What's In A Name

By Lau Raj Kumar



According to the Vedic Dharma there are sixteen sanskaars. Sanskaars are sacraments that are performed at different stages of one's life for his/her physical, mental and spiritual development. Out of the sixteen sanskaars the fourth one is the naming sacrament called "Naamkaran Sanskaar". This sanskaar takes place on the eleventh or the hundred and first day after the birth depending on the physical health of the mother and the child.

In this ceremony, family members and the educated are invited and a name is chosen for the baby. A lot of thought goes into selecting the name of the child as according to the Vedic philosophy the meaning of the name plays a very significant role in determining the character, temperament and future success of that child. Our western educated people, to a great extent, have rejected this philosophy and started naming their children with fancy sounding names, which very often has no meaning and in some cases has embarrassing meanings. For an example some parents have named their daughters as Vilasni - meaning one who actively seeks sexual pleasures.

The article below was published in the New Zealand Herald on 30th of April 2007 and highlights a recent research that shows that the character and success of a child has a lot to do with the name the child is given. This proves that Vedic philosophies are not wrong but it is us who do not understand the importance of it.

The Article:

Rose is a rose but Alex does maths
Children’s names have a strong influence on their success in life.

By Anushka Asthana

Girls who are given feminine names such as Anna, Emma or Elizabeth are less likely to study mathematics or physics after the age of 16, a study has found.

The finding has spurred a warning to parents to think long and hard when choosing names for their babies.

Both subjects, which are traditionally seen as predominantly male, are far more popular among girls with names such as Abigail, Lauren and Ashley, which have been judged as less feminine in a linguistic test.

The effect is so strong that parents can set twin daughters off on completely different career paths simply calling them Isabella and Alex, names at either end of the spectrum.

A study of 1000 pairs of sisters in the United States found that Alex was twice as likely as her twin to take maths or science at a higher level.
Part of the reason is that names provide a powerful image of a person and influence people’s reactions to them. The study says an Isabella is less likely to study maths because people do not expect her to.

“There are plenty of exceptions but, on average, people treat Isabellas differently from Alexes.” said David Figlio, professor of economics at the University of Florida and the author of the report. “Girls with feminine tames were often typecast”.

Figlio pointed to the controversy that arose over the first talking Barbie’s phrase. “Math is hard”.

“It is a stereotype and girls with particularly feminine names may feel more pressure to avoid technical subjects,” he said. Not that they were any less capable. When the Isabellas, Annas and Elizabeths took on their tougher-named peers in science, they performed just as well.

To carry out the study, to be published in the Journal of Human Resourees, Figilo calculated a linguistic “femininity” score for each name.
It was arrived at by using 1700 letter-and-sound combinations that would be associated as either female or male and matching them against the names on 1.4 million birth certificates. He also showed how harmful giving your child a “chav” or lower’ status name can be.

In a study of 55 000 children, the exam marks of those with “lower- status” names — often spelled in an unusual way or including punctuation — were on average 3 to 5 percentage points lower than siblings with more traditional names.

One of the reasons was teachers had lower expectations of them.

Edyta Ballantyne, a primary school teacher in north London, said she would often be given the names of children in her class before meeting them and admitted it was hard not to form judgments.

In his book, Baby Name Report Cord, psychology professor Albert Mehrabiam, of the University of California at Los Angeles, tested a host of names to see how attractive people found them.

Some names immediately aroused images of success, others of popularity or kindness. On the whole, people judged to have more traditional names such as Rachel and Robert did extremely well. More alternative names scored badly. Breeze was given 16 out of 100, while Christopher received full marks. “A name is part of an impression package,’’ said Mehrabian, “Parents who make bizarre names for their children are ignorant, arrogant or just foolish.”

Figlio said people should be more aware of the power of names.

“In ways we are only beginning to understand, children with different names but the exact same upbringings grow up to have remarkably different life outcomes,” he said.
”If you want to give your child a name that connotes low status, then you need to be aware of the consequences.”

© Copyright 2007 Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of New Zealand (Aotearoa) Inc.