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Gandharva Kingdom refers to the territory inhabited by a people called the Gandharvas, who were one of the Exotic Tribes of Ancient India. They were well versed in music and dance. Gandarvas were also powerful warriors who roamed in Indian kingdoms disregarding any Indian king or Kshatriya warrior. A Gandharva named Chitrangada killed the Kuru prince Chitrangada for the reason that no two kings with the name Chitrangada shall live. A group of Gandharvas defeated Duryodhana and his powerful allies like Karna. Another Gandharva named Angaraparna, challenged the great warrior Arjuna while he was crossing river Ganges. Though formidable to Kshatriya warriors, Gandharvas were subservient to Devas, who seem to be a superior race of warriors who conquered Gandhara in prehistoric times. Thus Gandarvas lived in the kingdom of Deva Indra, being subservient to the Devas. Many Gandharva kings were mentioned in Mahabharata. Some of them were under the sway of Deva king Indra and some others under the Yaksha king Kubera. Now in modern india gandharva is called as gadhavi(charan) word changed from gandharvi.

Gandharvas were probably the earlier inhabitants of the Gandhara Kingdom, who were alien to the Vedic civilization in the beginning. Gandharvas in the Hindu mythology are depicted as super natural beings. However, in Mahabharata, there were many references of them as a tribe with a territory.

References of Gandharvas in Mahabharata


Gandharvas are mentioned as many as 505 times in the epic Mahabharata. The 27 tribes of the Gandharvas and Apsaras were mentioned at (2,11).

Mention of Gandharva territories

Himalaya Region

The Himalayas, is applauded and revered by the Devas and the Gandharvas, and seemed to be covered with Vedic beauty. (13,14). There was a peak named Munjaban on the summits of the Himalaya mountains. Gandharvas live there with other tribes. Marutta’s gold mine was there (14,8). The Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Siddhas were aboundand in the north (5,111). A small population of "Gandhava" is still found in the mid and western part of Nepal, specially in Kaski district. These people play "SARANGI" and amuse and entertain people in festivals. They sing songs and play "Sarangi" very well.

Along the Saraswati River

The Rishis, the Siddhas, the Charanas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yakshas and the Nagas, often repair to Kurukshetra which lieth to the south of the Saraswati River and the north of the Drishadwati river. (3,83)

During Bala Rama’s pilgrimage along Saraswati River he has seen many Gandharva settlements there

Description of a place called Subhumika of Saraswati River : The Devas and the Gandharvas repair there. The Gandharvas and diverse tribes of Apsaras are to be seen there assembled together and passing the time as happily as they like. That spot is the beautiful sporting ground of those Apsaras, therefore is that tirtha on the excellent bank of the Sarasvati called Subhumika. Bala Rama of Madhu’s race, bathed in that tirtha. He heard the sound of those Gandhrava songs and musical instruments. He also saw there many abodes of Devas, Gandharvas, and Rakshasas. The son of Rohini then proceeded to the holy-place called Gandharva Teertha. There many Gandharvas headed by Viswavasu and possessed of ascetic merit, pass their time in dance and song of the most charming kind.(9,37)

The Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Sadhyas, the Maruts, the Gandharvas, and the Apsaras are ever present in Pushkara (Pushkar lake Rajasthan close to Saraswati) (3,82)

A mention of Gandharvas raiding the Sauvira Kingdom (close to Saraswati River) is found at (1,141): Arjuna and the other Pandava princes became so powerful that they slew in battle the great Sauvira king who had performed a sacrifice extending over three years, unaffected by the raids of the Gandharvas. (1,141)

Along the rivers Ganges and Yamuna

Region, near the source of the Ganges is said to be resorted by Gandharvas (3,81) The spot where Ganges rusheth past, cleaving the foremost of mountains which is frequented by Gandharvas and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Apsaras, and inhabited by hunters, and Kinnaras, is called Gangadwara (the hole of the Ganges) (3,90). Angaraparna himself lived in a forest by the name of Angaraparna on the banks of river Ganges.(1,172)During the time of Yayati, Nagas, Yaksas and Gandharvas met at Prayaga (5,120). Arjuna encountered some Gandharva tribes (along with Asuras, Yakshas, Rakshasas and Nagas) in Khandava forest (near Yamuna river) when it was being burnt (1,229). In Khandava Arjuna had baffled Gandharvas and Nagas (3,159)

Southern Regions

The banks of river Narmada is described as the birthplace of Yaksha king Kuvera (Vaisravana), where his father Visravas, who was a sage, lived. It is also a territory of Gandharvas. (3,89). Gokarna (Gokarn, Karnataka) is also mentioned as a place of Yakshas and Pisachas, and Kinnaras and the great Nagas, and Siddhas and Charanas and Gandharvas. (3,85) This probably could be the source of Yakshagana, a dance-form practiced in Karnataka and northern Kerala.

Gandharva mentioned as a kingdom of Ancient India (Bharata Varsha)

...the Kasmiras, the Sindhusauviras, the Gandharvas, and the Darsakas; the Abhisaras, the Utulas, the Saivalas, and the Valhikas; the Darvis, the Vanavadarvas, the Vatagas, the Amarathas, and the Uragas... at (6,9)

This could mean Gandhara Kingdom also. But the striking similarity makes one to speculate that Gandharvas were originally Gandharas.

People of Gandhara mentioned as Gandharvas

There were many references in Mahabharata where people of Gandhara Kingdom were mentioned as Gandharvas. These were either deliberate, or a confusion of facts or errors creaped into the epic when it was orally transmitted through generations

Sakuni, the chief of Gandharas
  • The ruler of the Gandharvas (Sakuni) with his son were mentioned at (8,79)
  • The ruler of the Gandharvas (Sakuni), cut off the head of Kulinda king (8,85)
  • Covetous of kingdom and relying on the ruler of the Gandharvas (Sakuni), Duryodhana summoned the Pandavas (8,91)
  • The twins (Nakula and Sahadeva) and Satyaki, pursued with great speed the king of the Gandharvas (Sakuni)(8,93)
  • Surrounded by a 1,000 Gandharvas, Shakuni, beholding the son of Adhiratha slain, proceeded quickly towards the encampment. (8,95)
  • There the mighty Shakuni, the chief of Gandharvas, of prowess incapable of being baffled, hath been slain by Sahadeva (11,24)
  • The mighty king of the Gandharvas (Sakuni) is mentioned at (9,23)
Sakuni’s brothers
  • Both the brothers (of Sakuni) Achala and Vrisha are foremost of Gandharvas (5,169)
The people of Gandhara Kingdom
  • The heroic Gandharvas along with Sakuni with a large force surrounded Satyaki and Abhimanyu. (6,58)
  • Many kings, amongst whom Nagnajit was the foremost, while staying in Girivraja, as also the Amvashthas, the Videhas, and the Gandharvas, were all vanquished by Karna (7,4)
  • What duties should be performed by the Yavanas, the Kiratas, the Gandharvas, the Chinas, the Savaras, the Barbaras, the Sakas, the Tusharas, the Kankas, the Pathavas, the Andhras, the Madrakas, the Paundras, the Pulindas, the Ramathas, the Kamvojas ?(12,64)
  • The Gandharvas, the Sindhus, and the Sauviras fight best with their nails and lances. (12,100)

Gandarva kingdom famous for its horses

The countries famous for horses where all situated in the north and north-west regions of ancient India

Gandharva king Angaraparna mentions to Arjuna about a country of Gandhravas which was famous for its horses. They were used by Devas and Gandharvas. They were lean-fleshed, but fast and will not get tired easily. (1,172).

Spread of the epic Mahabharata into Gandharva region

The spread of Mahabharata as an epic-poem is mentioned have reached the regions of Gandharvas too.

The initial composition of Mahabharata by Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, comprising 24000 verses, along with an epitome comprising 150 verses, grew in size later and spread to various regions, including the region of Gandharvas. Vyasa’s disciple Vaisampayana and the story teller Ugrasrava Sauti spread it in Aryavarta (Gangatic plain). Vyasa’s son Suka published it in the region of Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Rakshasas. (1,1)

Gardens of Chitraratha Gandhrava

These gardens are mentioned at many places ((1-70,75,78)

  • King Yayati sported with Apsara Viswachi at gardens of Chitraratha (1,75)
  • Asura priest’s daughter Devayani and Asura king’s daughter Sarmista sported there (1,78)

Gandharvas in Yaksha Kingdom

Main article Yaksha Kingdom

Yaksha king Vaisravana (Kubera, Kuvera etc were his other names) had his kingdom in southern Tibet, surrounding the Kailas ranges of the Himalayas.

Kuvera the king of Yakshas, leaving Lanka and followed by Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, and Kinnaras, went to live on mount Gandhamadana, due to a dispute with his stepbrother and Rakshasa king Ravana. (3,273)

Cooling breezes flow through forests of tall Mandaras, near river Alaka and Nandana-gardens exist in the Kingdom of the Yakshas. There the Devas with the Gandharvas surrounded by various tribes of Apsaras, sing in chorus notes of celestial sweetness. Misrakesi and Rambha, and Chitrasena, and Suchismita; and Charunetra, and Gritachi and Menaka, and Punjikasthala; and Viswachi Sahajanya, and Pramlocha and Urvasi and Ira, and Varga and Sauraveyi, and Samichi, and Vududa, and Lata—these and a thousand other Apsaras and Gandharvas, all well-skilled in music and dance, attend upon Kuvera (Vaisrvana) the king of Yakshas. His palace is always filled with the notes of instrumental and vocal music, as also with the sounds of dance of various tribes of Gandharvas, and Apsaras. The Gandharvas called Kinnaras, and others called Naras and many Yaksha chiefs along with Rakshasas, Pisachas and Vidyadharas wait upon Kuvera. Hundreds of Gandharva chiefs, attired in their respective robes like Viswavasu, and Haha and Huhu; and Tumvuru and Parvatta, and Sailusha (Sailusha mentioned in Ramayana also. Raghava Rama’s brother Bharata defeated Sailusha Gandharva’s Kingdom); and Chitrasena skilled in music and also Chitraratha,—these and innumerable Gandharvas worship the king of Yakshas. (2,10)

The Yakshas, the Guhyakas, the Rakshasas, the Gandharvas and Apsaras and the Deva having the bull for his vehicle, are to be found in the court of Yaksha king. (2,12). Many Gandharvas resided at Alaka, the city of Kuvera. (3,161). Gandhamadana (a mountain in the northern Himalayas in Tibet) was inhabited by Siddhas and Gandharvas (5,64). Yaksha king Kuvera’s army consisted of Gandharvas, Devas and Yakshas with reddened eyes, golden lustre and having huge bodies, strong built, equipped with weapons and swords.(3,160). *The Yakshas of Kuvera headed by Manibhadra, and many Gandharvas and Kinnaras mentioned at (13,19). The region, called Mandakini, of king Vaisravana, there the Gandharvas and Yakshas and Apsaras live, also in Uttara Kuru (13,102)

Gandharvas allied with the Devas

The regions of Devas were further north to the Yaksha regions.

Gandharvas are mentioned as allied with Devas along with Sadhyas, Vasus, Rudras and Adityas (1,32). Gandharvas under Deva king Indra along with the Yakshas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas were mentioned many times (5-10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18). As many as 42000 Gandharvas used to dance before Indra (12,222). The Danavas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas and Nagas and man-eaters were subjugated by the Devas (1,65). Agni to Indra: Let this king of the Gandharvas repair thither as thy messenger (14,9). (That Gandharva’s name was Dhritarashtra. He was to deliver the message to king Marutta.) (14,10).

Accompanied by the Rudras, the Vasus, the Adityas, the Aswins, the celestial Rishis, the Gandharvas, the Siddhas, and other superior orders of beings, Indra, seated in splendour on his four-tusked elephants, called Airavata, travelled all over the world. (12,226). Varuna, the son of Aditi, had in days of yore performed in the region of Yamuna, a Rajasuya sacrifice. Having in battle subjugated both Aryas and Devas and Gandharvas and Rakshasas, Varuna performed his grand sacrifice. Upon the commencement of that sacrifices, a battle ensued between the Devas and the Danavas. It was a terrible battle amongst the Kshatriyas. (9,49)

Gandharvas also allied with Kartikeya the generallisimo of the army of Devas (9-45,46)

Gandharvas conquered by Asuras and Rakshasas

The Devas, Arya kings, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, were all under Asura king Vali’s sway in days gone by. (12,223). The two Asuras viz Sunda and Upasunda defeated the Devas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, and the kings Aryavarta. (1,214). Rakshasa Ravana conquered the Devas, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Kimpurushas (3,279)

Arjuna’s conquest of the Gandharva territory

Arjuna in his military campaign for collecting tribute for Pandava king Yudhisthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice, reached the northern regions where he found the kingdoms of Kimpurushas, Guhakas, Yakshas and Gandharvas

Arjuna is mentioned as conquering a Gandharva Kingdom close to the Kailas range in Tibet (2,27)

Crossing the White mountains (some say it is the mountain chains containing the Kailasa peak, thought to be the abode of Siva. This mountain range is now known as the Kailas Range in Tibet), subjugated the country of the Kimpurushas ruled by Durmaputra (also known as Druma, an ally of the Yaksha king Kuvera (2,10)), after a collision involving a great slaughter of Kshatriyas, and brought the region under his complete sway. Having reduced that country, Arjuna reached the country called Harataka, ruled by the Guhakas (a class of Yakshas). Subjugating them by a policy of conciliation, the Kuru prince beheld in that region that excellent of lakes called Manasa (lake Manasa is in Tibet close to Kailas peak) and various other lakes and tanks sacred to the Rishis. Arjuna having arrived at the lake Manasa conquered the regions ruled by the Gandharvas that lay around the Harataka territories. Here the conqueror took, as tribute from the country, numerous excellent horses called Tittiri, Kalmasha, Manduka. Arjuna at last reached the country of North Harivarsha and desired to conquer it. Thereupon certain frontier-guards of huge bodies coming to him with gallant hearts, said, ‘O Arjuna, this country can be never conquered by thee. If thou seekest thy good, return hence. The Uttara Kurus (see also Kuru Kingdom) live here. There cannot be war here.'

Pandavas visit the region of Yakshas and Gandharvas

Pandvas, guided by the sage Lomasa, visit the region of Yakshas and Gandharvas in the highlands of Himalayas

Lomasa said, ‘O king Yudhisthira, now hast thou left behind the mountains Usiravija, Mainaka and Sweta, as well as the Kala hills, O son of Kunti, O descendant of Bharata, here flow before thee the seven Gangas. Now wilt thou see the play-ground of the Devas, marked with their footprints, as we have passed the mountain Kala. We shall now ascend that white rock, the mountain Mandara, inhabited by the Yakshas, Manibhadra and Kuvera, king of the Yakshas. O king, at this place eighty thousand fleet Gandharvas, and four times as many Kimpurushas and Yakshas of various shapes and forms, holding various weapons, attend upon Manibhadra, king of the Yakshas. In these regions their power is very great. They can, without doubt, displace even the lord of the Devas (Indra) from his seat. Protected by them, and also watched over by the Rakshasas, these mountains have been rendered inaccessible. There are fierce ministers of Kuvera and his Rakshasa kindred. The mountain Kailasa is six yojanas in height. Numberless Devas and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Kinnaras and Nagas and Suparnas and Gandharvas pass this way, in going towards Kuvera’s palace. (3,139)

Pandavas saw hillocks teeming with various minerals, thronged with Vidyadharas, inhabited on all sides by foresters and Kinnaras and Kimpurushas, and Gandharvas (3-144,157)

The Siddhas, the Charanas, the Gandharvas, the Kinnaras and the serpents (Nagas) were prenset in the Saugadhika forest (3,83)

Bhima on his way to Saugadhika forest saw many hills inhabited by Yakshas and Gandharvas (3,145). The wives of the Devas and Gandharvas resort to this place, and the time of their arrival is night.(3,150) Bhimasena saw Saugandhika lake, in the vicinity of the Kailasa cliff. It was a lotus lake, guarded by the Rakshasas. And it sprang from the cascades contiguous to the abode of Kuvera. It situated on the rocky elevation. This lake was the sporting region of the high-souled Kuvera, the king of the Yakshas. It was held in high regard by the Gandharvas the Apsaras and the Devas. It was frequented by the sages of the Deva regions and the Yakshas and the Kimpurushas and the Rakshasas and the Kinnaras; There was a river flowing into it. (3,152)

On the summits of the mountain were seen amorous Kimpurushas with their paramours, mutually attached unto each other; as also many Gandharvas and Apsaras clad in white silk vestments; and lovely-looking Vidyadharas, wearing garlands; and mighty Nagas, and Suparnas, and Uragas, and others. (3,158)

By ascending the Gandhamadana mountain inhabited by Kinnaras, and great Nagas, and sages, and Gandharvas, and Rakshasas, Bhima saw the city of Kuvera (Alaka), adorned with golden crystal palaces surrounded on all sides by golden walls having the splendour of all gems, furnished with gardens all around, higher than a mountain peak, beautiful with ramparts and towers, and adorned with door-ways and gates and rows of pennons.(3,159)

The origin of Gandharvas

In the Krita age, there were neither Devas, nor Asuras, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshas, nor Rakshasas, nor Nagas. And there was no buying and selling. (3,148).

The births of the Devas, the Danavas, the Nagas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, men (Aryas), Yakshas and Rakshasas are mentioned at (1,65). Here the names of some of the prominent Gandharvas were also mentioned. The verifiability of this information is very limited.

  • Wives of Kasyapa (like Muni, Pradha and Amrita) gave birth to Gandharvas (12,206)
  • Chitraratha, son of Muni
  • Kali (The originator of Kali age), son of Muni
  • Ativahu, son of Pradha or Amrita
  • Haha, son of Pradha or Amrita
  • Huhu, son of Pradha or Amrita
  • Tumvuru, son of Pradha or Amrita
  • Daughters of Pradha (Alamvusha, Misrakesi, Vidyutparna, Tilottama, Aruna, Rakshita, Rambha, Manorama, Kesini, Suvahu, Surata, Suraja, and Supria) — were all Apsaras.
  • Many Gandarvas and Apsaras were also born of Kapila

Gandharvas and Apsaras

Gandharvas and Apsaras are mentioned as a single group (1-63,64,120), (2-7,8,9,10)(3-24,42,43,147,165,167,230) (5,44) (7,67) (and many more references). This is probably because Apsaras were female Gandharvas.

Tumvuru, Bhimasena, Ugrasena, Urnayus, Anagha, Gopati, Dhritarashtra, Suryavarchas, Yugapa, Trinapa, Karshni, Nandi, Chitraratha, Salisirah, Parjanya, Kali, and Narada, Vrihatta, Vrihaka, Karala, Brahmacharin, Vahuguna, Suvarna, Viswavasu, Bhumanyu, Suchandra, Sam and the celebrated tribes of Haha and Huhu were collectively mentioned as Gandharvas (1,123) Anuchana and Anavadya, Gunamukhya and Gunavara, Adrika and Soma, Misrakesi and Alambusha, Marichi and Suchika, Vidyutparna and Tilottama and Ambika, Lakshmana, Kshema Devi, Rambha, Manorama, Asita, Suvahu, Supriya, Suvapuh, Pundarika, Sugandha, Surasa, Pramathini, Kamya and Saradwati, and Menaka, Sahajanya, Karnika, Punjikasthala, Ritusthala, Ghritachi, Viswachi, Purvachiti, the celebrated Umlocha, Pramlocha and Urvasi were described as Apsaras (1,123)

Viswavasu, the Hahas, the Huhus, the Gandharva Chitrasena with other Gandharvas were mentioned at (12,199)

Cultural exchanges

Ugrasrava Sauti knew the history of men (Aryas), serpants (Uragas) and Gandharvas (1,4). The Yakshas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Pisachas, Uragas and Danavas, are possessed of wisdom and intelligence, and acquainted with the history of the Kuru race. Gandharva Angaraparna considered the origin of Kurus to be from Tapati (a river in central India, in Maharashtra) (1,172)

The Gandharvas mentioned in Mahabharata

Gandharva Kali

Kali is mentioned as a Gandharva at (1,123). He is mentioned along with his companion Dwapara] at (3-58), where he said to become envious upon, Nishadha king Nala (3-59,72,76,78,79). The last two eras among the four, (viz Krita Age (1728000 years), Treta Age (1296000 Years), Dwapara Age (864000 Years) and Kali Age (432000 Years), mentioned in ancient Indian texts, were named after Dwapara and Kali. Other sources consider both Kali and Dwapara as Gandharvas. (At (1,67) Dwapara is equated with Sakuni and Kali with Duryodhana). Bhagavata Purana mentions Kali having an encounter with Kuru king Parikshit.

In the Kalki Purana, Kali dies near the end from wounds inflicted by Dharma and Satya Yuga personified.

Gandharva King Viswavasu

This Gandharva king seems to be the oldest among the Gandhravas. (Refer Angaraparna) (1,172). (12,282). Gandharva king Viswavasu beget a daughter in the Apsara lady Menaka. This daughter was raised by sage Sthulakesha. Her name was Pramadwara.(1,8). He also was mentioned as an attendant in the palace of Yaksha king Kuvera (2,10). Raghava Rama encounter Gandharva, Viswavasu in the form of a Rakshasa in Dandaka forest (3,277). The Gandharva Viswavasu was well-conversant with the Vedanta scriptures (12,318)

Gandharva King Chitrangada and the Kuru king Chitrangada

Kuru prince Chitrangada, son of Santanu, was slain by a Gandharva king (1,95). This history is detailed again at (1,101): Bhishma installed his stepbrother Chitrangada, on the throne of Kuru Kingdom. Chitrangada the powerful king of the Gandharvas, approached the Kuru King Chitrangada for an encounter. Between that Gandharva king and the Kuru king there occurred on the field of Kurukshetra a fierce combat which lasted full three years on the banks of the Saraswati River.

Gandharva Chitrasena

Tumvuru, and the Gandharva Chitrasena were mentioned as friends of Arjuna (2-4,5). In the palcace of Deva king Indra, Arjuna learned music and dance from Chitrasena. Chitrasena taught the music that was the latest hit, among the Devas during that time. Arjuna lived happily in peace with Chitrasena. And Chitrasena instructed Arjuna all the while in music; vocal and instrumental and in dancing. When however, his friendship with Chitrasena had ripened fully, he at times learned the unrivalled dance and music practised among the Gandharvas.(3-44,45,46)

The art of music and dance itself was called the Gandharva Veda (the knowledge of the Gandharvas) (3,91). Arjuna learned this knowledge from Chitrasena. Arjuna dwelt in Indra’s sacred abode with the children of the Gandharvas (3,173). The Gandharvas and the Apsaras were highly skilled in music (13,14)

Chitrasena attacked Duryodhana at Dwaita lake

The soldiers of Duryodhana, having reached the region of the Dwaita lake, were about to enter the gates of the wood, a number of Gandharvas appeared and forbade them to enter. The king of the Gandharvas accompanied by his followers, had come thither beforehand, from the abode of Kuvera. The king of the Gandharvas, Chitrasena had also been accompanied by the several tribes of Apsaras, as also by the sons of the Devas. Intent upon sport, he had come to that place for merriment, and occupying it, had closed it against all comers. (3-238). Duryodhana attacked the Gandharvas. The angry Chitrasena, their king, resolved to exterminate the Kuru army.(3-239). Gandharvas took Duryodhana and allies captive (3,240). Commanded by Yudhisthira, Arjuna fought with the Gandravas. Seeing that their king was Chitrasena, his old friend, Arjuna stopped fighting. Gandharvas then released Duryodhana. (3-241,242,243,244). This incident is mentioned again at (3-245,246,247,251) (4-44,49,63) (5-49,54,56,138,159) (7-125,155) (8-9,37,41

Gandharva Tumburu

Tumburu, and the Gandharva Chitrasena were mentioned as friends of Arjuna (2-4,5). The Gandharva Tumburu gladly gave a hundred horses to Yudhisthira as tribute for Rajasuya. (2,51). The friend of Arjuna, Tumburu, and the Gandharva Chitrasena with his ministers, and many other Gandharvas and Apsaras, well-skilled in vocal and instrumental music and in cadence and Kinnaras also well-versed in musical measures and motions singing celestial tunes in proper and charming voices, waited upon Pandava king Yudhisthira (2-4,5)

Gandharva King Chitraratha

Chitraratha (1,75), the king of Gandharvas, the friend of Indra, gave four hundred horses gifted with the speed of the wind to Yudhisthira as tribute for Rajasuya. And the Gandharva Tumvuru gladly gave a hundred horses. (2,51), (3,80). The steeds of the Tittiri, Kalmasha, and Gandharva breeds, decked with ornaments, were given by Chitraratha, having been vanquished in battle, unto Arjuna. (2,60). Chitraratha among the Gandharvas is the foremost (6,34)

Gandharva Angaraparna and Arjuna

Gandharva king Angaraparna attacked Arjuna while crossing river Ganges, who ruled over a forest by the name Angaraparna on the banks of the Ganges. This place was close to the Panchala Kingdom. (1,172). Arjuna calls him a ranger of the skies. He possessed a chariot. The name Angaraparna means the blazing vehicle. He had this name since he possessed this blazing chariot. He tells to Arjuna that it is due to the science of producing illusions called Chakshushi that Gandharvas are superior to kings of Aryavarta. He also gave to each of the five Pandavas, a hundred steeds born in the country of the Gandharvas. He seemed to know a great deal about horses. In exchange of this, Angaramparna took from Arjuna, his excellent weapon of fire, using which he destroyed the chariot of Angaraparna (1,172). (Some argue that Angaraparna and Chitraratha are same person, siting the reference (2,60))

War skills of Gandharvas

Many military configurations used in warfare were based on Gandharva form of battle-arrays.

Dhrishtadyumna, who is acquainted with human, Deva, Gandharva and Asura arrays of battle, leadeth that host. (5,54). Bhishma is acquainted with all the methods of military array prevalent amongst the Devas, Gandharvas, and human kings. (5,166), (6,19). Kaurava generalissimo Bhishma, as each day dawned, sometimes disposed the troops in the human army, sometimes in the Deva, sometimes in the Gandharva, and sometimes in the Asura. (6,20). Abhimanyu the son of Arjuna, then, applied the Gandharva weapon and the illusion consequent to it. Practising ascetic penances, Arjuna had obtained that weapon from the Gandharva Tumvuru and others. With that weapon, Abhimanyu now confounded his foes. (7,43)

Gandhrarva custom of Marriage

Marriage without the consent of parents, between two lovers is considered as a marriage based on the custome of Gandharvas. There are, in all, eight kinds of marriages. These are Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paisacha, the eighth. (1,73)

When the father of the girl, disregarding his own wishes, bestows his daughter upon a person whom the daughter likes and who reciprocates the girl’s sentiments, the form of marriage, is called Gandharva by those that are conversant with the Vedas. (13,44)

Gandharvis, the female Gandharvas

List of female Gandharvas mentioned in Mahabharata:

  • A Gandharvi (female Gandharva) is linked with horses (1,65)
  • A Gandharvi, by name Dundubhi is mentioned at (3,274) (She took birth as Manthara, the servant of Kaikeyi the wife of Dasaratha (3,274)
  • Numerous Gandharvi girls are seen in Deva regions (12,98)
  • Kichaka asked Draupadi if she is a Gandharvi (4,9)
  • Angaraparna’s wife was mentioned as a Gandharvi (1,172)
  • Female Gandharvas were some times called as Gandharvis and some times as Apsaras. Urvasi was an Apsara. Apsaras were free and unconfined in their choice of mate. (3,45)
  • Kadru (mother of the Nagas) is mentioned as the mother of the Gandharvas (3,229)

Signs of Gandharva worship

Gandharva spirit is mentioned at (3,229). They were also described as singers in Deva region. *Gandharvas chant psalms, stealing away both the heart and the intellect. (5,109). One possessed of wisdom should offer garlands of aquatic flowers, such as the lotus and the like, unto the Gandharvas and Nagas and Yakshas. (13,98). Gandharvas are found close to water tanks (13,58).

Incarnation myths

The five highly blessed Gandharvas were the sons of Draupadi (18,4). Dhritarashtra, the king of the Gandharvas was the Dhritarashtra the father of Duryodhana (18,4). Gandharvi Dundhubhi was born as Manthara (3,274).

Varied references

Gandharvas, of bodies blazing like the sun were seen Arjuna who was about to travel to the territory of Devas (3,42)

Mystification of Gandharvas

Draupadi spread the rumour that she had five Gandharva husbands at the court of Virata in order to feel safe. (This is an example of the mistification of the Gandharva tribe) (4-12,14,16,21,22,23,24,25,30,71). Virata’s son Uttara also took the same stratey (4-43,45) Gandharvas are said to visit wars. E.g., the war between Matsyas, Trigatas and Kurus for stealing cattle (4-56,58) and also the Kurukshetra War ((6,35), many other references) and important events in the epic Mahabharata and Ramayana. These seems to be purely dramatic and mythological.

Gandharva and Kurukshetra War

The Asuras and the Daityas with the Danavas will be vanquished, and the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras will be victorious. Indeed, the Devas, and Asuras, and human beings, and Gandharvas, and Snakes, and Rakshasas, will in rage slaughter one another in Kurukshetra War (5,128). Arjuna’s bow Gandiva was well known even to the Devas and Gandhravas (1,227) (4,43)

Gandharvas and Siva

The Rishis, the gods, the Gandharvas, and Apsaras, always worship Siva and his emblem (7,199). Siva sometimes assume the form of a Gandharva (13-14,17). Siva was also surrounded by Kinnaras and Yakshas and Gandharvas and Rakshasas (13-140,146)

Gandharvas and Gold

Churning the entire universe, a mass of energy was found. That energy is gold. It is for this reason that the Devas and Gandharvas and Uragas and Rakshasas and humans and Pisachas hold it with care. All these beings shine in splendour, with the aid of gold, after converting it into crowns and armlets and diverse kinds of ornaments. (13,83)

The Science of Gandharvas

The science of reasoning, as also the science of words, the science of the Gandharvas, and the four and sixty branches of knowledge known by the name of Kala, the Puranas and the Itihasas were mentioned at (13,104)

See also

  1. Kingdoms of Ancient India
  2. Exotic Tribes of Ancient India
  3. Gandharvas
  4. Gandhara Kingdom
  5. Kali (Demon)
  6. Kalki Purana
  7. Kalki
  8. Koka and Vikoka


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