A Gandhabba. His favourite instrument was the Beḷuvapaṇḍuvīnā (q.v.) He was considered a favourite of the Buddha (DA.iii.699), and when Sakka visited the Buddha at the Indasālaguhā in order to ask him certain questions, he sent Pañcasikha in advance, that he might obtain permission for the interview.¹ Pañcasikha approached the Buddha and playing on his lute (vinā), sang of the beauties of the Buddha, the Doctrine, Arahants and Love. The verses really formed a love poem addressed to his beloved, Bhaddā Suriyavaccasā, daughter of the Gandhabba Timbaru. The Buddha praised his music and song and questioned him about the poem. He confessed that when the Buddha was staying under the Ajapāla-
In the Janavasabha Sutta (D.ii.211; also in the Mahāgovinda Sutta, D.ii.230) it is stated that when Brahmā Sanaṅkumāra appeared before the assembly of the gods of Tāvatiṃsa and materialized himself he assumed the form of Pañcasikha. Buddhaghosa says (DA.ii.640), by way of explanation, that all the devas loved Pañcasikha and wished to resemble him. In the Mahāgovinda Sutta (D.i.220; cp. Mtu.iii.197ff) Pañcasikha is represented as conveying to the Buddha a full report of the happenings in the assembly of the devas, when Sakka spoke the Buddha’s praises.
No really satisfactory explanation is found in the Commentaries of Pañcasikha’s name. Buddhaghosa says (DA.ii.640) “Pañcasikho ti pañcacūḷo, pañcakuṇḍaliko,” and goes on to say that Pañcasikha was born once as a human being, and, while yet a boy wearing his hair in five knots ³ (pañcacūḷakadāraka kāle), he became chief of those who tended the calves. Together with other lads he engaged in works of public utility, such as repairing roads, digging wells, building rest houses, etc., and he died while young. He was reborn in the Cātummahārājika world, destined to live for ninety-
It was Pañcasikha who first received from the king of Cātummahārājika and their ministers reports of good deeds done by human beings. These he would pass on to Mātali, who, in his turn, presented them to Sakka (DA.ii.650). On the day of the Devārohaṇa, when the Buddha descended from Tāvatiṃsa, Pañcasikha was present to render honour to the Teacher in song and music (DhA.iii.225; AA.i.72; Vism.392). According to the legends (e.g., Mhv.xxx.75; xxxi.82) he was present with the Buddha on other occasions as well.
Pañcasikha was evidently not only the name of a person, but also of an office (like Sakka), for in the Bilārakosiya Jātaka (q.v.) Ānanda is said to have been born as Pañcasikha and to have helped Sakka and others to make of Bilārakosiya a generous man (J.iv.69). Similarly, in the Sudhābhojana Jātaka (q.v.), Anuruddha is identified with Pañcasikha. J.v.412.
³ This is done even now in Sri Lanka, where young boys’ hair is tied round their heads in several knots. However, in one place (DA.i.296) Buddhaghosa says that one way of insulting a man was to shave his head, leaving him five locks of hair (garahāyā ti pañcasikhā muṇḍakaranaṃ). And, again (SA.i.171), he mentions that Sanaṅkumāra retained his eternal youth because in a previous life he had developed jhāna while yet a lad (pañcasikhakumārakāle). See also J.vi.496, where a traitor had his hair tied in five knots as a sign of disgrace.