"What does your name mean?"
I know this is one question that all of you have encountered often in your life. And just why not? A person’s name is his identity and it’s always so interesting for others to know how much someone’s personality matches or doesn’t match with his/her name (in the later case to have a personal joke in private later on). So I was no exception either. Quite a few times, I was asked what my name Prosenjeet means. Well, to be frank I never had a clear idea until recently. Long back someone old and respected by my family had announced that it means ‘king of kings’. Naturally, a young child’s mind would be so excited to think that his name just doesn’t mean a king but one who rules over other kings. But then came Internet in our lives and when someone asked me the same question again I felt why not get assured if that man was really right. I didn’t really want to be a butt of joke. Besides, by whatever knowledge of Hindi or Bengali I had acquired I could not reason out the formation of the word Prosenjeet to mean “king of kings”
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“Prasenjit (Sanskrit Prasenajit) originates from the Pali name Pasenadi. Pasenadi was a king of the Kosala kingdom and was a close aid of Gautama Buddha. He is known for his sixteen dreams each of which were interpreted by Buddha as future predictions”
Imagine my surprise. Literally stupefied, I was like ‘Wow! So I have a name that dates back to the age of Lord Buddha?? 6th century BC?? Should I not be considered as an archaeological heritage? A room in the National museum, please? But till now I am unable to find if there is any meaning for the Pali word Pasenadi. So its more like "I know where it came from but don't know who it is" !
But really, does all this have any importance at all? We all have came across Shakespeare’s famous quote from Romeo and Juliet “What’s in a name?” and “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. TRUE. A person’s character or ability is not defined by what his name is. But just for the sake of that question I stated at the very beginning that we start being substantially bothered with names. You would rarely find someone who is not sensitive about their name and are very particular in getting it properly pronounced and spelled by others.
The names that our parents give us, we have to live with them forever. Yes, no doubt we can always change them with an affidavit. But once you come to be known by a certain name it’s very difficult to shrug it off. Often people end up having names that either sound funny or on just a little pondering turn into laughing stock. Tell me, how does one justify the name Avishkar which actually means 'discovery'? I am pretty scared to imagine that the doctors, at the time of his delivery, came out of the labor room shouting “Eureka Eureka!!”. Very few of you might be familiar with the Indian cricketer by this same name who going by fast bowling standards, was nowhere near to a discovery in the cricketing world.
This is how things get really interesting when we relate individuals with the meaning of their names. I am not going into the distastefully racial Hardik and Sukhdeep kind of pun which are mainly based on mispronunciations. But it’s the meaning of a few names that become really amusing when viewed in the light of the persons bearing them. Now there is one Rakhi , the quintessential drama queen, that no sister in her right frame of mind would want her brother to be tied up with (yup, those whom you saw on her Swayamvar were either insane or too desperate to be on national television). Then there is one not-so-efficient Rahul whose very name means ‘efficient’. However, he matches the famous father’s son tag connected with this name as Rahul was actually Gautam Buddha’s son’s name too. But before you start looking for all the inefficient Rahuls let me remind you, there are only a few batsmen who are as efficient as a Rahul Dravid.
Well, there was this Bolloywood actor from yesteryear's (and still to be seen laughing on comedy shows) who was confused between comedy and serious acting much like his misleading name 'cause despite being lean and tall he had the name Chunky which means something “thick and short” !!! (or may be its Chunkey but then it would mean nothing at all except rhyming with monkey)
The name Osama means lion-like and the dreaded terrorist in his entire lifetime followed the ‘hiding in caves’ part of a lion. The name Ajmal means “the handsome one”. But that’s not a reason enough for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks accused Kasab to be still alive. By the way, Salman 'Bodyguard' Khan justifies his name quite a bit (at least in his Dhishum Dhishum films) as it means "protector or conqueror".
Similarly, you will find the most timid of individuals named Andrew (a warrior) or the most atheist ones being named John (God is gracious). Michael Jackson was one who did exceptional justice (though unintentionally) to his first name Michael which means “one who is like God”, considering his god-like stature among his millions of fans all over the world. But then again, you might find a Michael down the street who drowns himself in alcohol, is abusive and spends most nights in the police lock-up.
Likewise, if you look around yourself, you will find plenty of such examples. And yet you will find some interesting ones where the names have no meanings at all and are in fact just supposedly cute names given by their doting parents. I am not sure if you have heard about some aboriginal tribes where names are actually clicking sounds. Dare anyone ask them their meanings!!
Nevertheless, a name is something by which we recognize a person. It is this very name that is made famous or infamous by one’s deeds. Some people just do exceptionally well to make brand-names of their names. Whatever, might be the meaning of such a name and no matter how mismatched the name is to the bearer’s appearance and personality it just stands out in the crowd and anyone who is even remotely associated with such names feel a sense of pride and social recognition.
So, the next time I hear Shakespeare saying “What’s in a name?” I might just end up saying -
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“A lot, Sir...
There’s a lot in a name”
There’s a lot in a name”