- Ceremony of Name Giving
[Yudhisthhira said:] "Alas! Is he to
suffer at last this tragic fate? Is this to be the reward for all the
good in store for him? Can the consequence of years of good living
suddenly turn into this calamitous end? It is laid down that those who
die drowning, those who are killed by fall from trees, and those who
die of snake-bite have a bad after-life. These are considered
'inauspicious deaths'; those whose deaths are such, become ghosts and
have to suffer so, it is said. Why should this child end up like that?
O, the horror of it, o, the injustice of the whole thing!", lamented
Yudhisthhira, biting his lips to suppress his sorrow.
The brahmins hastened to
console him. "Mahârâja!", they interceded. "There is no
reason to give way to grief. Such a great man will never meet with such
a tragedy. No. In the horoscope of this child, studying the positions
of the planets, we can clearly notice two happy conjunctions, which
indicate vajra-yoga and bhakti-yoga, both powerful and propitious. Therefore, as
soon as he learns of the curse, he will give up his kingdom as well as
his wife and children and retire to the bank of the holy Bhagirathi
river and surrender himself to the Lord. The great sage S'uka,
son of Vyâsa, will arrive there and initiate him into âtma-jñâna
(self-knowledge) through the recital of the glories of Lord Krishna and
the singing of His praise. Thus, he will spend his last days on the
sacred bank of the Ganga and breathe his last with the adoration of the
Lord. How can such a man meet with any tragedy or calamity? He will not
be born again, for, through bhakti-yoga, he will attain oneness
with the Lord of All, Purushothama." Hearing these words, Yudhisthhira
gave up grief and became happy. He said: "If so, this is no curse; it
is a unique boon!"
The Name -
At this, every one rose. The
brahmins were honored as befitted their learning and austerity. They
were given gems and silken clothes and the king arranged to send them
home. Yudhisthhira and his brothers moved into their palaces, but, they
spent many hours talking about the happenings of the day and of the
fears, luckily removed. They were filled with joy at the turn the
predictions had taken.
The baby grew in the
lying-in-room as the moon in the bright half of the month. Since it was
born as heir to the great empire, after a succession of dire dangers,
every one loved it and guarded it like the apple of the eye, as the
very breath of their lives. Draupadî who was broken by the loss
of her own children, (the Upapândavas), Subhadrâ
who had suffered inconsolable loss in the death of Abhimanyu,
and the Pândava brothers who dreaded that the terrific sorrow of As'vatthâmâ
directed against the posthumous child of Abhimanyu, still in the womb
of Uttarâ, might do the worst and destroy for ever the
Pândava line - all were relieved, nay, were overjoyed when they
saw the child. They were supremely happy; they spent the days doting
over the little lovely baby, whom they brought from the zenana for
it and hold it in their
The child was very bright; it
seemed to watch the lineaments of every one who fondled it or came
before it. The child stared into their faces long and longingly. All
surprised at this strange behavior. Every person who came to it, was
subjected to this searching examination by the child who seemed
determined to trace someone or something in the world into which it was
seeking its father Abhimanyu. Others said: "No, no, the child
is searching for Lord Krishna." Some others opined that the
appeared to be trying to discover some divine brilliance. The fact
remained that the child was examining all for some trait or sign which
it knew already, to recognise some form it had in mind.
'Parîkcha' was the word used by every one for the 'quest' in
which the child was engaged and so, even before the formal naming
ceremony, every one both in the palace and outside it, began referring
to the child as the Parîkchit, 'he who is engaged in
Parîkcha!' That name,
Parîkchit, stayed! From the râja to the ryot, from the
scholar to the boor, from the monarch to the man-in-the-street, every
one addressed the child as Parîkchit or referred to him so. The
fame of the child grew from day to day. It was on every one's lips.
One auspicious day,
Yudhisthhira had the court priest brought before him and he
commissioned him to fix a good day for the ceremony of naming the
child-prince. The priest called together his group of scholars and
astrologers and after consulting the conjunctions of heavenly bodies,
they discovered a day which all of them agreed was a good one for the
event. They also settled at what hour the actual naming had to take
place. Invitations to attend the ceremony were sent to the rulers of
the land and to scholars and pundits as well as prominent citizens. The
king sent his emissaries to invite sages, and personages full of
spiritual wealth. Arjuna went to Lord Krishna and
reverentially prayed that He should shower His grace on the child on
the occasion; Arjuna succeeded in bringing Krishna along when
Krishna arrived, the sages, brahmins, râjas, subordinate
rulers and citizens got ready to receive Him with respectful homage;
the Pândava brothers attired magnificently, waited at the main
gate of the palace to offer Him welcome. When the
chariot of the Lord
was sighted, drums sounded, trumpets pealed mighty welcome, and joyful 'Jais'
the Lord as soon as He alighted; he held Him by the hand and
led Him into the palace, where a high throne was specially placed for
Him. After the Lord was seated, all else occupied their seats according
to their rank and status.
twin-brother of Nakula] went to the
inner apartments and the child was brought on a golden plate,
resplendent as the sun and made more charming by magnificent jewels.
The priests recited mantras, invoking the Gods to bless the
child and confer on him health and happiness.
Sahadeva laid the
child down in the centre of the Court Hall. Maids and chamberlains came
in long lines towards the place where the prince was, holding in their
hands plates of gold full of perfumes and flowers, silks and brocades.
Behind specially fitted curtains, the queens Rukminî,
Draupadî, Subhadrâ and Uttarâ were rejoicing at the
happy scene, watching the gambols of the child. Sahadeva took the child
and placed it on a bed of flowers in the mantap that was erected for
the naming ceremony. But, the child rose on all fours and started
crawling bravely on, in spite of the remonstrances of the maids.
Apparently, the child wanted to proceed somewhere!
The efforts of Sahadeva to
stop its journey proved futile. Yudhisthhira, who was observing its
movements with interest said with a smile: "Sahadeva! Do not stand in
the way. Leave him alone. Let us see what he does." And Sahadeva left
his hold. He allowed the child to move wherever he liked but he took
care to keep his eye always on him lest he fall or hurt himself. He
followed him vigilantly at every step.
The child, who got freedom of
movement, soon made a bee line towards the place where Lord Krishna
was seated, as if He was a long acquaintance whom he was seeking to
meet. The child grasped the Feet of Krishna and pleaded, by his
looks, that he may be taken onto the lap and fondled! The Lord saw his
yearning; He laughed aloud; then, He graciously bent low to lift the
child onto His lap.
Sitting on His lap, the
prince was staring at the Lord's face without even a wink; he did'n
turn his head this way or that or pull at anything with his hands or
make any sound. He just sat and stared. Everyone was amazed at this
behavior, so unlike that of a child. Even Krishna shared in the
feeling that pervaded the Hall.
Turning to Yudhisthhira, Krishna
said: "I did not believe when I was told that this child stared at
everyone who came before him and examined their lineaments. I thought
it was a new explanation given by these priests, to the usual prank and
play of children. Now, this is really a wonder. The fellow has started
examining even Me! Well, I shall test his behavior a little Myself."
Then, the Lord tried to
distract the attention of the child from Himself by placing before him
a variety of toys, and Himself hiding from view. He expected that the
child will soon forget Him. But, his attention was not drawn towards
any other object. He had fixed his eye inexorably on the Lord Himself,
and it was seeking Him and no other. He was trying to move towards the
place where he imagined Krishna was. When His attempts to
transfer the attention of the child from Himself failed, Krishna
declared: "This is no ordinary child. He has won through My tests. So,
the name Parîkchit is the most appropriate one for him. He
up to it!"
At this, the pundits recited
verses indicating their blessings on the child. The brahmins recited
relevant passages from the Vedas. The music of trumpets rent
the air. Women sang auspicious songs. The family preceptor dipped a
nine-gemmed jewel in a golden cup of honey and wrote the name on the
tongue of the child. In the rice grains spread on a golden plate, the
name was written and the rice was then showered on the head of the
child, in token of prosperity and happiness. The naming ceremony was
thus celebrated in grand style. Men and women who attended were given
presents as befitted their rank and they departed. Every one was
talking appreciatively of the wonderful way in which the child sought
out the lap of the Lord. Many praised the steady faith that the child
had already attained.
Yudhisthhira who was puzzled
at the unique behavior of the child approached Vyâsa, the
great sage, to know from him the reason for the strange search and
learn about the consequences of this attitude. Vyâsa said:
"Yudhisthhira! When this child was in the womb, the deadly arrow that As'vatthâmâ
aimed at it in order to destroy it was about to hit its target; Lord Krishna
entered the foetal home and made it safe and saved it from destruction.
This child therefore has been eager to know who had saved him from
within the womb where he lay. He started examining every one to find
out whether he had the same effluence that he saw, while a foetus in
the womb. Today, he saw that Divine Form with all its splendor and so,
he moved straight towards Him and prayed to be taken up and seated on
the lap. This is the explanation for the strange behavior about which
you are curious to know."
Hearing these words of Vyâsa,
Yudhisthhira shed tears of joy and thankfulness.
Overjoyed at the limitless grace of the Lord, he paid Him reverential
contents of this Vahini | previous page | next page
The first image on this
page is a collage
by Anand Aadhar composed
of two vintage images and a picture titled:
'Yantra of Lord Vishnu with Twenty-four Avatâras'
Used with permission.
The third image is also a
collage by Anand Aadhar of a
vintage image of Vishnu and an