"And words are all I have to take your heart away" croons a popular singer…….and so true…words were all he had to take our hearts away!
I am not speaking about the singer but Shatavadhani Ganesh.
A very modest ,orthodox looking guy sat on the stage. I was sitting with my husband wondering what ashtavadhana is….and why in the world did I let my husband convince me to come to the show. Then the man and the panelists started to speak and ohh boy ohhhh..it was music to the ears.
Words and more words were played around expertly by the Shatavadhani R.Ganesh.
Ok for all those who are wondering what i am writing about , here is something that I was able to find:
" ‘Avadhana’ literally means ‘perfect concentration’ and uninterrupted contemplation on a particular subject. The ‘art of Avadhana’ includes accomplishing many a challenging intellectual feat simultaneously with great confidence and sportive zeal. ‘Avadhana’ not only thoroughly entertains but also thrills the audience. The seemingly superhuman capacity of the ‘Avadhani’ (the one who performs) fascinates the audience giving an interesting insight into the unlimited potentials of the literary world. The whole art in itself is much more than mere entertainment; it is rather educative revealing the various aspects of word-power, poetry, retention, wit and powers of the intellect.

Alongside the beauty and charm of language and rhyme unfolded at each step of the Avadhana, are values and philosophy presented with dignity and grace. Avadhana on the whole is a tonic for the brain, entertainment to the mind, bliss and contentment to the heart and enlightenment to life. Thanks to the genius and dedicated efforts of Shatavadhani Dr.R.Ganesh, this unique art has seen its rebirth in the Kannada literary field."

"An untrained mind can only see or hear at a time, but a perfected mind can see and hear at the same time. It can be linked to several organs, to one or to none. It can be manipulated in any way the Yogi likes. It can do eight things at a time. This is called Ashtavadhana. It can do hundred things at a time. This is Satavadhana. "

If you have seen a few martial arts movies…the hero fights, cracks jokes, also makes very romantic gestures to the leading lady..all at the same time…..and Avadhana, I think is India’s answer to that. (Though it is only about the mental prowess)

The avadhani converses with eight or more pople onstage.

There are a few panelists like the Vidushaka/jester whose job is to distract the Avadhani. The avadhani then composes poems on different topics simultaneously, gives witty answers to the jesters seemingly dumb queries,handles contoversial queries with grace and dignity,manages not to lose his temper and all the while there are restrictions put on the words and letters he can use as every round progresses.

You can but wonder at the extraordinary genius of the avadhani, think of the knowledge he must have amassed and continue to be amazed as the show goes on!

His compositions onstage were brilliant. The sensitivity with which he handled several subjects, his depth of knowledge in various fields…serve as excellent stimulators to the brain and I can gurantee you that you will come out more satisfied than from a Sharukh Khan movie….And that ,my friends, is saying something…’cos it comes from a hardcore SRK fan!!!

So the next time you get a chance to attend avadhana by R.Ganesh…grab it with both hands!!