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In Hinduism, the Gandharvas (Sanskrit: गंधर्व, gandharva) are male nature spirits, husbands of the Apsaras.


Description

Some Gandharvas are part animal, usually a bird or horse, other appears as beautiful dancers with handsome bodies.


Role

Gandharvas have superb musical skills. They guarded the Soma and made beautiful music for the gods in their palaces.


Hindu mythology

In Hindu theology, Gandharvas act as messengers between the gods and humans. In Hindu law, a Gandharva marriage is one contracted by mutual consent and without formal rituals.

Gandharvas are mentioned extensively in the epic Mahabharata as associated with the Devas (as dancers and singers) and with the Yakshas, as formidable warriors. They are mentioned as spread across various territories.


In Buddhism

A Gandharva (Sanskrit) or Gandhabba (Pali) is one of the lowest-ranking devas in Buddhist theology. Gandharvas can fly through the air, and are known for their skill as musicians. They are connected with trees and flowers, and are described as dwelling in the scents of bark, sap, and blossom. They are among the beings of the wilderness that might disturb a monk meditating alone.


Story

Timbaru was a chieftain of the gandharvas. There is a romantic story told about the love between his daughter Bhadda Suriyavaccasa (Sanskrit: Bhadra Suryavarcasa) and another gandharva, Pañcasikha (Sanskrit: Pañcasikha). Pañcasikha fell in love with Suriyavaccasa when he saw her dancing before Sakra, but she was then in love with Sikhandi (or Sikhaddi), son of Matali the charioteer. Pañcasikha then went to Timbaru's home and played a melody on his lute of beluva-wood, on which he had great skill, and sang a love-song in which he interwove themes about the Buddha and his Arhats.

Later, Sakra prevailed upon Pañcasikha to intercede with the Buddha so that Sakra might have an audience with him. As a reward for Pañcasikha's services, Sakra was able to get Suriyavaccasa, already pleased with Pañcasikha's display of skill and devotion, to agree to marry Pañcasikha.