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4-Shakuni's Dices

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4-Shakuni's Dices
Everybody might think that how Shakuni was so clever in Dice game that he never lost a chance and Yudhishthir never had an opportunity to play? There is a story behind this, although it is not from Ganguli's MBH translation.

During the reign of Yudhishthir , the Paandav, equal to the elephants of directions in valiance, went to each direction to kill the vice people as directed by the king. The son of Prithaa (Arjun), valiant as a lion , killed the kings, equal to the God of Death, Kuntal and Dantavaktra, the lowly Yavan, who fought against him. The city of elephant (Hastinaapur) was thus filled with endless wealth. Other kings (Paandav) also returned after defeating valiant kings.

Kaurav also, led by the son of Soot (Karn) roamed on the earth and accumulated wealth. They imprisoned Gaandhaaree's brothers too. They gave only a little  food to all of them and left them as such. The (imprisoned) kings became very sad. They thought over this and gave their own share of food to Shakuni who was very young at that time, in the hope that at least one of them will survive. The eight, nine and one kings (eighteen kings) died because of hunger in due course of time. Shakuni alone survived by eating that food which was sacrificed by his brothers to him. As told by the kings, when they were dying, Shakuni made dices using the bones of his dead elder brothers in order to annihilate the enemies, the valiant Kaurav.

Another Version
When Bheeshm went to Gaandhaar with a proposal of his eldest nephew Dhritaashtra's marriage to Gaandhaaree, although Gaandhaaree immediately accepted it and tied a strip of the cloth on her eyes from the same day to become like her blind husband, but Shakuni was not at all happy with this relation. He was burning inside but as his sister had agreed to this proposal, he could not do anything.

Later they came to know that On account of some unfortunate constellation of stars at the time of her birth, her husband was doomed to die and thus this marriage will not be auspicious for Gaandhaaree. It was necessary to do some remedy to remove its inauspiciousness. So following the great sage Vyaas' advice, her father first married her to the Saahadaa tree ** first in order to neutralize the malignant effect, and then married her to Dhritraashtra properly. After the marriage when Dhritraashtra came to know about this, he was filled with anger that he was married to a widow without telling him. At this he imprisoned Subal and his all sons. He gave them very little food - just enough for one person. Shakuni's father and brothers thought that if everybody would eat that food, nobody would survive, so since Shakuni was the eldest son among them they all gave their share of food to him and let him survive to take revenge from Kaurav. Shakuni did survive with a strong feeling of hatred in his heart.

Before his father died, he told Shakuni what course of action he had to follow in order to avenge their deaths. He also told him that after taking revenge, he must not live - one could not destroy one’s nephews and continue living thereafter. Thus Shakuni had to perform a double duty, which he did. The day his father died he made the dices of his thigh bones. He used only those dices whenever he played Dice game. It is said that those dices obeyed him without fail (that is why he could win Paandav without giving them the opportunity to play).

** some say it was a donkey, some say it was a goat. It is also said that as soon as Gaandhaaree was married to the tree, it went up in flames immediately, thus technically making her widow.

As told by Gaandhaaree, who became sad (due to the death of her brothers), Suyodhan (Duryodhan) considered Saubal (Shakuni) as a relative, as a minister like Kanikaa. Shakuni, controlling his vengeance in his mind to achieve his purpose, remained by the side of Suyodhan and advised him to his liking. This is how Shakuni sought vengeance according to "Bhaarat Gaathaa".



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 11/29/12