Post No. 10,886

Date uploaded in London – –    24 APRIL  2022         

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There are three Chitrarathas in Mahabharata.


A Gandharva chief who tried to stop the Pandavas when they were on their way from Ekachakra to Panchala. Arjuna, however, captured him but he was released after pleading by his wife Kumbhinasi. In return Chitra Ratha imparted to Arjuna some Gandharva knowledge on warfare and gave him divine knowledge of warfare and gave him divine horses which never become tired . Before retiring he advised the Pandavas to appoint a priest for their own benefit.



King of Anga in ancient time. Husband of Ruchi’s sister Prabhavati



A Panchala prince who, along with his brothers Veeraketu, Sudhanva , Chitraketu and Chitravarma, was killed by Drona in the Mahabharata war.


Apart from these three people there is one

Chitrasena, described as the Chief of Gandharvas.

During Arjuna’s five years stay in Swarga to acquire divine weapons, Chitrasena befriended him and at Indra’s request taught him the celestial art of music and dancing.

He was anxious to prolong Arjuna’s stay in Swarga (Paradise) and with Indra’s permission he asked the Apsara Urvasi to amuse and enchant to such an extent that he would not want to go back to earth. However when Urvashi’s attempts misfired and it led to her cursing Arjuna severely, it was Chitrasena who intervened with Indra and got the curse softened to Arjuna’s advantage.

Later Arjuna returned to earth; Chitrasena with his divine vision saw that Duryodhna had evil intentions to harass Pandavas while they were still banished to the forest. He therefore went down to the earth with his Gandharva army and encountered the Kaurava forces in the battle. While Karna had to escape for his life, Duryodhana was captured alive. While Yudhishthira out of the goodness of his heart asked Arjuna to fight against the Gandharvas in order to obtain Duryodhana’s release. Chitra sena was glad to meet his old friend once again. He released Duryodhana in Arjuna’s care and went back to Swarga.


There are seven more “Chitra” prefixed names in the Mahabharata.

Chitrasena and Chitraratha may be one and the same person or there may be more than one chief among them.

Even Rigvedic passage said there were many kings on the banks of river Sarasvati. So we can guess more than one Gandharva kings.


Following is from Dowson’s Dictionary of Mythology


The heavenly Gandharva of the Vedas is a deity who knew and revealed the secrets of heaven and divine truths in general. He is thought by Goldstucker to have been a personification of the fire of the Sun. The Gandharvas generally had their dwelling in the sky or atmosphere and one of their offices was to prepare the heavenly Soma juice for the gods. They had a great partiality for women, and had a mystic power over them.

The Atharva Veda speaks of the 6333 Gandharvas. The Gandharvas of later times are similar in character. They have charge of the Soma, are skilled in medicine, regulate the asterisms and are fond of women. Those of Indra’s heaven are generally intended by the term, and they are singers and musicians who attend the banquets of the gods.

The Puranas give contradictory accounts of the origins of the Gandharvas . The Vishnu Purana says, in one place, that they were born from Brahma, imbibing melody. Drinking of the goddess of speech,t hey were born and thence their appellation,

Gaam dayantah = Gandharva

Later on, it says they were the offspring of Kashyapa and his wife Arishta.

The Harivamsa states that they sprang from Brahma’s nose and also they were descended from Muni, another of Kashyapa’s wife. Chitra Ratha was chief of the Gandharvas ; and the Apsarasses were their wives or mistresses.

The cities of the Gandharvas are often referred to as being splendid .

The Vishnu Purana has the Gandharvas fighting with the Nagas in the infernal region, whose dominions they seized and whose treasures they plundered. The Naga chief appealed to Vishnu for relief and he promised to appear in the form of Purukutsa to help them. There upon the Nagas sent their sister Narmada to this Purukutsa, and she conducted him to the regions below where he destroyed the Gandharvas .

They are sometimes calling Gaatus and Pulakas. In the Mahabharata, a race of people dwelling in the hills and wilds is so called.

The science of music and dance including drama is called  Gandharva Veda.

Chitra Ratha means ‘ one who has a fine car.’


Last but not the least, Vedic Index adds,

The Rigveda contains a Danastuti (8-21-18) of a prince Citra.

The latter legend attributes this panegyric to Sobhari, and describes Citra as a king of the Rats (Brihaddevata 7-58)

My comments:- It is interesting to note there was a Dynasty of Mushikas (Rat) in Kerala.


Who is Who in the Mahabharata by S Mazumdar, B V Bhavan, 1988

Dowson’s Dictionary of Hindu Mythology

Vedic Index by Keith and Mac Donell

Xxx Subham xxx

 tags –  Gandharva, Mushika Dynasty, Chitraratha, Chitrasena, Arjuna

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