The gandharvas are celestial singers and musi-cians. They are mentioned in the VEDAS and also play a minor role in the epics (RAMAYANA; MAHAB-HARATA) and PURANAS. They are minor but ubiqui-tous characters in Indian mythology.
   KUBERA, the god of wealth, is considered the lord of the gandharvas. Etymologists have traced the word gandharva to gandha, or “scent.” Perhaps this is why the gandharvas are sometimes said to have emerged from the creator god’s nose. Other sources say their father is the rishi Kashyapa and their mothers are the daughters of another rishi, DAKSHA. Gandharvas are all said to have sweet voices, and they are seen as radiant, graceful, and beautiful. They are known to sing on various mountains including MERU, the central mountain of the earthly portion of the cosmos, but they are also heard in the sky and woods. They usually live in a sky world. The kinnaras, another class of beings who are sometimes considered the best of musicians, are also classified as gandharvas. The gandharvas are known to Buddhist and Jain tradi-tions (see JAINISM) as well as to Hinduism.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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