AHMEDABAD: Sitting in Dhyan Mudra on stage, the then 13-year old Muni Padmaprabhchandrasagar listens to questions with eyes half-closed as if absorbing each word, and listens to all 100 questions posed to him. He then slowly but surely tackles every question in the same sequence — even remembering the numbers which were left intentionally blank. Those who attended the event in 2014 marvelled at the display of mental dexterity by the ‘bal muni.’ The feat, only doubly difficult, will be repeated on September 2 in Bengaluru where he will face 200 questions.
Muni Ajitchandrasagar, a disciple of Acharya Nayachandrasagarji, who had completed the same maha shatavdhan (200 avdhan), in 2012, said that the process is not just about but overall development of a disciple. “The monk is exposed to a variety of fields and through selfcontrol (sanyam) and meditation (dhyan), the understanding of our brain is heightened,” he said.
What amazes researchers is the method. Muni Chandraprabhchandrasagar, who performed the first shatavdhan in English at a Mumbai venue in 2014, had studied only up to class 8.
Dr , the director of at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital, had devised a study to put the method to test. A total of 104 students were involved and 48 underwent the training by monks — identified as Saraswati Sadhana.
“The results showed that the and attention had improved in children who had undergone training. Their long-term memory did not show much change,” said Doshi, adding that the mindfulness of the participants showed activation of the prefrontal cortex associated with short-term memory. “The results were encouraging and merit a more detailed study,” Doshi said.
Dr S L Vaya, noted forensic psychologist who conducted psychological tests on accused in a number of high-profile cases to retrieve information, said that the brain stores information as an amalgamation of different factors. “What we learn by rote such as multiplication table gets stored differently compared to a personal experience,” she said. “For the feats of memory retrieval, the neural connection has to be strong.” She added that a number of techniques are used by students and professionals to better store memory for better retrieval.
Dr Sudhir Shah, an Ahmedabad neurologist, said that any scientific process can only be proven if it can be replicated satisfactorily.
“The multiple success stories have surely opened a new avenue for research on how our brain functions and how we store and retrieve memory,” he said. “The monks, with whom we worked closely for a study, used techniques like silence and meditation to increase their attention span. From the method employed, I believe that the monks have managed to stretch the working memory for remembrance of questions.”
The Saraswati Sadhana Research Foundation (SSRF), established by Acharya Nayachandrasagarji, is attracting candidates for difficult exams. Mihir Joshi, now studying in Australia, was struggling with commerce studies in Mumbai. Likewise, Namrata Gandhi, a resident of Mumbai and another participant of the SSRF initiative, sought help of the programme to improve her concentration to crack a government competitive exam.
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