Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Citrasena 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 Citrasena

A gandharva. There is reference to this gandharva in many places in the purāṇas. He had two wives Sandhyāvalī and Ratnāvalī.

How Arjuna saved him.

Once when Citrasena with his wives was travelling in the aerial car the spittings of Citrasena fell upon the sage Gālava who was doing his sandhyā rites then. The sage complained about the incident to Śrī Kṛṣṇa who promised to bring to him the head of Citrasena before sun-set. Sage Nārada informed Citrasena of this vow of Kṛṣṇa. The gandharva was taken aback and did not know what to do. But Sandhyāvalī and Ratnāvalī went and sought the help of Subhadrā. They made a fire pit in front of her house and decided to end their lives along with Citrasena by jumping into the fire. While Citrasena was circling the fire-pit before jumping into it his wives wept loudly and hearing the noise Subhadrā came out and saw what was happening. They then took from Subhadrā a boon to the effect that they should be allowed to live with their husband. It was only after granting them the boon that Subhadrā understood the whole situation. Subhadrā was in a fix but Arjuna assured her that Citrasena would be protected at any cost. Arjuna very cleverly shielded all the arrows sent against the gandharva by Kṛṣṇa and gradually the fight came to be one between Arjuna and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Subhadrā came between them and it was found difficult to continue the fight. Śrī Kṛṣṇa advised Citrasena to bow down and touch the feet of Gālava. Citrasena obeyed and the issue settled without harm to both the parties.

Arjuna defeats Citrasena.

While the Pāṇḍavas were in exile, Duryodhana knew through a spy that they were camping in the Dvaitavana forest. Prompted by Karṇa Duryodhana programmed to go to Dvaitavana with his retinue to enjoy the sight of the suffering Pāṇḍavas. So they started to the forests under a pretext of an annual stock-taking of the cows. They reached Dvaitavana with a huge army. There they split into parties and roamed about making merry by themselves. Soon one of the parties reached a pond near the hermitage of the Pāṇḍavas. They saw a few gandharvas making merry in the pond. With the usual haughtiness they commanded the gandharvas to leave the pond and make room for Duryodhana to come and bathe. The gandharvas did not pay heed to their words and on being informed of this Duryodhana went to fight with the gandharvas. It was Citrasena who led the gandharvas and by his incessant shower of piercing arrows split the Kaurava forces and made them flee for life. Duryodhana was isolated from his army, was bound hand and foot and taken a prisoner. In their sheer helplessness they approached Dharmaputra in his hermitage and acquainted him with the pitiable plight of Duryodhana. Dharmaputra asked Arjuna to go to the help of the Kauravas. Arjuna faced Citrasena in a grim combat. Citrasena then appeared in his real form and Arjuna knew that he was fighting a friend. Then at the request of Arjuna Citraratha released Duryodhana. (Chapters 239 to 243, Vana Parva).

Other details.

(1) This gandharva occupied a seat in the court of Yudhiṣṭhira along with twentyseven other gandharvas and a few Apsarā maidens. (Śloka 32, Chapter 4, Sabhā Parva).

(2) Citrasena is a member of the court of Kubera also. (Śloka 26, Chapter 10, Sabhā Parva).

(3) Citrasena used to attend the court of Indra also at times. (Śloka 22, Chapter 7, Sabhā Parva).

(4) At the invitation of Indra Arjuna went to devaloka and Citrasena taught him dance and music. It was during this visit that Arjuna threw a cold blanket on the amorous approaches of Urvaśī and was consequently cursed by her to be an eunuch. It was through Citrasena that Indra sent word to Urvaśī to console Arjuna and give relief from the curse. (Chapters 45 and 46, Vana Parva).

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