Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Will rose by any other name smell as sweet?

“Names, like other things, nowadays are being synthesized,” commented my friend. We were discussing the way people are christening their children at present. I felt he was right up to a great extent.

When I was in school, at least three Sunils would have left their seats if the teacher had shouted in the class, ‘Sunil, stand up and get out.” At least two Amits would have stood up if the teacher had said,“Amit, take your notebook.” Things were more or less the same when in the evening I played cricket with the boys who lived in my neighbourhood. If I had shouted, “Anil take the catch,” at least three Anils, irrespective of their fielding positions would have rushed towards the ball.

It was similar with the girls as well. One Sunita, one Anita and one Mamta studied with me when I was in class ninth. One Sunita, one Anita and one Mamta were in the class tenth in the same year.

Recently, I went to a public school to collect the names of students of a couple of classes for a research project. I was surprised to find not even one boy had the name Anil, Sunil, Amit or Vijay. No girl was Sunita, Anita or Mamta. The names I am mentioning are or should I say were, very common in north India.

The name Vijay was common even in the Hindi movies of the seventies and eighties. Amitabh Bachchan was Vijay in most of his movies. The name Vijay perhaps exuded or meant righteousness, bravery and love. In case Amitabh Bachchan was not Vijay, he was either Amit or Ravi.

In the public school I visited, the boys instead had names Aryan, Aarav, Prince, Rayan, Shubham and Kartik (I think there is at least one Kartik in every class in every public school, at least in north India). On the other hand, the girls were Pakhi, Khushi, Hariyali, Pari and Suhana or Suhani.

A few months back a classmate of mine settled in Australia became the father of a boy. He broke the news to the other classmates on Facebook. He was flooded with congratulatory messages. He posted the pictures of the baby a couple of days later. Everybody again commented how sweet the baby was. Most of my classmates were eager to suggest a name for the baby. They suggested but could not go beyond Prince, Soham and Aryan. My friend settled for Soham. (I wonder whether those who had suggested Soham are aware of its meaning. Though one word, Soham is a Sanskrit hymn mean ‘I am that I am’. The word is chanted mentally while meditating).

So was Shakespeare right in saying - "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Do names change or become more fashionable or less fashionable with age and time? Will the names like Anil, Sunil, Vijay, Sunita and Anita will become defunct one day? Getting back to the friend who had suggested that names nowadays are being synthesised - he has decided to name his week-old daughter Gungun.


  1. Hi Rohit
    I remember I also wrote on somewot similar theme when I started blogging.

    Being a teacher for quite sometime I know that there are 2 Aryans in each class..on an average :-)and some really interesting names hv come up.

    Will keep visiting.

  2. This naming thing has been going around in circles. I think, Gungun's generation will come up with Anil,..../ Anita,.... for their kids :)

  3. the bard got it wrong, when he said what's in a name. My name despite being the most common in the south has not been spared either in the south or in the north.. It is all in a name.

  4. you write beautifully. happy new year.