Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Citraratha included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Citraratha

(AṄGĀRAPARṄA). A devagandharva.


Citraratha was the gandharva son of Kaśyapaprajāpati of his wife Muni. (Śloka 43, Chapter 65, Ādi Parva).

Citraratha and Arjuna.

The greatest event in the life of Citraratha alias Aṅgāraparṇa was the defeat he suffered at the hands of Arjuna. The Pāṇḍavas after their escape from the lac palace (Lākṣāgṛha) through a tunnel arrived in a forest and there they killed the demons Hiḍiṃba and Baka. One night they were walking along the shores of the river Gaṅgā when they heard a sound of somebody bathing in the river. Arjuna who was walking ahead waving a country torch went to see who was bathing at that time of the night. Arjuna then saw Citraratha enjoying a bath with his wife Kumbhīnasī. That period of the night was allotted to the gandharvas, and human beings were not expected to be out walking at that time. Citraratha felt it impertinent that Arjuna a human being should be out walking at night and peep into the privacy of the gandharvas. The gandharva and Arjuna so entered into a combat. Citraratha who was a great fighter was, after a grim battle, subdued, bound hand and foot, and brought before his brothers by Arjuna. Kumbhīnasī followed her exhausted, powerless and spiritless husband and pleaded to Dharmaputra to release him. Dharmaputra advised Arjuna to do so and on getting his release he taught Arjuna the famous Cākṣuṣīvidyā—the magic art of seeing by one’s own eyes anything and everything in the three worlds: Heaven, Earth and the netherworld. Manu was the author of this magic art and from him Soma learnt it and from Soma Viśvāvasu, from Viśvāvasu, Citraratha and from Citraratha, Arjuna. Besides this Citraratha gave Arjuna many chariots and horses.

In return Arjuna taught him the secret of the missile Agniśira. Exchanging faith and affection thus Citraratha and the Pāṇḍavas became friends. He then narrated to the Pāṇḍavas many interesting stories, of which the following are a few. The story of the feud between Vasiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra, story of Tapatīsaṃvaraṇa and tales about the sage Parāśara, Kalmāṣapāda, Adṛśyantī, Bhārgavas, Kṛtavīrya and Aurva. Citraratha advised the Pāṇḍavas to have a priest for the sacrificial rites and it was thus that they engaged Dhaumya as their family priest.

Since Arjuna had destroyed all the chariots belonging to Citraratha, the latter got a name 'Bhagnaratha' (devoid of chariots). Citraratha admitted that Arjuna could conquer him because of his vow of celibacy. (Chapters 165 to 183, Ādi Parva, Mahābhārata).

Other details.

(1) Citraratha attended one of the birthday festivals of Arjuna. (Śloka 52, Chapter 122, Ādi Parva, Mahābhārata).

(2) Citraratha worshipped Kubera sitting in the latter’s council. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 10, Śloka 26).

(3) He offered as a gift to Dharmaputra four hundred excellent horses which could fly like wind. (Chapter 52, Śloka 23, Vana Parva).

(4) When the gandharvas milked the earth during the time of the emperor, Pṛthu, Citraratha acted as the calf. (Śloka 39, Chapter 6, Harivaṃśa).

(5) Śiva once sent Citraratha as a messenger to Asura Śaṃkhacūḍa, with a message that Śaṃkhacūḍa should abandon his satanic activities. (Devī Bhāgavata, Navama Skandha).

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