A representation of a Gandharva playing a string instrument

Chitrangada: Killed by his Namesake

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Chitrangada was the eldest son of Shantanu and Satyavati and the older brother of Vichitravirya in the Mahabharata. He was a powerful warrior. Right after he became king, he died fighting a Gandharva of the same name.


  • Father: Shantanu
  • Mother: Satyavati
  • Brother: Vichitravirya
  • Step-Brother: Bhishma

Chitrangada’s Birth

This story is in the Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 94-95

King Shantanu of Kuru Kingdom had married Goddess Ganga and she gave birth to Bhishma. Four years later, Shantanu was walking near the banks of the Yamuna River and he came across Satyavati, the adopted daughter of Dasharaj, the chief of fishermen. Shantanu immediately fell in love with her and proposed to marry her. Her father agreed on the condition that Satyavati’s son would inherit the throne. Shantanu knew that he couldn’t agree because Bhishma was already the heir to the throne. But when Bhishma learned of this, he took an oath for the sake of his father that he would give up his claim to the throne. He also vowed that he wouldn’t marry to start a lineage. Shantanu was pleased and granted Bhishma a boon that he will only die when he chooses to.

Satyavati rowing in a boat on the river, Shantanu looks at her from the riverbank

Satyavati’s father agreed and soon, Satyavati and Shantanu had two children: Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Chitrangada grew up as a very learned and skilled prince.

Portrait of Chitrangada

Death: Chitrangada vs. Chitrangada

This story is in the Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 95

When Shantanu passed away, Chitrangada became the king. He was very brave, powerful, and afraid of nobody. He vanquished all of the kings of Bharatvarsha.

One day, a Gandharva also named Chitrangada challenged King Chitrangada. Soon, a fight ensued between them on the banks of the Hiranyavati River in the Kurukshetra. The battle lasted for three years. In the end, the Gandharva killed King Chitrangada.

Bhishma and Satyavati were very shocked and upset when they learned about his death. Bhishma then performed his funeral rites. Thereafter, Bhishma appointed Vichitravirya as the king of Kuru.

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