Phenomenal Memory Power of Hindu Ascetics!

vivek with rock, kumari

Article No. 2071

Written by London swaminathan

Date : 14  August  2015

Time uploaded in London :– 21-41

(Pictures are used from various sources)

Hindu ascetics are endowed with a phenomenal memory. Swami Vivekananda could read any book and remember it verbatim. He was blessed with a prodigious memory and could memorise a book by reading it once. Once a librarian was annoyed when Swamiji asked for one book after another book. Librarian asked him whether he just looks at the book and return them or read the books. Swamiji quietly told him to ask him any information from any chapter. When the librarian tested Swamiji he was wonderstruck with his memory power.

Swami Vivekananda attributed the memory power to the Medha nadi. Anyone who follows the rule of chastity for twelve years grows this Medha nadi in the body and that gives one this amazing power of memory. In the olden days Brahmin boys went to Gurukula and stayed with the Guru for twelve years and memorised the Vedas and Vedangas. This was possible only because of their Brahmacharya/ chastity. Now the Vedas are considered “Literary Wonders of the World”, which have been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.


Another Swamiji who lived in our own time was Sri Chandrasekara Indra Saraswati (1894—1994), Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peedam. He could remember all the faces, places, anecdotes, dates etc. There are umpteen anecdotes every devotee narrates about his or her experience regarding  Shankaracharya’ s  memory power. Even though all the Brhmacharis/chaste students have this faculty, unless they don’t develop it or use it practically, it would not reach its peak.

Some are born with photographic memories. Many mathematical prodigies have this gift. We saw Sakuntala Devi in our own times who even defeated the computers. Nobel Prize winning scientist Nikola Telsa was exceptionally gifted with photographic memory.

U S President Theodore Roosevelt could recite entire newspaper pages from memory, and was also a speed reader, often devouring three books a day.

Fillippino dictator Ferdinand Marcos could memorise complicated texts in a single glance and passed his bar examination to practise law in 1939 with a 98 per cent pass. The unusually high score drew suspicion and Marcos was retested; second time he achieved 100 per cent!


Deenadayal Upadhyaya, President of Jana Sang (now B J P), could remember the names of all the MPs in both the houses of Indian Parliament. He was famous for his memory. My friend Dr Dandapani, who is no more, appeared on Channel 4 in London and amazed the listeners with his memory about Indian Railways. He was the agent of Indian railways in the UK. He remembered all the pages in Indian Railway Time Tables!

So it is not just the Brahmacharya (chastity) alone. There are other factors like practice and some mnemonic techniques.

Interesting Anecdotes

1.Archbishop Ryan was once accosted on the streets of Baltimore by a man who knew the Archbishop’s face, but could not quite place it.

“Now where in the hell have I seen you?” he asked perplexedly.

“From where in hell do you come, sir?” he retorted

2.In order to play in “Rosemary”, John Drew shave off his moustache, thereby greatly changing his appearance. Shortly afterwards he met Max Beerbohm in the lobby of a London Theatre, but could not just then recall  who the latter was. Mr.Beerbohm’s memory was better.

“Oh, Mr Drew,” he said, “I am afraid you don’t recognise me without your moustache.”

3.The woman’s club was listening, entranced, to the lecture being given by a world famous traveller. He concluded his remarks with, “And there are some spectacles that one never forgets….”

At this point a timid old lady in the audience spoke up shyly, “Pardon me, sir, would you tell me where I could get a pair? I am always forgetting mine.”

4.Memory training by association became a fad in a certain school. “For instance”, the English teacher was explaining, “if you want to remember the name of a poet, Bobbie Burns, you might conjure up in your eye a picture of a London policeman in flames. You see, ‘Bobbie Burns’.

“I see,” said one of his pupils, “but how one is to be sure that it doesn’t represent ‘Robert Browning?”.

Source: Swami Vivekananda’s Life History

Thesaurus of Anecdotes

London Metro News Paper


Leave a comment


  1. R Nanjappa

     /  August 15, 2015

    Mememory is of various types, and is derived from different sources. While various techniques are advocated to develop memory, there is a qualitative difference between such strenuously acquired power, and the memory which results from natural talent or gift- an inborn, God-given faculty.

    Jim Corbett has written in his book ‘My India’ about two Scotsmen,both administrators of Terai region in the United Provinces who never forgot a name or face once they heard or saw it. They were Sir Henry Ramsay, and Sir Frederic Anderson.

    I myself knew a Salesian priest, Father Joseph Murphy, Principal of the college where I studied (Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur) who not only remembered the name of every single student in every class, but also the circumstances associated wtih them, like who accompanied them for admission, etc! When seven years later, I went to see him on getting my first pay, when he was in a different place, he enquired whether my uncle had accompanied me when I joined my job! He had remembered that my uncle had accompanied me when I sought admission in the college!

    I had a senior in post graduation who could simply remember page after page of bulky economics books. He attributed this to the blessings of prayers to family deity which his father had taught him, and he was a Tamil Pundit of the old type, like U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer. His name is Velampalayam Deivasikhamni Gounder. No wonder my senior who was a devout person topped the University and later got into IAS.

    But come to think of it, the memory of U.Ve, S Iyer and his student Ki.Va.Ja. is also prodigious. The kind of references they could quote at will, hundreds of lines at a time, is hard to accomplish even with the computers today!

    Of course in the olden days, we had professors who could quote hundreds of lines from Milton and Shakespeare. Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India before Mountbatten, had a reputation for remembering thousands of English poems and he produced a whole anthology of such poems entirely from memory. Titled,’ Other Men’s Flowers’, it is still in print!

    As Lord Krishna says in the Gita, any such excellence anywhere makes us feel it is the gift or power of God that is shining!

  2. Thanks for adding relevant information. If everyone adds some useful information like you, it will help future
    readers and researchers.

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