The mastermind behind the destruction of the Kuru Clan – Shakuni

When one speaks of the Mahabharat, the first thing which comes to mind is the great war of Kurukshetra where in all the great warriors of the Kuru clan perished. The person who is majorly cited for this destruction is Duryodhan, but, the actual mastermind was a person who made this happens for his personal revenge.


Incidentally, it was not from the side of the Pandavas who actually were the sufferers, but surprisingly from the Kaurava side, and the person was none other than Duryodhan’s uncle Shakuni.

Shakuni was the son of Saubala, the king of Gandhar kingdom. He was the youngest among the hundred sons of Saubala and his sister Gandhari. It was prophesized that Gandhari would suffer widowhood. This worried King Saubala. When he consulted his priests, they asked him to first marry a Gandhari to a goat and then sacrifice it so that the prophecy would be fulfilled and Gandhari would be saved from a miserable life. The King did so and then married her to Dhritarashtr. Gandhari being a chaste woman put a blindfold to her eyes too following the footsteps of her husband.

Time passed on and the Pandavas and Kauravas were born and grew up together. However, instead of bonding with each other, they turned foes due to the jealousy and arrogance of Duryodhan. Once, when Duryodhan chided the Pandavas, Bheem mocked Duryodhan as the sons of a widow.

Duryodhan was surprised at this and came to known about what his grandfather did. Duryodhan was furious at his grandfather Saubala. With much contempt, he attacked the Gandhar kingdom and captured Saubala and his hundred sons. He put them in prison and ordered only hundred grains of rice to be given daily, one for each person.

Saubala was grief – stricken at Duryodhan’s behaviour. He knew that out of his hundred sons, Shakuni was capable of seeking revenge for this insult. He then ordered all his sons to give their portion of food to Shakuni and keep him alive, so that he could take their revenge. The others agree.

Shakuni ate the hundred grains daily and lived on while all his brothers perished with hunger. Finally King Saubala asked Shakuni to make dice out of his spine which would give the number just as Shakuni wished for. Then taking a promise from Shakuni for the destruction of the Kuru clan, he passes away.

Meanwhile, Duryodhan sees that only Shakuni was alive and asked him to go back to Gandhar kingdom. But with an aim of revenge, Shakuni does sweet talk and convinces Duryodhan that he is their ally and he would like to be with the Kauravas rather than be a king. Duryodhan agrees to this and since then Shakuni resides at Hastinapur.

Never forgetting his revenge and the insult to his family, Shakuni does what all is needed to break by poisoning the mind of Duryodhan. With Duryodhan succumbing to this, it leads to the great war of Kurukshetra. All the great warriors of the Kuru clan on both the sides perish in the great war leaving only the Pandavas alive. Although Shakuni too dies in the hands in the hands of Sahadev, he dies with a satisfaction that his family’s insult was avenged.

Without Shakuni, there would never be a war of Kurukshetra. Shakuni’ influence on Duryodhan is a lesson that one needs to be really careful in listening to false preaching and selfish motives, lest not only the individual, but the entire family suffers and leads to destruction.