The Gemoro brings the full story as to how Rabbi Gamliel was deposed as Nassi and replaced by Rabbi Elozor Ben Azaria, and latter a compromise was found were R.G. took the chair for 3 weeks out of four etc. During the time when Rabbi Gamliel was replaced, the gemoro states that there was a dramatic increase in the number of 'benches' in trhe Beis Hamedrash, of between 400 - 700 extra benches. The question is asked why do we mention the extra 'benches' that were added and not the more important and significant fact that more students came to learn. Ansd also how can there be an arguament as to how many extra benches were added - you cannot argue on a fact.
To answer these two questions, it could be that the Mishna says at the end of Sotah, that when Rabby Gamliel died, Kovod Hatorah dissapeared- which is interpreted to be that during the reign of Rabbi Gamliel, people would stand whilst learning, and when he died people becaume weaker and sat down dor learning Torah. Therefore it was Rabbi Gamliel whose presence demanded that Torah be learnt with the due respect and demanded that people stand whilst studying Torah. When he was deposed and R.E.B. Azaria took over completely 700 benches were added, since in the absence of Rabby Gamliel, people sat for learning. When the compromise was made and Rabby Gamliel taught 3 out of 4 weeks, the number of benches decreased to 400 out of respect to Rabbi Gamliels view that people stand for learning. However, since he had been deposed, people became accostemend to sitting and therefore even when he was reinstated, not everybody agreed to return to 'the former glory' of standing for learning.
David Leitner, Manchester, England.
Thank you David, excellent point! In fact, just today I heard Rav Moshe Shapiro, my Rebbi Shlita, make the same exact point! One of the students who heard him asked him a question on this for which he had no answer, though. Raban Gamliel told Rebbi Yehoshua to "stand on his feet" as punishment. It would seem from that statement that Rebbi Yehoshua would otherwise have been seated while in the Beis Midrash.