oral transmission: motivation and memorization
jaybee at tm.net.my
Sat Jun 14 06:35:35 UTC 1997
S Krishna wrote:
> >From: Lars Martin Fosse <l.m.fosse at internet.no>
> >To: Members of the list <indology at liverpool.ac.uk>
> >Subject: Re: oral transmission: motivation and memorization
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> Lars Martin Fosee asks:
> >Any other memory lore out there?
> Dear Indologists,
With reference to the above matter,
I would like to site two recent, well-documented examples
of people with phenomenal memory.
Some people can read once, and remember
the whole of what they read.
But a further advanced talent was the
talent of remembering whatever was listened to.
This power was known as
"Eka Chanda graahyam"
One of the Eka chanda graahi's was a renowned Tamil poet who
lived in the last century.
His name was Maambala Kavi Chingga
Naavalar, of Palani.
He lost his eye sight due to smaall pox as
an infant. He is said to have been saved by a miracle caused
by Sri Murugan of Palani Hill.
He learnt the Tamil alphabet from his father,
who taught him by writing the letters on his back, while
Later he was tutored in Tamil grammer and
literature which he acquire by merely listening to his teachers.
He had received the gift of poesy from
Sri Murugan through an oracle.
When he was nine years old, Maambalam
composed his first prabandham literary piece.He also learnt
He later ,adorned the Aasthaana of
the Sethupathi of Ramnad and became his royal poet.
During his stay there, a presentation of a
literary piece by a certain Visvanaatha Barathi, took place.
Just before the function, Maambalam
was insulted by Barathi.Maambalam just remained silent and
abided his time.
Barathi submitted the prabandham with a
full recitation of all the its one hundred verses.
At the end of the presentation, Maambalam got up,
made an objection and claimed that the prabandham was
originally composed by himself.Barathi had merely stolen it and
is in the process of presenting it as his own.
When asked for proof, Maambalam simply
recited the whole prabandham verbatim from his memory and
even went to the extent of elucidating the meaning of a few
The flabbergasted Barathi apologised
and then only, Maambalam disclosed that he had merely
memorised all the 100 stanzas while they were being recited
by Barathi and ackowledged that Barathi was the author of the
There was another scholar with such a
phenomenal mental faculty.
He was Vandrondan Chettiar of Devakottai.
He also lived in the last century.
He was also blind from a very tender age.
He learned Tamil grammer and literature by merely
listening. Later, he became a student of the great Tamil
scholar Maha Vidwan MeenatchiSundaram Pillai of Tiruchchi.
He knew all the verses of the 12 thiru Murais of the Tamil
Saivite canon. In addition to this he knew the whole of the
Raamaayanam of Kamban,a few puranas, and many other minor works
heart. He was once present when the recitation of the Periya
Puraanam was taking place.The reciter made a single mistake in
one of the words of the 4000 odd verses of the Periya Puraananm.
The Chettiar stopped him and pointed out the mistake.
It is estimated that the Chettiar knew
at least 200,000 verses of Tamil literature by heart.
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