Dasavadhani is a word in Indian literature that signifies someone who can multi-task 10 different things at varying degrees of high complexity at the same time. Usually during the harvest festival in India (typically this week), Avadhanis will be invited to showcase their skills on various TV channels.
As a kid, I used to be in awe of Avadhanis on the show.
- Ashtavadhani – Someone who can do 8 different things at the same time!
- Dasavadhani – Someone who can do 10 different things at the same time!
- Shatavadhani – Someone who can do 100 different things at the same time!
how does this work?
Dasavadhani (I was impressed by them) would be sitting on a stage in front of an audience. There would be different people from the audience who would be giving them different clues/questions and he needs to remember them, decipher some, calculate some, interpret some and answer all of it at the end. The program would last for about an hour. Tests combined working of all senses, mathematics, literature, memory power, logical thinking, analysis, problem solving, aptitude etc.
Imagine doing all of this without a computer, mobile phone or even a calculator 🙂
some things that the Dasavadhanis were asked to do
- One person will be ringing a bell at sporadic intervals during the 1 hour. Dasavadhani needs to count the number of times the bell was sounded and convey correctly at the end
- Second person will be sharing a 8-9 digit number at sporadic intervals. Dasavadhani needs to remember the 8-9 digit numbers and add all of them and share the final sum of all the numbers given during the session. WOW!
- Third person will tell the number of the verse in some Tamil literature book (at random – say Thirukkural). Dasavadhani needs to recite the exact verse that corresponds to the number in the specific book.
- Fourth person will keep giving clues about some incident in some literature. Dasavadhani needs to decipher the clues and quote the relevance of the topic to the forum.
- Fifth person will be reading a line of a poem. Dasavadhani needs to remember the line, and all the lines during the program in sequence and recite it at the end in reverse order.
- Sixth person will show mirror images of letters or sentences at sporadic intervals and the Dasavadhani needs to be able to identify the letters/sentences correctly and put them together to repeat the full sentence/paragraph at the end!
- Seventh person would come and tap the Dasavadhani on his head / shoulder etc and he needs to remember the how many times someone tapped on which part
- Eight person would mention a random day of some year, and the Dasavadhani needs to correctly tell the day of the week (If November 23, 1921 was the date given, the answer expected is Wednesday)!
- Ninth person would share a set of names in a specific order at the beginning and might add more sets of names during the session. Dasavadhani has to remember the order and repeat all the names in the requested order
- Tenth person would share a set of numbers sporadically during the session and Dasavadhani needs to arrange these numbers on a 3×3 cube where each of the numbers when added vertically or diagonally sum up to the same value.
Yes. It happens and it is possible to train our minds to do so!
While it was not as simple as multi-tasking, my mind used to interpret it as multi-tasking and I started trying simpler activities. Ensuring I remember what my mother asks me NOT to do, what all my father tells me to do, all the mischief conceived by my siblings, what all to hide from parents, the list of story books I have read, number of friends whose names start with a specific letter etc etc. The list used to go on… and it used to be a nice mental activity – especially when you travel from and to school. It pushes your mind to constantly keep thinking and connecting the dots… one of the most crucial skill these days!
Now-a-days, I do not see Dasavadhanis anymore. I do see a lot of working mothers who multi-task significantly (to the extent of spoiling their health)! While it is a good mental activity for children, and helps in some ways to manage multiple fronts in life during adulthood, there comes a point in life where one tries to reduce their multi-tasking abilities down to single-tasking to calm their minds down!
Dasavadhani’s are known to have high IQs!
If you know of any Dasavadhani, please share their details in the comments below! Would be great to talk to them!
Offline responses that I received regarding this article
- Garikapati Narasimha Rao is known to be a Shatavadhani
- What is most popular is Ashtavadhanam
- One of the most important, humorous and hilarious aspect of it is Aprasthutha prasangam (AP) which literally means irrelevant talks.
Here is how it goes.
While some thing is going on very seriously, the person (aprathutha prasangi) will ask a totally irrelevant, impertinent. (some times appearing to be) stupid, foolish questions. The Avadhani should not get irritated, annoyed or frown at him. But answer in a sober way.
Many times, why many, every time the person who asked the question will feel miserable after getting the reply. The reply is so pungent. Just to cite one example…
One Avadhani carried a 3 litre water bottle with him on the stage, as opposed to normal 500 ml 1000 ml. The AP (aparathustah Prasangi) asked him….
” Sir! Why do you carry that much of water. For 90 minute session one litre should do. Can you clarify “
The Avadhani replied
“In my Avadhanams, I noticed several times that… on hearing my answers, the APs faints and falls down on the floor. As a safety measure and compassionate grounds I carry additional qty of water to wake them up. ”
The beauty is that none of the AP’s get offended or feel insulted with such replies…on the other hand they enjoy it is whole heartedly 🙂