GAṆDARƎBA- (var.gaṇdərəβa- or gaṇdaraβa-; Mid. Pers. Gandarw/Gandarb), a term attested the Avesta as the name of a monster living in the lake Vourukaṧa (see FRĀXKART; Yt. 5, 38; Mayrhofer, 1979, I, p. 153). He is son of Jam and of a witch (parīg) according to the Pahlavi Rivāyat (Williams, I, pp. 55-56; II, p. 13). Written as the hapax gaṇdrəβa- (var. gaṇdərəβa- or gaṇdraβa-), it is the name of a Zoroastrian, the father of Paršiṇta (Yt. 13, 123; cf. Elamite kanturma, i.e., *gandrva-; Gershevitch, 1969, p. 199; Mayrhofer, 1973, p. 176; Hinz, p. 102).

Kərəsāspa (Mid. Pers. Kirsāsp; NPers. Karšāsp) kills Gaṇdarəβa after a furious fight on the Vourukaṧa shores. This horrible aquatic (upāpō; dēw ī ābīg in Mēnōg ī xrad 27.49) monster is described as “yellow-heeled (zairi-pāšna-) who attacked open-mouthed, destroying the material world of Aṧa” (q.v.; Yt. 5.38, 15.28, 19.41). The Avestan references are scanty, but the description of the monster is confirmed by the summary of the Sūdgar nask preserved in the Dēnkard 9.14.2, where Kirsāsp “defeated the yellow-heeled Gandarw” (wānīd Gandarw ī zarr-pāšnān; Nyberg, p. 339). The story resumed in the Pahlavi Rivāyat (18.9-14) probably derived from the same Avestan text (West, pp. 372-73): Kirsāsp bound Gandarw after a long fight in the sea and entrusted the monster to Āxrūrag. But Gandarw escaped, and Kirsāsp went to the sea and slew him (Dhabhar, 1913, p. 66 ff.; Nyberg, pp. 340-41; Christensen, 1941, p. 19; Williams, I, p. 104, II, pp. 40-41, 165-66; for the NPers. abridged version see Unvala, I, pp. 61-ff., Dhabhar, 1932, pp. 516-17; cf. Sad dar-e Bondaheš 20.16-17; Dhabhar, 1909, p. 86). The Stackelberg’s comparison (1898, pp. 239-40) between Gandarw and the name of a mountain read as Kōndrāsp in Indian Bundahišn (22.3) is problematic (Dumézil, 1929, p. 74, n. 1; see Skjærvø for connections with Aždahā, the Semitic sea monsters, and the Manichean water dragons mazans; cf. Syr. Gwnrp in Theodore bar Kōnay; Henning, 1951, p. 51, n. 3, but see Benveniste, 1932, p. 202; de Menasce, pp. 4-5; Zaehner, pp. 441-42).

The saga of the dīv Gandarw (or Kandarv) was related by Spiegel (1874, pp. 122-ff., but see idem, 1887, pp. 275-76) to the Avestan sources and to the tale of the Pahlavi and Persian Rivāyats (Spiegel, 1860, pp. 160, 339; Stackelberg, 1894, pp. 149-51), but it is doubtful if it is attested in the Šāh-nāma (ed. Vullers, III, p. 1668, vv. 3045-50), where the reading Gandarv is a conjecture of Stackelberg for Andarv (cf. Dumézil, 1929, p. 74, n. 1; Fasāʾī, p. 707). Another Kandarv appears in the Šāh-nāma cycle of Ferēdūn (ed. Osmanov, I, p. 44; Zaehner, p. 442, n. b; Kondravaq, according to Mojmal, ed. Bahār, p. 89) as the major-domo of Ẓaḥḥāk (Stackelberg, 1894, p. 150; idem, 1898, p. 239; cf. Spiegel, 1887, p. 215, n. 1 and Dumézil, 1929, p. 74, n. 3). It is noteworthy that Garšāsp in the Garšāsp-nāma (ed. Huart, pp. 109-33) killed a dragon coming out from the sea and that Sām (Šāh-nāma, ed. Osmanov, I, pp. 139-40, vv. 1028-59) slays a dragon (identified by Christensen, 1941, p. 65, with the Av. dragon Aži Sruuara) coming out from the Kašafrūd in Khorasan.

A Sogdian “water sprite” wp’p-γntrw (Av. upāpō gaṇdarəβō) is known from ms. P[aris] 3, 131 (cf. Benveniste, 1940, p. 65; Henning, 1946, p. 714; Gershevitch, 1961, p. 13, sec. 98) and from a Manichaean tale (γntrwy; Henning, 1945, pp. 481, 482, n. 3); in P 8, 55, later Skt. gandharba- is transliterated as knt’rβ (Benveniste, 1940, p. 108; Henning, ibid.; note γntrw <*gandarva-). The term has survived in the Pamir languages: Shugh. žindūrv (<*gandarba-) “werewolf,” žindīrv, (<*gandarbī-), “she-werewolf”; Rošanī žändūr, m., Khufī-Rošanī žindirγ, f., a fantastic monster (Bailey, p. 1157; Sköld, p. 312; Morgenstierne, p. 110b).

The Avestan attestations of gaṇd(a/ə)rəβa- cannot be separated (Mayrhofer, 1979, I, p. 153). The comparison with Vedic gandharvá- (also gandharvī-, later gandharba-) is evident. Any connection with Greek kéntanros is difficult to verify, because it presupposes a popular etymology and an irregular epenthesis of n. Macdonell (p. 137) derived it from Vedic gandha- “odour.” The former comparison was supported again by Carnoy (pp. 99-100) and by Dumézil (1929, pp. 253-57) in connection with Lat. februum “instrument of purification” (refuted by Walde and Hoffmann, p. 473 and Ernout and Meillet, p. 223; see also Dumézil, 1966, p. 343, n. 1; Mayrhofer, 1958, pp. 321-22; idem, 1989, p. 462, without etymology).

Twenty occurrences of gandharvá- are attested in the Rig Veda, but only three in the plural (Grassmann, cols. 376-77); this ratio changes in the Avesta (Hillebrandt, pp. 427-28). Macdonell (p. 136) suggested that the evolution into a class of gods took place gradually referring to the Av. data (only singular). The Vedic Gandharva dwells in the heaven, connected with sun, moon, and Soma, of which he is the jealous guardian. For this reason he appears as a demon, pierced by Indra. It is Gandharva Viśvāvasu who has a demonic role against Soma (Macdonell, p. 137). Gandharva (with the exception of 3.38.6) does not occur in Rig Veda 2-7, and only as an hostile name it appears in Rig Veda 10. In Rig Veda 5. 3 Gandharva is a demon. The connections between Gandharva and the heavenly waters (Rig Veda 10.9.83) can be compared with the Avestan data. Gandharva is the ancestor of Yama and Yamī (Rig Veda 10.10.4); in the Zoroastrian tradition Gandarw is the son of Jam, and the present (although reversed) correspondence confirms their Arian origin (Hartman, p. 87; Humbach, 1974, p. 200; but cf. Geiger, pp. 46, 50; Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 91, n. 43). As a group, the Gandharvas, like wind-giants (3.38.6), are the counterparts to the Apsarás, but in the Brāhmaṇas they are placed with the Asuras against the Devas (Hillebrandt, p. 439). In later literature their king is Vāyu (for the Gandharvas as windgods, cf. Mayrhofer, 1989, pp. 461-62, also sub gandhá- “duft”). They are also portrayed as heavenly musicians (Christensen, 1934, pp. 8-9).



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(Antonio Panaino)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 2, 2012

This article is available in print.
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