Sabha and Samiti in Vedic Civilization
Sabha & its Sabhavati
The term Sabha denotes both the assembly (in early Rig-Vedic) and the assembly hall (Later Rig-Vedic). Women who were called Sabhavati also attended this assembly. It was basically a kin-based assembly and the practice of women attending it was stopped in later-Vedic times. RigVeda speaks of the Sabha also as a dicing and gambling assembly, along with a place for dancing, music, witchcraft, and magic. It discussed pastoral affairs and performed judicial and administrative functions and exercised judicial authority.
The references to samiti come from the latest books of the Rig- Veda showing that it assumed importance only towards the end of the Rig-Vedic period. Samiti was a folk assembly in which people of the tribe gathered for transacting tribal business. It discussed philosophical issues and was concerned with religious ceremonies and prayers. References suggest that the Rajan was elected and re-elected by the Samiti.
The differentiations between Sabha and Samiti
In the beginning, there was no difference between the Sabha and the Samiti. Both were called daughters of Prajapati. Both were mobile units led by chiefs who kept moving along with the forces. The only difference between Sabha and Samiti seems to be the fact that Sabha performed judicial functions, which the Samiti did not. Later, the sabha became a small aristocratic body and samiti ceased to exist.