Categories: Hindu Scripture

Shakuni:The Manipulative Strategist of Mahabharata

Shakuni, a key character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is remembered for his cunning intellect and devious schemes. His role in influencing the course of the epic through his strategic manipulation and pivotal moments, such as the game of dice, earned him a notorious place in the narrative.


Etymology and Epithets

The name “Shakuni” holds intriguing meanings, symbolizing a ‘large bird’ in Sanskrit. Within the epic, Shakuni is referred to by various names and shares his name with several other figures, adding layers of complexity to his character.

Early Life and Family

Born into the royal family of Gandhara, Shakuni was the son of King Subala and had a sister named Gandhari. His association with Hastinapura, through his sister’s marriage to Dhritarashtra, cemented his role in the epic’s events. Shakuni’s lineage and familial connections deeply influenced the political landscape of the Mahabharata.

Influence on Hastinapura

Shakuni’s presence in Hastinapura, especially in supporting his eldest nephew Duryodhana, played a pivotal role in shaping the power dynamics within the Kuru clan. His strategic alliance with Duryodhana aimed to secure the throne for the Kauravas.

The Game of Dice

One of the most critical moments orchestrated by Shakuni was the infamous game of dice.

One of the most critical moments orchestrated by Shakuni was the infamous game of dice. Exploiting Yudhishthira‘s weakness for gambling and his own expertise in deceitful play, Shakuni manipulated the game, resulting in the exile of the Pandavas and the humiliation of Draupadi. This event significantly altered the course of the epic.

Kurukshetra War

Despite his primary role being more of a strategist and manipulator, Shakuni actively participated in the Kurukshetra War. His encounters and clashes with various warriors, including defeating Shrutasena and engaging in a fierce duel with Sahadeva, showcase his martial prowess despite his manipulative nature.


Sahadeva, fueled by the vow to avenge Draupadi’s humiliation, sought to confront and kill Shakuni. This culminated in a fierce battle on the 18th day of the war, where Sahadeva ultimately fulfilled his oath by defeating and killing Shakuni.


Shakuni’s character in the Mahabharata is a testament to the complexity of human motives and actions. His intelligence, combined with a deep-seated desire to secure power for his lineage, led him to orchestrate pivotal events. While remembered for his deceit and manipulative tactics, his ultimate demise highlights the triumph of righteousness over calculated schemes.


Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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