oral transmission: motivation and memorization

JAYABARATHI 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
> >X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
> >X-Comment: Indology mailing list
> >Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> >Mime-Version: 1.0
> >
> >>
> 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
	pronouncing them.
			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.


	Sungai Petani

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list