Kannada Article by: Tarodi Suresha
English Rendering by: Padmini Shrinivasan
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Namakarana means christening i.e. a ritual of giving a name to the child. A name is essential for all transactions in the world. What would happen if we do not name something? A name automatically comes into existence. For example - If a lame man does not possess a name, he would then be addressed as 'that crippled person'. If one has projecting teeth, a name 'Hallubbaa' (meaning one with protruding teeth in Kannada) springs up. This way a name is indispensable.
Not only individuals, objects, subjects and episodes too, go by a name. Any activity is impossible without it. Do animals possess names? We do not know. Humans, being thoughtful and reflective by nature, must possess a name. In the Maharshi Samskruti (culture) a special significance is attached to this naming process and it is treated as a Samskaara (a purification process). If the purpose is not just to identify a person, then which special attributes justify it as a Samskaara?
World over names are chosen based on individual whims and fancies. A famous quote by the eminent English litterateur Shakespeare says -"What is in the name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?" True, but choosing a name which represents its beauty, fragrance, colour etc. is an art. It reflects the deep knowledge of humans about the surroundings. Our ancient Rshis possessed the distinction of using the name as an instrument for achieving the highest goal of life. We have two types of activities - mundane and the spiritual. The view of the Rishis has been that the mundane activities must be in tune with the spiritual. So a name should also be such that it encompasses both.
The story of Ajamila is well known. During his last moments, he called his son as Naaraayana. With just one utterance, while listening to the conversation between the messengers of Lord Vishnu and Yama, he repented for his past immoral activities. The utterance of the name Naaraayana revoked the past good deeds in him and he attained deliverance through penance. This way, uttering an auspicious name paved the way for salvation. It is quite certain that wicked deeds do not fetch any rewards, even if the name is auspicious.
This 'Naama-Roopa', meaning - name assuming a form or identifying an object, has blossomed in Lord's creation as "Naamaroopam Vyaakaravaani". Prior to the creation, there was no differentiation. When the seed was alone, there was no variety. When it started developing, different words representing different objects like the trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits etc. sprang into existence. The words and the objects represented grew together. The object itself brings out the name which mirrors the inherent nature of the object. For example, the very mention of (stomach) pain contains the pangs of the pain. Thus addressing an object by a name which represents its intrinsic qualities, is a great tradition brought to us by the Maharshis.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.
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