By Swami Harshananda
Sabhya literally means ‘fit for a sabhā’.
Derived from the word sabhā, it means one who is fit to be present at a congregation of elders and wise persons. Hence the word denotes a good and wise person.
Sabhya as Sabhāpati
If sabhā is taken to mean, in a more technical sense as gambling hall, then a sabhya is the officer in charge of it. He is also called as sabhāpati.
Sabhya, Vedic Fire
However, sabhya is also the name of the last of the five, duly established, Vedic fires. It has to be kindled to the east of āhavanīya fire, either by attrition or from the embers of the āhavanīya fire. The hearth should be square, each side being twelve aṅgulas in length. The origin of this sabhya fire is rather shrouded in mystery. Opinions differ as regards its establishment for Vedic rituals. Some feel it is optional while others make it compulsory.
Sabhya, as Fire Used for Warmth
If sabhā means a gambling hall, sabhya is the general fire lit up to keep the place warm in winter. The same argument holds good if sabhā means a big hall used as a rest-house, built by a rich person.
- Sabhā means assembly.
- Apastamba Śrautasutras 5.17.1
- Ṛgveda 10.34.6
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore
[Category:Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism]]