RE: Where does this Subba Rao come from?

Ramarao, Ram (Ram_Ramarao@tri.sbc.com)
Tue, 5 Aug 1997 13:38:15 -0500


>Sri Bapa Rao wrote:
>
>I supsect that traditional names (unlike the "modern" Indian equivalents
>of the American "Chad" or "Blake")  reveal a lot about the geography and 
>religion of the people. Often the names are variants of the names of
>a local deity.
> 
>
>Now that we are on this (literary?) topic, it is once again time to solicit
>definitive answers to the etymology of the name "Bapa Rao." Is this name
>a variant of the more famous "BaapinIDu", "BapiRaju" etc? What is _their_
>etymology? Is this "family" of names peculiar to any particular region?
>(Both the politician BaapinIDu and the writer BaapiRaaju are associated
>with W. Godavari district.) 
>
>Bapa Rao
>
Bapa could be a variant (or apabhramsam) of Papa (for Paaparaayadu,
Aadiseshudu).


Getting back to Subba sabdam, I wonder when it became popular in AP.
When we look back at the traditional names (based on what we have in
kAvyAs, SAsanAs etc.,), few appear to be those of gods - except for the
royal families whose names invariably were related to gods or
descriptive terms for bravery. For example, our poets are: nannayya (I
don't know what this "nanna" refers to though there are many suffixes
with whcih this root appears); nannechoda (again the same root, nanna);
tikkanna, erranna, peddanna, timmanna, potanna, (SrinAdha is an
exception to this; so are some of the Ashta diggajAs), suranna, etc. I
postulate that using gods' names (and their derived forms) was
discouraged by many of the rulers for everyone except themselves! The
exceptions we saw may imply that there were some kings that didn't
insist on this. The kingdoms being extremely small those days, some
people like SrInatha moved out of their "home" kingdoms, making it
feasible for others too to slowly start using similar names.

In fact, the history of rise and fall of gods' names is a fascinating
question. I don't have any sources to go to on this and so here's my
speculation: May be there wasn't much of religious connotation to names
until very recently (None of the Rishis' names are; most of the
characters we see in Ramayana, Bhagavata, Bharata, Puranas, Upanishads
have "strange" names; Adi Sankara is the first one that comes to mind
with a god's name. But then for a while till about 17th century -
Kalidasa, Bhoja, Dandi, Jayadeva, Annamayya, .. - no gods' names again!
I admit that the sample we are looking at is extremely small but I am
not convinced that it is so heavily skewed that it is not even remotely
representative) In that case, I wonder what triggered this explosion of
gods' names. Or was it a gradual process like the one mentioned above?
Obviously, once it starts, given that the same names generally pass on
to skip-generations, it is a monotonically increasing process (this has
reversed in the past 50 years or so). Do some major events in the
history mark the beginning of this transition to gods' names? For
example, was there a huge plague that killed large populations, making
people run to gods to save the new borns?

Has anyone seen any book / thesis on this subject?


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