The Apsaras were nature spirits, the mates of the Gandharvas. They sometimes were water nymphs, and other times were beings of the forest. They are all female, and all of them are described as being very beautiful. They were paired with the Gandharvas, who would play their instruments so the Apsaras would dance. They would often perform for the gods in their palaces. They were inspirations for love, and were sometimes sent to tempt rishis or Brahmans who were very austere.