Shakuni was born to King Subala of Gandhara. His sister Gandhari was married to king Dhritarashtra. As per legend, on the advice of astrologers, to avert a calamity it was said that Gandhari was married to a goat before getting married to Dhritarashtra. And the goat had been sacrificed promptly thereafter. Technically, this made Gandhari a widow and Dhritarashtra her second husband. Many years later when her husband Dhritarashtra learns about this truth, shocked and enraged, Dhritrashtra puts Gandhari’s entire family,including king Subala in prison.

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In prison, they were served just one fistful of rice every day. Realizing that this was an elaborate plan to starve them to death, Gandhari’s father declared that none but his youngest son would eat the sparse food being served, so that at least one amongst them would survive to avenge the death of the rest. The youngest son of king Subala was Shakuni. He survived and swore not to rest until all of Kuru kingdom is destroyed . He used the bones of his father to make the dice with which he was able to defeat the Pandavas in the gambling match, and thus which eventually led to the war at Kurukshetra and also to the destruction of entire Kuru clan.His father twisted his one leg to give him a permanent limp as a constant reminder of revenge.