Studies of Vedic mnemonics

Tue May 16 22:43:50 UTC 2000

Steve Farmer wrote:

> cross-cultural sides of the question are interesting, since ancient
> medieval mnemonics in the West were built around visual methods
(e.g., the
> construction of 'memory palaces' and the like) and not around the
> transformations of texts, as in India.

Although you mention that you are specifically interested in Vedic
mnenomic techniques, I have noted a similar method to the "memory
palace" concept used in some later Buddhist tantric commentaries
dealing with the structure and symbolism of mandalas where each set of
structural elements is linked with key concepts related to the path
and goal.  I am not certain whether this is intended overtly as a
memory technique or just as a detailed exegesis of the symbolim of the
mandalas.  The various attributes of the tantric deities are also
often treated in a similar manner although this seems more obviously
connected with symbolism rather than a memory technique.

I am sure that you are also aware that the Chinese probably did not
have a "memory palace" method as that idea was something Matteo Ricci
used during his stay in China as an initial way to gain the attention
of potential Mandarin converts to Christianity who were required to
accomplish fearsome feats of memory to pass the state exams.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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