It is also said that he was more angry with either Bheeshma, Pandu, Shantanu's ancestors or the whole Kurus line because of the way the Kurus had destroyed his line years before.

There is also a story behind Shakuni's upbringing and this war between Gandhar and Hastinapur. What is it exactly? He is seen by many as one of the key persons that caused the Kurukshetra War (Apart from his role that dice game, hate Pandavas and all.). Was revenge the only reason he left Gandhar and came to Hastinapur with his sister Gandhari?


3 Answers 3


As far as I can tell, stories of Shakuni being motivated by revenge are just folklore with no basis in Hindu scripture. The Adi Parva of the Mahabharata describes Dhritarashtra's marriage to Gandhari in completely amicable terms, with Shakuni's father Suvala overcoming his reluctance over Dhritashtra's shortcomings after considering the virtuous qualities possessed by Kuru Dynasty men, and Shakuni happily participating:

Soon after Bhishma heard from the Brahmanas that Gandhari, the amiable daughter of Suvala, having worshipped Hara (Siva) had obtained from the deity the boon that she should have a century of sons. Bhishma, the grandfather of the Kurus, having heard this, sent messengers unto the king of Gandhara. King Suvala at first hesitated on account of the blindness of the bridegroom, but taking into consideration the blood of the Kurus, their fame and behaviour, he gave his virtuous daughter unto Dhritarashtra and the chaste Gandhari hearing that Dhritarashtra was blind and that her parents had consented to marry her to him, from love and respect for her future husband, blindfolded her own eyes.

Sakuni, the son of Suvala, bringing unto the Kurus his sister endued with youth and beauty, formally gave her away unto Dhritarashtra. And Gandhari was received with great respect and the nuptials were celebrated with great pomp under Bhishma's directions. And the heroic Sakuni, after having bestowed his sister along with many valuable robes, and having received Bhishma's adorations, returned to his own city. And, O thou of Bharata's race, the beautiful Gandhari gratified all the Kurus by her behaviour and respectful attentions. And Gandhari, ever devoted to her husband, gratified her superiors by her good conduct; and as she was chaste, she never referred even by words to men other than her husband or such superiors.

And the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata describes how Arjuna's son Iravan kills most of Shakuni's brothers during the Mahabharata war, refuting the notion that Shakuni's siblings died in a Kuru dungeon:

The sons of Suvala, however, recovering their senses, once more rushed at Iravat, excited with wrath. Iravat, however, proud of his might, and displaying his lightness of hand, proceeded towards all of them, armed with his sword. Moving as he did with great activity, the sons of Suvala, although they moved about on their fleet steeds, could not find an opportunity for striking that hero (on foot). Beholding him then on foot, his foes surrounded him closely and wished to take him captive. Then that crusher of foes, seeing them contiguous to himself, struck off, with his sword, both their right and left arms, and mangled their other limbs. Then those arms of theirs adorned with gold, and their weapons, fell down on the earth, and they themselves, with limbs mangled, fell down on the field, deprived of life. Only Vrishava, O king, with many wounds on his person, escaped (with life) from that dreadful battle destructive of heroes.

By the way, in revenge for Iravan's killing of the brothers of Shakuni, Duryodhana told the Rakshasa (demon) Alambusha to kill Iravan, as I discuss in this question.

  • I asked this question because of the following description in Wikipedia(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakuni). 'It is said that in some military campaign of either Bheeshma, Pandu, or Shantanu's ancestors, Ghandara came under attack from Hastinapur. Hastinapur conquered Gandhar, killed the king Achala Suvala, and imprisoned all the male members of his line, saying that line was full of adharma. This included Shakuni and his 100 brothers. Since all of them were sparsely fed in the prison, the family decided that at least one of them could survive and gave all the rice to Shakuni.." Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 10:11
  • Wanted to know the actual story behind it. Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 10:12
  • @sandeep.ganage Yeah, that's why I included the quote from the Bhishma Parva, where Iravan kills Shakuni's brothers during the Mahabharata war. So Shakuni's brothers were still alive up until that point. Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 5:55
  • @sandeep.ganage By the way, I just posted a question about a time when Krishna attacked Gandhara to rescue a bunch of kings that Shakuni's uncle Nagnajit had imprisoned: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/7415/36 Perhaps that made Shakuni have a hatred for Krishna. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:30

As I have heard, he(shakuni) was disappointed with the wedding and the aftermath of it, as gandhari made herself virtually blind, it didn't look good to shakuni, and he felt that his sister was cheated and his "kul" insulted (marrying his sister to a blind man), and hence he swore to destroy everything that was related to Hastinapur.

This is a shruti, not sure whats written in texts.

  • 3
    You should cite sources. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 16:17

The story goes like, Shakuni was the youngest of hundred children, Gandhari being his sibling. Gandhari was predicted to have a 2 marriage in her future. To avoid this her father king of Gandhar, married her to a goat. Which was killed later, Bhishma and family knew this fact only post her marriage to Dhritrashtra. Hence the entire Gandhar royal family was jailed. They were given only single grain to eat daily. Instead of having it, they gave it to young Shakuni to become strong and take revenge.
Also Shakuni's father made dice from his hip bone which was later used in the game leading to the epic war.

Reference: Mahabharata, The(Illustrated) By Rao, Shanta Rameshwar (Page 65)

  • 2
    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You should cite sources. Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 14:00
  • The dice were made of the bones of Jarasandha and not his hip bones., and later the same were used in the game leading to the epic war. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 9:35
  • Which page talks about the goat? The book is on Google Books but the text that is searchable doesn't seem to mention a goat at all (books.google.co.jp/…)
    – velw
    Commented May 6 at 12:07

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