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Gandharvas are a class of male nature spirits, having superb musical skills and are guardians of Soma.

Gandhar was an ancient kingdom located in modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is mentioned, among others, in Rig-Veda, Shatapath Brahman, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

Can these be related, owing to the linguistic similarities?

Can it be that Gandharvas were concentrated in Gandhar, or intermingled with people of Gandhar?

Do we have scriptural references indicating any such connections?

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In order to see whether there any connection between these two , lets first examine the definitions of these terms and what clues are there in scriptures about both of them Here are the definations from Hinuism point of view -

  • Gandharva गन्धर्व.—The celestial demigod dancers, singers, and musicians of the heavenly planets.
  • Gandhar - a province in ancient India believed to be the present day Afghanistan.

Now here is some information about Gandhara province in ancient Bharat-Varsha. Rig-Veda 1.126 mentions the region called Gandhar.

उपोप मे परा मर्श मा मे दभ्राणि मन्यथाः |
सर्वाहमस्मि रोमशा गन्धारीणामिवाविका ||RV 1.126.7 ||

upopa me parā mṛśa mā me dabhrāṇi manyathāḥ |
sarvāhamasmi romaśā ghandhārīṇāmivāvikā ||

Wife Said - O Patideva ,Do come close to me and touch me ,Do not take my deeds otherwise ,i am as mature with qualities as sheeps of Gandhara who are full of wool.


Markandeya Purana says ..

Gāndharva is the sphere of the various classes of śūdras who perform menial service.

Now lets look at the description of Gandharvas.

Mahabharata Adi Parva - Section CI tells us that a Powerful Gandharva king called Chitrangada defeated his namesake chitrangada a son of Shantanu. And after that the Gandharva ascended to heaven.


Mahabharata- - Sabha Parva - Chapter 6 - Shishupala Liberation tells us that Gandharva Loka is abode of these Gandharvas ,which is one of the higher planetary system.

In order to participate in the great sacrifice performed by King Yudhisthira, all the exalted demigods like Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, and Indra the King of heaven, accompanied by their associates, as well as the predominating deities of higher planetary systems like Gandharva Loka.


Gandharvas are the spirits and are associated with Sky or higher areas ,wind etc. .As mentioned in RV 3.38.6 .

तरीणि राजाना विदथे पुरूणि परि विश्वानि भूषथः सदांसि |
अपश्यमत्र मनसा जगन्वान वरते गन्धर्वानपि वायुकेशान || Rv 3.38.6||

6 Three seats ye Sovrans, in the Holy synod, many, yea, all, ye honour with your presence. There saw I, going thither in the spirit, Gandharvas in their course with wind-blown tresses.


It appears that term Gandharvas is also applied for race of the people roaming in hills and wilds. (People of Gandhara region is also mentioned as Gandharvas) as well as for the creatures /celestial beings who are the singers and musicians of devas or gods both . But the both terms are different. One is applied for the race of the people here on earth and the other for celestial beings who are found near the gods and in their various abods ,singing for them. And that is why this confusion as we find various different accounts in various different texts about these two.

And judging from the this and other scripture we can safely say that there is no direct connection between Gandharvas mentioned in hindu mythology as celestial beings and the region called Gandhara. And the inhabitants of this Gandhar region were humans.The place of Gandharvas is Gandharva Loka and they are also reside in Swarga and other lokas near gods.

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  • It is better to add chapter number to Markandeya Purana also (Just incase the links are dead). Mar 17, 2018 at 7:13

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