When a man with Lord Rama in his name grows up to be Independent India's first terrorist, do we stop naming our children Nathu, Nathmal or Ram?
When an emperor named Asoka (Ashoka) murders his 99 step-brothers, throws them into Patna's Agam Kuan, has a torture chamber that entitles him to the sobriquet of Chand (fierce), kills at least one lakh people, decapitates thousands in the battle of Kalinga, does it stop us from naming every Tom, Dick and Harry after him?
Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his wife Kareena Kapoor with their newly born baby boy Taimur at their residence in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI
When Sikander (Alexander), who sacks several bastions and massacred many people in the Indian sub-continent, does it stop us from making his name a synonym for bravery and fortitude, the inspiration behind a BJP parliamentarian's son?
So, what's the big deal if Kareena and Saif Ali Khan decide to name their Taimur, a name linked to a ferocious west Asian conqueror who also did what Nathuram, Ashoka and Sikander did — kill, conquer, wage wars?
The hysteria among some right-wing trolls over Saifeena's choice of the name for their newborn is typical of selective reading of history, deep-seated bigotry and typical rage over the fact that raiders from the West could scythe through this land of incapable warriors and kings whenever they wanted, made them fall to their knees at will. The chest-thumping trolls just can't accept that most of the kings who ruled ancient and medieval India did not have the ability to protect their empires, win wars or stand up to raiders from the west. So, they take out this frustration on an infant, in a different age and time.
Great work, people. After fighting with Pakistan, Kashmiris and then anti-nationals at home, you have stooped to the level of a new-born! Now that really takes some serious kind of mental regression. In a civilised society, people would be expected to at least follow established rules of decency. Nobody drags a new-born child into their politics of hate and bigotry. What parents call their child is nobody's business. But, not in the country we call Mahaan. Here such pettiness is paraded in the name nationalism, patriotism and Hindutva. Perhaps we don't even get what may be Saif and Kareena's may be an ode to Langa Tyaagi, the unforgettable character from a film both of them starred in.
A young man from an Uzbek tribe rises from being a thief to one of the biggest conquerors of his era, in spite of physical disabilities. He leads his men to victories from India in the east to the tip of Europe in the west. He establishes an empire from Tibet to south Russia, a regime that is both feared (obviously by the craven) and respected by peers in Spain and parts of Europe. He wages wars against Hindus, Christians and Muslims from Baghdad to Turkey and massacres their armies — like Ashoka did in the battle of Kalinga — with equal ferocity. His descendant Babar, another young man synonymous with exceptional leadership skills, bravery and fortitude, establishes a dynasty that rules India for more than 300 years. What is wrong if parents want their child named after such a man?
Seriously, who would you prefer as a role model? Perhaps the Rajput king Man Singh, who surrendered to the Mughals, struck matrimonial alliances to save their empires, became leader of Akbar's armies that took on fellow-Rajputs like Rana Pratap. Our pride allows us to have a road named after him in New Delhi but the petty Indian ego gets hurt when two film stars name their son after a great warrior, leader, and a winner.
And, by the way, did Taimur not defeat a Mahmud Shah Tughlaq, a descendant of another dynasty that is believed to have put India under 1,200 years of ghulami? Oh wait, wasn't an invader defeating a Sultan whose ancestors ended the reign of Hindu kings in India supposed to be cause celebre?
Taimur, in case we missed it, is a common name in Turkey, in spite of being known as the nemesis of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, though he ravaged and razed down cities across Central Asia, in almost every country he conquered parents have been proudly naming their children after Taimur. In Uzbekistan, he is considered a hero, the architect of Samarkand, a polyglot, patron of art and culture. So, what is so special about us Indians that make us wage a Twitter jihad if a child answers to a name thousands across the world do?
Finally, the entire argument that a name should be rejected because of its history is flawed. If the criteria were to be followed across the world, there would have been no Marie (Antoinette) in France, no Ivans (the Terrible) in the UK and Josephs (Stalins) in Europe, Stalins in DMK and Sikander's in the saffron parivar.
As the Bard said: What's in a name? Whom we call Nathu Ram may not turn out to be a Maryada Purshuttom. No?