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1.10.14

Shatavadhani R Ganesh - If there ever was a platform to measure pure intellect, it is in the art of Avadhana

A game of literary chess that is so memory intensive, demands such an in-depth knowledge of literature, mastery of language and prosody, that there are only a handful of current practitioners. If you find Viswanathan Anand playing simultaneous blindfold chess with tens of people amusing, a Shatavadhanamperformance would leave you spell bound. 100 literary scholars from different walks of life pose questions one after another at the performer who answers them in multi lingual extempore poetic verse. The ultimate test of creativity, spontaneity, retention and expression that tests how good an "erudite jack of all" you are! 

An insight into how monumental the challenge is: 
The avadhāni is not allowed to recite the entire poem at once. After  listening to the P
cchaka's(one of 100 scholars) question, the avadhāni constructs the first  line of the poem, recites it and moves to the next Pcchaka. After  listening to all the Pcchakas, and reciting one line of poem each, the  avadhāni shall return to the 1st Pcchaka (in a round-robin  fashion) and continues with the second line of the poem. The beauty and  challenge here is that the avadhāni has to remember the question, the  line of poem composed by him before and all the additional constraints placed without any external memory aid. The questions  shall not be repeated and any mistake shall disqualify the person from  being titled "Avadhani". Every poem has 4 lines, so each Pcchaka's turn  comes 4 times. Avadhaani has to recite the full poem once he finishes  constructing all the lines of the poems. This is called "dharaa" and  forms the culmination of the Avadhana. Avadhani should use only his  memory for all this. An Avadhana can run for multiple days (especially  Śatāvadhāna).

Shathavadhani R Ganesh : One of the living legends and erudite practitioner of this mind-boggling art form.
·         Performed more than 1000 avadhanas in Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Prakrit
·         Mastery over 18 languages
·         One of the greatest living Sanskrit and Kannada scholars
·         I really appreciate his efforts to make the art form and Indian culture popular among contemporary audience
Different forms of Avadhana and legendary practitioners:
·         Sahityavadhanam - Shathavadhani R Ganesh - The true master of associative memory. Mastery over the 14 arts of extempore poetry, memory & retention, constrained literary composition, riddle solving, mind reading, lexicon mastery, prosody, poetics & rhetoric, aesthetics, versification, vocal syncing, antakshari, verse recitation and tongue twisters. (creativity, spontaneity, retention & expression)
·         Shatakalashavadhanam - Madabhushi Venkatacharya - Identifying sounds from 100 Jal Tarang bowls by just listening to the sound frequency (retention & comparison)
·         Sangeetavaadhanam - Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu (Andhra harikatha pitamaha) - solving audio paradoxes, algebraic problems, composing music in 5 different languages and singing the same in 5 taalas simultaneously played with 2-hands, 2-legs & head bobbing! (creativity, spontaneity, retention & expression)

·         Chitravadhanam - B.K.S.Varma - painting on multiple canvases in different styles like cubism, pointillism, dadaism, impressionism, dattakshari; using threads, cloth, sponges as painting instruments; themed on challenges posed on the spot; wielding the instrument in sync with percussion rhythms and depicting the mood and development of songs played in the background. (creativity, spontaneity & expression)
I highly recommend watching his videos on youtube:
The science of Avadhana - 


To get the complete picture (in English), a series of videos - The art & science of Avadhana in simple language by Shathavadhani.R.Ganesh

A video series on Introduction to Indian Culture - Part One - The Basics , a beautiful way to develop a fascination for our glorious past


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