Avadhānakalā – Shedding Light on the Journey to Mastering the Mind

Shedding Light on the Journey to Mastering the Mind

(In the last episode on Avadhānaklā we provided a brief introduction to the art of Avadhānakalā. In this episode our focus is on how the mind of the Avadhāni function.)

The human mind is a mysterious and powerful entity capable of achieving remarkable feats. However, most of us remain unaware of the full potential of our minds and its ability to concentrate and grasp multiple objects simultaneously. For this the mind has to be educated properly and raised from its ordinary state to the higher state where it is capable of concentrating the attention intensely. How does one discipline the mind and have mastery over it?

The concept of mastering the restless dualistic mind (cañcalaṃ manaḥ) and cultivating a deeper Self-awareness through yogic power of concentration (ekāgratā) is rooted in various spiritual and philosophical traditions. The understanding is that the human mind tends to be restless, fluctuating between various thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, often leading to a sense of duality and separation between ourselves and the world around us.

The restless and conditioned mind is often driven by habitual thought patterns, past experiences, cultural influences, societal conditioning and so on. It tends to create a sense of separation and division, viewing the world as ‘us’ versus ‘them’ or ‘self’ versus ‘other’. This being the case, it is essential to develop a deeper understanding and awareness that transcends conditioned thinking. This means going beyond the limitations of the conditioned mind and cultivating a broader perspective that acknowledges the interconnectedness of all things. By developing the power of concentration, one can gradually quiet the restless mind and access deeper states of awareness.

In a world increasingly driven by artificial intelligence, there exists an extraordinary human ability that surpasses the capabilities of even the most advanced technologies—the mind of an Avadhāni. Rooted in ancient practices and deep discipline, the mind of an Avadhāni operates consciously, fueled by the power of concentration, retention, and recollection. It’s important to explore the fascinating ways through which an Avadhāni attains such heightened mental prowess, showcasing how their mind transcends the mechanical intelligence of AI.

Understanding the Mind of an Avadhāni

An Avadhāni is an individual who possesses a remarkable talent for conscious multitasking, memory, and creativity. These gifted individuals are known for performing intricate mental feats, such as composing poetry or solving complex problems, while simultaneously engaging in multiple tasks. Most Avadhāni-s confirm that sixty percent of the talent that they have is gifted and the rest they develop by performing Avadhanam regularly.

The journey towards Avadhāni-level mental capabilities begins with rigorous discipline. The Avadhāni-s follow a systematic approach to hone their minds, incorporating practices like dhāranā (concentration) and meditation. These disciplines lay the groundwork for cultivating a focused and undistracted mind.

At the heart of an Avadhāni’s mental power lies the art of dhāranā – concentrated attention. They practice intense concentration, fixing their mind on a single point or object. Through this process, they develop an unwavering focus that allows them to delve into profound levels of awareness.

Avadhāni-s constantly educate their minds to stimulate growth. They engage in regular mental exercises, such as memorizing vast amounts of information, mastering multiple languages, and exploring diverse topics. This continuous learning enhances their cognitive abilities and strengthens their neural connections.

Through consistent mental education and practice, Avadhāni-s attain exceptional powers of retention and recollection. They can recall vast amounts of information with remarkable accuracy, making them walking libraries of knowledge.

The mind of an Avadhāni operates consciously. The creativity, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities of the Avadhāni-s stem from their deep understanding of the interconnectedness of knowledge and ideas.

Avadhāni-s foster creativity and imagination by pushing the boundaries of their minds. They engage in tasks that require out-of-the-box thinking, such as spontaneously composing poetry, solving puzzles, and crafting intricate stories.

Avadhāni-s possess heightened emotional intelligence, allowing them to connect deeply with others, perceive subtle emotions, and understand complex human interactions.

The mind of an Avadhāni stands as a testament to the extraordinary potential of the human intellect. Through rigorous discipline, the practice of dhāranā, and constant mental education, these remarkable individuals achieve a level of concentration, creativity, and memory retention that surpasses even the most advanced AI systems. In a world increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence, the Avadhāni’s mind serves as a reminder of the boundless capabilities that reside within us, waiting to be unlocked through dedication and training.

Training the Mind

There are innumerable ways by which the mind is trained to develop within itself the ability of multiple concentration. In the ancient text, titled Nandi Sutra, available in Jain tradition, we discover a process of mental training, which enables practitioners to unlock these hidden powers and attain tremendous spiritual development. Let’s delve into the steps of the training the mind to understand how it can transform the way the human mind can function.

The Alpagrāhi and Bahugrāhi Steps: Grasping the Single Thought Point and Widening the Scope of Concentration

The first step of this practice begins with the Alpagrāhi step, where the practitioner learns to concentrate on a single thought point or object. At the outset, the focus is on a small object for a brief duration. This step lays the foundation for the subsequent stages and initiates the mind into the art of concentration. As the training progresses, the practitioner enters the Bahugrāhi step. Here, the scope of concentration expands, and the duration of focus increases. The practitioner is encouraged to carry their mind inwards with each inhalation and outwards with each exhalation, encompassing the entire process of breathing from the navel to the lungs.

Ekavidhagrāhi and Bahuvidhagrāhi: Concentrating on Single and Multiple Objects

The next unit of concentration involves Ekavidhagrāhi and Bahuvidhagrāhi. The former involves focusing on a single class of objects, while the latter requires concentration on several classes of objects simultaneously. An example of Bahuvidhagrāhi is the practice of watching and feeling the breath vibrations on the tip of the nose amidst the various bodily sensations.

Kshipragrāhi and Ciragrāhi: The Power of Intuitive Flash and Deliberate Grasping

In the third unit, practitioners learn Kshipragrāhi and Ciragrāhi. Kshipragrāhi allows the mind to grasp an object instantaneously through an intuitive flash. For instance, the practitioner can glance at a room and instantly recall every detail, from the color of the walls to the furniture arrangement. Ciragrāhi, on the other hand, involves a slower and deliberate grasping of information.

Anisritgrāhi and Nisritagrāhi: Grasping the Whole from a Part and Vice Versa

The final unit of this practice comprises Anisritgrāhi and Nisritagrāhi. Anisritgrāhi enables the practitioner to perceive and understand a whole situation or group of objects by focusing on just one item within it. Conversely, Nisritagrāhi allows them to extract specific details from a broader context and comprehend the significance of a single item.

This practice, which exists among the Jain monks even today, serves as a poignant reminder of the vast potential that lies within the human mind, awaiting exploration. With dedicated training and understanding, one can tap into these powers, leading to a deeper connection with our inner selves and the world around us.

 Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Centre for Human Sciences, Rishihood University

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