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Memory: Not letting it go

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.

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

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