Gandhabba, Gandhabbā: 3 definitions



Gandhabba means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

A class of semi divine beings who inhabit the Catumma harajika realm and are the lowest among the devas (D.ii.212). They are generally classed together with the Asuras and the Nagas (E.g., A.iv.200, 204, 207). Beings are born among them as a result of having practised the lowest form of sila (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 Pancasikha, Suriyavaccasa and her father Timbaru 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 acchara, the nymphs. Their king is Dhatarattha, ruler of the eastern quarter (D.ii.257). Other chieftains are also mentioned (D.ii.258): Panada, Opamanna, Sakkas charioteer Matali, Cittasena, Nala and Janesabha.

The Gandhabbas are sometimes described as vihangama (going through the air) (A.ii.39; AA.ii.506). In the Atanatiya 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 Gandhabakayika deva 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 (matapitaro ca sannipatita honti, mata ca utuni hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupatthito hoti).

The Commentaries (E.g., MA.i.481f ) explain that here gandhabba means tatrupakasatta - tasmim okase nibbattanako satto - meaning a being fit and ready to be born to the parents concerned. The Tika says that the word stands for gantabba. See also Gandhabbaraja.


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An attendant of King Eleyya and a follower of Uddaka Ramaputta. A.ii.180.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Gandhabba in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

gandhabba : (m.) 1. a musician; a heavenly musician belonging to the demigods; 2. a being ready to take a new existence.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Gandhabbā, (f.) music, song J.II, 254; VvA.139; Miln.3; °ṃ karoti to make music J.II, 249; III, 188. (Page 244)

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Gandhabba, (Vedic gandharva) 1. a musician, a singer J.II, 249 sq.; III, 188; VvA.36, 137.—2. a Gandharva or heavenly musician, as a class (see °kāyika) belonging to the demigods who inhabit the Cātummahārājika realm D.II, 212; A.II, 39 (as birds); IV, 200 (with asurā & nāgā), 204, 207; cp. S.III, 250 sq.; also said to preside over child-conception: M.I, 265 sq.; Miln.123 sq.

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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