Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sachin; What’s in a Name?

Is it Shakespeare who asked:-
“What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”?
Let me think.

Yes indeed, in his everlasting love story, Romeo and Juliet.
Image Courtesy:sports.ndtv.com
Before 1994, Sachin was a rare name in Kerala. It’s a north Indian name, and Keralites did not prefer trying it, ever before. Then something happened. The year between 1994 and 2000 coincided with the rise of a new religion in India, the land of all religions. Much like any other religion, there was a central god figure to this one too. They called this new religion, Cricket, and named their god Sachin.

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Indian culture has never been reluctant to worship human idols. Some critics have dubbed it a profitable industry, and some others a fraud. Every epithet appeared pale in the affinity a vast majority of people exhibited towards these human-gods. God-men and God-women even turned to become political kingmakers. Sachin, too, became a similar god figure in the minds of the people, but with a different nature. When the natures of most of the god-men and god-women in India are tied with Hinduism and Islam, with mythical tales as tributaries to assert their legitimacy. Cricket god Sachin is a mass culture icon with a powerful aura, perhaps many times powerful than the other god-men and a non-voluntary status on the face of this epithet; meaning, Sachin never claimed himself to be “god”.    

Krishnan, Raman, Lakshmanan, Shivan, etc. are names driven from the Hindu mythologies, names of gods and demigods, commonly found in Kerala. In the post-1996-world-cup-India, one more name was added to the existing original inspirations—Sachin.

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Several Sachins can be found among kids born during this period, who are now studying in colleges, for their Under Graduate courses, to say the least. If you look, the primary schools and high schools are abundant with “Sachin”. Thus the new religion, Indian cricket, has contributed a “divine” name to the existing choices. With “Sachin” their first name, this generation of young individuals shouts out to the world they live in, how influential this game has been, not just to them but to their parents’ minds as well.

With the divinity attributed to Sachin, one peculiarity separates him from other holy men: he is the central figure of the market-phenomenon in India, in the post-globalization era. He is never compared with something spiritual, literally, although commentators and critics often use a combo of spiritual and religious terms to describe Sachin. One reason for this ‘divination’ is the modern Indian penchant for idolatry. Coincidentally, this came to be quite handy to the huge ‘cricket bazaar’ that was being set up in the outskirts of the worshipping stadiums.

Image Courtesy: Google
With the rise of Sachin Tendulkar in Indian Cricket, cricket registered a stunning rise in popularity. Even though Indian cricket team had won a world cup in 1983, cricket was never a national passion to the extent it is now. Sachin Tendulkar might have been ten years old when the Indian Cricket Team under Kapil Dev, marched to victory against West Indies at the Lord's Cricket Ground on 25 June 1983. But cricket did not catch fire until Sachin came.

His name is sold in billions and so is his influence. The Shakespearean dictum has to be revalued under these circumstances, much like those many cricketing records Sachin Tendulkar demolished and created under his own name. This indeed authorizes his name as the supreme figure in Indian cricket.
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