The Week, October 2013
The birth of a child in any family always gives rise to a flurry of discussion and debate for any parents. When the time came, I had already decided to call my elder son Amaan, which in Urdu means 'most lovable' and also 'tranquility'. It is different from Aman which means 'Peace'. For our second child we had also thought of a name in advance but one day, a very respected Moulvi from a famous shrine in Najafgarh, visited our humble house and suggested the name Ayaan. It has a lovely meaning- 'Gift of God'. Again there are variations of Ayaan with single A and even an O. When it came the turn of Ayaan and his wife, Neema, to name their children, we did not want to give our opinion or suggestion and left it to them to decide the names. We are very happy with the names they thought of for their twins, Zohaan and Abeer.

In the olden days, people used to name their children after gods and goddesses like Shiva, Ram, Krishna, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Parvati, Sita, or after religious figures like Mohammad, Ali, Hussain, Moses,John etc. It is a wonderful thought, that one is invoking blessings each time one remembers or calls their children’s' name. At times Children can be addressed by their parents in a very casual manner, even with abusive language or intonation, until such time that they grow up to be well adjusted adults. People do not see the disrespect in giving these names to their children. I personally feel such sacred names should treated with care and always be called with reverence and love.

In our culture, whether we name our children after gods, emotions or qualities or by the looks or behaviour of their child after birth, every name given to a child is like a blessing by the parents for their children to face the world with. Sometimes we decide the names of our children are by naming them after persons and personalities that we feel a strong connection with. I remember once I met the famous hair designer Habib Saheb. He mentioned that when his wife was expecting they happened to be watching my concert on TV and when their son was born they called him Amjad.

We often come across people who have changed their name for various reasons. In fact my name given by my parents was different. My present name was given to me by a holy man who use to come to our residence in Gwalior when I was a child. He was fond of music and used to always be singing or humming a popular tune, "Madeena na dekha tau kuch bhi na dekha". In the world of cinema there are many actors who changed their names and spellings to grow faster or to appear more accessible to the public. The greatest example is Yusuf Khan who became the legendary Dilip Kumar. In our Indian classical music field, the great vocalist, Sivaputra Siddharamayya Komkalimath became famous as the legendary Kumar Gandharv.

Nowadays, there is a fad to change ones name or its spelling at the instance of astrologers and numerologists who seem to be doing good business. I think Destiny-Taqdeer-Muqaddar plays important role in one’s life but hard work and discipline play an even more important part. Whatever your name, one has to become a Karmayogi to succeed in any profession today. Particularly in Music, as even talent needs constant nurturing.

If you see our Rag Ragini system, Out of the hundreds of Ragas, very few are popular or well known, such as Bhairavi, Darbari, Malkauns, Yaman, Khamaj, Pilu . Similarly there are various kinds of Instruments but very few like Flute, Sitar, Sarod and Santoor are more popular. Similarly, certain names at certain times tend to become more popular than others. I am happy to say that I have come across many Amjad’s, Zakir’s and Bhimsen’s in recent times. But this sometimes results in some funny or unfortunate experiences. In the field of classical music, there are numerous instances of artistes bearing the same name. In Pakistan, there were so many Ghulam Ali-s’, that an additional term had to be added to the names to understand who exactly the performer was. That’s how we came to know of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb. Poor Chhote Ghulam Ali somehow never got recognition and hence remained ‘Chhota’ and was eventually forgotten! In present times, we are all familiar with Ghulam Ali, the renowned Ghazal singer who is a multidimensional genius. So, on that note; the next time you go for a music concert, do take the trouble to find out who the performer actually is. It may not be the person or the instrument you expect it to be!