All parents wish to give a unique and meaningful name to their child. In India, a Sanskrit name is mostly preferred. Often parents turn to the Internet, which is replete with misinformation on Sanskrit names. Popular name websites too mispresent meaning of many Sanskrit words and sometimes even list names from other languages, presenting them as Sanskrit. Some bestselling books on Sanskrit names also carry such mistakes. Parents are misled by such sources and end up giving a kunama ('a bad name) to their child.
Each Sanskrit sunama-or 'a good name-has a mathematical derivation (vyutpatti) and/or a mystical explanation (nirukti). This work by Sanskrit scholar Nityananda Misra is a wonderful collection of more than 3, 000 sunamas, most of which are rare or unused today. He studied more than 70, 000 names in seventy-seven authentic Sanskrit texts, including seven Vedic sahitas, ten Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, seven ko?as, three grammar works and thirty-eight sahasranamas for this compilation. Each name entry includes the Devanagari and IAST spellings, gender, meaning, and the person or deity to whom the name belongs.
A work of immense dedication and accurate research, this is a must-have for parents seeking unique names for their child.
Nityananda Misra, a scholar of Sanskrit and Hinduism, is an IIM Bangalore graduate and a finance professional based in Mumbai. He is a professional onomastician who provides consultation on Sanskrit names to parents and business owners. He regularly writes commentaries on Sanskrit names on Facebook and Twitter.
Bharata, also known as India, is the land of sunamas or "beautiful names". Perhaps no other language in the world can claim the vast diversity of beautiful names that Sanskrit, India's cultural fountainhead, has. It is not a surprise that the Vedic people had up to four names, as a mantra in the Rgveda-Samhita (8.80.9) tells us. Commenting on the mantra, Acarya Sayana explains that the four names included. a naksatra name (based on the birth constellation or star), a guhya name (a secret name known to only a few people like the parents), a prakasa name (the public name), and a yajniya name (an epithet or title given later in life based on certain achievements). In ancient Bharata, people had several types of names including given names, patronymics, matronymics, gotra names, etc. The avatara Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, was also known as Dasarathi ("son of Dasaratha"), Kausalyeya ("son of Kausalya"), and Raghava ("descendant of Raghu"). The namakarana or naming ceremony was an important rite with various Grhya-Sutras listing elaborate rules and guidelines for naming a child. As an example, most Grhya-Sutras recommended a name with an even number of syllables for a boy and an odd number of syllables for a girl. It was recommended that a name start with a sonant, contain a semi-vowel, and end with a visarga or a long vowel. Naming a child was thus not only an art, but also a science with its own discipline.
Names in ancient Bharata
A name was often based on unique features of the child, circumstances surrounding the birth, or the qualities desired in the child. For example, Kalidasa describes how King Dilipa named his son in the Raghuvamsa (3.21), "(Thinking.) "May this child reach the end of the scriptures and similarly [reach the end of] his enemies,' the king-conversant with meanings named his son Raghu, knowing that the root [of Raghu] means 'to go'." The root of the word raghu is lagh which means "to go" or "to reach". The word raghu (a variant of the word laghu as per the Mahabhasya) literally means "he who moves [swiftly or quickly]." Kalidasa tells us that the name Raghu connoted deep meanings like "he who masters Sastras" and "he who defeats his enemies".
There was a time in Bharata when almost every name was a sunama. Every name had a mathematical vyutpatti (a scientific derivation) or an insightful nirukti or nirvacana (a mystic explanation). This tree of sunamas in Bharata, with its root in the Vedas, fructified with its sweetest fruits in the Itihasa and Purana texts which contain many sahasranamas with one thousand (or 1,008) names of a single deity denoting his or her qualities or acts. These sahasranamas, especially the Visnu-Sahasranama and the Lalita-Sahasranama, are used as sources for baby names even today in traditional Hindu families. The evergreen tree of sunamas is not restricted to Hinduism, but also present in Jainism and Buddhism.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Children’s Books (95)
Brahma Sutras (87)
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