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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

what is there in a name ?

What is there in a name?

Very interesting read indeed. Unfortunately the administrators and politicians who decide on various factors do not have time and respect for research, which is there in Europe, nor do they bother about etymology which also is almost venerated in Europe.

Names do carry lot of meaning, history, story and etymology all of which are either obvious, inferred and in some cases esoteric representing a concept.

But for these interesting aspects, long back the world would have listened to this very logical suggestion [1-very useful and interesting]

There is poetry, history and romance to every name.

There could be several reasons for any name primarily etymological and then to remind or perpetuate some ancestral link to any particular tradition, religious significance, mythological reference, culture, family name, profession, geographical location, particular clan, specific attribute of some of the either physical or psychological of the ancestor, sometimes also indicating some extraordinary contribution made some ancestor, sometimes mock name etc. In some culture numerology, astrology etc are also given importance.

We, Sanathana Dharmis were a bundle of contradiction here as in the case of preserving our treasure house knowledge [wherein we claim , rightly so the credit for many things but without enough documentary historically recorded evidence]. In the case of names we were highly philosophical at one end of the spectrum declaring what is there in name and form and  never bothered in general about labels and names, except in some religious arena and hence it was left to whoever wanted to do anything with any name and at the other end of the spectrum to every God which we represented with a form manifesting it as a symbolic representation of a particular attribute or concept and also gave thousands of names for examples for Ganesha,Vishnu, Shiva , Saraswathi etc and we also ensured to imbue each name with lot of meaning sometimes with highly esoteric meanings ensuring that each name manifested the various dimensions, degrees of the attribute represented by that particular God or Goddess.

For example the following book which was published as not for sale book by Maa Amirthananda Mayi trust by a family which was well versed in Lalitha shasranamam exposition for more than 3 generations. I was fortunate to get one among the only 1000 copies released initially free of cost now I think it is priced more than 1000 Rs . The book is titled ‘The Thousand Names of the Divine Mother Sri Lalita Sahasranama with Commentary by  T. V. Menon’. One would be surprised to know the inner meaning of several names there as there are lots of esoteric meaning to the verses in Soundarya Lahiri.

Fortunately we are sticking on to family names and some traditional aspects connected with that like the 'kar's of Maharastra,[gavaskar, tendukar] or ' jee's of  west bengal like mukherjee, chatterjee etc, or 'padyayas' of UP like chatopadyaya etc all these too had something to do with the name of the place from which a particular ancestry originated or the recognition of how many vedas a particular ancestor was conversant with, in south India it was  both family name, caste name  as well as place name like chembai vaidyanatha bhagavathar, manakal rangarajan, lalagudi jeyaraman, semmangudi srinivasa iyer.  

In European language we can even know the anatomical structure of ancestors through names like le grand[ referring to tall people], la fesse [referring to people with pronounced buttocks ] etc Russian names have tags of words referring to wolves, water, goat  and many Jewish terms too indicating the jews who tried to escape. In fact the place very much in news  Ferguson and many people bearing that name in the USA again refer to Jews who escaped and while being allowed inside USA ports they were just asked to declare their names and in order not to be identified as escaping Jews from Germany  when they were asked their name they said in German '  vergessen ' meaning 'forgotten' which the auditory sharpness of Americans recorded as 'Ferguson' though wikipedia gives different version unconnected with this version and also many history text books record it as the derivation of FERGUS- a mythological figure of Ireland/Scotland. There is a website which attempts to give references to some name though

Many years ago Babujee’s student, Gopu’s friend in TVS  and later on Rekha’s boss [Iyer] asked me to do a study of surnames for a German portal for which I did lot of homework and I think I may have the files in some folder. If by any chance I happen to find out I shall share that. In fact it ran into more than 1000 pages.

The Germanic people in Kent in UK indicated Saxons from different directions as Essex, Sussex, Middlesex, Wessex [ nothing to do with sex]. From North there weren’t many so no Norsex.

[1] Hearing Places

Architect Stedman Whitwell thought it illogical and confusing that different towns sometimes have the same name. He suggested assigning a unique name to each location based on its latitude and longitude. He published this table in the New Harmony, Ind., Gazette in 1826:

Insert an S to indicate south latitude and a V for west longitude; omit them for north and east. Thus New Harmony (38°11′N, 87°55′W) would be rechristened Ipba Veinul; New York would be Otke Notive, Washington D.C. Feili Neivul, and Pittsburgh Otfu Veitoup.
What these names lack in poetry they make up in utility: a traveler given the name of a town can immediately infer its location. Unfortunately, Whitwell’s scheme never caught on — and today the United States has 28 Springfields, 29 Clintons, and 30 Franklins.

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