Gandharvas in the Vedas!


Gandharvas in Mamallapuram sculptures, Tamil Nadu

Research Paper No.1803; Date: 16th April 2015

Written by London swaminathan

Uploaded from London at 10-55 am

Summary of the Article

1.Gandharvas were the dominant community in the Indus/Sarasvati valley civilization 2.They were well versed in music and dance 3. They were in charge of Soma plants and Soma juice production 4.Indus valley had other communities and sects like modern day Hinduism. They had fights and peaceful existence with them 5.Ramayana and Mahabharata give lot of information about Gandharva territories (Indus/Sarasvati valley) 6.Now we know the full significance of the filter like emblem found in most of the Indus seals. Those seals belong to the Gandharvas. Other seals belong to other sects of the Indus valley 7.The dancer statue of Indus valley belongs to the Gandharvas 8.Scholars who were misled by the Aryan Dravidian racist theory failed to understand the multi-cultural, multi ethnic fabric of the Indus/Sarsvati valley. It was NOT a homogenous community.

I have a strong suspicion that the Indus valley Civilization was a Gandharva Civilization or dominated by the Gandharvas who lived along with other sects. I have already written two posts showing the link between the civilization and the Gandharvas:

Haha and Huhu: Famous Celestial Musicians, Posted on 27 October 2014

Indus Valley Cities in Ramayana, posted on 18 December 2012

Gandharvas were celestial musicians and their marriages were love marriages. Of the eight types of marriages mentioned in Manu Smrti and oldest Tamil book Tolkappiam, love marriage is called Gandharva type. Indus Valley people probably led a free life like the Gandharvas. The famous dancing statue stands as a proof for this.

Here are more references from the Vedas which also prove that they were popular during Vedic times which nearly coincides with the Indus valley period according to latest accepted date for the Rig Veda (1700 BCE):

Indus Seal2 002

Soma filter in front of the animal in Indus seals

1.Consorts of Gandharvas were called Apsarasses.

2.In the later Samhitas Gandharvas forms a distinct class by the side of gods, Fathers and Asuras (AV 11-5-2; TS 7-8-25-2) (Like in today’s India they might have co-existed with others such as Asuras, Devas, Humans in the Indus Valley)

3.Their number is fixed as 27 in some Yajus texts and even said to be 6333 in the Atharva Veda (11-5-2)

4.Rig Veda has only few references: in books 2 and 7, while in book 8 it occurs twice.

5.In one place they are shown hostile to Indra (but I will treat it as an insignificant fact. Indra was hostile to every one: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, several Vedic seers such as Agastya, Gautama, Krishna, Vedic Brahmins Trisiras, Vrtra etc Since Indra is a title like King, we would never know which Indra did what).

6.Gandharvas were associated with Sky or higher areas. (Probably they lived in hills and mountains or they came from higher areas).

7.He is a measurer of space (RV 10-139-5).He is found in the fathomless space of  air (8-66-5).He stands erect on the vault of heaven(RV 10-123-7)

8.He is the lover on whom the Apsaras smiles (RV 10-123-5).His abode is heaven(AV 2-2-1-2) and the blessed live with them (AV 4-34-3)

9.They are connected with celestial light. He is brought into relation with the sun- the golden winged bird), the messenger of Varuna.

10.He is further connected with rainbow in one hymns(RV 10-1-23). In post Vedic literature, one of the names of the mirage is ‘’City of Gandharva’’.

11.He is connected with Sun bird, Sun Steed, 27 stars, particularly Rohini Star. (Rohini’s closeness to moon is in many mythological stories. Tamils and north Indians celebrated marriages on Rohini star day).


Kinnara in Thailand Museum (aasociates of Gandharvas)

12.Gandharva is associated with Soma.He guards the place of Soma and protects the race of the Gods (RV 9-83-4;9-85-12;9-113-3). Through Gandharva’s mouth Gods drink Soma (AV 7-73-3)The Maitrayani Samhita says that Gandharvas kept Soma for the Gods ((3-8-10)

(My comments: INDUS VALLEY AND SOMA CULT– The mysterious figure in a lot of Indus seals is interpreted as a Soma rasa filter. These hymns linking Gandharvas with the Devas confirm my view that the Gandharvas were the dominating people of the Indus valley. Others might have co-existed with them. When I say Gandharvas, it was a tribe who identified themselves with the heavenly Gandharvas; they need NOT be actual Gandharvas of the heaven).

13.Gandharvas knows plants(AV 4-41). Soma was stolen by Gandharva Visvavasu, but was brought back.

  1. Gandharvas are fond of females (AB 1-27;TS 6-1-6-5,MS 3-7-3); Gandharvas in the waters (RV 10-10-4; RV 9-86-36;AV 2-2-3; 4-37-12)
  1. Gandharvas are connected with Hindu weddings: The unmarried maiden is said to belong to Gandharvas as well as to Soma and Agni( RV 10-85-40 and 41)
  1. Gandharvas’ physical appearance: They are wind haired (RV 3-38-6) and have brilliant weapons (RV 10-123-7). The Atharva Veda is more definite (4-37-8-6-1ff). Here they are said to be shaggy and to have half animal forms, being in many ways antagonistic to men. Elsewhere they are spoken of as handsome (SB13-4-3-7). The RV mentions that Gandharvas wears a fragrant (surabhi) garment (10-123-7), while in the Atharvaveda (12-1-23) the odour (gandha) of the earth is said to have given rise to the Gandharvas.

(Source: A Cultural Index to Vedic Literature by N N Bhattacharya with my comments)

soma filter

Soma filter on Indus seals

Gandharva Desa = Indus Valley

17.Varahamihira’s Brhat Samhita adds:–

Gandharva desa seems to be the original name (Ramayana 7-101-11) of Gandhara which is extended from Kabul Valley to Taxila (Takshasila) and comprised the Rawalpindi and Peshawar districts in Pakistan. Varahamihira mentioned two towns of Gandhara viz. Takshasila and Puskalavati (modern Charsadda) situated to the east and west respectively of the Indus River ( Souce:-Brhat Samhita translated into English by Prof.Ramakrishna Bhat)

Mahabharata and Puranas on Gandharvas

18.Mahabharata says that Shantanu’s elder son Chitangada was killed by a Gandharva by the same name on the banks of River Sarasvati. In another episode Arjuna fought with the Gandharvas and released Duryodhana who was earlier captured by them.

Mahabharata says about a 12 year long drought in the Sarasvati River area and Brahmins all forgot the Vedas during that period. Others migrated to different areas and those Brahmins are called Sarasvats. Son of Dadhichi only remained there and taught the Vedas to the seers when they returned to Sarasvati basin. His name was Sarasvata. (This shows that there was an exodus from Sarasvati River (Indus Valley Civilization area) at one time. Probably that was the reason for empty Indus cities).

19.Gandharvas’ names have the word CHITRA more often. If we are able to decipher this word in the Indus script we can make a breakthrough in deciphering the script.

19.Since Gandharvas are said to live in the sky and their main job was to prepare Soma juice for the Gods, we can assume that they lived in mountains where Soma plant was grown. Vedas always say everything in a secret language (in the sky= high mountains, preparing juice for Gods= bringing soma for Yajnas)

soma filter 2

The mysterious emblem infront of the animal is the Vedic device to extract Soma juice

  1. Later Puranas gave different accounts: Vishnu Purana says that they were born from Brahma’s nose. Chitraratha was the chief of Gandharvas. The cities of the Gandharvas are often referred to as being very splendid (probably they mean Cities of Indus valley). The Vishnu Purana has a legend of the Gandharvas fighting with the Nagas, whose dominions they seized and whose treasures they plundered. Nagas sent Narmada to Purukutsa (Vishnu in disguise)) who was led by Narmada to Gandharvas. Purukutsa destroyed them. This shows that they extended their sway up to Narmada River at one time and Purukutsa defeated them. Purukutsa may be one of the kings of rival groups of Indus Valley.

There is more scope for research into GANDHARVAS.

Pictures are used from different sites;thanks