In our second episode of Punctuations series we bring you Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh in conversation with Sandeep Balakrishna and Jaideep Prabhu.
According to the 8th Century Kashmir scholar of aesthetics Vāmana, Avadhaana is perfect concentration and uninterrupted contemplation on a particular topic. Avadhaana is both a literary sport and a performing art which is performed by at least by nine people with the lead role played by the Avadhaani who is thrown challenges by the other eight known as Prucchakas. Avadhaana is a unique art not just among various Indian arts but in the arts of the world.
Avadhaana calls for extempore versification by the Avadhaani without the aid of stationery and homework. The Avadhaana experience is one that simultaneously involves composing grammatically-perfect, metrically correct, extempore verses in response to complex linguistic and literary challenges thrown by erudite Prucchakas amidst frequent disruption to the Avadhaani’s concentration, which in turn generates witty repartees resulting in delighting the audience immensely.
The seemingly superhuman capacity of the ‘Avadhaani’ fascinates the audience by laying bare the unlimited potential for versification. The verse that is composed despite such severe constraints makes us marvel at the unfathomable strength of linguistics. Avadhaana thus provides a tonic for the brain, entertains the mind, delights and the heart.
The credit for reviving this ancient art in the Kannada language goes to Shatavadhaani Dr. R. Ganesh who performed his first Avadhaana when he was just 19 years old in 1981.
After graduating in Mechanical Engineering, he did his post-graduation in Indian Institute of Science specializing in Metallurgy. He then went on to do an M.A. in Sanskrit and added a DLitt in Kannada. A polyglot, he can read, write and compose poetry in almost all major Indian languages and in classical Greek and Latin. He is also a prolific writer with several hundred essays and scholarly papers and several books on an astonishing range of subjects to his credit. He is passionate about Aesthetics and is an acknowledged authority on Alankara Shastra or the study of Poetics.