Re: Where does this Subba Rao come from?

Bapa Rao (brao@tis.com)
Tue, 5 Aug 1997 12:16:35 -0700 (PDT)


> have "strange" names; Adi Sankara is the first one that comes to mind

Is Sankara his given name, or the name assumed after taking sanyaasaasramam?
In any case, Kerala nambUdri brahmins are supposed to be sanskritized 9th/10th
century immigrants from the North, so their names may not be typical
of "native" Kerala names.

...

> 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

[massive unbaked conjecture follows]

There may have been multiple factors. 

For one, how about the bhakti movement taking root among the general 
population?  In A.P. this could have stretched out all the way to the 
18th century, given the phases of religious conflicts and political 
upheavals that occupied much of early and middle medieval periods. Potana
wrote Bhagavatam in the 14th century (?) but how long was it before it
was actually widely read?
 
Naming children after deities of major pilgrimage centers 
caught on only in this century. As also the caamtaaDu names and 
the Rao suffix are probably quite modern--probably in imitation of the 
"royal" Zamindari ways. The wholesale trend towards Sanskrit names may 
have been an import from Bengal, the original home of Zamindari. I 
imagine "family deity" may also have been an aristocratic affectation; 
it makes more sense to think of village deities for common people. 
(anyone know whether villages themselves had a tradition of being named
for particular local gods and goddesses?)
As corroboration, we see more Sanskritized "aristocratic" names in circars
where zamindari was prevalent and some scope for upward mobility present,
as compared to telangana where there was hardly any middle class, and little
prospect of upward mobility.

Also, it is possible that a lot of secular-appearing names could have 
been actually the names of "minor" village deities, who only had Telugu and 
not Sanskrit names. There were (and are) literally thousands of such deities
all over AP. During medieval times perhaps there wasn't this clear-cut
distinction between the Sanskritized and vernacular popular cultures,
so we cannot rule out that names like pOtana, akkanna, maadanna, etc. are
actually Gods and Goddesses' names. (For names like nannaya and timmana,
perhaps we have to look to kannada etymologies.)

At least one dynasty of rulers, viz Reddys had names that are more
Telugu than Sanskrit, e.g., vemaa Reddy, anapOtaa reDDy, prOlaya (pOlayya)
etc.

Bapa Rao