My Journey with Avadhana: A Remarkable Art Form

Sampadananda Mishra
7 min readMay 5, 2024


It’s been almost 25 years since I first experienced the captivating and incredible world of Avadhana in Pondicherry in 1999. I was fortunate to have played a role in organizing that memorable program. Till then, though I had heard of Avadhana, I had no real understanding of the intricate details, the rigorous discipline, and the extraordinary talent involved in performing this ancient art form.

Avadhana is an exceptional display of intellectual and artistic prowess. The event in Pondicherry was an Ashtavadhana, featuring eight designated questioners posing various challenges to the Avadhani. The answers were crafted in extempore poetry, a test of both creativity and memory. The Avadhani composed responses across four rounds. The first round required only one line of poetry, the second round needed the first line recalled along with a new second line, and so on, until the fourth round completed the responses. Additionally, a person rang a bell intermittently, and the Avadhani had to remember and recount the exact number of rings at the end. Other challenges included remembering and reconstructing jumbled verses and dealing with distractions from an “aprastuta prasanga,” a kind of clown whose job was to disrupt the Avadhani’s focus.

This initial exposure to Avadhana left me in awe of the Avadhani’s power of retention, recall, wit, sense of humor, knowledge of sacred texts, language mastery, poetic skill, and sheer confidence. I was also intrigued to learn about Shatavadhana, where 100 questions are tackled over two days, and the almost unimaginable Sahasravadhana, where 1,000 questions are answered over twenty days.

Inspired by the possibilities, I wondered how this incredible art form could be integrated into education. What if these techniques could enhance classroom learning and foster memory, observation, and concentration among students? I began exploring Jain texts to learn more about the sadhanas monks undertake to develop these cognitive abilities.

I once witnessed a demonstration of Avadhana during a play depicting the life of Srimat Raichand Ji, a revered Jain monk. In this performance, he showcased 52 different Avadhana exercises, demonstrating a remarkable range of skills without constraints on language, shastra, poetry, or other aspects of literature and poetic artistry. This inspired me to consider how elements of Avadhana could be integrated into classroom settings to help children develop various cognitive abilities, such as memory, observation, concentration, confidence, wit, and mathematical skills.

This experience prompted me to explore Jain texts, where I learned about the specific sadhanas that Jain monks undertake to cultivate and enhance cognitive capacities. Through this research, I gained insights into how these ancient practices could be adapted to modern educational environments to foster these valuable skills in students.

Since discovering the Jaina sadhana of cognitive development, I have been seeking Jain monks who practice these methods. Through a recent connection with a friend, I learned about several living Jain monks dedicated to these practices. This fueled my curiosity and led me to want to meet them to better understand their sadhana.

It wasn’t long before my friend mentioned that a young Jain monk was about to perform a Sahasravadhana, and kindly made arrangements for me to attend. This opportunity to experience such a remarkable performance firsthand was invaluable in deepening my understanding of these ancient cognitive practices.

This is how, I landed in Mumbai to witness a historic Sahasravadhana performance by young Muni Ajitchandra Sagar, a disciple of Acharya Muni Nayachandrasagar Ji. It was held on May 1st in Mumbai, where over 10,000 people gathered to witness his astounding skills in grasping, retaining, and recalling information. This Sahasravadhana involved a book with 1,000 questions, distributed to everyone in the audience. Random attendees were invited to ask questions from different sections of the book while the young Muni listened and absorbed for over six hours. He accurately recalled names, solved mathematical problems, remembered the exact number of times a bell rang, and even reconstructed a 21-syllable Sanskrit verse from jumbled numbers.

Munishri Ajitchandra Sagara ji with his Guru Munishri Nayachadrasagara ji

The program commenced at 8:30 a.m. and concluded at 6:30 p.m., during which both the Guru and the disciple remained in the same posture, without food, water, or breaks for rest or toilet. From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the young monk was subjected to a variety of tests designed to assess his accuracy, memory, power of retention and recollection, and intellectual acumen. Throughout the day, he patiently answered all questions with precision, showcasing remarkable mental endurance. The most striking aspect of the event was his calm focus and unwavering concentration. He even demonstrated how his mental powers could influence the time on a clock. This incredible feat demonstrated not just memory but the power of a trained mind.

Under the guidance of his loving Guru, Muni Ajitchandra Sagar designed a 36-day Saraswati Sadhana program, aimed at teaching children and other interested individuals how to cultivate focus and enhance their mental capacities. This initiative has the potential to inspire countless people and introduce the remarkable art of Avadhana to a new generation.

Experiencing such an event was both humbling and uplifting, and it leaves me with a profound sense of appreciation for the possibilities of the human mind. I look forward to seeing how this ancient practice can be harnessed to enrich modern education and empower young minds with the extraordinary gifts of concentration and memory.

Audience during the Sahasravadhana on 1st May 2024

Here is the list of questions which were asked during the Sahasravadhana:

1 to 10 Ask any question in 5 to 7 words.

11 to 20 Quotable quotes in 5–7 words.

21 to 30 Name of Jain and non-Jain saints & scriptures.

31 to 40 Names of holy mountain, river, and pilgrimage centers.

41 to 61 First stanza of Sanskrit Shlok.

62 to 65 First line of the 16 block (4 x 4) Sarvato Bhadra Yantra.

66 to 70 Name of Jain terminological words.

71 to 80 First line from a Jain Panch Pratikraman Sutra.

81 to 90 Names of philanthropists, patriots, and scientists.

91 to 100 Names of famous monuments in India or the world.

101 to 121 Second stanza of Sanskrit Shlok.

122 to 125 Second line of the 16 block (4 x 4) Sarvato Bhadra Yantra.

126 to 150 Twenty-five photographs of monuments in India or the world selected by the audience.

151 to 175 Total of 25 numbers selected from 25x25=625 blocks by the audience.

176 to 200 Twenty-five mathematical puzzles solved simultaneously.

201 to 225 Any object selected to be shown (Avdhan of sight).

226 to 250 Twenty-five photographs of great scientists, presidents of nations, and philosophers selected by the audience.

251 to 271 Third stanza of Sanskrit Shlok.

272 to 275 Third line of the 16 block (4 x 4) Sarvato Bhadra Yantra.

276 to 300 Total of 25 numbers selected from 25x25=625 blocks by the audience.

301 to 330 One-by-one numbers selected by the audience.

331 to 340 Names of holy festivals, public festivals, national holidays, etc.

341 to 350 Names of trees.

351 to 360 Names of fruits.

361 to 375 Collective Avdhan.

376 to 400 Solving mathematical puzzles collectively.

401 to 425 Any object selected to be shown (Avdhan of sight).

426 to 446 Fourth stanza of Sanskrit Shlok.

447 to 450 Fourth line of the 16 block (4 x 4) Sarvato Bhadra Yantra.

451 to 460 Names of gods and their symbols.

461 to 470 Names of months in Gujarati or English.

471 to 475 Any word in any language (5–7 words).

476 to 500 Total of 25 numbers selected from 25x25=625 blocks by the audience.

501 to 510 Names of famous yoga asanas.

511 to 520 Names of countries of the world.

521 to 530 Names of Indian states and union territories.

531 to 540 Names of famous languages in India or the world.

541 to 550 Names of holy Agamas.

551 to 575 25 photographs of world country flags shown collectively.

576 to 600 Solving mathematical puzzles collectively.

601 to 625 Twenty-five objects to be shown (Avdhan of sight).

626 to 640 Gujarati words.

641 to 650 Sanskrit words.

651 to 675 Twenty-five photographs of India’s famous leaders shown separately.

676 to 700 Total of 25 numbers selected from 25x25=625 blocks by the audience.

701 to 925 Filling a 15x15 Yantra.

926 to 950 Twenty-five objects to be shown (Avdhan of sight).

951 to 975 Mathematical puzzles solved simultaneously.

976 to 980 Fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Here the audience can say one word from the 15th chapter of the Gita and the Avadhani will recite the whole verse.

981 to 989 Filling numbers in the 3x3 block Sarvato Bhadra Yantra.

990 Munishri tells the day from a date selected by the audience.

991 to 997 Munishri recites the relevant extract from the Agamas (Sacred Kalpa Sutra).

998 Filling an 8x8 Yantra.

999 Munishri tells the time of your birth (Miraculous Avdhan).

1000 Total number of bells rang during the entire event.

-Sampadananda Mishra



Sampadananda Mishra

Author, speaker and researcher on subjects related to Sanskrit, Indian Culture, Spirituality, Yoga and Education. SahityaAkademi and President of India Awardee.