A class of semi-divine beings who inhabit the
Cātumma-hārājika-realm and are the
lowest among the devas (D.ii.212). They are generally classed together with the
Asuras and the Nāgas (E.g., A.iv.200, 204, 207).
Beings are born among them as a result of having practised the lowest form of
sīla (D.ii.212, 271).
It is a disgrace for a monk to be born in the Gandhabba-world (D.ii.221, 251,
273f). The Gandhabbas are regarded as the heavenly musicians, and
Suriyavaccasā and her father Timbarū are
among their number (D.ii.264).
They wait on such devas as Sakka, and the males
among them form the masculine counterpart of the accharā, the nymphs. Their king
is Dhatarattha, ruler of the eastern quarter
(D.ii.257). Other chieftains are also mentioned (D.ii.258):
Sakka's charioteer Mātalī,
Cittasena, Nala and
The Gandhabbas are sometimes described as vihangamā (going through the air)
(A.ii.39; AA.ii.506). In the Ātānātiya Sutta
(D.iii.203, 204) the Gandhabbas are mentioned among those likely to trouble
monks and nuns in their meditations in solitude. The Buddha says that beings are
born among the Gandhabakāyikā devā because they wish to be so; they are
described as dwelling in the fragrance of root-wood, of bark and sap, and in
that of flowers and scents (S.iii.250f).
It is often stated that the Gandhabbas preside over conception; this is due
to an erroneous translation of the word gandhabba in passages (E.g., M.i.157,
265f) dealing with the circumstances necessary for conception (mātāpitaro ca
sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupatthito hoti).
The Commentaries (E.g., MA.i.481f ) explain that here gandhabba means
tatrūpakasatta - tasmim okāse nibbattanako satto - meaning a being fit and ready
to be born to the parents concerned. The Tīkā says that the word stands for
See also Gandhabbarājā.