What’s in a name? Everything.
On May 4th, 2018 my wife gave birth to our second baby girl. We named her Radha.
Very much unlike the birth of our first daughter Jaya, which involved a paddle board, a wedding, and a car flying across the bay bridge at 90 miles an hour, Radha’s birth was what I characterized as “chill.” (My wife wasn’t quite in complete agreement.) Mom was induced at 3:00 PM and baby was in our arms by 4:23 PM. It wasn’t until 10:00 AM the next day did we lock in her name.
When we had Jaya my wife and I pretty easily landed on the name with minimal discussion. Our shared criteria for naming was the name should have deep meaning, Sanskrit roots and be 1st grade proof — meaning the name as was as minimally “butcher-able” by someone who isn’t familiar with an Indian dialect.
With Jaya we started with a blank slate. We relied on our close bond, shared set of values and framework to give her the name Jaya-Devi. Jaya-Devi is an ode to the power of the feminine energy. It is what many Indians say to show respect to the strength inherent in women which powers the universe. In 2016, it seemed like the perfect thing to name a little baby girl.
However as Jaya became older and her personality started to come in, the most miraculous thing began to happen — Jaya seemed to approach life and the world as if she were truly a “Devi” which in Hindi means goddess. Jaya is by no means, soft or docile. She is Mother Nature in her fullest force. Jaya started living her name.
As we found out we were having number two, the process started once again. Armed with this new found insight the challenge seemed daunting. For a baby girl, how could we top the power and salute of the entire feminine energy that powers everything around us?
We went through name after name. Every night, we tested multiple names against our criteria and nothing seemed to stick. We got close with Surya which is a name for the sun god in Hindi (without which there is no life) but it seemed forced. It felt in competition with Jaya. As a believer in abundance theory, this didn’t seem right. There were others, but everything just seemed “Meh.”
Then, the day before Radha was born, something dawned on me. For so many women in the world, being stronger than the boys, being tougher than the boys, being more successful than the boys was simply the moment we’re living in because we as men have created such a crappy place for our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters to live in. An outward display of strength is their only recourse to bring balance back. It is like a giant moment of catharsis for women world-wide.
Yet as I watched Jaya apply all her might to kicking a soccer ball I realized we might be forgetting a critical aspect to women in our society today. While yes, women have the ability to do ANYTHING a man can do, they are uniquely wo-men. There are many things that women can do that men simply cannot. Elegance, grace, beauty and motherhood are all things reserved for women. I wanted a name that celebrated these aspects via their own strength.
Radha was a divine character in Hindu scripture that was the embodiment of this idea. She was known to have a divine love for god that the world had never seen. Her story is one of deep affection, and later immense sacrifice. She sacrificed her love in the name of duty. It is said, her life represents a souls longing to understand the divine.
In Indian temples all around the world, Krishna (one of the many incarnations if God) is always shown with Radha. Even though they never married, some people say her love was the energy which made him god. She became his soul.
It is that strength that I want Radha to understand and come to know. There is immense strength in love. Love is the energy of the universe. It is everything.
And as the saying says, if you’re going to love, love like a woman.
Welcome to this world my beautiful baby girl. We love you more than words can describe, and know you will love the world just the same.