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Sabha Lakshanam – Characteristics Of Audience For Music – Dance in Hindu Temples

Sabha Lakshanam refers to the characteristic of a Sabha of music, dance or similar cultural, social or political purpose. Some Hindu temples in South India have kanaka Sabha and nritya mandapa. Nandikeshvara, in his renowned text, Abhinaya Darpanam, has given the characteristics of audience in Hindu temples.

It should have an audience like a kalpavriksha (a tree of heaven which fulfills all desires). The branches are Vedas, the flowers are Shastras (sciences) and the scholars are the bees that hover round the flowers.

In other texts, qualifications of actors, musicians, audience and size of the theatrical  place are given clearly.

According to Natya Shastra, enjoyment of rasa (aesthetic pleasure) is the main motive behind artistic performances. Hence, all factors have to be subservient to the concept of rasa, and the audience including the head of the sabha should help in the success of the performance.

Sabhapati (head of sabha) is expected to be seated on Simhasana (a decorative chair) in a pleasing mood, surrounded by friends, scholars, advisers, officials etc.

The performance will be conducted on the stage in front of the sabhapati. The female dancer (actress) should be in the middle of the stage and next to her the actor (dancer) will stand or sit.

The taladhari and gitakara (instrumentalists and musicians) will be on the sides. The place for the orchestra is named as kutapa in Sanskrit.

Fundamentals of Ancient Indian Music and Dance (1976) Suresh Chandra Banjerji – L D Institute of Indology Ahmedabad.
Ainayadarpanam – A Manual of Gesture and Posture used in Ancient Indian Dance and Drama (1975) – Manmohan Ghosh (translation) – Manisha Granthalaya Private Ltd Kolkata.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 8 – 9 - IHRF