Avadhānaṃ is a literary performance popular from the very ancient days in India.
Avadhānaṃ originated as a Sanskrit literary process and is revived by Telugu and Kannada poets in modern times. It involves the partial improvisation of poems using specific themes, metres, forms, or words. The true purpose of an Avadhanam event thus is the showcasing, through entertainment, of superior mastery of cognitive capabilities – of observation, memory, multitasking, task switching, retrieval, reasoning and creativity in multiple modes of intelligence – literature, poetry, music, mathematical calculations, puzzle solving etc.
It requires immense memory power and tests a person’s capability of performing multiple tasks simultaneously. All the tasks are memory intensive and demand an in-depth knowledge of literature, and prosody. The tasks vary from making up a poem spontaneously to keeping a count of a bell ringing at random. No external memory aids are allowed while performing these tasks except the person’s mind. Avadhānaṃ can be considered as the Divided attention (clinical model of attention) as it is the highest level of attention and it refers to the ability to respond simultaneously to multiple tasks or multiple task demands.