Gandharvas in art : musicians of heaven

       Gandharvas are the musicians of Lord Indra’s heaven as per Hindu mythology. They are male nature spirits, partners of the apsaras.  They could be part animal, usually a bird or horse. They act as messengers between Gods and humans. Gandharvas are mentioned in the Mahabharata as singers and musicians to the devas (Gods) and as warriors with the yakshas. They are given different parentage like Brahma, Sage Kashyap, Arishta etc.

 

Image result for gandharvas

Gandharvas worshipping a shivalinga ,Sunga Period 1st t0 2nd century B.C , Government Museum, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Apsara Gandharva Dancer Pedestal Tra Kieu.jpg

 Apsara dancer and a gandharva musician, 10th century Cham art, Vietnam.

By DoktorMax at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Gandharva in Dancing Pose - Mediaeval Period - Magorra - ACCN 76-7 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-23 5449.JPG

Gandharvas dancing,sculpture,medieval period, Government Museum, Mathura. 

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Jagat 22-77.jpg

 Sculpture of Apsaras and Gandharvas,  15th cenutry, Jagat Mandir,Dwarka, Gujarat.

By Michael Gunther (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tumbaru is the best among the Gandharvas or celestial musicians. He is the son of Sage Kashyap and his wife Pradha. As per the Bhagavata-purana Sage Narada is his teacher.He sings the glories of Lord Vishnu along with him.He performs in the courts of Kubera and Indra and leads the gandharvas in their singing. In the image below one can see him as  horse-headed and wearing  a magnificent angavastram decorated with  floral design. He is seen with acrown, with two arms and holding a veena. Gandharva Tumbaru appears many times in the Mahabharata.

Tumbara.jpg

 

 Gandharva Tumbara, painting, South India,1816.

By Unknown – http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=3080775&partid=1&output=Places%2f!!%2fOR%2f!!%2f41119%2f!%2f41119-2-20%2f!%2fPainted+in+South+India%2f!%2f%2f!!%2f%2f!!!%2f&orig=%2fresearch%2fsearch_the_collection_database%2fadvanced_search.aspx&currentPage=1&numpages=10, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9876241

 

 

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

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Soma Ghosh

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