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What It Means To Be An Avadhani

Seshu Putcha

Dr. Madugula Nagaphani Sarma garu needs no introduction to all those who have a flair in Telugu Literature. Avadhanam is a literary feat. Some of the characteristics of this literary performance are Concentration, Resonance, Command over poetic metrics, Creativity, wide scholarship etc… Dr. Sarma is one of the most famous and best Avadhanis in India. He is a legend in Avadhanam and has done several avadhanams including the Dwi-Sahasravadhanam. He has held special positions in government of Andhra Pradesh and has contributed extensively fro the growth of Sanskrit and Telugu literature. He has been a Sanskrit scholar at Datta Peetham in Mysore.

Avadhanam is an art by otself. When Avadhani (the scholar) takes on
eight subjects at a time, it is called "Astavadhanam". When he takes
hundred subjects at a time, then it is called a "Satavadhanam". When he
takes 200 subjects at a time, then it is known as "Dwi Satavadhanam". If
the number of subjects is 1000 then it is called "Sahasravadhanam" and
with 2000 subjects it is called "Dwi Sahasravadhanam: i.e., 2000 subjects
at a time. The questionsa re asked by other scholars and poets and are
called "Prischakas". Prischaka asks a literary question requesting the
answer to be given in a particular gramatical orser. Avadhani spells
out the first stanza in the first round, the second stanza in the second
round, the third stanza in the third round and the concluding fourth
stanza will be given fourth round. Each round will consist of the number
of questions equal to the number of subjects that are handled in that
avadhanam. The question by Prischaka is asked only in the beginning of
the first round, but, Avadhani will spell the remaining stanzas after
each round as said above without being reminded about the question or the
part of the answers given. Avadhani shall not use pen or paper to write
down all these. He must base on his memory power i.e., "Dharana". On
the completion of the above feat the Avadhani will recite all the
questions and answers identifying the scholar who posed the questions.

No Avadhani ever attempted a feat of this magnitude earlier of handling 2000
subjects. Brahmasri Dr. Madugula Nagaphani Sarma is the lone scholar
having successfully performed this rarest of the feats in the history of
Telugu Literature.

Sri Sarma so far performed over 500 Astavadhanams, 15 Satavadhanams
in Sanskrit &Telugu languages. Sri Sarma was honored by appointment as
"Poet Laureat" of Datta Peetham of Mysore by His Holiness Sri Sri Sri
Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamy in the presence of His Excellency Dr.
Sankar Dayal Sarma, the then President of India.

Dr. Sarma has started several projects in Andhra Pradesh, India to develop and cultivate the art of memory concentration among students. In this endeavor, he has embarked upon projects called “National Institute of Value Education & Applied Philosophy (NIVED’AP)” and “Akshara University of Memory (AUM)”. These projects are aimed to cultivate into students a sense of Applied Philosophy, their application in development of total personality and social development.

Dr. MadugulaNagaphani Sarma garu will be in Boston on 24th of Sept 2005 and is giving a discourse on “Nitya Jeevitamlo Bhagavath Gita” followed by a Question and Answer session in which Avadhani will answer some of audience’s questions. The event is at Satsang  Center, Woburn from 5-8 pm. Please visit http://avadhanasaraswati.org for details.

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