Chitrasena (Mahabharata)

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Chitrasena fights with Arjuna.

Chitrasena, a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was a Gandharva king who taught song and dance to Arjuna. He resided in Indra's palace along with his fellow Gandharvas and Apsaras. He also routed the army of Duryodana and Karna in a battle that took place before the Kurukshetra War.

As Arjuna's teacher[edit]

Chitrasena is introduced in the epic in the Vana Parva, as a teacher of music by Indra. Indra foresaw that Arjuna would have to spend one year at King Virata's palace as a eunuch, during which time he would need the knowledge of music and dance. He wanted Arjuna to be trained by the king of the Gandharvas, Chitrasena. Chitrasena began his classes soon and the two also became good friends.[1]

When Urvashi cursed Arjuna to remain a eunuch for life, it was Chitrasena along with Indra who mediated with her to reduce the tenure of her curse to a single year. Chitrasena was able to achieve this by narrating to her the story of the Pandavas and the bravery of Arjuna.[2]

Skirmish with Kauravas[edit]

In another incident in the Mahabharata, according to plan of evil minded Karna and shakuni, Duryodhana, his 99 brothers and their wives, with a huge army, were camping at the Dwaitavana in order to track down the Pandavas and jeer at them during their exile. They reached the forest and were taken in by its splendour. Duryodhana planned to swim in the beautiful lakes of the forest along with his wives. But Chitrasena was already camping there along with his Gandharva family and did not want mortals to invade his territory.

Duryodhana was enraged when Chitrasena's soldiers denied him an entry into the beautiful lakes of the Dwaitavana. He gathered his army and along with Karna and others, launched a savage attack on the Gandharvas. Karna initially fought and killed many foot soldiers but when the great warrior Chitrasen arrived in the battle the tables were turned upside down. Karna proved no match to the celestial warrior and all his knowledge proved useless against Chitrasen's illusion. Karna's entire body was mangled and his chariot was destroyed. When gandharvas ran towards him he jumped on vikarna's chariot and ran away in one of the most cowardly acts in the epic leaving his friends wives and other ladies behind.Chitrasena made Duryodhana his prisoner.

Some soldiers went to the place where the Pandavas were residing and requested them to free Duryodhana. Yudhisthira ordered his brothers to rescue Duryodhana from the Gandharvas. The 4 Pandavas reluctantly hurried off and fought with Chitrasena's army, with Arjun fighting Chitrasena. Arjuna after getting upper hand requested Chitrasena to release Duryodhana. On his request, Chitrasena released Duryodhana. Arjuna also introduced Chitrasena as his dance teacher to his brothers.

Duryodhana was so embarrassed, by this incident, that he wanted to commit suicide, but was stopped by danavas. Karna returned after the matter was settled and confessed that he ran away to save his life. Shakuni advised Duryodhana to thank pandavas by returning their kingdom but Karna poisoned duryodhana's ears by his ill advice.


  1. ^ Chandra Roy, Pratap. The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Forgotten Books. pp. 98–99. ISBN 9781451018240. 
  2. ^ Chandra Roy, Pratap. The Mahābhārata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Forgotten Books. pp. 100–102. ISBN 9781451018240.