SV: Mnemonics in Ancient India

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sun May 21 11:10:47 UTC 2000

Steve Farmer [SMTP:saf at SAFARMER.COM] skrev 21. mai 2000 02:36:
> I'd like to add a correction to Shailendra Raj Mehta's interesting
> recent post: George Thompson clearly wasn't claiming that mnemonic
> devices weren't used in Vedic traditions. All that he said was that he
> knew of no elaborate mnemonics in India based on the construction of
> complex visual associations, like those found in Western 'memory
> palaces.' Thompson obviously is well acquainted with Vedic mnemonics,
> which are based on modifications of sounds and rhythms in canonical
> texts and not on associations (as in the West) between sounds and
> visual images.

Thanks for an interesting discussion so far! I have a couple of questions.
A few years ago a saw a TV program (I believe) dealing with a tribe of
hunters in Siberia. The Shaman of the tribe would every year during a
sequence of ceremonies that lasted a week or so recite an epic of some
40,000 verses, presumably between 200.000 and 300.000 words. The program
 did not specify exactly how this was done, but I would like to know:

What are the longest texts known to have been memorized verbatim?
(Not retelling in the usual oral poetry way, but repeating word for word)

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
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0674 Oslo
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