Shakuni and his craft

Image courtesy : wikimedia
Image courtesy : wikimedia

At one point in time Duryodhana was completely bereft of ideas as to how to overcome his Pandava cousins. He had tried burning them alive in the palace of wax at Varnavrata, and as if that weren’t enough his nemesis, Bhima had not only managed to escape the wrath of Bakasura at Ekachakra but also managed to kill him instead [Read about that incident here].

It was at this point in time that his maternal uncle Shakuni, unable to see his favorite nephew so despondent and depressed, proposed the idea of getting rid of the Pandavas and making them relinquish their right to the throne of Hastinapura without so much as shedding a drop of blood.

Shakuni was renowned for his skill as a gambler and was such a master of this craft that he was undefeated at the game of dice. Little did his opponents know that he always played with loaded dice and that was the only reason that he never tasted defeat. He therefore decided to make full use of this craft of his to enable Duryodhana to eliminate the threat of his Pandava cousins.

Invite the Pandavas for a game of dice. Yudhisthira has a weakness for the game of dice, even though he is not a good player. Ask him to throw the dice with me. As you are well aware, nobody in the three worlds is my equal in this game. I will ensure that his kingdom becomes yours before the game is finished” Shakuni told Duryodhana.

For the first time in his life, he believed his opinion mattered and Shakuni also put in a word with his brother in law, the blind king Dhritarashtra to invite the Pandavas to Hastinapura for a friendly game of dice.

Although Dhritarashtra knew that Shakuni was upto some mischief, his unbridled love for his son and his anxiety at Duryodhana’s depressed state forced him to accede to this request.

Thus, the stage was set for one of the most memorable episodes in this great epic.


This post has been written for multiple prompts :

Today’s Author Write Now prompt for Nov 5, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase – for the first time in his life, he knew his opinion mattered

Trifecta Week 102 prompt where the post had to include the following meaning of the word craft – skill in deceiving to gain an end

Santha rasa – Yudhisthira and his attempts for peace

Image courtesy: wikipedia
Image courtesy: wikipedia

Read this post about an introduction to the Rasas.

Read this post for the shringara rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Ganga and her love

Read this post for the hasya rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Draupadi and her laughter

Read this post for the raudra rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Amba and her anger

Read this post for the karunya  rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Chitrasena and Duryodhana

Read this post for the bibhatsa rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – The effect of Vyasa on Ambika and Ambalika

Read this post for the bhayanaka rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Hidimba and his hideous Asura form


After the Pandava brothers completed their exile of 12 yrs and the 13th year in disguise evading all attempts by the Kauravas in trying to find out where they were during this year, they came out of exile and temporarily settled down in Upalavya. From there Yudhisthira send out emissaries to summon all his friends, relatives and brethren, to which almost all responded and arrived.

Addressing the gathering, Krishna spoke and reminded the people present as to how Duryodhana and Shakuni had cheated Yudhisthira at the game of dice and sent the Pandava brothers to exile for the past 13 yrs. He went on to state that Yudhisthira did not want to spill the blood of his cousins and wanted only what was rightfully his share of the kingdom. Despite the fact that the Kauravas had treated them wrongly and had cheated them out of their rights, the Pandavas were magnanimous to treat their cousins with ‘dharma’ and did not hold any grudges against them. He then went on to state that it was the intention of Yudhisthira to send an envoy of peace to the Kauravas to ask for their rightful share of the kingdom.

However, despite multiple attempts by the Pandavas to find a peaceful solution to the issue, Duryodhana refused to budge from his position. He steadfastly refused to recognize the right of the Pandavas to the kingdom and even went to the extent of declaring in open court that the Pandavas will not receive a needle-point of territory from him. Even after this declaration, Yudhisthira maintained his calm despite protests from his own brothers, kinsmen and other friends, and sent Krishna as an envoy of peace to convince Duryodhana of the mistake of his actions.

Thus, despite being cheated by the Kauravas out of his share of the kingdom, despite the fact that Duryodhana and his brothers had humiliated him and his brothers, despite the fact that they had tried to disrobe his wife in open court, Yudhisthira maintained his efforts to find a peaceful solution to this issue. This is a classic example of the santha rasa being referred to in the Mahabharata.

Did Yudhisthira lie ?

Image courtesy :
Image courtesy :

Every once in a while you come across a personality who has the courage to do the right thing irrespective of the consequences. Yudhisthira’s insistence on following the path of righteousness was an example of such a personality.

On the 15th day of the Kurukshetra war, Drona was at his unconquerable best. Using years of experience and all his divine knowledge, he was wreaking havoc on the Pandava army. Knowing that Drona loved his son Ashwatthama dearly, he asked Bhima to kill an elephant with the same name. Obeying Krishna, Bhima killed an elephant and loudly proclaimed that he had slain Ashwatthama, so as to make Drona believe that his son was dead.

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:

Not believing Bhima, Drona approached Yudhisthira, who was known never to lie and asked him as to whether his son was truly slain in battle to which he replied “Ashwatthama is dead, but, I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant.

Knowing fully well that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie to Drona on his face, Krishna ensured that the second part of this sentence was completely deafened out to Drona by asking the remaining Pandava warriors to loudly blow on their conches and trumpets.

Hearing only the first part of the reply, Drona dropped down his weapons and sat down in the battlefield in meditation. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Dhristadyumna (who was ordained to take Drona’s life) beheaded Drona thus tilting the advantage in the war on the Pandavas’ side.

Image courtesy:
Image courtesy:


This post has been posted for Write Tribe’s 100 words on a Saturday – 6 prompt. The prompt was to write a post with exactly a 100 words using the term “Every once in a while”, but I took the liberty of writing 250 words with the prompt.