|Shakuni as represented in Kathakali Dance Form|
|Reign||During Mahabhata Period|
|Successor||Son of Shakuni|
|Uluka and Vrikaasur.|
|An article related to|
Shakuni (Sanskrit: शकुनि) also known as Saubala, was the prince of Gandhara and one of the main villains in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was the brother of Gandhari and hence Duryodhana's maternal uncle. He is believed to be an extremely intelligent but devious man. Shakuni is often credited as the mastermind behind the Mahabharata war. Shakuni had two sons named Uluka and Vrikaasur.
Early Days 
Shakuni was born in Gandhara in modern day Afghanistan to King Subala. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Shakuni was unhappy with his sister Gandhari's marriage with blind Kuru prince Dhritarashtra. He was more so ever angry with Bhishma for bringing this proposal as he found it insulting and demeaning. He swore to avenge this insult by slowly destroying Bhishma's clan. He achieved this by poisoning the mind of his volatile nephew, and influenced Duryodhana into instigating the war with the Pandavas, which resulted in the destruction of the Kauravas. Thus, he is seen by many as the ultimate cause of the Kurukshetra War. His hatred for Bhishma became even deeper when Bhishma chose eldest Pandava Yudhisthira as the next successor to the throne. He felt that this was an unfair decision and believed that Duryodhana his nephew should have been the rightful heir to the throne.
Shakuni was the brother of Gandhari, the wife of Dhritarashtra and mother of Kauravas.It seems Gandhari was married to a goat initially (without the knowledge of Dhritarashtra) before being married to Dhritarashtra, according to Sooth Sayers advice. Later on, when Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana came to know about this, Duryodhana got angry and imprisoned all members of Gandhari’s family.
Shakuni was the youngest brother of Gandhari among 100 other brothers. Since all of them were sparsely fed (with one speck of rice each per day) in the prison, the family decided that at least one of them could survive and gave all the rice to Shakuni so that he could live on to take revenge.
Shakuni not only survived, but became very close to Kauravas and especially Duryodhana. From there on, he weilded his influence on Duryodhana and master minded the great battle of Mahabharat. He played a key part in inciting the Pandavas to play the game of dice and made them lose their kingdom and everything else to Kauravas. The dice, it seems was made of a bone from his fathers leg and would listen to Shakuni’s command. Shakuni's father soul entered the dices and it would roll to whatever number Shakuni wanted !! If Pandavas lost the game, it would inevitably lead to a war between Pandavas and Kauravas. Shakuni's number one enemy was Duryodhana and his kaurava brothers. Duryodhana never realized that it is Shakuni who was his enemy and not pandavas! And Shakuni very cunningly used Pandavas to kill Kauravas.
Role in the Mahabharata 
Shakuni is often depicted as a man dressed in black clothes, sporting a white beard, wearing a half-kireetam, rubbing dice in his hands often and limping slightly while walking. Shakuni was most importantly the mastermind of the Mahabharata war. His sinister plans culminated into the biggest wars in Indian mythological history. He was an evil genius who was shrewd to see through things and confident of his skills to undo the opponents. Though his designs to destroy the Pandavas failed one by one, he was still unshaken in his faith to destroy the lineage of Bhishma. He played on the virtues of the Pandavas themselves, to bring problems of serious nature. His main objective was to instigate Duryodhana against the Pandavas, whether it was advising him to mix the Kalakoota poison into Bheema's food or hiring Purochana to kill the Pandavas in the house of wax most famously known as Lakshagraha. Secretly wanting the great sage Durvasa to curse the Pandavas in anger, he asked the sage to visit the Pandavas in the forest after Draupadi had eaten her meal, knowing that the Pandavas would then have nothing to feed him. During the Kurukshetra war he was the one who hatched the plan to kill Arjuna's son Abhimanyu by cheating and breaking the war protocol. However Shakuni is perhaps best known for masterminding the infamous Game of Dice between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. A master of sorcery, it is said the dice used by Shakuni's were made from his father's thigh bones and hence generated any desired number. Unaware of this fact the Pandava's were defeated in the gambling match which eventually led to the war at Kurukshetra and subsequent destruction of the Kuru clan.
During the Game of Dice episode in the Mahabharata, the youngest of the Pandava brothers Sahadeva had taken an oath to avenge Draupadi's insult and sworn to kill Shakuni, the mastermind of the episode. As sworn, Shakuni was killed by Sahadeva on the seventeenth day of the Kurukshetra war.
Even though Shakuni's name is associated with villainy, Hinduism sees a person in terms of Gunas. It is true that Tamasic characteristics were dominant in Shakuni but he too had Sattvic elements and this was recognized by a community in Kerala. There is an ancient temple dedicated to Shakuni at Pavithreswaram in Kollam District of Kerala. A throne believed to have been used by Shakuni is found in this ancient temple. No Puja or tantric rituals are performed at the temple. Offerings to the temple include tender coconut, silk, toddy, etc. The temple is maintained by the Kuravar community of the region.
It is believed that during the Mahabharata battle, Shakuni traveled across the country along with his nephews, the Kauravas. When they reached the place where the temple is situated, the Kaurava's divided their weapons among them. Since then, the place came to be known as ‘Pakutheswaram’, which later became Pavithreswaram. The Kuravar's believe that Shakuni returned to this place after the battle and attained Moksha with the blessings of Lord Shiva and became Lord Shakuni. The subdeities of the temple include Devi Bhuvaneshvari, Kiratha Moorthi and Nagaraja. The festival of the temple, popularly known as Malakkuda Maholsavam, is observed in the Makaram month in the Malayali calendar. Nearby the Shakuni Temple, there is also a temple dedicated to Duryodhana.It is notable that the Mahabharata mentions Shakuni as the personification of Dwapar Yuga and Duryodhana as his constant companion Kali (Mbh.15.31)
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