A class of semi-divine beings who inhabit the Cātummahārājika realm and are the lowest among the devas. DN.ii.212 They are generally classed together with the Asuras and the Nāgas AN.iv.200 AN.iv.204 AN.iv.207 Beings are born among them as a result of having practised the lowest form of sīla. DN.ii.212 DN.ii.271
It is a disgrace for a monk to be born in the Gandhabba-world.DN.ii.221 DN.ii.251 DN.ii.273f. The Gandhabbas are regarded as the heavenly musicians, and Pañcasikha, Suriyavaccasā and her father Timbarū are among their number. DN.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 Dhataraṭṭha, ruler of the eastern quarter. DN.ii.257 Other chieftains are also mentioned:. DN.ii.258 Panāda, Opamañña, Sakka’s charioteer Mātali, Cittasena, Naḷa and Janesabha.
The Gandhabbas are sometimes described as going through the air. AN.ii.39 In the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta DN.iii.203 DN.iii.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. SN.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 MN.i.157 MN.i.265f. dealing with the circumstances necessary for conception. Here gandhabba means a being fit and ready to be born to the parents concerned.