How Do You Choose A Name For Your Child?

Sadhguru looks at how children were named in Indian culture and tradition.


Sadhguru looks at how children were named in Indian culture and tradition. He explains the scientific basis behind the choices, and how sound can influence the human system. Therefore, an appropriate combination of sounds was chosen, according to the child and the family’s situation.

Questioner: Pranam Sadhguru. What is the importance of naming a baby based on the time of birth and place of birth?

Sadhguru: Is it born?

Questioner: Yes about a month ago.

Sadhguru: Okay.

Questioner: I have tried three times Sadhguru.

Sadhguru: I am sorry?

Questioner: I have tried three times to get an answer for this, once in Calcutta, once in Bangalore, and now in Isha Yoga Center. (Laughter)

Sadhguru: Okay. Then I think we can wait. (Laughter) The Sanskrit alphabet comes from a certain understanding of creation itself, because the language was not created for communication. The language is not a made-up language for the sake of communication. It is a language that people deducted from the existence. It is a language that evolved out of observation not out of imagination. In many ways the sounds that you utter, and the forms that you use these sounds to refer to, are connected. This is what a mantra means. A mantra means a sound, a pure sound. (Somebody coughs) There are too many Aam aadmis here. (Clears Throat) Okay, let me also make my presence felt. (Laughter) You know Duryodhana did this and he got into trouble. (Clears Throat)

A mantra means a sound, a pure sound. A yantra means a corresponding form. To understand this, if you know something about physics, at least in high school if you studied physics, you definitely… has at least a chapter, two pages on sound. If you feed a sound into an oscilloscope, a sound measuring instrument, depending upon its frequency, amplitude and other dimensions of the sound, it will give out a specific form every time. So a sound has a form attached to it. Similarly a form has a sound attached to it. So when you look at a sound… (Waits for response) You’re not saying anything. When you look at a sound… you… you’re just becoming a dumb spiritual group. (Laughter) Yes, you can look at a sound. If… when you look at a sound, because hearing… human hearing happens only within a very limited frequency of sounds. It’s a very small range. There is a way to look at a sound. This dimension of perception in yoga we call this ritambhara – people may be named as Ritambhara – Ritambhara Pragna means you are able to see the sound not just hear it. There’re many many sounds here which you cannot hear, but you are able to see the sound, you are able to feel the sound. For example, the cobra is stone deaf but it is able to feel every sound because its whole underbelly is on the ground, feeling everything. It has literally got its ear to the ground.

If you… if you observe… if I say this too much imagination may happen, so I am hesitating. (Laughs) This has been a huge problem that people on the spiritual path start hearing all kinds of things. So when people come and tell me “I am hearing this, I am hearing that” I say “Just go, you need treatment” (Laughter) but it is not always so. If you become meditative in a certain way, suddenly the frequency range in which you are hearing can get altered and you can start hearing something else that nobody else hears. It’s very much possible. Now I am getting into a dangerous zone. All these years I have avoided this. Now immediately there’ll be a whole bunch of nutcases who start hearing things tonight. (Laughter) So tomorrow morning if somebody tells you, “I was hearing something” you know what’s the problem with them. (Laughter)

So if you see a sound carefully and understand the patterns of the sound you will see it is always associated with a certain form. There are lots of funny things happening in this sphere because it is such a subtle science. If one becomes… comes to a state of Ritambhara Pragna, then the reverberation of that place becomes a pattern and if you fine-tune it will become a sound. You have heard the Nada Brahma song – a phenomenal thing happened there at that moment and it’s happening all the time. It just takes somebody to listen, that’s all. Right now if you bring a transistor radio here and tune it to a certain frequency, it will start singing. No, a transistor radio cannot sing, the song is already in the air. The transistor is only converting a frequency… frequency mode which you’re unable to perceive into a mode that you are able to perceive. A transistor cannot sing. A television cannot – leave the video part of it, even the audio part of it, it cannot do. It is just that it is transmitting it from one dimension to another, from one frequency to another frequency.

There are tremendous noises happening, both in nature and in the modern world of course. These reverberations are strong and impact people’s lives. In many ways Dhyanalinga is reverberating one way means, it has a certain sound of its own. The mountain has a sound of its own. Every pebble has a sound of its own. Every form including human body has. So the reason why so much kneading to this human body – every day in the morning I think when you do your Surya Namaskar you wonder, “Is this really needed?” (Laughter) You will see an Indian classical musician will spend hours – he would have already tuned the instrument and brought it but he will again sit on the stage and spend minutes and minutes. Every time he goes on tuning because he’s fine-tuned his hearing in such a way the smallest deviation he will notice. Most of the audience will not notice – that’s different – but he will notice and he’s trying to get it because getting it right is so important not just to cause melody but to cause reverberations and experience in people.

To transform people’s lives you have to create the right kind of sound. There is a whole training in what is called as Nada Yoga just to modulate the voice in such a way that if you just utter a sound, it must transform the situation around you. This is a very subtle aspect. “How can I change my voice?” Everybody can change their voice if they do the necessary sadhana for it. So everyday morning kneading, kneading, kneading the body with asana and Surya Namaskar and whatever, is just to fine-tune it such a way if it sits here it generates the right kind of reverberation.

Now when a child is born, depending upon the geometric situation of the solar system – there is also a way of considering the larger universe but that is too complex – at least considering the geometric situation in the solar system, people decide that this sound would be best for somebody who is born at this time on this day. This has a certain scientific basis but there is a certain leeway because Sanskrit alphabet has fifty-four alphabets. These alphabets can be broken into a few hundred minor sounds. It’s very complex to name people through those minor sounds. When it comes to renaming them in case they take brahmacharya or sanyas, when we are renaming them we take little more care – not by birth but by looking at certain aspects of who they are, and how they take to the initiation, accordingly we will adjust the name so that that name or that sound will match that, not the meaning. Meaning is irrelevant because meaning you can make it up.

If I say a tree, all of you agree this is (Pointing at a tree) the tree. Well, if all of us agree we can make this (Pointing at a column) the tree. Language, in terms of meaning is not important. Language in terms of sound is very important. Right now we are speaking English language which has a… a very limited phonetic range. If you speak any of these Indian languages the phonetic… phonetic range is so vast because they are all extracts from… they are all watered down versions of Sanskrit language. So this whole science of sound and a relationship with a particular form and time, is a certain way of facilitating a certain possibility. You must understand all these things come from the fundamental that the only goal, the only and only goal for people who are born in this country for many thousands of years has been mukti. Everything else is secondary – your business is secondary, your family is secondary, your marriage is secondary, your wealth is secondary, your pleasures are secondary, your education is secondary – the only and only goal is mukti. To fulfill that you do whatever on the way but everything is only to fulfill that. Because the culture was set like this, they went into all these aspects, otherwise it’s not so relevant.

Now we must name your child in such a way that every time you call that name, something within him should loosen up. But if you name him Anirudh – he will go either outside the country or even in the country now if you go to Bangalore – they will call you Andy, (Laughter) okay? (Laughs) If you name him as Janak, they will call Jack. (Laughter) So we don’t know how they’re going to rename him. It will happen.

It is important to a certain extent. If you are in pursuit of liberation, the name that you utter… the sound that you utter becomes important. Because in Indian societies a lot more care was taken to name the male child rather than the female child because – not because… this is not a sexist bias – because you have to live with that guy. (Laughter) The girl is somebody’s problem. (Laughter) Because he is going to be around till you die. Now when you are dying, if you want to call your son, you call him Shiva – tch, nice. If he is Sam, what to do? (Laughter) So the parents are concerned, we will be going on… because he himself may not use his own name often but we will have to utter this name again and again; what works for the geometry of the family. With a girl they don’t know what to name her because they do not still know who she will marry.

So usually when the girl got married they used to change the name at the wedding. You know this? Till about twenty-five years ago for most women they changed the names at the wedding looking at the husband’s name, looking at the characteristics of his whatever, celestial geometry they would change the name to suit. Now that is considered derogatory. “Why should I change my name?” Not necessary. Because this has come… because everything has become exploitative, because of that resistance will come for everything. If it is conducted in a proper manner everybody would accept. When it’s not conducted in a fair and proper manner then it becomes a problem. So always naming the male child was an important process because you have to live with that fellow. He will not… these days they go away, it’s okay (Laughter) but at that time they would be with you till you die. So it was important that the name that you utter fits into the geometric equation within the family. (Laughs) So you don’t have to stalk me to another town. (Speaking to the questioner) (Laughter)

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  • Isha Blog Moderator

    Naming ceremony (Naama Karanam) is performed at the Linga Bhairavi. Please contact for details.