Kinnara Kingdom

Kinnara Kingdom refers to the territory of a tribe called Kinnaras who one among the exotic tribes, mentioned along with others like Devas (including Rudras, Maruts, Vasus and Adityas), Asuras (including Daityas, Danavas and Kalakeyas), Pisachas, Gandharvas, Kimpurushas, Vanaras, Suparnas, Rakshasas, Bhutas and Yakshas. They along with others, were inhabitants of the Himalaya mountains. The people of the Gangetic Plain looked upon them with wonder and considered them as super-human. The Kinnara tribe is identified to have lived in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh state in India. A group of people living in this district still call themselves "Kinnaurs". They could be the descendands of the ancient Kinnaras.

Kinnaras were mysteriously linked with horses. Puranas mention them as horse-headed beings. Puranas mention about an Asura with a horse head, who was known as "Hayagreeva" (which in Sanskrit means "the horse headed one"; "Haya = horse" and "greeva = head") This Asura was killed by an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who took the similar form of a horse-headed human figure. In Egyptian sculpures also we see horse headed-figures or warriors employing an elongated face-mask, which resemble the head of a horse.

The epic Mahabharata, mentiones Kinnaras, not as horse-headed beings but as beings who were half-man and half-horse. The epic Mahabharata and the Puranas describe, regions north to Himalayas as the abode of Kinnaras. This region was also the abode of a tribe of people called Kambojas. They were fierce warriors skilled in horse ride and horse warfare. Some of them were robber-tribes who invaded village-settlements, by raiding them using their skilled cavalry-forces. The myth of Kinnaras probably came from these horsemen. Another reference in the epic consider them as a sub-group of Gandharvas.

References in Mahabharata

Territories of Kinnaras

Mandara mountain (identified as the low-mountains of Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh) is said to be the abode of the Kinnaras:- There is a mountain called Mandara adorned with cloud-like peaks. It is covered all over with intertwining herbs. There countless birds pour forth their melodies, and beasts of prey roam about. The Devas, the Apsaras and the Kinnaras visit the place. (1,18)

Many Gandharva territores were also territories of Kinnaras, like the forset where Ganga emerges into the plains (Gangadwara) (3,90), the mountain Gandhamadana in the territory of the Yaksha king Kubera (3,142) and the mountain Meru (13,102).

Kinnaras were mentioned as living from the high mountains of Lanka along with Gandharvas, Yakshas and Rakshasas following their king Kubera (Vaisravana) and finally settling in the high Himalaya mountains, due to a dispute between Yaksha king Kubera and his stepbrother Ravana the king of the Rakshasas (3,273).

Kinnaras and Vidyadharas were mentioned as living in Krauncha mountain (in Himachal Pradesh) in the Himalayas (9,16).

Kinship with other exotic tribes

Kinnaras were mentioned as half-men and half-horses at (1.66) where they were described as kinsmen of other exotic tribes like the Rakshasas, Yakshas, Vanaras (these four were linked to the sage Pulastya) and with Kimpurushas (half-men, half-lion), Salabhas (butterfly-like beings -- the angels or fairies in western mythologies ?) and Valikhilyas (the followers of the movements of the sun) (the last three were linked to the sage Pulaha).(1.66)

Kinnaras were mentioned as a sub-group of Gandharvas at (2,10). Here they were mentioned as living in the territory of Yaksha king Vaisravana (Kubera).

"The Gandharvas called Kinnaras, and others called Naras, and Manibhadra, and Dhanada, and Swetabhadra and Guhyaka; Kaseraka, Gandakandu, and the mighty Pradyota;Kustumvuru, Pisacha, Gajakarna, and Visalaka, Varaha-Karna, Tamraushtica, Falkaksha, and Falodaka; Hansachuda, Sikhavarta, Vibhishana, Pushpanana, Pingalaka, Sonitoda and Pravalaka; Vrikshavaspa-niketa, and Chiravasas—these and many other Yakshas by hundred and thousands always wait upon Kubera. Kinnaras by hundreds and innumerable kings with Bhagadatta as their chief, and Druma the chief of the Kimpurushas, and Mahendra the chief of the Rakshasas, and Gandhamadana accompanied by many Yakshas and Gandharvas and many Rakshasas wait upon Kubera, the Yaksha king." (2,10)

They were mentioned as a tribe under Yaksha king Kubera at many places. (2,10), (13-19). The gold-mines of Himalayas in the territory of Yaksha king Kubera, were protected by Kinnaras of fierce mien (14,63).

Kinnaras were mentioned along with other exotic tribes like the Nagas, Uragas, Pannagas, Suparnas, Vidyadharas, Siddhas, Charanas, Valikhilyas, Pisachas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Kimpurushas, Yakshas, Rakhsasas, Vanaras etc at various places. (1-18,66), (2-10), (3-82,84,104,108,139,200,223,273) (4-70), (5-12), (7-108,160), (8-11), (9-46), (12- 168,227,231,302,327,334,(13-58,83,87,140), (14-43,44,88,92).

Culture and Habits

Kinnaras were mentioned as to have the habbit of drinking (Soma ?) at (1,70). Here they were mentioned along with the Siddhas, Charanas, Gandharvas, Apsaras and Vanaras. They were seen by the Puru king Dushmantha (Dushyanta) in a forest where his would-be wife Sakuntala lived. In that forest on the banks of a river called "Malini" (Ganga?) he saw the habitations of Kinnaras. He also saw Yotis (Yati is a modern-day-mystery, in the Himalayas) and the Valikhilyas.

Like the Gandharvas and Apsaras, who were well-skilled in vocal and instrumental music and in cadence, Kinnaras also were well-versed in musical-measures and motions and could sing in divine-tunes in proper and charming voices. They were mentioned as performing at the new court of Pandava king Yudhisthira at Indraprastha, owing to the friendship of Arjuna with the Gandhrarvas named Tumvuru and Chitrasena (a Gandharva king). (2,5).

*Song of Kinnaras can be heard at Mandara mountains (7,78) and at Himalayas (13,14)

*The forest owned by Narada and held dear by him, echo with the melodious songs of the prince of Kinnaras, and are the eternal abode of Gandharvas and Apsaras. (13,102)

Kinnaris, the female Kinnaras

Kinnara women were mentioned as very beautiful, who wander freely in the forests (3,136).

"This description is common to the ladies belonging to other exotic tribes also, like the Gandharvis and Apsaras (female Gandharvas), the Yakshis (female Yakshas), the Rakshasis (female Rakshasas), Pisachinis (female Pisachas), Naginis (female Nagas), vidyadharis (female Vidyadharas), Devis (female Devas) and Danavis (female Danavas - a clan of Asuras)."

Seeing the beauty of the Pandava queen Draupadi, though disguised as a maid-servant, in the court of Matsya king Virata, the king's queen asks her thus:-

"Thou canst never be a maid-servant. Art thou a Yakshi, a Devi, a Gandharvi, or an Apsara? Art thou the daughter of a Deva, or art thou a female Naga? Art thou the guardian goddess of some city, a Vidyadhari, or a Kinnari,--or art thou Rohini herself? Or art thou Alamvusha, or Misrakesi, Pundarika, or Malini, or the queen of Indra, or of Varuna? Or, art thou the spouse of Viswakarma the creative Lord himself?"

Draupadi replied:- "O auspicious lady, I am neither a Devi nor a Gandharvi, nor a Yakshi, nor a Rakshasi. I am a maid-servant of the Sairindhri (beautician) class. I tell thee this truly. I know to dress the hair, to pound fragrant substances for preparing unguents, and also to make beautiful and variegated garlands."

Kinnaris were mentioned along with Vidyadharis (female Vidyadharas) in the mountain Gandhamadana (3,157). Meru mountain is said to echo with melodious voice of Kinnaris. (13,102).

See also

#Kingdoms of Ancient India
#Exotic Tribes of Ancient India
#Kamboja Kingdom
#Kimpurusha Kingdom


*Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated to English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli

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