India from the age of Vedas and Mahabharata has had a very strong sporting culture with special mention about gymnastics, wrestling, and animal chasing. There is also strong mention about Iti Danda or modern day Gullidanda which was mastered by Bhima. Board games like ludo and the chess like epic Chaturanga played during the Mahabharata era have their origins in India. The relationship between the Guru (trainer) and his student (hisyo) has always been considered as an integral part of Indian sporting history right from the Indian Vedic period.
There has been strong evidence of people indulging in early form of chess and dice games during the Indus Valley civilization more than 7000 years back. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that chess existed in India before it was known to the world. Kalaripayattu, the modern day Martial arts that trains the body and mind with complex movements has its origin from Kerala India. It is the world’s oldest form of martial arts dating back to at least the 3rd century BC and is considered as the mother of all martial arts in the world.
Sports in India reached its pinnacle when Buddhism came into existence. Games like chariot racing, bow and arrow and hammer throwing were at the forefront. It is not a surprise as Gautama Buddha himself had mastery in archery and hammer throwing. Most of Olympic Games have their origins associated with this era as they predominantly rely on strength and speed. Someshwar’s Manasolhas written in 1135 A.D has strong mention about weight lifting, wrestling, archery, mallakhamb, gymnastics using yoga postures and horse games known as bhrashram and mall stambha, dhanurvidya and vajivahyali in yesterday years.
Also world-famous sport Kabaddi was invented in India. It is believed to be played by Yadavas, an ancient community during the Vedic age. While it is believed that the sport was played fondly by the residing on the western side of the country.
Ancient India gave prime importance to physical fitness. There has been strong evidence of the rich tradition of games that were practiced and passed on to the next generation. Sport was part of a strong culture and was not only practiced for leisure but to develop sound mental and physical capabilities.