Naming Your Child

How important is a name?


How important is a name? It is something that will follow you for the rest of your life, much like your shadow. Most expectant parents mull over baby books, the titles of their forebears and the trendiest tags of the day when considering names for their coming child. This is, at best, a hit and miss method of saddling your child with a name he is expected to live with gratefully for the rest of his life. Sometimes you meet people whose name seems to be in synch with their identity and personality. Other times you are introduced to someone and while politely saying, “Pleased to meet you,” under your breath you are gasping, “You’ve got to be kidding!” And you think he must have been an unwanted pregnancy so they decided to get even with him by giving him that name! When names work, they can be wonderful. When they don’t, they can be disastrous.

Is there another way to name a child that is not so haphazard and unhappily indelible as the method that most people use? If we turn to the more enlightened spiritual culture of ancient India, we find a careful and thoughtful method that is light years ahead of the current popular system of biased and trendy guesswork. In truth, we are aware that most people will reject this idea outright because it is just too much trouble and it is not the custom in the contemporary Western world. But for those thoughtful few parents who truly understand the significance of a name, the energy it contains and the unique vibration it emits, this may be worth your consideration, especially if your focus or desire is to bring enlightened children into the world.

Rule Number One: It is difficult to describe or name someone whom you’ve never met. How is it possible to say something meaningful about someone whom you’ve never laid eyes on? How do you begin to describe her to others? You would not be able to confirm or deny a single trait or quality this stranger possesses. When the baby first appears from the womb, you still know nothing about her or her behavior. At this point, all you can determine is whom she looks like. If she has her father’s nose, you will readily and happily point it out to all who come to see her. But you wouldn’t hastily name her, “Nose Like Dad’s,” now would you? You will need to learn who this little person is and of course, you don’t want to wait a year while you get to know her and leave the little one without a name while you figure out who she is.

People in tune with the more advanced yogic spiritual culture seek the much greater perspective offered by the ancient and enlightened science of Vedic Astrology. When the child is born, the Vedic Astrologer or pundit is called upon to calculate the birth chart or horoscope of the newborn. This is the individual map of this person’s karma indicating gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, as well as good and bad karma, and how it will all unfold throughout the entire lifetime. It is based on a lifespan calculation of 120 years. Having studied this science from the original Sanskrit, applied it extensively and made it available to others for some thirty years, we have found it to be amazingly accurate in determining the qualities and life path of any person from around the world. Traditionally, the pundit or scholar would then consult with the parents and tell them all about the new addition to their family by referring to the birth chart.

Then, in the Vedic tradition, the Name-Giving Ceremony would be planned for the tenth day after the child’s birth or thereabouts. This event officially introduces the child to family, friends, society and the world. This sacred occasion blesses and names the child in the eyes of God and all witnesses present there. Vedic Sanskrit mantras are chanted, prayers are offered, blessings pronounced, and a sacred ritual is performed. This is a happy and joyous occasion. People bring gifts for the newly arrived child, and gifts are also given to the assembled guests by the family. On this occasion, the pundit or astrologer would interpret the birth chart of the child for the benefit of the assembled guests. In a general and non-specific way, the child’s personality, traits and personal talents would be mentioned and he would explain how the child’s name had been determined from the child’s horoscope. In many cases, the parents would make the final choice of the child’s name. But in some cases, it would be left to the pundit to name the child in the most appropriate way and with the greatest resonance possible for that particular soul, having considered all the information available. On rare occasions, we have even seen where the name is given in a dream to one of the parents, usually the mother.

In the Indian tradition, the girl or boy is often given the name of a divine manifestation or quality attributed to God Himself. Or the child is named after a lesser but nonetheless divine higher being, such as a god or goddess. In the Christian tradition, a child is often named after a famous saint. If the child demonstrates specific traits and qualities, then he can be named after God, a lesser god, an archangel or a saint who has embodied those specific characteristics. Many people nowadays give their children names that either have no meaning or names whose meaning they do not know. Even more troubling, in recent times, there is a group of people that predominantly reside in America who make up the names they give their children. These names have no meaning, no history, no tradition, no etymology and no particular distinction. Some appear to be misspelled but that cannot be truly said if they are entirely made up. This diminishes the potency of these names and disconnects them from historical, genealogical or spiritual traditions. In effect, nothing has been handed down. The name has just been “made up.” In some cases, the names are wrongly used or applied. For example, the beautiful Sanskrit word for peace is shanti. Recently, someone named their child ‘Ashanti,’ which, according to Sanskrit grammar, negates the meaning of the word and actually means ‘non-peace’ or ‘disturbance.’ Though many may argue that such things hardly matter, the name creates its own energy band or frequency. So on a subtler plane, its effects will certainly be felt. Names are extremely important because as the Bible says, “In the beginning was the word. And the word was God.

So how is the name determined from the birth chart of the newborn child? In two ways, primarily. Firstly, we determine the fundamental nature and inclination of the person according to her traits and karma. Then we examine the position of the Moon in its particular sign and constellation. This will provide us with a choice of four letters of the alphabet that are recommended to be the first letter of the child’s name. They can be vowels or consonants.

By looking at a birth chart, we can easily determine a person’s nature. We can recognize a gentle and sensitive soul, an active and fiery personality, a natural leader or executive, an artist, a visionary, a powerful speaker, a wealthy entrepreneur, a daredevil, a priest or monk, an inventor or innovator, a famous person, a politician, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a medical doctor, a gifted healer, an architect, a musician, a craftsman, a marketing whiz, a genius, etc.

Determining the fundamental nature and intrinsic qualities of the person is fairly easy for a competent Vedic astrologer. People generally fall into four primary categories according to the Bhagavad-Gita, the Song of God, the ancient Vedic text that delineates the science of yoga. And these four natural divisions of labor can easily be found throughout the world, throughout history, and in all civilizations.

1. teacher/advisor/healer – Provides healing & enlightenment

2. leader/organizer/protector – Provides protection & government

3. merchant/businessman/farmer _ Provides food, clothing, shelter & finance. Produces economy

4. craftsman/tradesman/laborer – Provides service

Generally speaking, the first category of teacher/advisor/healer refers to people who prefer intellectual and spiritual pursuits. The second group, leader/organizer/protector, represents people who may be attracted to politics, advocacy, police work, etc. The third division referred to above as merchant/businessman/farmer is primarily concerned with economic production and financial growth and management. The fourth group, namely craftsman/tradesman/laborer is typically people who are skilled at working with their hands or utilizing their physical ability.

Determining the varna or natural division of labor is the first step. Looking at the strongest planet or planets in the birth chart is one way of selecting the most applicable category. Generally speaking, a strong or well placed Venus or Jupiter in the chart could indicate a teacher/advisor/healer. A strong or well placed Sun or Mars could point to a leader/organizer/protector type. A strong or well placed Mercury or Moon could suggest a merchant/businessman/farmer. A strong or well placed Saturn or Rahu could reveal a craftsman/tradesman/laborer. It must be stressed that this is very general and the entire chart must be carefully scrutinized in order to make the best determination. A person’s family and background must also be factored into the equation. A person may have strengths in more than one varna or category. This is not uncommon.

A male child had the Moon exalted (peak position of power) in the eleventh house of the chart. Since the 11th house is friends, acquaintances, society, influence and power, it was seen that this boy would be popular or influential at some point in his life. In other words, he would be able to favorably affect or impact others. So he was given a Sanskrit name that reflected a quality of God or Vishnu which when translated meant “friend of everyone.” In addition to this, the position of Jupiter in exaltation (peak position of power) plus two planets in Libra indicated his appreciation for peace-making, diplomacy, fairness and justice. As a young man, he was awarded the Gandhi Fellowship scholarship for a Masters Degree in peace and justice studies.

A girl was seen to have Venus, the planet representing the self in her chart, in a special yoga or combination for success in education. Coupled with Mars in Scorpio in its own sign, and Saturn exalted in Libra (peak position of power), she would be inclined to creativity, education or beauty. She was named after goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patron of the arts. She went on to study Architectural Interior Design as well as Vastu or Vedic building design.

A boy was seen to have a particularly strong Jupiter in the birth chart. Mars, the planet representing self in his chart, was placed in the sixth house indicating his exceptional ability to facilitate healing and transformation for others. He was named after a prominent historical guru or teacher. He went on to become a counselor, advisor and healer for thousands around the world.

A girl had a birth chart that indicated a high degree of professional success. She also had a prominently placed Mars in the chart and Venus in its own sign in Libra. This is a special planetary yoga or combination indicating a gifted artist or designer. She was given a name whose resonance and meaning was “the divine feminine as an unstoppable force.” She went on to become a gemologist and jewelry designer, and established her own successful business. There are countless examples of people’s abilities and direction in life.

The Moon is especially important in Vedic astrological practice since it represents the mind of the Cosmic Man or God in his material form of the vast universe and therefore, it represents the mind of each and every individual as well. In addition to the mind, it is the planet that represents the emotions or the heart, the organ that gives and receives love. The Moon’s sign is the sign in which it is placed at birth, such as Capricorn or Gemini, for example. The constellations or star groups are not based on the names and demarcations handed down to us by the Greeks. Rather, they are the older, more comprehensive and effective names, concepts and demarcations determined by the Indian sages whose civilization pre-dated the Greeks by thousands of years.

There are 27 constellations or star groups in the 360 degree zodiac. Each constellation extends for 13 degrees and 20 minutes in length. Each constellation is assigned four letters that can be vowels or consonants. The Moon’s position in a particular sign and constellation is determined by calculating the birth chart of the newborn. For example, the name of a person whose Moon is placed in the sign of Taurus in the constellation of Krittika, the “knife,” is recommended to begin with the letters or sounds of A (Apollo), E (Eaton), U (Uzbekistan) or Ay (Eileen).

The name of a person whose Moon is placed in the sign of Aries in the first constellation of Ashvini, the “horse,” is recommended to begin with the letters or sounds of Ch (Chuck), Che (Chase), Cha (Chavez) or La (Lucky).

The name of a person whose Moon is placed in the sign of Pisces in the last constellation of Revati, the “swimming fish,” is recommended to begin with the letters or sounds of The (Theroux), Tho (Thorough), Cha (Charles) or Chi (Chino).

These then are some examples. While many people may not want to use or to be restricted by such letters or sounds when naming their child, it is, nonetheless, of great value to at least know the nature of the child before you bestow on him the first and perhaps most important gift he will ever receive from you — his name.

Naming your child is a sacred duty and important decision that will last a lifetime. Why not act in harmony with Nature and Karma instead of haphazardly or whimsically tossing names about and hoping one will stick? Why not take advantage of this timeless knowledge that is coming down to us from enlightened beings and sages who actually care about our welfare and act for our greatest benefit?