Anyone who is even remotely familiar with our mythological scriptures knows who Shakuni was. The conniving, genius gambler, who is often considered the mastermind behind the epic Kurukshetra War and bringing a mighty kingdom to the brink of destruction. The question remains – why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapur? Was it because he wanted to avenge the so-called disgrace brought upon his family when Bhishma proposed a match between his sister and the bling kind of Hastinapur? Was it revenge for the injustice meted out to his sister? Or was there more to this story? Let’s find out:
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Why Shakuni Wanted To Destroy Hastinapur
Stories display many facets of the Kurukshetra War, which forms a great part of the epic widely known as the ‘Mahabharata’. They even say that it was the mark of the end of Dwapara and the beginning of Kaliyuga. It is said that the demon Kali preyed on the weak and the innocent in the end and found ways to creep into people’s minds. However, that demon wasn’t the primary antagonist of the tale. Shakuni is said to be the incarnation of Dwapara. No matter what the stories say, we all know that in the end, it was a fight between the minds of Shakuni and Krishna.
His mind is an enigma worth exploring. And in it, we can find the answer to why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapur.
Why was Shakuni against Kauravas?
The answer to why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapura can be traced back to the injustice meted out to his family. It also answers the question of why was Shakuni against Kauravas:
1. Hastinapura exercised its military might on Gandhar
Gandhara was quite a small kingdom beset with dangers of its own. Yet its princess, Gandhari, was beautiful and popular too. The kingdom wasn’t too rich either, like the other kingdoms. So when Bhishma of Hastinapura came banging on its doors with an army that would have sent the rats scurrying into their holes and asked for Gandhari’s hand in marriage for Dhritarashtra, my guess would be that they grew afraid and accepted the union heartily.
This sowed the first seeds of discontent in the heart of the kingdom’s heir apparent.
So, did Shakuni love Gandhari? Did he vow to bring Hastinapur to its knees because of an unjust match? This episode lay the foundation of why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapur.
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2. Dhritarashtra didn’t get the throne
Even after all of this transpired, Shakuni was hopeful. According to Aryavarta’s own laws, Dhritarashtra would be king and Gandhari a Queen. Did Shakuni love Gandhari enough to swallow the insulting blow dealt her future in-laws? Yes, there seem to be enough evidence to point to this fact.
Hastinapura was quite a powerful and strong kingdom. Shakuni always had a soft spot for his sister. He loved her above everything and would do anything for her. He convinced his father to give Gandhari’s hand in marriage to Dhritarashtra. Oh, he was aware that the elder Kuru Prince was blind! But he had expected that being the eldest son, he’d be first in the line of succession. Once Dhritarashtra took the throne, Gandhari would lead her husband through everything. She would become a powerful figure, his sister.
All his dreams came to nought when they came to Hastinapura and learned that Pandu would become king instead of Dhritarashtra, owing to the latter’s blindness. This infuriated Shakuni to no end. And that’s your answer to why was Shakuni against Kauravas.
3. They imprisoned Shakuni’s family
Shakuni’s father and siblings protested, and for that, they were thrown into jail. He was imprisoned too. The jailors gave the entire family food sufficient only for one. The king and princes starved. The others made sure that only he was fed. They all died in front of him, his father making him promise that he would exact vengeance. This became the reason why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapur.
Why did Gandhari blindfold herself?
To add fuel to the already surmounting anger, Gandhari decided to blindfold herself for the remainder of her married life, citing a reason that if she did not share in his blindness, how would she really understand him? (Though it is rumoured that she did it more to punish the Kurus than anything else. This is open to interpretation.) Shakuni felt a well of pity for his sister and was guilt-ridden for his sister’s fate.
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Why Shakuni lived in Hastinapur?
Hastinapura had come to them with their army. They had demanded Gandhari’s hand and promised her marriage to a king, and now they had reneged on their word. Hatred brimmed in his heart. He would not forget the insult to Gandhara by the kingdom that considered itself above all. That’s why Shakuni was against Kauravas.
He would not forget the insult to Gandhara by the kingdom that considered itself above all.
Though he could not counter Vidura’s arguments, which were solely based on the Shastras, he would have hoped that Bhishma or Satyavati would overlook them and make good on their promises. Alas, that didn’t happen. Nay, he would not let his sister suffer the same fate as Amba.
Why Shakuni lived in Hastinapur? Because after the death of his father and brother, bringing an end to the Kurus became the sole purpose of his life. Taking a knife, Shakuni stabbed himself on his thigh, which would make him limp every time he walked, to remind himself that his vengeance wasn’t complete. The Kurukshetra War was a result of his evil actions and diabolical games in driving a wedge between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, inciting enmity between the cousins.
What happened to Shakuni after the Mahabharat war?
What happened to Shakuni after the Mahabharat war remains one of the lesser-known facts about this conniving, scheming ruler of Gandhar. Given the way Shakuni, Duryodhana and his other nephews not only robbed the Pandavas off everything but also insulted them deeply at the Game of Dice, the latter had sworn to kill every person who took part in the treacherous event.
During the Kurukshetra War, Shakuni managed to outsmart the Pandavas right till the final day. On the 18th day of the war, Shakuni came face-to-face with Sahadeva, the youngest and the wisest of the five brothers. He knew why Shakuni wanted to destroy Hastinapur.
Telling him that he had avenged the insult and injustice meted out to his family, Sahadeva asked Shakuni to withdraw from the fight and return to his kingdom and spend his remaining days in peace.
Sahadeva’s words moved Shakuni and he displayed genuine remorse and repentance for his actions over the years. However, being a warrior, Shakuni knew that the only honourable way out of a battlefield was either victory or martyrdom. Shakuni started attacking Sahadeva with arrows, egging him on to engage in a duel.
Sahadev responded, and chopped off Shakuni’s head after a brief fight.
Is an act of love justifiable despite the outcome?
One’s choices one cannot be free of consequence. Did Shakuni love Gandhari? Of course, he did. But does his love justify the catastrophic war he set into motion? No.
Shakuni made terrible choices because he felt his sister was insulted. The things he did out of his love for Gandhari were a clear manifestation of blind rage. From attempting to burn princes in a lac palace, disrobing a Queen in front of her elders, sending the rightful heirs to exile, and then cheating all the way in battle, his actions just continue to spiral out of control. I believe the hurt caused by the events in Hastinapura caused him to go psychopathic in the end.