Shakuni – the real story


We know that Shakuni was the person who masterminded the ascendancy of Duryodhana by beating Pandavas in gambling. What we don’t know that he was imprisoned by his own nephew, Duryodhana and his father and brothers have sacrificed their life, so Shakuni could survive. Read this unknown and interesting strory.

Shakuni in Mahabharata
Shakuni in Mahabharata

Shakuni – The gambler, whose wishes were obeyed by the dice was the brother of Gandhari. There is a story that the dice he used was made out of bones of his father,  Subala’s thighs.  His sister, Gandhari had some problem in her astrological chart according to that her second husband only will survive.

To rectify this situation, Gandhari was first married to a goat and then the animal was killed, so strictly speaking, she became a widow before marrying Dhritharashtra.  When Duryodhana took charge of the Hastinapura, he was lambasted by Bhima that he is son of a widow.

Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira
Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira

Angered with this insult, he came to know about the story,  attacked Gandhar province and imprisoned his 100 uncles including Shakuni. He arranged to provide one handful of rice for all of them to eat everyday. It was decided by the Subala, the father that Shakuni will eat the food given and survive to destroy Kouravas.

Shakuni’s brilliance

There is also an other story about how his father assessed the intelligence of his sons to select the most brilliant one. He asked his sons who were all in the prison to insert a thread through a bone so that who is succesful can eat the fistful of rice and survive to take revenge.

All the sons attempted and failed but Shakuni emerged victorious. He managed to tie a speck of rice to one end of a thread and fed it to an ant which took the thread through the hole of the bone. Shakuni survived. He was asked to eat the flesh of his own father which he did and created set of dice from his bones. After all of them died and only Shakuni was left,he was allowed out of prison on Gandhari’s insistence.

Note: This story is not found in original Mahabharata written by Vedavyasa


  1. duryodhana is now still in his childhood days. This incident as given is supposed to happen when he become the king.. so still head to go

  2. This doesn't exactly make sense because Shakuni has been close to Duryodhana and poisoning his mind against the Pandavas since Duryodhana was a kid. And Duryodhana never became the king. Dhritarashtra was always the ruler even when the Pandavas were sent to exile. Duryodhana has always been addressed as 'Yuvraj' which means Prince. So its not really possible for Duryodhana to attack Shakuni's line and imprison them.
    According to other stories Shakuni's kingdom, Gandhar, was attacked either by the ancestors of Shantanu or by Shantanu himself.

  3. A book of mine "Revenge of Shakuni" explains this story in a poetic format. There are two major interpretations of why Shakuni wanted a revenge on the Kuru clan. One was that he was not happy with his sister marrying the blind man (who was not even destined to be the king), and second was that Dhritarashtra destroyed the Gandhar clan in a brutal manner. Of course I would recommend buying the book: or directly from Amazon. But a group is creating a dance drama based on the book, which hopefully will be accessible soon to.