The puzzle is very simple, on a chess board, one has to traverse the Knight through all the squares without revisiting any square. Very famously, Euler did extensive work on this topic in the 1750’s. Then, how old was this problem or puzzle? Well, must be pretty old because an Acharya solved this puzzle in 1300’s.
You may want to give it a try before you read on.
Acharya Vedanta Deshikar (1268–1369), a srivaishnava philosopher was an exceptional personality with command over wide range of subjects. Subjects of his mastery are so diverse, it’s hard to even imagine such a genius. He was exceptional in civil engineering, sculpting, mathematics, food science, behavioral science and many more besides Sanskrit and vishistadhvitha philosophy. Because of this, he is given the title “Sarva Tantra Swatantra”.
He has provided the solution to “Knight Tour” puzzle by creatively composing two shlokas in Sanskrit and encoding the solution into it. The shloka’s are part of one of his major works called “Paduka Sahasram”, in which he has composed 1008 shlokas praising the Paduka of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. The way he composed these 1008 shlokas is another miraculous event. We shall discuss that on another occasion.
The shlokas of encoding and the key goes as follows.
The first shloka is the encoding and the second shloka is the key.
Write down each syllable from the first shloka on the chess squares as follows. Shloka has 32 syllables, so it must be repeated for each half of the board as shown below.
Start filling the first half of the board by matching the syllables from the second shloka. (स्थि ता स म य रा ज त्पा)
स्थि = A1, ता = B3, स = A5, म = B7, य = D8 and so on.
When we come to the last 3 syllables रासरा for रा there will be 2 options A2 and D3, here to have the continuity on to the second half of the board, the first रा should be on A2 and choose the D3 for the last syllable रा, Thus you can start applying same method for the second half from E1.
Once the keys are completely applied, one arrives at the following solution.
Vedanta Deshikar calls this style of composing as “Chaduranga Turaga Bandha” which bluntly translates to “Chess board and Horse Binding”
We often hear objections from nay sayers of Indian culture that shlokas are just for praying nothing beyond. Also unfortunately Sanskrit literature in any form is largely attached with Hinduism. But the works of Vedanta Deshikar and many more geniuses prove them wrong. It also establishes the fact that, these nay sayers do so without any knowledge of our heritage. Unfortunately for India, such people have held the positions of curriculum creation and we see a huge impact of it on our young generation. Better late than never, let’s bring these gems out and make it available easily to the young generations so that they get inspired and dig out many such genius works from our history.
Watch out this space for more gems like this.
Vande Vedanta deshikam.