CITRASENA – A gandharva (celestial musician)


Citrasena had many roles in the Puranic and Epic literature.
While flying overhead in his celestial chariot, Citrasena accidentally spat on the sage Galava, who complained to Krishna, who in turn vowed to kill Citrasena before sunset. The good old sage Narada telepathically learned of all this and told Citrasena. So Citrasena’s two wives, Sandhyavali and Ratnavali, made a firepit before the abode of Subhadra, wife of Arjuna and sister of Krishna. They planned either to win her help or to die with their husband on his funeral pyre. Subhadra granted them the boon that they could live with their husband before knowing the full story. So Arjuna had to come to the aid of Citrasena and to stop all of the arrows that Krishna aimed at Citrasena. He did this so well that it became a fight between Arjuna and Krishna. Subhadra was finally able to stop their fight, and Krishna allowed Citrasena to apologize to the sage Galava.
On an occasion in the Mahabharata, at a time when mortals could see gand- harvas, Duryodhana and his army came into the Dvaitavana forest to kill the Pandavas. They stumbled upon Citrasena and his troop bathing in a forest pond. Haughtily they ordered the gandharvas out so that their king could bathe alone. A fight ensued, with Citrasena routing the Kaurava army and binding the capĀ­tured Duryodhana. A helpless Kaurava went to Arjuna and begged his help to free Duryodhana from this terrible foe. Of course Arjuna went to his enemy’s aid and fought a foe that he did not recognize. Finally after much combat, Citrasena took the form that Arjuna recognized. So Arjuna was able to ask Citrasena to release Duryodhana. After a short time Duryodhana and the Kauravas expressed their gratitude by renewing their evil ways. (It still delights the hearers of all ages that they know the nature of Duryodhana better than Arjuna.)
Next Citrasena taught Arjuna dance and music in the court of Indra. While there the much-celebrated apsara Urvasi became attracted to Arjuna. However Arjuna declined her advances. The frustrated Urvasi cursed Arjuna to become a eunuch. This curse was a blessing to Arjuna and enabled him to stay incognito as a dance teacher in the palace of King Virata during a year when he needed to go unrecognized. It was through Citrasena that Indra sent a message to Urvasi to remove her curse.

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