The princess of Gandhar (Kandahar, Afghanistan). She plays two important roles: the wife of Dhrutarashtra and the mother of Duryodhan. And in both roles she fails miserably.
As a bride, she does not get the chance to choose her husband in a swayamvar. Bheeshm asks for her hand for Drhuturashtra. Her marriage is decided without her consent. She does not have spirit like Draupadi, to say, "I shall not marry this person." She accepts the decisions that are made on her behalf.
She is sent off to the far away Hastinapur, with her brother Shakuni. On reaching Hastinapur, few days before the wedding, she comes to know that Drutarashtra is blind. Here again she accepts that she has been deceived. She does not fight for justice the way Amba did. Instead she goes a step further, in inflicting self-injuries. Instead of taking a vow to become her husband's vision, she takes a vow that she will cover her eyes and not see the world her husband cannot see.
Was it a hasty decision? Like Bheeshm? To remain true to her word did she have to cover her eyes throughout her life? Did she repent for her decision? Didn't she wish to see her children when they were born?
Not only is Dhrutarashtra blind but, he keeps many (15, 20, 30?) concubines. Though she was the principal wife, she accepts Dhrutarashtra's behavior. Without questioning. Without fighting.
Dhrutarashtra lets Dryodhan have his way all the time. He is advised by Vidur and at times by Bheeshm, against it. But never by Gandhari. She does not influence Dhrutarashtra. Unlike Vidur, she does not try to make things right.
As a mother, she does not rebuke Duryodhan for his wrong doings. When he poisons Bheem, or when he tries to kill Pandav. She is a mute spectator. Kunti takes pains to see to it that her children are on the right path. Gandhari, on the other hand, seems to be satisfied by making the utmost sacrifice of her vision.
Shakuni plays an important role in shaping Duryodhan. At times, it's obvious that he is leading Duryodhan on the wrong path. But Gandhari never stops Shakuni.
She is not aware of the company that her child keeps. Duryodhan is surrounded by people like: Karn, Dushasan, Shakuni and evil ministers like Kanik.
Only once does she try to stop Duryodhan, but by then all is lost. When Krushn arrives for peace talks, she asks Duryodhan not to go for war. But she does not command respect from her son. He walks out when she is speaking to him.
She has surrendered to life. She lets the power in her lie dormant. She leads a passive life and is indifferent to her responsibilities. She has no one but herself to account for the death of her children. And Bheem, who killed all the 100 Kaurav brothers, does not hesitate to point it out to her.