Editor’s Note: We use the word “Hindu” in quotes for a very good reason. It is not the name of the religion that word describes. Look at any of the great texts that formulate our philosophies, you will never find the word “Hindu”. It was a word given to us by Arabs and Persians. So we use the Sanaatan Dharma name or its English equivalent Eternal Dharma. If this is too big a leap, we suggest “Sindhu” the original name which was converted to “Hindu”. For a more detailed exposition of this thought, read If You Can Pronounce “Sonia”, Why Do You Call US “Hindu”?
This is a very simple appeal.
Every “Hindu” is devoted to the name and the story of Bhagwan Shree Ram. Any one who has the remotest knowledge of Indian culture has heard of Ram. Countless people of Indian origin love the name Ram. Yet, this simple, easy-to-say name continues to be mis-written and mis-pronounced by most, even by those who claim to be advocates of “Hindu”s.
This is mainly due to the influence and practices of the British during their rule in India. The British began the practice of converting revered Indian names – they made Ram into Rama and Ramayan into Ramayana, MahaBharat into MahaBharata. The British did nor dare to convert Mohammed to Mohammeda or Koran to Korana. No, the conversion practice was reserved for “Hindu” names.
Unfortunately, even after 64 years of Independence from British rule, English-speaking Indians continue to use the converted British name Rama for Shree Ram. Sadly, this is just as true of Americans who claim to be advocates of “Hindu” Ideals.
Any one who knows Sanskrut understands the grave insult of using Rama for Ram. The insult comes from the meaning of Rama. The word Rama literally means women, young women, sensual young women. Let us give you two absolutely incontrovertible references. The first reference is about 15 centuries old:
The Poet Bhartrhari (5th century CE) is recognized as one of the greatest poets in Sanskrut history. One of his immortal verses reads:
Sometimes you have a scholarly discussion, sometimes you have a drunken brawl,
Sometimes you hear great music, sometimes you hear sorrowful weeping;
Sometimes you see lovely Rama (young women) (क्वचित रम्या रामा) , sometimes you see old women with shrunken skin (क्वचित अपि जराजर्जर तनु ),
I don’t know whether this life is full of joy or sorrow?
The second reference goes back to the great founding texts of “Hindu” philosophy, the UpaNiSad.
The celebrated Katha-UpaNiSad describes a dialog between Yam and the young student Nachiketas. Yam, the Lord of the Departed, offers Nachiketas several material rewards in lieu of learning the secret of the here-after. These rewards begin with kingdoms, riches, chariots
and end with company of lovely women, the likes of whom no mortal has ever seen.
The key phrase we quote is:
Here are lovely Rama (young women) with their chariots and lutes ( इमा रामा सरथा सतूर्या) – Katha-UpaNiSad (First Valli, Verse 13)
So there can be no doubt whatsoever that the word Rama means young women. So decide for yourself if you wish to write and pronounce the name of Shree Ram as Rama.
This is not a trivial issue. It concerns every child growing up in an English-medium school around the world. It concerns every “Hindu” parent. The reality is every reader will pronounce what he or she reads.
Every English reader will pronounce Carl as a masculine name. Every English reader will pronounce Carla as a feminine name. Similarly, all English readers will pronounce Rama as they pronounce Carla. This is reality. And it is defamation, pure and simple.
One way to address this problem is to write Raam for the man and Raamaa for the women. But this is not visually appealing. So rather than invade our collective sense of visual aesthetics, we appeal to all “Hindu”s to write the great name as Ram and not as the female Rama.
The great Indian culture and the names from that culture originate from Sanskrut, the Language of the Gods. Regrettably, the study of Sanskrut is not as prevalent as it should be. Regrettably, it has become a custom to pronounce a Sanskrut name the way the English pronounce it or the way European-Americans pronounce it. But does that mean “Hindus” should feminize Ram to Rama simply to please British or European-American ears? Not in our opinion.
So in this holy, spiritual week of Diwali, we appeal to all Hindus worldwide to stop using “Rama”, the word that means young sensual women and use the correct Sanskrut name “Ram”.
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