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Names of many Indians are derived from names of various Hindu Gods. Even here on Hinduism.SE, we have many users with such names, for example, Keshav Srinivasan, Krishna, Ram, Hari, Damodaran, Shiva, etc.

People belonging to other religions also give their God's name to people, but I assume this was started and widely used by Hindus before other religions.

So, why do Hindus name their people using Gods' names? Is there any specific reason behind this?

  • It is interesting to note that it is mostly in the Kali yuga that this is prevalent. In previous yugas, it is evident through epic etc that they had different names. – Vid L Jul 31 '14 at 3:03
  • @LVS: Right,this is the Kaliyuga's only advantage, by chanting God's name one can reach the ultimate level. See this question related to the different method of devotion in different yugas. – user11 Jul 31 '14 at 16:18
  • yes, I was trying to point that out subtly :) – Vid L Jul 31 '14 at 19:36
  • It is because there is no difference between Lord and his names. And it is common practice in India so that through this people may chant names of God even if unknowingly. Though this was the intended purpose. – Wisdom Sep 15 '14 at 15:33
  • Maybe Hindus want to have names that are no less awesome than Gods or maybe they just lack the originality though to be fair no one else in the world is anymore "original" in coming up with names. – user2427 Feb 3 '15 at 14:35
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One of the primary reasons is the sin destroying effects the Lord's names. The inspiration for doing this can be linked to the story of Ajamila as described in the Bhagavatam:

Ajamila was a pious brahmana. But once he saw a prostitute engaged with a man in the forest and since then he got infatuated. He fell down from his religious activities and went so low as to marry the prostitute herself. He abandoned spiritual activities and engaged in sinful ones. In course of time he begot ten sons from his wife and he had named the youngest one who he loved very much as Narayana. At the time of his death when the minions of Yama came, out of fear he repeatedly called his youngest son with his name Narayana. As he took the name of the Lord, messengers of Vishnu came and realised him from the fetters of Yama. Vishnu dootas discussed with the Yama dootas why he shouldn't be punished. Hearing this conversation, Ajamila could know his mistakes and got back his life. Then he spent rest of his life practising devotion to the Lord and finally went to Vishnu's abode after his death.

So even the holy name of the Lord is powerful enough to redeem people of their sins. Hence, Yama said to his messengers the importance of chanting Lord's name as below:

Therefore it should be understood that one is easily relieved from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name of the Lord and chanting of His qualities and activities. This is the only process recommended for relief from sinful reactions. Even if one chants the holy name of the Lord with improper pronunciation, he will achieve relief from material bondage if he chants without offenses. Ajāmila, for example, was extremely sinful, but while dying he merely chanted the holy name, and although calling his son, he achieved complete liberation because he remembered the name of Nārāyaṇa. [SB - 6.3.24]

My dear servants, please bring to me only those sinful persons who do not use their tongues to chant the holy name and qualities of Kṛṣṇa, whose hearts do not remember the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa even once, and whose heads do not bow down even once before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Send me those who do not perform their duties toward Viṣṇu, which are the only duties in human life. Please bring me all such fools and rascals. [SB - 6.3.29]

Due to this effect of God's name, people in India generally name their children such.

Reference:
Shrimad Bhagavatam, Canto 6, Chapters 1-3

  • 1
    Well, the story of Ajamila is certainly a good reason to name people after gods (although it's an even better reason to just chant the names of gods without going through such rigmarole), but in any case people were doing so long before the birth of Ajamila. So that can't be the origin of the practice. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 17 '14 at 15:47
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I guess this practice was started mainly to take care of the following:

  • To ensure that you utter the name of God through daily social communications in case you don't have time to go to temples and conduct formal worship to the God.
  • The names of Gods when uttered frequently in social life might have a long lasting cleansing and soothing effect on ones sub-conscious mind which in turn may play a pivotal role in the development of ones conscious mind (character), e.g. a person named Gopal may (in his sub-conscious) identify himself with the divine personality of God Krishna and hence refrain from any ill activities in his conscious life.
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First of all, God doesn't have any names. The one which is nameless that is the absolute reality.

People give various names to nameless, various forms to formless because it is difficult for them to worship the infinite.

When we start giving names to the infinite, he becomes finite and God cannot be finite. Its just a process that at the highest stage brings us to that infinite, formless, nameless ever shining being that pervades each and everything.

It doesn't matter if you call him Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, you can even call him your own username A_runningMind. He is the one in every soul, he is the soul of your soul. Call him with whatever name you want, he doesn't mind but have faith. That is the most important thing.

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The primary reason for naming people with names of God is to ensure that we always remember God.

People usually take an effort to think about God only when they have a dedicated time to pray, which is not numerous in Hindu culture. So by naming people with names of Gods, everyone are forced to call out that name. And this is considered to be equal to that of a prayer.

So this can also be understood that by calling out a Hindu God name of a person, even if you are not a Hindu, you are praying to that deity.

  • I think your last pasrt of the answer has wrong interpretation. Calling out someone's name is not akin praying to that deity. It is just like remembering God through myriad of his names. – Wisdom Sep 15 '14 at 15:34
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This is just people's thought that keeping God's name will make the person follow the righteous path and even let other thinks he/she is a good person.

Nobody keeps the names which imprints bad on that person such as Ravana, Narakasura, kansa and the list goes on.

Many people's also think to keep some names which imprints good on them and they are not God names such as Sudheer, Suber, Susheel etc.

In my opinion, most people select a good name for their child from the good names they know which are mostly God names.

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