SHAKUNI – Little Known Facts

Shakuni was a king of the Gandhara kingdom. He had ascended on the throne after the death of his father Subala.

[Gandhara kingdom which includes modern days part of northern Pakistan and some parts of Afghanistan. Puskalavati, Taxila(Takshasila ), and Peshawar (Purushapura ) were cities in this Gandhara kingdom. It is believed that Gandharvas are a celestial being who can fly and are proficient in music. They are also often referred to as demigods. It is believed that these Gandharvas were an original inhabitant of Gandhara and because of their proficiency in Indian classical music – the Indian classical basic note (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni, Sa) Ga represents Gandhar].

Now coming back to the story. Bhishma had brought the proposal of Dhritarashtra for Gandhari( Shakuni’s sister). Since Dhritarashtra was born blind king Subala was not happy about it so Bhishma imprisoned king Subala and all his 100 sons including Shakuni. During their time in prison, they were given one grain of rice each in captivity as food. Knowing that they all are going to die, Subala gives all their food to his wittiest son Shakuni so that he can stay alive and take revenge on behalf of them. King Subala begged for mercy to free Shakuni but Bhishma was very well aware of Shakuni’s intention so he arranged marriage between Ghandhari and Dhritarashtra before setting Shakuni free. Now that his sister was legally wedded to kuru clan, Shakuni couldn’t hold a grudge on his nephews and niece so he had redirected all his hatred towards Pandavas and Bhisma. It is believed that Shakuni used the Thighbone of his dead father to make dice that enabled him to win every game of dice as Shakuni’s father’s soul enters the dice to make it roll to whatever number Shakuni wanted. Before dying King Subala stabbed Shakuni’s leg so that he doesn’t forget their revenge and also blessed him to be a great politician. 

Later Shakuni had a wife called Arshi. Queen Arshi was from Kosala kingdom and had Three sons together namely Uluka, Vrikaasur and Vriprachitti.

Shakuni is often considered as the mastermind of the Kurukshetra war. He is the main antagonist for deteriorating relations between Pandavas and Kauravas. His vow to destroy the Kuru clan resulted in the death of all his nephews. 

He was expert in the game of dice commonly called chausar(Indian version of gambling) in India. Bhishma was the main enemy of Shakuni, because of him Ghandhari had to marry blind king(Dritharastra) and Shakuni lost his father and all his brothers. He often tried many failed tricks to kill Pandavas by poisoning Duryodhana’s mind which included:

  1. Poisoning of Bhima
  2. Wax house fire incident
  3. He made Duryodhana to invite Yudhishthira for the game of dice
  4. Robbed Pandavas of their kingdom called Indraprastha
  5. He was even behind humiliation of Draupadi by disrobing her and sending Pandavas into 13 years exile
  6. He made Shalya (brother of Madri) army to fight against Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war.

He had an extreme love for his sister hence even though he was king of Gandhara he spent most of his time in Hastinapura and he wanted to see Duryodhana as king of Hastinapura, which was never fulfilled.

On 17th day of Kurukshetra war, Nakula killed Vrikaasur (Shakuni’s son) and the next day that is on 18th day of war Sahadeva killed his son Uluka and Nakula killed many prominent Ghandhar warriors. Shakuni started attacking Sahadeva and as quite successful in breaking Sahadeva bow and destroying his chariot. Sahadeva took another bow and destroyed Shakuni chariot. Finally, both Sahadeva and Shakuni started the duel fight. 

Sahadeva has then able to smash on Shakuni’s forehead killing him instantly thus Sahadeva was able to fulfil the oath which he had taken to avenge Draupadi’s insult.

After the death of Shakuni, Shakuni’s last surviving son Vriprachitti ascended the throne of Gandhara.

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