Sabhabhavana is the twentieth Upa parva, and the first upa parva of the second Maha parva, named Sabha parva, in the epic Mahabharata. Sabhakriya is another name for this upa parva. Vyshampayana had narrated the historical events to Janamejaya, on his queries:

What were the instructions given to Maya, the architect of demons, by Krishna?

Since Arjuna had saved Maya from a fire mishap during the Khandava vana dahana, Maya wished to offer some services to Arjuna but Arjuna directed him to speak with Krishna. Then, Krishna had given special instruction to the demon architect Maya to construct a meeting hall for Yudhishtira.

Conference Hall of Yudhishtira
Yudhistira Sabha (Credits: Wikipedia)
What did Yudhishtira do to Maya?

Maya had visited Yudhishtira at his palace after an introduction by Krishna. Yudhishtira had treated him with concern as an able architect. Then, he allowed measuring the land and selecting the site for the construction of a royal meeting hall for the Indraprastha Pandavas’ palace. Due to the recent burning of the riverbank forests, the empty space around the town and palace had been increased and provision for parking the chariots and elephants were available to a large extent.

What did Maya do in Indraprastha?

Maya was an expert architect. He had constructed a very glorious royal meeting hall for Yudhishtira. It was unique in nature and increased the majesty of Indraprastha. The meeting hall was very beautiful and decorated with gems, jewels and sandalwood. It was furnished with many facilities. There was a big water tank in the middle and it contained pure water without any mud in all seasons. Beautiful birds and fragrant flowers enhanced the ascetic look of the meeting hall.

What did Krishna do when Maya had started to construct the meeting hall?

Krishna had started to take leave of all royal members of the palace of Yudhishtira when Maya had started to construct the meeting hall. He visited Draupadi and Subhadra and informed them regarding his departure. Then he observed all formalities towards the Pandavas and Dhaumya Rishi and selecting an auspicious time, started in his chariot towards Dwaraka with his weapons. He was like Vishnu since he held the mace and wheel in his two hands. He had reached Dwaraka safely.

How much time did the architect, Maya take to construct the meeting hall?

Maya had taken fourteen months to complete the Indraprastha meeting hall.

What did Maya do to construct the gorgeous meeting hall in a short period?

On some previous occasions, Maya had constructed some big conference halls on the north side of Kailasa Mountain. They had been done for the purpose of conducting large scale yagas and yajnas by notorious demons to satisfy God Shiva and after serving their purpose, the halls were kept idle but preserved empty and safe. Due to the Himalaya regional properties of climate, their pillars and almost all parts were still glittering like new ones. Maya had utilized more than eight thousand expert labours to dismantle the old conference halls and transport them to Indraprastha. He had designed after measuring the land as suitable for the usage of the Pandava brothers and their family members.

While reconstructing the transported items, he had specially considered provision for future expansion as one day, Yudhishtira could be the emperor of the entire Earth. Hence he had allocated space to sit and observe the proceedings for all types of people including Rishis and various kings. The stores and stock items were properly dumped with valuable items without hindrance to the routine programs. The flow of water was properly controlled into the tank located at the centre. Without the problems of mud, the water exit points were arranged. Thus, within fourteen months, Maya had made over the new conference hall ready in all respects to the king Yudhishtira.

As a memento for the works, Maya had procured one conch named Devedatta and a heavy mace ornamented with gold, previously used and preserved centuries back by king Youvanashva, to the north of Kailasa Mountain in a lake. He contributed the conch to Arjuna and mace to Bhima.

How many nights of cultural programs were held during the opening of the meeting hall?

For seven nights, cultural programs were held during the opening of the meeting hall. They included dancing and music concerts.

Who were the Rishis present in the meeting hall during the opening ceremony?

During the opening ceremony, Vedavyasa Rishi, his five disciples, and many other Rishis were present. Vaishampayana was narrating the events to Janamejaya which he had eye-witnessed. The other important disciple Rishis were Pila, Sumanthu, Yajnavalkya, and Shuka. Rishi Dhaumya was also there.  

Who were the kings present in the meeting hall during the opening ceremony?

Kings from Anga, Vanga Kalinga and Kamboja and from the lineage Vrishnis were present during the opening of the meeting hall. Almost all students of Arjuna who were very brave princes were present. Kritavarma and Satyaki were also present. From very far Western Countries, Yavana kings also attended.

Who had visited Yudhishtira when he was presiding the meeting?

Narada Rishi had visited Yudhishtira when he was presiding of his meeting.

What had been asked by the visitor?

The visitor, Narada Rishi had asked Yudhishtira regarding the general administration matters first. Then he asked about his personal health. Further, he asked about his future plans and finally regarding the collection of taxes. He also asked about the ministers, the servants and told him to deploy three different persons who could not identify mutually but report to the king the true facts collected sufficiently prior to the incidences for the safety of the nation.

What had he asked regarding the military?

The military people should be paid their salary in time and they should be satisfied for their dedicated services. There should be proper training for the new teams taken into the junior ranks. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the military items as above.

What die he ask regarding the Dharma items?

There should be a good priest in the palace. Dhaumya Rishi was there and hence Yudhishtira was happy in that matter. The royal servants should be God believers and only then they would be faithful to the king. An atheist could cheat the king and is unfit to be a royal servant. People should respect learned scholars and their own parents. The general public should be lovers of truth.  Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the Dharma items as above.

What he had asked regarding the financial items?

The king should be collecting taxes for the smooth functioning of the administration works. The citizens had to voluntarily remit the royal dues. The king should not spend the money for his own malicious interests. Even though a small amount was unavoidable, then on such items, the king should observe official secrecy. There should be strategic developments in financial matters daily. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the financial items as above.

What he had asked regarding the tax related items?

Tax should be the source of income for the king’s treasury. The minister’s authorized person had to collect them and remit them to the treasury promptly. The king should watch the flow of the tax and get satisfied in rotating the wealth again for the welfare of the citizens. The exempted categories should be justified. Food must be available to all including the cows. The tax should never be burdened over anybody as that would lead the country to famine. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the tax items as above.

What he had asked regarding the agricultural items?

People should be encouraged to indulge in agriculture. Agriculture had to be treated as the service towards the soil. The Earth would never cheat human beings. All the food needed to come from the soil or Earth directly or indirectly to the palace and to the house of every citizen. The king should ensure in his country that the citizens’ hard work results could be reaped by the eligible persons and no disputes shall be pending or nobody would be deprived of his food. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the agricultural items as above.

What he had asked regarding the labour?

Labour should be a volunteer and the military should be kept away from the labour team. The king should deploy proper labourers for internal and external works according to their suitability, age and health. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the labour items as above.

What he had asked regarding the intelligence data?

The king had to collect data by engaging intelligence teams. Separate teams should be there within Indraprastha town limit and outside his country to watch the invasion, if any, in the borders at any time. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding the intelligence data as above.

 What he had asked regarding the sleep and health?

Yudhishtira should sleep early and have sufficient hours of sleep in the night. There should not be late hour thinking or midnight thinking. He should not have sleepless nights. In case of any health problems, it should be addressed without any relaxation since the citizen’s health depend on the health of the king. Narada had asked Yudhishtira regarding sleep and health as above.

What was the question of Yudhishtira with Narada regarding meeting hall?

Narada Rishi could travel anywhere he desired. Hence Yudhishtira thought Narada could rank his new conference hall that was recently built by Maya where they were already seated. So Yudhishtira had asked Narada if he ever had visited any of the conference halls more gorgeous than his meeting hall of Indraprastha, then he may mention them.

What was the answer given by Narada to Yudhishtira ?

Narada agreed with Yudhishtira regarding his meeting hall as it was unique on this Earth that could be created by human beings with such exquisite expertness and convenience. If ever any other halls he had visited, those were on the other worlds only and he could remember other five halls. The other five halls presided by five people were that of Indra, Yama, Varuna  Kubera and Brahma.

How was Indra’s meeting hall, which was called Pushkara Malini?

In the Pushkaramalini Indra sabha, Narada had seen all were enjoying happiness. Only virtuous people got entry there and they had been seated according to their eligibility or ranks, according to their merits judged on their performances on Earth. There were Nara and Kinnara, Apsaras and Gandharvas serving them. Among the Rajarshis seated on the front row, he could see Harischandra king. But the occupants could enjoy the seat so far as their virtues were ranked high and after a long time, they would have to change the seats. They would be reverted back to Earth in case their virtues were fully exhausted and would be getting birth on this world as per their previous actions and the result of their works. 

How was Yama’s meeting hall, as Yama was Yudhishtira’s blessed father?

Yudhishtira was born by the blessings of Yama. In that sense, Yama was the father of Yudhishtira. Narada told him his father’s meeting hall was very splendid but it was similar to a legal court. His father’s seat was found elevated and it was a royal bison but very much attractive. On the two sides of the rows, people were continuously moving and he was delivering judgments for their movements.

How was Varuna’s meeting hall, which also called Pushkara Malini?

The Varuna meeting hall was also called Pushkara Malini but compared to Indra’s meeting hall, it was slightly less populated. The people were worshipping mainly Varuna to please him to grace with good health and boost the power of medicines. The majority of the people were Rishis. However, compared to the meeting hall of Yudhishtira, Varuna’s meeting hall was more glorious.

How was Kubera’s meeting hall?

Kubera’s meeting hall was also called Treasury of Goddess Lakshmi and was equally populated as Indra’s meeting hall. The people were worshipping mainly God Shiva or Vishnu to please him to grace with good wealth and boost the assets. The majority of the people were Rajarshis. However, compared to the meeting hall of Yudhishtira, Kubera’s meeting hall was more glorious. Gold blocks were transported over Gajalakshmi as frequently found.

How was Brahma’s Meeting hall?

Brahma’s meeting hall was also called an endless hall or limitless space but compared to Indra’s meeting hall, it was differently populated. The demons were worshipping mainly Brahma to please him to grace with good health and boost the power of longevity. The majority of the people were aged Rishis. There were more than eighty thousand Rishis who lived with celibacy on this Earth and entered into the Brahma meeting hall after their death. Hence the childless people need not worry on this earth since the seats in the Brahma meeting hall would be guaranteed for them after their death. But there were only about fifty thousand Rishis who married and lived with children on this Earth and entered into the Brahma meeting hall after their death.

However, compared to the meeting hall of Yudhishtira, Brahma’s meeting hall was more glorious as it could not be fully visualized by a single glimpse. It was the Sun who helped Narada to fully visualize Brahma’s meeting hall. But the seats were permanent in that hall for the occupants.

Why Yudhishtira was impressed by the status of the late King Harischandra?

Yudhishtira was impressed by the status of the late King Harischandra. He desired to know the status of his own father and the father of Harischandra in the Indra meeting hall. Then Narada told him neither the father of Harishchandra nor his physical father Pandu had deserved the front seat in Indra’s meeting hall. The father of Harischandra had conducted many yajnas and finally, he desired to get into heaven along with his living physical body with the help of Vishwamitra Rishi. When it was not allowed by Indra, Vishwamitra Rishi had created a separate Trishanku swarga for him on the southern part of the sky and permanently housed there. Trishanku swarga can be seen by anybody in the southern sky always.

Since the son of Trishanku, Harishchandra later devoted himself to being a truthful king and performed Rajasuya yaga, he was eligible to sit on the front seat in the Indra sabha. Pandu was a truthful king, hence he was also in the middle of the Indra sabha.

What was suggested by Narada considering the status of Pandu at heaven?

Narada suggested Yudhishtira, in case he conducts a Rajasuya yaga, his father Pandu would be allotted a seat in the front row in the Indra meeting hall. Pandu had been allotted a middle seat in that meeting hall since he could not perform a Rajasuya yaga in his lifetime.    

On hearing the suggestions of Narada, Yudhishtira started to think. He thought, if nothing virtuous had been done by him, then his father after some time would also get reverted back to Earth. Thus, he desired to conduct Rajasuya yaga but immediately Narada warned him regarding the challenges to be faced after the Rajasuya yaga. There would be jealous kings and Yudhishtira had to face great wars after many years of completion of Rajasuya yaga. Narada had left that place with his other Rishi companions to Dwaraka later. He suggested protecting the people of four Varnas under his ruling area and advised him to donate more wealth to the learned scholastic Brahmins, to make their livelihood satisfactory.

Next post, Mahabharat: Lokapala Sabhakhyana would be more interesting.

Mahabharat: Rajasuyarambha would be presented separately in another article.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Krishna upon us.

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