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mahakavyas

Both Ramayana and Mahabharata covers geography of this land, our land, deva-bhumi.

So when you read/listen them during चातुर्मास, you actually travel from Himalaya to Kanyakumari.

Not only that, you also do internal travel, from मूलाधार to सहस्रार चक्र .

जीवेत शरद: शतम् – inevitable.

Impact of Ramayana and Mahabhrata on receptor’s mind reduces with each of following method.

1) Listen live from the mouth of kind hearted pious person (Mitra/Friend or Family member or Guru)
2) Read Ramayana/Mahabharata by self from book
3) Watch TV serial about Ramayana/Mahabharata
4) Watch Cartoon about Ramayana/Mahabharata

Last method is utter waste of time. Unfortunately, it is the prevalent way by which new generation get know about Itihas.

During this month (holy months of अषाढ़/श्रावण), we should spend time with our धर्म ग्रन्थ & गुरु . Don’t replace recitation by CD/DVD/TV/Cartoon.

Cartoons mean frivolity. Nonsensical stuff. Hanuman, Bheem and Krushna are portrayed as a cartoon with a definite purpose to reduce mighty characters to ashes in gullible minds. You cannot expect frivolity to do wonders. Frivolity cannot mold your character.
Hanuman is potent enough to mold your character. Cartoon Hanuman cannot.

Do you present frivolity in name of mighty characters?
1 Story of Hanuman narrated by parents serves way better than 1000 cartoon hours spent in front of screen. Avoid.

इति शुश्रुम धीराणां ये नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे॥१०॥ -ईसावास्योपनिषत्

“What I have sought is to understand what has been said by seers.”
May it reaches to alll.

In ancient Bharat, in Sanskrit culture, all subjects share one thing in common i.e. Teacher teaching orally, in prosaic manner. It is one way if education. They believed that when poems and stories are well heard and digested by pupils, this stories &  poems can help to integrate underlying subject into pupil’s consciousness. They believed that unless a skill/knowledge becomes integrated part of consciousness, it is not mature enough to practice. And so even mathematics and chemical formulas were designed and conveyed in poetic ways. Ear-friendly method of learning!

 

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When you share poetic mathematical formula from past, you get response like this – “stop this mindless revisionist nationalism please.” or ‘Show me data please”. Damn these Indians. They always boast of their past. 🙂

 

What modern science says about allegorical story-telling?

 

As per this report [1], allegorical story-telling opens various neuron pathways.Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain, that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

 

Point to be noted: Story telling activates all areas of brain required to decipher story.

 

A story can put your whole brain to work. And yet, it gets better. When we tell stories to others that have really helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton[2].Anything you’ve experienced, you can get others to experience the same. Or at least, get their brain areas that you’ve activated that way, active too. Oh! That is what oral education all about!

 

Point to be noted: Anything you’ve experienced, you can get others to experience the same by speaker-listener coupling.

 

A team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not [1].

 

Point to be noted: Metaphoric language activates touch senses. Rich language is must to convey right experience.

 

In a great experiment, John Bargh at Yale found the following:

 

“Volunteers would meet one of the experimenters, believing that they would be starting the experiment shortly. In reality, the experiment began when the experimenter, seemingly struggling with an armful of folders, asks the volunteer to briefly hold their coffee. As the key experimental manipulation, the coffee was either hot or iced. Subjects then read a description of some individual, and those who had held the warmer cup tended to rate the individual as having a warmer personality, with no change in ratings of other attributes.”

We link up metaphors and literal happenings automatically. Everything in our brain is looking for the cause and effect relationship of something we’ve previously experienced [3].

 

Point to be noted: Metaphors do play role in shaping our skills.

 

Now, let us see why researchers advocate music and recitation for education. A large and growing body of scientific research supports such anecdotal stories across the whole range of development. This research summary focuses on one critical aspect: the development of foundational mathematical skills and thought processes as tied to early childhood music education. When you listen (carefull hearing), certain neurons in the cortex of your brain start firing. The pathways created are the same pathways that are used when you complete complex spatial reasoning tasks. The more of these pathways that are forged and the more they are in use, the stronger the connections become. Strong connections lead to easier access, which translates into better skills.

 

Point to be noted: Mathematics, analytical thinking, critical decision making, astutue observations – all these can improve magically when there is musical and poetic touch

 

Although listening to musical poems (of any subject maths, chemistry etc) does give the neural network a workout, the gains in spatial reasoning skills have been shown to be very short-term—15 minutes or less. This “Mozart effect” is much longer-lasting when you engage in making same musical verses.Studies focused on music for young children are also suggesting that math gains increase according to the number of years that students engage in active music learning (Gardiner, 2000)[4], with some indication that the younger children are when they begin music instruction, the greater the gains will be.

 

So, many researches suggest importance of rhythmic, story-telling , music, recitation for best brain training, not only in art but also in subjects like mathematics, science and technology.

 

Point to be noted: Active involvement is more important than passive.

 

I have faith in oral tradition and I do see magical results in my family and friends. But to keep faith in Sanatana way of living is difficult so I explored some modern science development in this area to convince rational minds. For any disconnect that you may perceive, between my faith and your acceptance of Oral Tradition, wait and watch, truth prevails. :).

 

At the end, Vidya Or Knowledge or  Realization or Learning is Maa ( Mother ) for me. When mother wants to bless, she draws seekers to herself by attracting them to the Guru with specific knowledge desired by seeker. Time will come when this knowledge about best way of learning, too will resurface.

 

References:

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-on-fiction.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922522/

[3] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/this-is-your-brain-on-metaphors/

[4]Gardiner, M.F. (2000). Music, learning, and behavior: A case for mental stretching. Journal for

Learning Through Music, 72-93.

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