(Last Updated on : 12/02/2009)
Gandharvas are the spirits of the air, forests and mountains and the male counterpart of the Apsaras. Each Gandharva has a different distinct description. Sometimes they are shaggy, damp and dirty creatures who are partly man and partly animal. In other times they are the males with the wings and legs like a bird. Gandharvas are sometimes centaur-like with a half man and half horse appearance. Sometimes they are also narrated as fair men with emasculate features. They are expert at musical skills, their ability to cast illusions and skill of riding horses. They can also fly.
Sometimes Gandharvas are attendants of Gods or Devas and often combat with the human heroes. When the human heroes won the battle, Gandharvas helped them in their quest but if the heroes lost Gandharvas were carried off so that they could not come in contact again. Gandharvas are also protector of Soma (wine) with their jealous intention. Gandharvas play instruments and produce music in the court of Indra, the king of the gods.
Among the notable Gandharvas some names are- Panada, Opamanna. Nala, Cittasena, Raja. Matali is another Gandharva who is the charioteer for Sakra.
There is a belief that Gandharvas occasionally visit earth and persuade young unmarried women and vanish after making them pregnant and thus throwing them in the fire of grief.