by his brother, he made no remark, being afraid of Rukminí on the one hand, and of Bala on the other…”  (source)

2. Hindu Scriptures on Gambling

📚Yajnavalkya Smriti 2.199-203📚
The keeper of a gambling-house shall take from a gambler five per cent. When the wager is a hundred [panas or upwards], and ten per cent, in other cases. Being well protected [by the king], he shall give the promised share [of his gains] to the king; he shall recover the wager, and pay it to the winner, [and] being over patient, [shall speak] the truth. [Payment of] that which has been won publicly in an assembly of gamesters in the presence of the master of a gaming house, and when the king’s share has been paid, shall be enforced, but not otherwise. The superintendents and witnesses in [gaming] transactions [should be] gamblers themselves. A man who plays with false dice, or by deceit, shall be branded and banished by the king. Gaming should be allowed under one supervision, as being a means of detecting thieves. This very law should be understood to apply in the case of Samahvaya [prize-fighting].”  (source)

📚Apastamba Dharmsutra📚
In the midst of the assembly-house, (the superintendent of the house) shall raise a play-table and sprinkle it with water, turning his hand downwards, and place on it dice in even numbers, made of Vibhîtaka (wood), as many as are wanted. Men of the first three castes, who are pure and truthful, may be allowed to play there.”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 17.2-8📚
The master of the gaming-house shall arrange the game and pay the stakes which have been won; the profit of such a conductor of games shall amount to ten percent. When the dice on being thrown fall twice in a game at dice, those acquainted with (playing at) dice allot the victory to the adversary and the defeat to the gambler. When a dispute has arisen among gamblers, let (other) gamblers be appealed to; they shall act both as judges and as witnesses in a dispute of this sort. No gambler shall ever enter into another gaming-house before having paid his debt; he must not disobey the master of the gaming-house, and must pay of his own accord what he owes to him. Wicked men who play with false dice shall be driven out of the gaming-house, after a wreath of the punishment ordained for them. If a man gambles with dice, without authorization from the king, he shall not get his stake, and shall have to pay a fine. Or let the gamblers pay to the king the share due to him and play in public, thus no wrong will be committed.”  (source)

📚Brihaspati Smriti 26.1-8📚
Gambling has been prohibited by Manu, because it destroys truth, honesty, and wealth. It has been permitted by other (legislators) when conducted so as to allow the king a share (of every stake). It shall take place under the superintendence of keepers of gaming-houses, as it serves the purpose of discovering thieves. The same rule has to be observed in bets on prize-fights with animals…A wager (or game) shall be made in public; false gamblers shall be banished. When there is a point at issue between the two parties (in a game or wager, other) gamblers shall examine (and decide) the matter; if they are enemies (of either party), the king shall decide the dispute…The keeper of the gaming-house shall receive the stakes and pay the victorious gambler and the king; he shall also act as witness in a dispute, assisted by three other gamblers.”  (source)

📚Katyayana Smriti Verse 935-943📚
If it (gambling) has to remain (has to be allowed) he (the king) should allow it to be done openly with an (ornamental) arcch erected near the door (of the gambling hall) in order that respectable people may not mistaken (about its real nature) and he should make it yield revenue (tax). The keeper of the gaming house should make the gambling go on and should himself pay to the king (the latter’s) dues. He (the keeper) should take from the defeated party ten percent as his profit. The keeper should give to the winner his money (out of his own pocket) and he should recover from the defeated gambler within three fortnights or at once; there is no doubt (about this rule). Where (the throw) of a man playing with dice in gambling is the same or double (of the previous throw) there the (former) gambler is the winner and his protection (from the other gamblers) is to be arranged for. Or the gambler (himself), after giving to the king his share (of revenue) as declared, should carry on gambling openly. In this way he will be guilty of no fault. The keeper of the gaming house should make the defeated gambler forcibly pay what (the defeated) has to pay in the same place (i.e. in the gaming hall) and not elsewhere; since the procedure (in gambling matters) entirely rests with the keeper of the gaming house. A person ignorant (of gambling) if defeated (in gambling) should be released (from his liability), but one who knows gambling should not be released if he is defeated in secret (gambling); when one knowing gambling has lost his all (in a wager), he should not be made to pay his all. In disputes (among gamblers), in (deciding on) victory, in the matter of the gain (to the winner), and as regards the means (i.e. dice) of those who are (alleged to be) playing with false dice, the keeper of the gaming house, if he is honest, is the final authority.”  (source)

📚Kautilya Arthashastra 3.20📚
With a view to find out spies or thieves, the Superintendent of gambling shall, under the penalty of a fine of 12 panas if played elsewhere, centralise gambling…The Superintendents of gambling shall, therefore, be honest and supply dice at the rate of a kakani of hire per pair. Substitution by tricks of hand of dice other than thus supplied shall be punished with a fine of 12 panas. A false player shall not only be punished with the first amercement and fines leviable for theft and deceit, but also be made to forfeit the stakes he has won. The Superintendent shall take not only 5 per cent of the stakes won by every winner, and the hire payable for supplying dice and other accessories of dice play, but also the fee chargeable for supplying water and accommodation, besides the charge for license…”  (source)

📚Matsya Purana 216.8📚
In course of gambling and at the game of dice one should show his skill to the king but make the latter win.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 253.13-30📚
(The term) debt (denotes that admitted) by a person as payable or that denied by him as not payable or that which is given as gift (to another). One’s own property placed out of trust (with another) without any doubt is said by wise men to be a trust that is a matter of dispute. The place where the merchants and others collectively transact business (called) the active occupation is known to be a matter of dispute. If one wants to take back that he has paid (to another), that is called the withdrawer of a gift and is known to be the matter of dispute. Having agreed to do service (to another), if one refuses to do so, it (is known as) refusal to do service and is said to be a matter for dispute. The wage of a servant is said to be coming under the head of debts and the non-payment (of the same) is deemed to be a matter of dispute. If one sells the entrusted property of another or the lost (property of another) after having got it or having stolen it without the knowledge (of the owner), it is known to be selling of another’s property. After having sold the goods for money if (the goods) are not made over to the buyer, it is non-delivery of sold (articles) and is a matter for dispute. If a purchaser opines that the articles bought are not good after having bought (it is also a disputable thing). That condition of a wicked (assuring) good conduct is said to be conventional practice. The transgression of the conventional practice is said to be a matter for dispute. The dispute that arises in respect of the right over the land that has been determined by a bridge or a field or drawn boundaries is said to be that (dispute) arising from the land. Where the marriage rite of men and women is declared that is named as the union of women and men and is a matter for dispute. That which is termed the division of the ancestral (property) by the sons is said to be the partition of the property and a matter of dispute by the wise men. A rash act done by those haughty of their strength is said to be a crime and is declared as a matter for dispute. It is said to be an abusive laṅguage that (is spoken) out of hostility with reference to the country, caste and family and the like with gestures. It is said to be an assault if injury (is inflicted) on other’s bodies with hands, feet, weapons and destructive materials such as the fire. It is said to be divine gambling (when it is played) with dice, vajra (diamond) and rod etc. It is termed as animal gambling (if it is played) with animals, and birds kept for pleasure. That dispute is again known to be a miscellaneous one if it does not rest on anything. The violation of the command of the king as well as not carrying out that command (also constitute an offence).”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 257.49-53📚
If the stake at gambling is in the multiples of hundreds, then the king’s share would be five hundred (paṇas). If they are cheats and swindlers, then the king should take one thousand paṇas. The manager at the gambling house should run it properly and pay the king’s share as laid down. The defeated person should be made to deposit the amount that is payable to the victor. One should hear the true words (of the gamblers) patiently. When the king has obtained his share in the reputed society of the gamblers, he should put the defeated in the midst of the gamblers to pay the fine. If not, he should not. They are who see and the witnesses in such transactions. Those who indulge in false die and fraudulent ways should be banished by the king along with the marks (on their person). There should be only one leader of the gambling house in order to know the cheats (in gambling). The same is the procedure in gambling with fighting animals and betting after setting animals to fight.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
He then throws the five dice into his hand, with (Vâg. S. X, 28), ‘Dominant thou art: may these five regions of thine prosper!’–now that one, the Kali, is indeed dominant over the (other) dice, for that one dominates over all the dice: therefore he says, ‘Dominant thou art: may these five regions of thine prosper!’ for there are indeed five regions, and all the regions he thereby causes to prosper for him…Thereupon the tribesman and the Pratiprasthâtri, with that sacrificial sword, prepare the gaming-ground, (close) by the original fire, with the puroruk verse of the Sukra. The Sukra is the eater: he thereby makes (him) the eater…The Adhvaryu then takes clarified butter in four ladlings, places a piece of gold on the gaming-ground, and offers with (Vâg. S. X, 29), ‘May ample Agni, the lord of rites, delighted,–may ample Agni, the lord of rites, accept of the butter, hail!’ He (the Adhvaryu) throws down the dice, with, ‘Hallowed by Svâhâ, strive ye with Sûrya’s rays for the middlemost place among brethren!’ For that gaming-ground is the same as ‘ample Agni,’ and those dice are his coals, thus it is him (Agni) he thereby pleases; and assuredly in the house of him who offers the Râgasûya, or who so knows this, the striking 1 of that cow is approved of. On those dice he says, ‘Play for the cow!’ The two draught oxen of the original (hall-door) fire are the sacrificial fee.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
And on the following day, having brought together gavedhukâ (seeds) from the houses of the Keeper of the dice (akshâvâpa) and the Huntsman (govikartana), he prepares a gavedhukâ pap for Rudra at the house of him who is consecrated. These two, while being two jewels (of the king), he makes one for the purpose of completeness. And as to why he performs this offering,–Rudra is hankering after that (cow) which is killed here in this hall; now Rudra is Agni (fire), and the gaming-board being fire, and the dice being its coals, it is him (Rudra) he thereby pleases. And verily whosoever, that knows this thus, performs the Râgasûya, in his house that approved (cow) is killed. And he, the keeper of dice, and the huntsman, are (each of them) assuredly one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for these two that he is thereby consecrated, and these two he makes his own faithful followers. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a bicoloured bullock–either one with white fore-feet, or a white-tailed one,–a claw-shaped knife, and a dice-board with a horsehair band; for that is what belongs to those two.”  (source)

3. Talismans and Charms to get Success in Gambling

📚Skanda Purana 7.1.345.1-3📚
Thereafter, O great goddess, one should go to the Linga Hatakesvara situated at a distance of one hundred eighty Dhanus to the east of Jaradgavesvara. Knowing that it is an excellent Kestra, a Linga called Nalesvara was installed by Nala along with Damayanti. Visiting it and by worshipping it as per procedure, O goddess, a being (man) is freed from Kali and becomes victorious in gambling.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 259.78-79📚
When one is haunted by the fear of death, one will get (the end of) his life quickly. One should repeat the single hymn prāveyābhi mentally in the night. (If it is repeated) at dawn or at sunrise one will get victory in gambling. One who has lost his way will find his way by (repeating the hymn) mā pragāma.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 312.22-25📚
After having written this on the bhūrja leaf (with resin) endowed with the marks of thunderbolt, one should add the principal letters of the mantra. This would offer protection to the bodies etc. If it is encircled by engraved gold, this amulet would annihilate death. The same worn (on the body) would (remove) obstacles, sins and subdue enemies. (It) would (also) confer good fortune and longevity. No doubt, it would give victory in gambling and battle even if the army of Indra (is to be fought against). ”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 139.14-17📚
One is sure to win in dice (by wearing) a cloth besmeared with (the herbs represented by) sapta (7), dik (8), muni (3) and randhra (9). Male child (would be born) by besmearing the penis with (the herbs denoted by) tri (3), daśa (10), akṣa (2), abdhi (7) and muni (3) before coition.”  (source)

📚Apastamba Dharmsutra📚
(A funeral-oblation) offered on any day of the latter half of the month gladdens the Manes. But it procures different rewards for the sacrificer according to the time observed…(If he performs it) on the fifth day, sons (will be born to him). He will have numerous and distinguished offspring, and he will not die childless. (If he performs it) on the sixth day, he will become a great traveller and gambler.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 3.68.56-58📚
The idol of Ganesa is to be made of ivory, or of a margosa tree (branch) broken by a monkey or an elephant or of a white arka plant. After installing prana in it and invoking Ganesa there and worshipping him properly when the moon is in eclipse, he should touch it without taking any food and should carry it in the sikha (the sacred hair on the hair). Thereby he shall be victorious in gambling, battles and legal disputes.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 3.74.186-191📚
I shall clearly recount the yantra of Hanuman that is extremely protective and in power. He shall draw the diagram of a lotus with eight petals. In the pericarp the name of the sadhya (the person intended) shall also be written. After inscribing an octagon in the petal, he shall envelop it with the Malamantra (a garland of mantras). After enveloping its exterior with the Maya he shall perform the pranapratistha rite (installation of the vital breath). The yantra shall be written in an excellent birch bark with a golden pen immersed in saffron and yellow pigment Rocana. The yantra shall be enclosed with three meters. The devotee shall wear this yantra strenuously achieved, either on his arm or on his head. He shall be victorious in the battle, in the game of dice, in arguments as well as in discussions…”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 3.87.29📚
By meditating on the goddess and repeating the mantra, the repeater attains victory in the game of dice, in the forest, at the palace door, in the battle and during emergency brought about by the enemies.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 4.38.1-4📚
Hither I call the Apsaras, victorious, who plays with skill, Her who comes freely fort to view, who wins the stakes in games of dice. Hither I call that Apsaras who scatters and who gathers up. The Apsaras who plays with skill and takes her winnings in the game. Dancing around us with the dice, winning the wager by her play. Hither I call that Apsaras, the joyous, the delightful one—Those nymphs who revel in the dice, who suffer grief and yield to wrath.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 7.109.1-7📚
My homage to the strong, the brown, the sovran lord among the dice! Butter on Kali I bestow: may he be kind to one like me. Bear butter to the Apsarases, O Agni, and to the Dice bear dust and sand and water…Evil be mine opponent’s luck! Sprinkle thou butter over us. Strike, as a tree with lightning flash, mine adversary in the game. The God who found for us this wealth for gambling, to cast the dice and count the winning number…As I invoke the Gods at need, as I have lived in chastity, May these, when I have grasped the Dice, the brown, be kind to one like me.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 7.50.1-9📚
As evermore the lightning flash strikes, irresistible, the tree, So, irresistible, may I conquer the gamblers with the dice…Yea, by superior play one gains advantage: in time he piles his spoil as doth a gambler…I would that I were winner of cattle and horses, wealth and gold. Dice, give me play that bringeth fruit as ’twere a cow with flowing milk! And, as the bowstring binds, the bow, unite me with a stream of gains.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 2.2.5📚
Haunters of darkness, shrill in voice, dice-lovers, maddeners of the mind To these have I paid homage, the Gandharva’s wives, Apsarases.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 5.31.6📚
The spell that they have cast upon thy public room thy gambling-board, Spell they have cast upon thy dice, this I strike back again on them.”  (source)