When we delve into our ancient past, our rich heritage, the treasure of knowledge of art, culture, the beginnings of science, mathematics, medicine, astrology, logic, ethics and of course, philosophy and much more, puts us on an amazing and mind boggling journey of discovery.
Perhaps one might safely compare the vastness and depth of know-how available to the oceans or the countless galaxies! Many of the modern findings, be it scientific, philosophical or any of the above, seem to have had their beginnings in ancient India.
Of course, as Amartya Sen says, Indian heritage cannot be seen in the narrow perceptions of the modern understanding of the same, some have been adopted from neighbouring lands and much shared with them too.
Boundaries had narrowed along the way and the various infiltrations from foreign races and most importantly and recently the British colonisation of our country, (independent India is still young) has successfully cut us off from our past.
As Sen says in The Argumentative Indian the seeds of democracy in India was laid in its most natural and spontaneous form. Eloquence and expression of well-validated thought processes supported by erudition seems to have been an integral part of social interaction among the learned from time immemorial.
The criterion for such interactions or arguments or discussions seem to have not been gender specific nor age or religion or caste specific.
Women took part in “Shastrartha” or discussions on the Vedas, metaphysics, logic, ethics, art, etc. One such case in point, are the wives of sage Yajnavalkya, Gargi and Maitreyi, who authored Upanishads, the Gargopanishad and the Maithri Upanishad.
The testing of mental skills, memory, the verbal sparring, parrying and counter parrying, armed with expertise in a specific field, the value and respect given to eloquence and expression of ideas, the combined energy built up during such exercises, paved the way to the emergence of excellence and commonly accepted principles.
Of such democratic processes of argument and discussion and the enjoyable display of erudition and argumentative skills as well as memory and recall is one of the art of the Avadhana, a scholarly sport that literally means “concentration”.
It was a sport for the scholarly and the learned, testing the retentive and creative faculties of the Avadhani, or the central character, a scholar and a master of literature and languages with excellent retention skills and time management!
It is an art, a marvellous feat of extempore creation, requiring a very high degree of alertness achieved with superb concentration coupled with a daunting memory power.
It can be described as a multi tasking by the mind and can be of great help in our modern day educational strategies, management techniques, learning methodologies and personality development programmes.
The skills exhibited during Samasyapoorana can be effectively adopted in task management, target oriented programming and management of emotions.
The detached involvement of the Avadhana Samadhi can be an able pointer to the realisation of a stress free active life.