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Amazing `Avadhanam'

GUDIPOODI SRIHARI

Medasani Mohan's `Apoorva Pancha Sahasra Avadhanam' was a treat for the literary buffs.



TALKING LITERATURE Medasani Mohan with poets during the inaugural session.

The 30-day `Apoorva Pancha Sahasra Avadhanam' performed by Dr. Medasani Mohan of Tirupati, at Lalitha Kala Thoranam, broke all records set earlier in this field. As this being the longest and fastest Avadhanam, the organisers are in the process of applying for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. This Avadhanam that began on February 18 concluded on March 20, the Telugu Ugadi day.

The many poets who gathered there hailed it as one of the best in recent times in quality and quantity as well. If someone takes the job of publishing all the verses along with reference to their context, it would run into many volumes. Writing chaste poetry meaningfully is not easy. A specific poetic grammar called `Chandassu' is to be applied. And there are a variety of poems categorised into different names according to Chandassu.

They range from short verses like Ataveladi and Tetageethi or Kandam to longish Utpalamala and Champapakamala, Seesa, Sardulam, Mattebham and so on. But the Avadhani has to compose in his mind on the spot, fast and then recite it for the public, which is called Aasu Kavitvam (extempore rendition). And what he renders extempore is in response to many questions, many poets around him pose, some also in poetic meter.

This is Chandobadha Kavitvam, which we find in great epics and puranas and prabandhas. The Avadhanam is a kind of exhibition of his poetic skills in composing verses fast in his mind sticking to the grammar and rules and then read them out for the public. Medasani Mohan with this performance stands out as one of the best and fastest too. And the Avadhanam was called `Apoorva Pancha Sahasra Avadhanam' - `Apoorva' because this was done never before on this scale, with many scholars, as many as a thousand, facing him as Pruchakas (questioners). Most of them were poetic riddles, testing the intellect and composing skills of the Avadhani. He came out with Sanskrit verses too as answers to the riddles in the gambit of certain specifications imposed by the `Pruchakas', most of whom were Telugu scholars.

The Avadhani had to even recall what he recited as an answer to the questioner in the early part of the month, when the questioner asks him to repeat it at the end in the last two days. This tested his stupendous Dhaarana (memory power) without any prompting.

There were three Avadhanis of the same stature whom Medasani interacted. They were Rallabandi Kavita Prasad, Nalluri Dattatreya Sarma and Kota Lakshmi Narasimham.

The entire programme was video recorded and there is a plan by the organisers to publish all the verse in book forms. Even his recitation of a verse was more like a teacher teaching his pupils. It was so clear and appealing, that he made every member in the audience understand what it meant. This month-long Avadhanam, in short, can be compared to a literary revolution.

The subjects varied in appeal like untouchability, women power, representation of women in legislatures, AIDS, Internet culture, computers, suicides of farmers, students and lovers, child labour, and many more.

At the end of the mammoth Avadhanam, poet and noted film maker M.S. Reddy put on the leg of Medasani Mohan, a golden `Gandapendaram' a traditional honour in recognition of the greatness of the poet. Dr. C. Narayana Reddy presented him with the title of Apoorva Panchasahasravadhana Sarvabhouma'. Matinee idol Akkineni Nageswara Rao did a traditional `Kanakabhishekam' by pouring 108 gold flowers on the head of the Avadhani.

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