Creative Corner|Jun 23, 2005 4:34 PM| by:

The Name Game

In the beginning, when Adam was still in the garden, (and is that beginning really in the past? Aren’t we still in the beginning and isn’t the garden still around us?) so – in the beginning when Adam discovered things and beings, animals and plants around him, he always referred to them as ‘that’.  Even to himself, about himself.  So communication couldn’t go very far.  It was something like, “That said to that that that shouldn’t eat that.”

Till God, who is a joker (ever see a giraffe or an elephant or a man?) said to Adam, “Give everybody and everything a name!”  So Adam started giving names.  He started by naming himself Adam (red matter) which was quite all right as a joke.  And God laughed.

Then Adam called the first bird God made an archaeopteryx longopennes, and God laughed so much that it hurt.  Of course it didn’t really hurt God who can feel only bliss.  But it hurt Adam that God laughed, for Adam thought the name beautiful and poetic.  Yes, said God, wiping the tears from his beard, it’s all right, go on.

So, Adam continued giving names to that.

A little freshwater shrimp he called rivalogammarus pulex fossarum.  And again God laughed till he had tears in his eyes (metaphorically speaking of course).  There was also a myrmecophaga tridaetiala and a phyrnosoma cornutum and a strongylocentratus baculosa.  And so it went on and on (and there is no end to the naming yet).  Not since God had created the phtirus pubis had he laughed so much.

But then a dismal thing happened.  Adam started to believe the names.  He really believed that a stone was not that but a stone, that a cloud was not that but a cloud.  He even started to think that he was really Adam.  So before things became too dull God was obliged to tell him, “Now look here, don’t take that game of name-giving too seriously.  I am that I am, and you are also that I am, and that trigonosphora meticulosa is also that I am.  Don’t you ever forget it!”

But Adam could not get himself to adopt such a serene attitude and is still convinced that a homo sapiens is sapiens and a vibrio cholerae is something else.  For him the name has become the thing.

Te Ana Vava (Medhananda)

(Medhananda was born in Germany and became a judge of the High Court at Frankfurt.  He then lived in Tahiti for several years. In 1949 he wrote to Sri Aurobindo and joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1952.  He was given the work of Librarian of Sri Aurobindo Library by the Mother.)

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