history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in
ancient India was fed by a powerful fuel--religious rites. There were some
well-defined values like the mantra in the Atharva-Veda,
saying," Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left". In
terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional
Olympic oath: ".......For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport."
The founders of the Olympic idea had India very much in mind when they were
deciding on the various disciplines. There is a fascinating link between
Greece and India which stretches back to 975 B.C. The zest for
chariot-racing and wrestling was common to both the countries.
In India, dehvada or the body-way
is defined as "one of the ways to full realisation." In the day and age of
the Rig-Veda, Ramayana and Mahabharata men of stature and
circumstance were expected to be competent in chariot-racing, archery,
horsemanship, military tactics, wrestling, weight-lifting, swimming and
The guru-shishya (teacher-pupil)
relationship has always been an integral part of Indian sport from time
immemorial. Indian sport reached a peak of excellence when Buddhism held
sway here. In Villas Mani Majra, Tiruvedacharya describes many
fascinating games, namely, archery, equitation, hammer-throwing and
chariot-racing. In Manas Olhas (1135 A.D.), Someshwar writes
about bhrashram (weight-lifting), bhramanshram (walking) and
also about Mall-Stambha (wrestling).
It is more than likely that many of
today's Olympic disciplines are sophisticated versions of the games of
strength and speed that flourished in ancient India and Greece. Chess,
wrestling, polo, archery and hockey (possibly a fall-out from polo) are some
of the games believed to have originated in India.