Recently many of you have asked me how I decided on my children’s names and the meaning behind those names. It was very important to me to give my children meaningful names and fortunately for me, my husband gave me full freedom over choosing all three of our children’s names. Some of you had asked why I didn’t choose modern names or why I chose long names that are hard to pronounce. I happily chose Hindu/Tamil names because I feel that it is necessary for my children know, love, and appreciate their roots. As a child, I was often too embarrassed to correct my teachers when they butchered my name, even when they asked if they had pronounced it correctly. As a young adult I came to realize my wrong and started embracing my name for what it was and what it meant. My children’s names are special to them because it ties them to the land their father, grandparents, and ancestors were born. I often overhear Akshaya and Udayan politely help others pronounce their names and it makes me really proud.
I named my daughter Akshaya Shakthi. Although I didn’t plan on choosing a first and middle name, it worked out to be that way because I was in love with both names and couldn’t choose between the two. Akshaya comes from the Sanskrit word Akshay meaning “indestructible.” Shakthi is one form of Goddess Durga and the word Shakthi translates to “energy/power” which made perfect sense for my little girl who was very active in utero. In Hinduism, Durga is the goddess of power and strength and those that worship Durga are said to be blessed with strength and courage. I have been a Goddess Durga devotee since my years as a young teenager, and I always knew that if I had a daughter I would name her after the Goddess. It was quite important to me to give my daughter a strong name so that if she faces challenges due to her gender, her name would stand as a constant reminder of the fact that nothing can and will stop her.
My second child and eldest son, is named Udayan Karthik. The word Udayan translates to “to rise” in Sanskrit and it is also the short form of my dad’s name Uthayakumar. Everyone that knows me knows that I’m a daddy’s girl and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted my son to carry a version of my dad’s name in his name. It seemed like it was meant to be when I found out my son was due on my dad’s birthday (although he decided make his appearance exactly a week earlier). I was quite lucky because my husband whole-heartedly supported my decision to name our son after my dad who continues to be a very important figure in all of our lives. Karthik is another name of the Hindu God Murugan. I became a Lord Murugan devotee when I turned 18 years old and I have been observing the Skanda Shasti fast for the past nine years including the years that I was pregnant with my boys. My late great-grandfather, late grandfather, uncle, and brother are all named after Lord Murugan. I continued this tradition from my mom’s side and named my son Karthik which translates to “one that bestows happiness and courage”. My little Karthik definitely brought with him a lot of courage as only a few months after his birth, I was diagnosed with Lupus.
My third baby is named Achyuthan Vishnu. I always dreamt of having a big family but because of my ongoing treatment for Lupus and having suffered a serious Lupus flare (unknown at the time) during my pregnancy with Karthik, my husband was against the idea of having more children. However, once I finished my treatment and my health starting looking better, we decided to try for a third child before the age gap between the children became too much. During the three year treatment for Lupus, I had begun to worship Lord Vishnu so naturally I decided on naming my baby boy after Lord Vishnu. In Hinduism, Vishnu is known as the preserver and protector and He is said to protect those who show true devotion. I had a high-risk pregnancy with baby Vishnu and we were constantly afraid of loosing him but when he thrived instead, Achyuthan seemed like the perfect name. Achyuthan, another name for Lord Vishnu, translates to “immortal” in Sanskrit.
All three children have three syllabels in their first names and two syllabels in their middle name (this was by no means coincidence). In combination with their last name, which is four syllabels, their full names sound complete. In Hinduism a lot of emphasis is put on sound so I felt that it would be nice for my children to share similar-sounding names. Just as any expecting or new parent would, I put a lot of thought into naming my children and you’d be surprised how perfectly their names match their personalities.
I hope I have answered all your questions but if I haven’t let me know in the comments below!
–Modern Day Brown Mom
Feature Image: NamNEe Photography