Saturday, July 25, 2015


Saturday 25th July 2015

We attended a program of ASHTAVADHANA by Sri Ganesh Bhat KoppalaTota, a young, 26 year old, at Gokhale Institute, BasavanaGudi, Bengaluru, on Saturday, 25th July 2015, It's amazing how young person is grilled by eight scholars in various fields and his ability to respond to multiple tasks simultaneously.
The true purpose of an Avadhana event thus is the showcasing, through entertainment, of superior mastery of cognitive capabilities - of observation, memory, multitasking, task switching, retrieval, reasoning and creativity in multiple modes of intelligence - literature, poetry, music, mathematical calculations, puzzle solving etc.
It requires immense memory power and tests a person's capability of performing multiple tasks simultaneously. All the tasks are memory intensive and demand an in-depth knowledge of literature, and prosody. The tasks vary from making up a poem spontaneously to keeping a count of a bell ringing at random. No external memory aids are allowed while performing these tasks except the person's mind. 
Avadhāni refers to the individual who performs the Avadhānaṃ;  Ashtavadana refers to eight people asking questions called Pṛcchaka (questioner). The first person to ask the question is called "Pradhāna Pṛcchaka" (s)he is the same as any other Pṛcchaka except that he asks the first question. The questions asked are primarily literary in nature. The Pṛcchakas can optionally place additional constraints. Though it is not stated explicitly, conformation to Chandas (poetic metre) is mandatory. Avadhāni should answer them in the form of a poem. The questions generally consist of a description given in prose and the avadhāni has to express it as a poem. The additional restrictions placed by the Pṛcchakas can be anything like asking the avadhāni not to use a given set of the alphabet in the entire poem or to construct only a particular type of poem etc.

with Shatavadhani R Ganesh
Of the Pṛcchakas, one person is in charge of "aprastuta-prasangam" (irrelevant incident). His responsibility is to distract the avadhani with questions and topics unrelated to the avadhanam and the avadhani has to reply to his questions and riddles. The Pṛcchaka who manages this should also be equally intelligent and witty to entertain the audience with his questions. An additional challenge for Avadhani here is not to get distracted by these digressions and give witty answers spontaneously even to some of the silly questions. Shatavadhani R Ganesh played the role of "APRASTHUTA".
The program was educative, entertaining and mind boggling. The performer has immense challenge to showcase his ability to respond.
written Sunday 27th July 2015

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