Sabhāpati, Sabhāpati

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sabhapati, Sabhapati, SabhApati, SabhApati, Sabhaapati, Sabhaapati

Sabhāpati literally means ‘president of a meeting’.

Sabhāpati, an Officer

In the olden days, the word sabhā was used to indicate a big hall reserved for gambling. The sabhāpati was an officer appointed by the king to see that gambling was done as per the rules and collected fees or taxes from them.

Sabhāpati, President of the Assembly

If the word sabhā refers to an assembly of elders and wise persons,[1] then the sabhāpati was the one who presided over such an assembly.

Sabhāpati, an Epithet of Lord Śiva

Sabhāpati is also one of the epithets of Lord Śiva, a great master of all the 108 modes of dance. In fact, he is their creator. He is said to dance every evening in order to relieve the sufferings of creatures and entertain the gods who gather in Kailāśa[2] in full strength. Hence he is called Sabhāpati.[3]

Sabhāpati, as Naṭarāja

Iconographically speaking, the image of Sabhāpati is the same as that of Naṭarāja, except that he is balancing himself on the left-leg and the poses of the two lower arms are reversed.


  1. It means vidvatsabhā.
  2. Kailāśa is Śiva's abode.
  3. Sabhāpati means lord of the congregation.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore