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There are two Shakuni - one is the son of Hiranyaaksh, and the other is the main character of Mahaabhaarat. Here we will talk about Shakuni of MBH.

Shakuni is a Mahaabhaarat character. He was the Prince of Gaandhaar Desh of Baloochistaan (now in Paakistaan). He was the youngest son of Raajaa Subal. MBH, G-0-prolog/15  says that he was the incarnation of Dwaapar. He has been portrayed as an extremely intelligent but devious old man. He was a calm but calculated politician.

He had a sister named Gaandhaaree who was married to Dhritraashtra of Hastinaapur. He had six brothers more - Gaya, Gavaaksh, Vrishabh, Charmaavat, Arjab, and Shuk. They were also with him in Mahaabhaarat war. It means that Subal had 7 sons and one daughter.  MBH, G-6-War/23 says that Bheem killed Subal's 5 sons -  Gavaaksh, Sarabh, Vibhu, Subhag, and Bhaanudatt.

MBH, Drone Parv, Ch 28 says that Subal had two sons more - Vrishak and Achal apart from Ulook. Dhrishtdyumn introduced these four sons to Draupadee while they were in her Swayamvar - Shakuni, Saubal, Vrishak and Brihadwal ( MBH, G-3-Youth/9).

In fact Shakuni was very angry with Bheeshm, because he came to propose for Gaandhaaree for his blind nephew Dhritraashtra. He always used to say "How could he think of my beautiful sister to marry a blind man?" Bheeshm used to love Paandav more because they were good natured, well-behaved and polite; while Duryodhan, Gaandhaaree's son, always thought of some or the other mischief to trouble others. So Shakuni wanted that both families should develop so much enmity that they should kill each other, or his nephew should become the King of Hastinaapur. To carry out this Herculean task he himself came to Hastinaapur and started living there.

He was a good player of Dice game - Chausar. Wikipedia says that the dice that were used the Dice Game were made with Shakuni's father's thigh bones and would always do his bidding.
[We don't know how far is this true]

Wikipedia mentions the birth of Shakuni like this - Shakuni was born to King Subal of Gandhaar. His sister Gaandhaaree was married to King Dhritraashtra. As per legend, on the advice of astrologers, to avert a calamity, it was said that Gaandhaaree was married to a goat some say it was a donkey, some say it was tree] before getting married to Dhritraashtra. And the goat had been sacrificed promptly thereafter. Technically, this made Gaandhaaree a widow and Dhritraashtra her second husband. Many years later when her husband Dhritraashtra learns about this truth, he was shocked and enraged, so he puts Gaandhaaree’s entire family, including King Subal in prison. In prison, they were served just one fistful of rice every day. Realizing that this was an elaborate plan to starve them to death, Gaandhaaree’s father declared that none but his youngest son would eat the sparse food being served, so that at least one amongst them would survive to avenge the death of the rest. The youngest son of King Subal was Shakuni. He survived and swore not to rest until all of Kuru kingdom is destroyed. He used the bones of his father's thigh to make the dice with which he was able to defeat the Paandav in the gambling match, and thus which eventually led to the war at Kurukshetra and also to the destruction of the entire Kuru clan.

I do not know how far this story is also true, because according to MBH, G-Youth/23 Subal was present in Yudhishthir's Raajsooya Yagya in Indraprasth. He came with his sons there.

His Projects
(1) He was the mastermind of all the events of Mahaabhaarat. He always instigated Duryodhan to trouble Paandav. In the very childhood, he suggested Duryodhan to give poison to Bheem mixed in sweets to kill him, but unfortunately he came back alive with more powers.

(2) When princes grew up and Yudhishthir was declared the Crown Prince, he suggested Duryodhan to burn all Paandav in a Laakshaa Grih (a house made of highly inflammable things), specially built for them in Baaranaavat. But fortunately or unfortunately, with the advice and guidance and help of Vidur Jee they were able to escape from it safely and securely, leaving behind a proof unknowingly that they all died in that fire.

(3) His next mischief was, to suggest Duryodhan to invite Yudhishthir to play Chausar (a dice game), to defeat him cunningly and to take everything from him including Draupadee. He succeeded in taking everything from Paandav but unfortunately the dice turned, and Duryodhan's behavior brought him upside down, and Draupadee succeeded in getting everything back.

(4) But Shakuni's brain did not stop here. He again asked Duryodhan to play Chausar with Paandav once more. Duryodhan did that. This time also he succeeded and Paandav had to go to Van for 13 years, including one year of Agyaatvaas (in this year they were supposed to live in the society without being recognized, incognito).

(5) Even when Paandav were living in Van, he was not silent. Once Durvaasaa Rishi came to Hastinaapur with his 10,000 disciples. Duryodhan and Shakuni honored Muni greatly. He got very pleased with their hospitality. Shakuni got an idea, he sent him to Paandav saying, "Since Duryodhan's elder brother is not here, if you could bless him in the Van, he would have be very happy. You may go there in the afternoon." Durvaasaa Rishi readily accepted this offer and went from there. Now Durvaasaa Rishi arrived there in the afternoon. He met Yudhishthir on the way and said to him - "We are going to take bath in the river. When we come back we will have food with you." Yudhishthir said - "As you wish."

Draupadee had a Divine pot from which she could get as much food as she wanted to feed others, but when she herself had taken food that pot, that pot would not give any food further; so she used to take food in the end. So Yudhishthir was very worried because he knew that Draupadee had eaten her food by now and the Divine pot was empty. How could he offer food to so many people? He came to his Aashram and told everything to Draupadee. She was equally worried. She remembered Krishn and Lo, Krishn was at the door asking for food. Draupadee told Him her problem still Krishn insisted her to bring her pot, saying that He was very hungry. In spite of saying several times that she had cleaned the pot and there was nothing in it, Krishn asked her to bring it. When she brought it, He found a leaf of greens (some say it was a grain of rice), He ate it saying "All the creatures of the world should be satisfied with this food." At the same time Durvaasaa Rishi and his disciples felt satisfied and full. They went away from the river itself thinking that if they went now to Yudhishthir and did not take food there what he would say, so better not to go there. So they never came back to Paandav. Thus Krishn saved Yudhishthir from his wrath.

(6) Now he carried out his another plan. During the same 12 year period, on his advice, Duryodhan, Karn, Dushaasan and Shakuni himself went for recreation in the same Van where Paandav were living and camped near their Aashram. Duryodhan had to face embarrassment from Paandav here also. Indra came to know about this and Duryodhan's evil intention so he sent  Chitrasen Gandharv to pick up a quarrel with him and then to defeat him in the fight. Chitrasen did this for his friend Arjun. When Chitrasen picked up a quarrel with Duryodhan at a trivial issue, Chitrasen arrested him and took him to his camp. In the meantime Duryodhan's bodyguards rushed to Paandav for their help to release Duryodhan from Chitrasen. Yudhishthir promptly sent Arjun and Bheem to release him as he was still their brother in the eyes of others. As Arjun and Bheem came there, Arjun got him released immediately as Chitrasen was his friend. Besides Chitrasen told him the whole story for doing this. Duryodhan was so embarrassed that he could not sleep for nights together because of this incident. So even both of his plans failed - to lower down Paandav, and rather he had to take help of Paandav.

After that Shakuni had no way to bring Paandav lower than that, so they had to declare war. Shakuni got killed by Sahadev in the war.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 09/19/13