When I saw the Shatavadhana performance, besides being in awe about Muni Ajit Sagar it left me wondering how and why is he able to perform the Avadhanam. Before I get into my thoughts on that, just some basics I learnt, “Avadhana” is a literary performance popular from the very ancient days in India. It was cultivated by the Telugu speaking community. Originally it involved the partial improvisation of poems requiring immense memory power and it tested a person’s capability of performing multiple tasks simultaneously. Avadhanam can be considered as “divided attention” as it is the highest level of attention. Muni Ajit Sagar performs a variety of avadhanas – challenges beyond the literary, he performs Ganitavadhan (mathematics) and Netraavadhaana (using the eyes).
Having said this, the core question remains, what gives Muni Ajit Sagar this unique ability to memorize a random set of 200 questions, process the information and provide a response. And I believe it is his absolute clarity of mind and soul. Also the process of “selective absorption”. It is his ability to be selective about the information he absorbs through either of his senses. This keeps his mind uncluttered and clear to process the necessary information with speed and in large quantities at any point in time. The best analogy that comes to mind is that of a computer. A computer will relay back any information you feed into its memory. When you overload it with a huge variety of data – it is likely to crash, it is likely that it cannot find the information you are looking for – it might display a 100 files if you are looking for specific data. We overload our minds and our soul with inauspicious karmic matter (Lesya) that crowds our otherwise immense ability to process higher levels of information at a rather fast speed. So by performing Avadhana – Muni Ajit Sagar is bringing to our attention the core philosophy of Jainism that emphasizes the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. He is preaching shramana dharma (self-reliance) and the “path of niganthas” (path of those without attachments or aversions). He is bringing to our attention – what we are capable of doing and achieving if we can only shed the unnecessary baggage we otherwise carry on our mind and soul.
Muni Ajit Sagar is one of 12 that have attempted an avadhanam, many like Mr. Garikipati Rao and Mr. Medasani Mohan have performed Sahasraavadhani (1000 questions) as well. So what was so special about this avadhanam? I believe it is the first time I have personally come to realize what Jainism is trying to teach me. It is the first time I have come to realize that our minds have the power to do so much more, see beyond the surface and think beyond the horizon. It is the first time I have come to realize how I am under-utilizing my own abilities.
As a student myself and as a mother I wonder how I teach myself and Devam the path of Jainism – its triple gems? How do I cultivate this idea of selective absorption – how do I teach him to select? How do I help him achieve this level of attention? I have answers to explore now.
Please note that many other philosophies like the Buddhist philosophy talk about similar principles, I am noting Jain philosophy here as I am most acquainted with it and Muni Ajit Sagar is a teacher & a student of this philosophy.
To see a repeat performance of the Avadhanam tune into: JaYHo TV on TVU Networks
Date & Time: 10th of March @ 6:00PM India Time
Note: You can download the TVU Player Application on your Apple Devices by looking for TVU Player at the Application Store. You can also watch this online.