Haha and Huhu: Famous Musicians!

kinnara in thailand musuem
Kinnara in Thailand Museum

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1374; Dated 27th October 2014.

“Gandharvanam (aham) Chitra ratha:”
—Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 10-26

Gandharvas and Kinnaras are celestial musicians in Hindu mythology.

Very interesting information about celestial musicians is available in Hindu literature. Not much research has been done about these semi divine beings. One must be very careful about this word ‘Gandharva’. It is used at two levels to convey two different messages. One is about the mythical semi divine beings in the heaven. Very often saints mentioned that they listened to such music. Sri Seshadri Swamikal of Tiruvannamalai was one who referred to their music (Please read my post about the miracles of Seshadri Swamikal, who was senior to Ramana Maharishi).

two_thai_bronze_kinnara_
Thai bronze Kinnaras

The second meaning is at terrestrial level about some race or community who occupied Indus valley. Several castes in India trace their origin to Devas or mythical beings or Hindu deities. We need more research in this area for two reasons:

1.Gandharvas are associated with the Indus Valley area.
2.Muscial instruments around the world have their names.

Amarakosa, the first dictionary cum thesaurus in the world, written by Amarasimha in Sanskrit, gives lot of interesting information about Hindu deities. In the sloka on celestial musicians known as Gandharvas, it gives the names of Haha and Huhu. We don’t know about these Gandharvas. But in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna mentions Chitraratha whom we know.

Chitraratha tried to stop Pandavas on their way to Punjab, but Arjuna defeated him and later released him at the request of his wife Kumbhinasi. Chitraratha thanked him by teaching him the art of Gandharva style of warfare and gave him divine horses. This is in the Adiparva of Mahabharata. Another chief of Gandharvas, Chitrasena taught Arjuna music in the heaven where he stayed for sometime before the great war. Later it helped him to become a music teacher during the 13th year of his stay (incognito) in the forest. This is in the third section of the epic. The same section adds one more bit of information about the fight between the armies of Kauravas and the Gandharvas. Duryodhana was captured alive and Karna ran for his life. Arjuna came and released Duryodhana through his good offices with his old friend Chitraratha.

ashmoloean
Box with Kinnara, Ashmoloean Museum, Oxford, UK

Gandharvas in the Ramayana
Following is from my previous post: Ramayana Wonders Part 5 posted by me in this blog on 18 December 2012

Indus Valley Cities in Ramayana
The “destruction of Indus Valley cities” was debated by scholars at one time. The latest theory is that the civilisation declined not because of attacks by foreigners but by natural catastrophes. The changing course of Saraswati River and the resultant drought may be one of the causes. Ramayana gives valuable information about Indus valley. It was ruled by the Gandharvas and Rama sent Bharata to conquer the cities. The description of the Indus cities by Valmiki matches very well with Harappa and Mohanjo Daro. Gargya says these words:

“There is a country of Gandharvas, rich in fruits and roots, situated on the banks of Sindhu River; that the country is extremely fertile. The Gandharvas, armed and skilful warriors , defend it. When you have conquered them and destroyed their magnificent CITADELS, take possession of their CITIES, which are WELL CONSTRUCTED , none other can achieve this; the country is extremely beautiful.(Uttara Kanda, chapter 100)
Rajavalia, Sri Lankan history book, puts Rama’s date as 1844 years before the Buddha. This means Rama lived in2500 BC which coincides with the Indus Valley Civilization. Since information given by Rajavalia and Valmiki coincides we may consider it authentic. Later Lahore ( in Pakistan) is called Lava puri, named after Lava, son of Rama.

The information about the Gandharvas in the two epics shows that they were a powerful force in the western part of India. It is history, not mythology.
kinnari
Kinnari

Musical Instruments

One of the famous Gandharva singers was Tumburu. Narada, the Inter- galactic traveller of Hindu mythology, learnt music from Tumburu. Several musical instruments in Asia are named after Tumburu. Kinnaras also gave the name to several musical instruments around the world:

Eg.Tambura, Tamborine, Tambora, Kinnari; we can trace more musical instruments to Kinnari and Gandharva.

Gandharva and Kinnaras are depicted in pictures and sculptures throughout South East Asian countries. In fact, we find more figures in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia than India.

Gandharva myth travelled to other parts of the world and the name and story got corrupted slowly. Greeks called them Gantharus (Mycenaean civilization) and it became Centaurs in the classical Greek civilization. Like Tumburu of Hindu mythology, Chiron is portrayed as half horse and half human with a lyre in his hand.
Apsara women, the consorts of Gandharvas, are celestial dancers. The art of music and dance are categorised as Gandharva Veda in India.

chiron
Greek Chiron with Horse body

Vedic Gandharvas
Urvasi is known from the Vedic days. There is another Gandharvayena Baleya Agniveshya in the Baudhayana Srauta Sutra (20-25). Interesting coincidence is he also belonged to Punjab (Pancala). So the Gandharava rule of Indus area is attested even by the Vedic literature.

Mythological Gandharvas
Gandharvas are singers and Kinnaras are accompanying artistes. They are called Gatus and Pulakas. They were the offspring of Kashyapa and his wife Arishta. Another version is that they came from Brahma
Kinnaras play on instruments. The cities of Gandharvas are often referred to as being “very splendid”. This is the reason I believe that Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa are Gandharva cities. We have even recovered the dancing girl bronze from the place. Vishnu Purana described a fight between the Nagas of Narmada River basin and the Gandharvas. In this battle Gandharvas were defeated. Kinnaras were portrayed as half horse and half human or half bird and half human. They are sculpted in all the temples of India and South East Asia. History is mixed with myths and a scholar can filter the facts from the myths easily. One has to gather all the available materials from the Mycenaean Cantharus and Greek Chiron to Vedic literature for the research.

kashmir Kinnara_600x450
Kinnara from Avantipur, Kashmir

contact swami_48@yahoo.com

Gandharvas-Elephants

Gandharvas from Mamallapuram
celestials

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