Long ago Shakespeare said, “What lies in a name?”. To answer this hackneyed question I narrate a story from the Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana, there was a Brahmin called Ajamil, full of all vices, a womaniser, a thief, an alcoholic and a social miscreant. One day while Ajamil was not at home, a sage came to his place for bheeksha, his wife who was pregnant with her tenth child served the ascetic with food. The sage, who could see the future, told her that she will beget a son and that he should be named ‘Narayana’. Ajamil who was least bothered over naming his child agreed to name his son ‘Narayana’. Later, Ajamil became excessively fond of his son Narayana. He would keep on reciting ‘Narayana Narayana’ throughout the day. On the day of his death, when the Yamadoots came to take him to the naraklok he got frightened and started calling his son Narayana for saving his life. Pleased by his words, in his supposedly last moments, Lord Vishnu sent his doots for his rescue. Yamadoots argued that Ajamil had not been referring to Lord Vishnu but his son, Narayana. Vishnudoots said that no matter who he had been referring to, he had been uttering Lord Vishnu’s name ‘Narayana‘ and, therefore, he is entitled to another year of life. Ajamil learnt a lesson and he spent the rest of his life doing prayers and eventually earned the Swargalok for himself.

Coming to our topic of concern which is the Arabic names which have suddenly started prospering in the Hindu families. There is a trend taking off to have a unique name for the kid. And this obsession for uniqueness has led to the adoption of Arabic names in the Hindu families. Names such as Ayesha, Omar, Kabir, Abeer, Alia, Alaya, Alisha, Aneesha, Inaya, Sameer, Chirag, Zain, Zehaan, Zoya, Rehan, Suhana, Sara, Zara, Mahira, Ryan, Aarash, etc. , the list keeps growing, have become so popular in urban ‘modern’ Indian Hindu families that it takes a few minutes to determine the religion of the child when hearing the name for the first time.

Much of the credit for this undesirable spree goes to the Bollywood Industry and to the celebrities of India. The proclivity of the population is to copy the names of the celebrity kids. From Karisma Kapoor’s daughter Samaira to Dhoni’s Ziva, from Shahid Kapoor’s son Zain to Hrithik’s Hrihaan and Sanjay Dutt’s son Shahraan and Iqra and Riteish Deshmukh’s Riaan, the list is towering. However, to charge the entire Bollywood with this accusation would be grave unjust. It would be unfair here to not mentioning our very own nationalist, the Queen of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut who had named her nephew and niece, Prithvi and Ganga, respectively. The example from the Bachchan family, Aaradhya, Agasthya, etc. should also be cited here because every Indian colony has now got at least one girl named Aaradhya.

A plethora of Indian names based upon the names of Sanatani Deities is obtainable from the Hindu scriptures. Learning the lesson from the story of Ajamil, one may effortlessly choose a name from the thousands of names of Devi Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu and even the names of sanatani sages, for that matter. But the dilemma here is that would these Sanatani Vedic Names ever sound contemporary? The longevity for the mistaken modernity has led to the complete denial of the great Sanatana Sanskriti.

On the contrary, if we notice the allegiance of the Muslim community towards the Arabic names, their adherence is remarkably applaudable. It is almost impossible to find ‘Surya Khan’ among the Muslims but ‘Aftaab Khan’. A question should be asked here, are Muslims too, in India or anywhere else in the world, giving their children Vedic Hindu names? Certainly not. The point is clear, they know how to preserve their culture. Hindus, on the other hand, have become so insolent towards their own culture and values that they are embarrassed to name their child after Durga or Shiva. Names such as Alia and Aahraan seem to be more fascinating for them.

It was last year when a couple asked me to choose a name for their firstborn. They were specific about giving a unique name, names which had never been heard before and so they had a list, apparently comprising of all the Arabic names. I narrated to them the story of Ajamil from Srimad Bhagvad Mahapurana and left them to take their own decision. Later on, I came to know that they had named their son ‘Ashutosh’ after Lord Shiva because he was born on a Monday in the Hindu month of Shravan.

Hindus need to realize that it is now up to them to preserve and cherish their rich cultural heritage, religion and values. Modernism doesn’t mean to give preference to the culture of a foreign land over our own Sanskriti and vyakarana. The rich legacy has to be carried on without allowing it to getting mixed with the Arabic and western world.

Ancient Indians mostly had their sons named after Sri Krishna.

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