Picture sent by Lalgudi Veda

Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 14 September 2017


Time uploaded in London- 14-54


Post No. 4212


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.





The following is characteristic of the stories told of this god and his doings:


On a certain occasion, many of the gods were invited to an entertainment in Indra’s palace. To complete their happiness, several of the Apsaras, beautiful nymphs, danced before them. Gandharvasenu, son of Indra, was so fascinated with the charms of one of them and behaved so indelicately that that his father commanded him to descend to earth in the form of an ass. All the assembled gods beseeched him to modify this sentence, and ultimately Indra agreed that his son should be an ass by day, but a man by night. With this he dismissed him to wander about the earth. One day a Brahman  came to bathe at a pond near which the ass was wandering. The animal spoke to him and told him he was Indra’s son and asked him to speak to King Dharu to give him his daughter in marriage. The Brahman consented, and next day the king went with his counsellors and held a conversation with the ass, who related his story and the cause of his degradation. The king refused consent to the marriage unless the ass would perform some miracle to prove his descent. To this he agreed, and the following night he built a fort of iron, forty miles square and six high. Then the king was forced to yield, and appointed the day of marriage.


The day came, and with splendid show, dancing, and music the bride, adorned with jewels and the richest attire, was led into the iron fort to be married to the ass. The bridegroom on seeing her could not refrain from giving voice. Th guests on hearing the ass bray were filled with grief and astonishment. Some hid their faces with sorrow, some because of laughter. Others, more bold, went to the king and said “O King, is this the son of Indra O Monarch, you have found an excellent bridegroom. Don’t delay the wedding! we never saw so glorious a match. We have heard of a camel being married to an ass, when the ass, looking the camel said, “Bless me what a fine form and the camel, hearing the voice of the ass, said Dear me what sweet voice! In that wedding the bride and the bride groom were equal, but that your daughter should have such a bridegroom is truly wonderful!


Then the Brahmans said “Oh King at some weddings, as a sign of joy, the sacred conch shell is blown, but thou hast no need of that (alluding  to the braying of the ass).




The women then cried out, “O King, what is this? To give so angelic a damsel in marriage to an ass! The king felt ashamed and hung his head. At length Gandharvavenu reminded the king of his promise, and urged upon him that the body is merely a garment, that wise men never estimate the worth of a person by the clothes he wears, and, moreover, he was in this shape from the curse of his father, and during the night he would assume the form of a man.


The king then withdrew his objection and the man marriage was celebrated. By the time the guests were dismissed the night drew on, and a handsome man, suitably dressed, presented himself to the king. The king brought the bride in great state to the palace and gave her to her husband. The next day he gave jewels, horses, camels, and servants to her and dismissed the guests with suitable presents. Dharu, however, could not but feel anxious that his son-in- law should finally throw off his ass body. After a thousand contrivances, he said to himself Gandharvasenu is the son of Indra, therefore he can never die; at night he casts off his ass’s body, which lies like a dead body. I will burn it and so keep him always in the form of a man. This he did and the curse was removed.






On one occasion Indra assumed the form of a shepherd boy so that he might more easily steal some pomegranate blossoms from a garden to deck the dark tresses of his consort Indrani.


The sequel is told in Sir William Jones’ charming hymn to him


“The reckless peasant, who these glowing flowers, Hopeful of rubied fruit has fostered long,

Seized and with cordage strong,

Shackled the god who gave him showers.

Straight from the seven winds immortal genii flew- Varuna green, whom foamy waves obey;

Bright Vahni, flaming with the lamp of day

Kuvera, sought by all, enjoyed by few;

Marut, who bids the wingéd breezes play

Stern Yama, ruthless judge! and Isa cold

With Narrit, mildly bold:

They, with the ruddy flash that points his thunder,

Rend his vain bands asunder.

Th’ exulting god resumes his thousand eyes,

Four arms divine, and robes of changing dyes.


These “robes of changing dyes” are of course the clouds, and the thousand eyes were the marks of the displeasure of the gods for his intrigue with Gautama’s wife.



SOURCE: The Gods of India by the Rev.E.Osborn Martin, London ,1914