In the Râma myth cycle in his previous life Kabandha was a gandharva called Visvâvasu. He was born to a gandharva called S´rî Vis´vâvasu, who was also known by the name Danu. Vis´vâvasu performed a penance (tapas) and received the boon of immortality from Brahmâ.
Arrogant about this boon, Vis´vâvasu then attacked Indra. In the great battle that followed Indra used his divine discus (Vajrâyudha). The head and thighs of Vis´vâvasu were squeezed into his body, and his mouth was pushed down to his abdomen.
Upon Vis´vâvasu’s pleading, Indra gave him two long hands and said that he would regain his original form when S´rî Râma cut off these hands. Because he did not have a head, only two long hands and a mouth on his belly, he came to be known as Kabandha, “the headless.” Often he was depicted as a tree.
The fateful day came when Kabandha encountered S´rî Râma and Lakshmana in the forest. They were searching for Sîtâ. Before them appeared the horrible form of Kabandha, large as a mountain. The demon grabbed S´rî Râma in his right hand and Lakshmana in his left. Each cut off one hand.
Kabandha then told them his story and fell dead. S´rî Râma and Lakshmana burned his body on a funeral pyre, and as Kabandha ascended from its flames, he told S´rî Râma and Lakshmana to go to Sugrîva, the monkey king, from whom they could learn more about Sîtâ’s abduction. Kabandha was again Vis´vâvasu, a gandharva king.