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Why were Dalits Assigned Bad Names? Brahminical Scripture Manusmriti Has Answer

Manusmriti not only laid down the rules prohibiting untouchables from getting the education, punishing untouchables and women for not following the rules of Manusmriti, it also defined how community divided into the castes should name their children.

I have many times wondered why names of Dalits (especially Dalits of my parents’ generation) are bad and sometimes derogatory such as Manga (Begging/Beggar), Jalah (one who doesn’t know anything, kind of retarded), Kachra (Rubbish) (remember famous movie Lagan’s Dalit character’s name?) etc. I am sure older generation can surely bring worse names than what I have mentioned here and were assigned to Dalits.

I also remember my father telling me that Dalits were not allowed to name their kids’ good names as were so-called upper castes. Still, you can hear backlash news if some Dalit names his/her kid “differently” than what society accepts. Many a time, Dalits are even killed for having the same name as of some so-called upper caste person.

I always knew there must be something in the Brahminical scriptures that prohibits Dalits from having good names. Today, I stumbled upon the following verses from the Manusmriti, law book of Hindus that guidelines how society should have names/surnames and no wonder Brahminical society followed –

II – 31. Let (the first part of) a brahmin’s (denote) something auspicious, a kshatriya’s name be connected with power and a vaishya’s with wealth, but a Shudra’s (express something) contemptible.

II-32. (The second part of) a brahmin’s (name) shall be (a word) implying happiness, of a kshatriya’s (word) implying protection, of a Vaishya’s (a term) expressive of thriving, and of a shudra’s (an expression) denoting service.

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