A “Mouseover” is a valuable way to allow a user to discover new information. A web designer sets up a mouseover location on the computer screen to grab a user’s attention. That is it! The designers leave the remaining to the end user. The user can choose to mouse-hover and click the mouse at that location. Consequently, the user can see additional information. On the contrary, a Gardner helps a sapling grow by maintaining his attention on a piece of land. A sapling grows on its own. However, a Gardner notices weeds from its vicinity and removes them. These two examples illustrate two distinct functions of human awareness. We can understand the nature of the mysterious power of Avadhanam with the help of these two examples.
Ancient Yoga experts studied such movements of human consciousness. They could explain the cases of mouseover and Gardner differently. A Gardner’s attention is focused. Generally, a target exists when consciousness focuses. However, consciousness only hovers in a general area in the case of the mouseover. The Sanskrit word for Focus is Dhaanam (धानम्). Consequently, the word Avadhanam (अव + धानम्) indicates hovering attention.
Remembering hundred questions, in sequence!
Intellectuals developed ways to tap into different skills of the human brain, such as focus and hovered modes of attention. For example, they trained to catch questions posed simultaneously by several people in an assembly. After training thus, one could remember the precise sequence of the posed questions, sometimes up to one hundred questions. Subsequently, they also answered them in a sequence to illustrate their skill. Anyone skilled in this art of Avadhanam is called an Avadhani. Avadhanam competitions were popular once.
We can think of the awareness of a Gardner to be a particular case of Avadhanam. A Gardner’s goal is the growth of a sapling. However, his focus and actions are in the vicinity to support this goal. This special mode of consciousness is बीजावधानम् (बीज + अव + धानम्). The word बीज refers to a seed or a sapling. Developing higher states of consciousness begins by creating such attention. Sri Sri Ravishankar explains this in his commentaries on the Shiva Sutras.