The Gandharis (Sanskrit: गंधारी), are a tribe attested from the Rigveda (RV 1.120.1, 1.126.7) and later texts.

According to Zimmer, they lived on the Kubha river in Vedic times.[1] In later times, they formed a part of the Persian empire.[2] They are first mentioned as Gandhari in the Rigveda, then along with the Balhikas (Bactrians) among border tribes in the Atharvavada, to whom one sends illnesses such as the fever. The Aitareya Brahmana refers to king Naganajit of Gandhara who was contemporary of King Janaka of Videha. The Gandharis are also mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad and the Srauta Sutras.

The Gandharas are included in the Uttarapatha division of Puranic and Buddhistic traditions. The Puranas record that the Druhyus were driven out of the land of the seven rivers by Mandhatr and that their next king Gandhara settled in a north-western region which became known as Gandhara.[3] The sons of the later Druhyu king Pracetas lived in the adjacent region of north Afghanistan. This is recorded in the following Puranas: Bhagavata 9.23.15–16; Visnu 4.17.5; Vayu 99.11–12; Brahmanda 3.74.11–12 and Matsya 48.9.[4]

Gandharas and their king figure prominently as strong allies of the Kurus against the Pandavas in Mahabharata war. The Gandharas were a furious people, well trained in the art of war. According to Puranic traditions, this Janapada was founded by Gandhara, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayati. The princes of this country are said to have come from the line of Druhyu who was a famous king of Rigvedic period. The river Indus watered the lands of Gandhara. According to Vayu Purana (II.36.107), the Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti aka Kalika, at the end of Kali Yuga.


  1. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912
  2. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912
  3. ^ Kandahar in Afghanistan possibly derives its name from Gandhara, Bryant 2001
  4. ^ see e.g. Pargiter [1922] 1979; Talageri 1993, 2000