Memory: Not letting it go

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Memory is an important aspect of our life. In fact, when we say “my life”, we mean a collection of memories of ourselves and the various circumstances. The Indian tradition has given a lot of importance to memory. The entire body of knowledge rests on memory and it was all the more important in the oral traditions. The entire Mahabharata or Puranas are said to have been narrated in Naimisaranya from memory. The Ramayana was sung by Lava and Kusa from memory.

Maharishi Patanjali defines Smrti (memory) as “अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः॥1.11॥” . Not allowing an experience to escape is memory i.e retaining our experiences is memory. In the ancient and some of the modern Gurukulams of India, memory plays a vital role in gaining expertise in the various knowledge systems. The system of “Chandas” or meter based on which even Sanskrit scientific literature is available plays a crucial role in retaining and recollecting huge amount of knowledge. The “Sanskrit Effect” research is testimony to the same. Read about how rigorous memorising of Sanskrit verses improves brain capabilities.

Modern research calls it musical mnemonics and researchers found that children remembered things better when the content is in a musical form. Musical mnemonics also helps children with learning disabilities to cope up with the content better.

File:Memory.gif - Wikimedia Commons

The Charaka Samhita (Ayurveda) has numerous insights on memory. One of the key qualities of a patient and vaidya is good memory. Ayurveda suggests numerous pharmacological interventions for good memory.

स्मृतिः सत्सेवनाद्यैश्च धृत्यन्तैरुपजायते| स्मृत्वा स्वभावं भावानां स्मरन् दुःखात् प्रमुच्यते||१४७||

वक्ष्यन्ते कारणान्यष्टौ स्मृतिर्यैरुपजायते| निमित्तरूपग्रहणात् सादृश्यात् सविपर्ययात्||१४८||

सत्त्वानुबन्धादभ्यासाज्ज्ञानयोगात् पुनः श्रुतात्| दृष्टश्रुतानुभूतानां स्मारणात् स्मृतिरुच्यते||१४९||

Memory is the remembrance of what is perceived, heard or experienced before. The 8 factors that contribute to memory include

~ Knowledge of the cause

~ Knowledge of the form

~ Similarity with something

~ Contrasting with something

~ Focus and attention

~ Repeated practice

~ Higher knowledge

~ Repeated visualization and hearing