Leela Game-Board (Snakes and Arrows)

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Project by MrWolfe posted 09-21-2020 10:55 PM 602 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Leela Game-Board (Snakes and Arrows)

About the table:
This is an older piece I’ve been wanting to share here on LumberJocks for a while now. I made this gameboard over twenty years ago. I bought the actual table at a second hand shop. I then drew the design and carved the table top and painted it. This one of the first items I made in wood. It was before I built my shop in 2017 and before I had access to shop tools. It was carved with a Dremel.

I used a combination of Testor enamel paints and custom blended Prisma color pencil pigment. I used a clear polyurethane spray on fine sandpaper and blended the pencil colors on the sandpaper while the poly was wet. I then painted the blended color onto the table top with a brush. Finished with shellac and Trewax brand paste wax. The black inclusions on the corners are black stained glass that I cut and shaped.

About the game:
Leela – The Game of Self Knowledge
I bought the paperback book I created this game from at a yard sale for ten cents. It had an introduction and 72 short chapters (one or two pages each). The illustrated folded paper “game-board” was missing from it. In fact I did not realize there was an illustrated game-board with the book. The book is basically a commentary on the spiritual evolution/path of humanity. The British stole this concept from India and brought it back to England and bastardized it. The version they presented to the West is “Chutes and Ladders” and all the esoteric thought was stripped from it. The Sanskrit original is ancient and basically is a roadmap to human experience. It is beyond the scope of this post for me to present it in a thorough way.

In short…
A “Player” uses a token (like a ring or stone etc) to represent their Self on the game-board, a die to represent their karma. One starts out in square 68, “Cosmic Consciousness”, and stays there until they roll a six. That will bring them into play on the game-board square 1, Janma (Genesis). After that the player just reads the short commentaries as they land on a space after each die roll. There are seven virtues and seven vices (arrows and snakes). When one lands on one of these they follow the arrow up or the snake down. For example, on the second row there are two spaces next to each other, Jealousy (Dwesh) and Mercy (Daya). If one lands on Jealousy that lowers the Player’s energy and brings the Player down a level to Greed because the issues in Jealousy stem from unresolved issue of Greed. If one lands on Mercy that raises the Player’s energy and elevates the Player to a higher level. One plays the game, up and down, until their karma brings them directly to space 68 Cosmic Consciousness again. During the play of the game it is very easy to see patterns in thoughts and behaviors that the Player may be repeating in real life. It also illustrates and offers alternative behaviors and choices. It really is an incredible “game”.

This a very brief and poor explanation but I have been able to find new editions of this book on Amazon under the title of:

The Yoga of Snakes and Arrows/The Leela of Self Knowledge
- Harish Johari

For this post I’ve cleaned up the table and polished it with a light coat of wax.
Thanks for looking.
Comments and criticisms are welcome.

8 comments so far

View leafherder's profile


1969 posts in 2835 days

#1 posted 09-21-2020 11:19 PM

Thank you for the interesting and educational description of the game. There was just enough detail to pique my interest and spur me to do my own research to learn more. (Did you do that on purpose after all those times I made you look up art history references? LOL)

A beautiful project, has a very Mediaeval look to it – actually reminds me of the Bayeaux Tapestry (I’ll save you the trouble – created to illustrate the Norman Conquest of England in 1066).

Keep up the good work and stay healthy.

-- Leafherder

View Redoak49's profile


4919 posts in 2871 days

#2 posted 09-22-2020 11:03 AM

Thank you for an interesting project and post. Excellent job on this.

View MrWolfe's profile


1150 posts in 1006 days

#3 posted 09-22-2020 01:52 PM

Thank you Leafherder,
I thought you might appreciate this piece. I’m glad I found something new for you to research!
I’ll check out the Bayeaux Tapestry now.

I appreciate your comment RedOak49,
This was one of my first wood projects (#2) and I knew it would just be a matter of time before I built a shop.
Thanks for the kind words.

View therealSteveN's profile


6454 posts in 1457 days

#4 posted 09-22-2020 02:05 PM

A Dremel tool??? Mad skillz Jon, mad skills.

Thanks for the explanation, otherwise all I would have heard was Twilight zone soundtrack.


-- Think safe, be safe

View splintergroup's profile


4049 posts in 2105 days

#5 posted 09-22-2020 04:39 PM

Awesome effort Jon!

I agree with the medieval look of the board, much more interesting than Chutes and Ladders 8^)

I imagine many hours hunched over with a screaming Dremel followed by your coloring in all the detail, then making it look really ancient. Decorative and worthy of game play, kudos!

View MrWolfe's profile


1150 posts in 1006 days

#6 posted 09-22-2020 11:44 PM

Thanks SteveN.
The twilight zone tune is my theme song!

Thanks and yes… hours with a screaming Dremel. The coloring was fun.

View MrWolfe's profile


1150 posts in 1006 days

#7 posted 09-24-2020 10:04 PM

I had been scheduled to do a live demonstration in March of this year at a Maker’s Faire. That was postponed for obvious reasons (Covid 19). After a few months the organization realized that a live event was not going to happen this year. I was recently asked to make a video of the demonstration which is cutting dovetails for a box with handtools.

Here it is…
it was originally over 20 minutes long because I was thorough about explaining the tools, layout and each step of the process. I got it down to about 12 minutes by removing most of the narration. I sped up some of the video to shorten it even more.

I’ve added this Leela Game-Board post here because the my LumberJock's Project page is featured in the video.
I wanted to show this game board in the gallery.


View MrWolfe's profile


1150 posts in 1006 days

#8 posted 09-28-2020 03:16 PM

Update on the Maker’s Faire event this past weekend.

It was very lightly “attended” but for a first joint effort from San Antonio Public Library and Makers Faire SA I think it was a success. I’m hoping that maybe next year if it is again online that there is a way to stream the entire event live rather than the prerecorded videos that were submitted this year. Maybe both.

It was fun and cool and I’ve had a couple of people email me from it so that part is a success.
Here is the posted video link from the event.


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