Nation’s Greats: Lot’s in a Name
Nicknames can say so much about a person. While some are merely terms of endearment, others reflect the work and contribution to society of so many great men and women. How many nicknames of great Indians do you know? Take a quick quiz.
- Ajatshatru, or ‘one who has no enemies’: Dr Rajendra Prasad (First President of India)
- ‘Bhanu Singha’ (Pen name meaning ‘Sun Lion’) / Kaviguru & Gurudev: Rabindranath Tagore (Poet and Litterateur)
- Badshah Khan / Frontier Gandhi: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Indian Revolutionary)
- Payyoli Express, after her native village / Golden Girl, for all the medals she’s won: P T Usha (Athlete)
- Nightingale of India: Sarojini Naidu (Poet & Political Activist) and Lata Mangeshkar (Playback Singer)
- Tau or ‘Uncle’: Chaudhury Devi Lal (Former Deputy Prime Minister of India
- Andhra Kesari or ‘Lion of Andhra’: T Prakasam (First Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh)
- Bengal Kesari or ‘Lion of Bengal’: Ashutosh Mukherjee (Educator, Barrister)
- Bihar Vibhuti or ‘Gem of Bihar’: Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha (Architect of Modern Bihar)
- Mahamana (Given by Rabindranath Tagore) / Devata Purush (by Mahatma Gandhi): Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya (Politician, Scholar, Educator
- Sparrow: Major-General Rajinder Singh, for surprising Pakistan soldiers with Indian battle tanks at 11,500 feet during the Battle of Zojila in Ladakh (Indo-Pak War of 1947-48). When he was called an ‘eagle’ for pulling off this feat, Rajinder Singh humbly said, “I am just a sparrow.”
- Water Man of India: Rajendra Singh, for winning the Stockholm Water Prize for his revolutionary work in water conservation
- Metro Man of India: E Sreedharan, the engineer behind India’s first metro service, the Kolkata Metro
- Milkman of India: Verghese Kurien, for initiating India’s Milk Revolution
- Sam The Brave or Sam Bahadur: Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, or just Sam Manekshaw, former Chief of Army Staff. ‘Bahadur’ was a title given to princes and victorious military commanders by Mughal Emperors. The story also goes that Manekshaw was once visiting a battalion and asked an orderly if he knew the name of his chief. The orderly replied, “Sam Bahadur”, which went on to become Manekshaw’s nickname.
Mahatma Gandhi leaving Presidency Jail in Calcutta | Wikimedia Commons
Mahatma Gandhi’s Many Monikers
- The world knows him by many great names but did you know that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was simply ‘Moniya’ to his parents?
- Poet Rabindranath Tagore wasn’t the first to refer to Gandhi as the ‘Mahatma’ but he was the first notable contemporary to use this honorific for the great nationalist leader in 1915. The term ‘Mahatma’ means ‘great soul’.
- Gandhi was first referred to as the ‘Father of the Nation’ by nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose in a broadcast on his Azad Hind Radio in June 1944.
- The term ‘Father of the Nation’ was used by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. He said: “The Father of the Nation is no more. Now that the light has gone out of our lives I do not quite know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader is no more.”
- And perhaps the most affectionate nickname for Gandhi – ‘Bapu’. Like a ‘father’ is, he too was a guiding light and led his ‘family’ to freedom.