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Shakuni was Gandhari's brother and hence was alive before Pandavas-Kauravas were born. Now refer following narrative:

"Sakuni said,--'One that is intoxicated falleth into a pit (hell) and stayeth there deprived of the power of motion. Thou art, O king, senior to us in age, and possessed of the highest accomplishments. O bull of the Bharata race, I (beg my pardon and) bow to thee. Thou knowest, O Yudhishthira, that gamesters, while excited with play, utter such ravings that they never indulge in the like of them in their waking moments nor even in dream.' [Sabha Parva SECTION LXIV]

Why did Shakuni call Yudhishtira older than him in age?

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    Debroy translates it the same way. It's not a translation issue. That's how it is. – sv. Feb 27 '18 at 18:09
  • Can you post the original Sanskrit text ? – ram Mar 1 '18 at 0:47
  • No because only Vyasa has it but Vyasa has lost his life before my parents ancestors were even born. – Knowledge Seeker Mar 1 '18 at 6:52
  • @ram you can find it here sacred-texts.com/hin/mbs/mbs02058.htm (18th) – YDS Mar 24 '18 at 16:07
  • It's a translation issue very clearly . The word Jyeshth is what is "elder". Now Shakuni nowhere used word "We" or "Us" in actual Sanskrit verse "गर्ते मत्तः प्रपतति प्रमत्तः...." , so Shakuni has just called him Jyeshtha or elder, but not "elder to us". – user12826 Mar 24 '18 at 19:43
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The English translation mentioned in the question is for this Sanskrit shloka:

गर्ते मत्तः परपतति परमत्तः सथाणुम ऋच्छति |

जयेष्ठॊ राजन वरिष्ठॊ ऽसि नमस ते भरतर्षभ ||

The shloka doesn't say that Yudhishtira was elder in age to Shakuni. It just says that Yudhishtira was of a mature age at that time.

Shakuni was playing on behalf of Duryodhana, it seems that translator has translated this verse in that sense that Yudhishtira was elder to Duryodhana.

The shloka can be translated as below:

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Sakuni said,--'One that is intoxicated falleth into a pit (hell) and stayeth there deprived of the power of motion. Thou art, O king, senior in age, and possessed of the highest accomplishments. O bull of the Bharata race, I bow to thee.'

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    This answer just makes me angry at the mistake of the English translators. They can't even translate simple words correctly. – Knowledge Seeker Feb 27 '18 at 5:32
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    @TheLogicalFanatic It is not a mistake exactly. Here, Shakuni is playing behalf of Duryodhana and his brothers who are younger to Yudhishtira, That is the translator's intent. – Sarvabhouma Feb 27 '18 at 8:57
  • "The shloka doesn't say that Yudhishtira was elder in age to Shakuni" - jyeṣṭho means elder. The Hindi tr. 'aayu me badein' and 'gunoh mein shrest' -- how is this different from English translation? Your answer in fact supports the English translation in the question. – sv. Feb 27 '18 at 17:04
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    @sv. It only says "Aayu me badein" and doesn't compare with Shakuni...it may mean eldest in Kauravas/Pandavas princes but doesn't mean elder to Shakuni..or it may simply mean of mature age..a word may hv more than one meaning..any way u can add another answer... :) – YDS Feb 28 '18 at 1:45
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    @sv, yes, jyeshto means 'elder'. doesn't mean 'elder to me'. he is referring to the fact that yudhistira is the oldest among kauravas and pandavas. 'aayuh me badein' - means big in age. doesn't mean 'bigger than me'. 'gunonme sresht' means 'excellent in gunas'. doesn't mean 'better than me in gunas' (although that part happens to be true). Your question specifically assumes Shakuni said 'You are elder to me in age'. That is a wrong assumption. Jyeshta putra is usually the term given to the first son, who is also the heir. Translations cannot be used to question the source. – ram Mar 1 '18 at 0:43
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Both Shakuni and Yudhishthira were Kshatriyas.

So, IMO Shakuni's behavior can be explained if we take into account the following verse, which says, that a Kshatriya's seniority depends on his valour (ViryavattA) and not on his actual age.

Similarly, a Brahmin's seniority depends on his learning and knowledge.

ViprAnAm jyAnato jyeshthacham kshatriyAnAm tu viryatah |
VaishyAnAm dhyAnadhanatah shudranAm eva janmatah ||


Manu Smriti 2.155. The seniority of Brahmanas is from (sacred) knowledge, that of Kshatriyas from valour, that of Vaisyas from wealth in grain (and other goods), but that of Sudras alone from age.

Manu Smriti 2.156. A man is not therefore (considered) venerable because his head is gray; him who, though young, has learned the Veda, the gods consider to be venerable.

So, Shakuni's way of addressing Yudhisthira may be related to the fact that Yudhishthira was more valourous than Shakuni was. Or, at least, Shakuni considered it to be so.

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