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What's in my name?

By way of introduction, I will try to remember how I got my name, and the many ways it has come to mean to me. Besides the handle provided by my parents, I also respond with a smile to bro, son, cuz, uncle and jabriq.

We look forward in Bali: it is the parents who are called after their firstborn and not the children who are named after their parents. Thus I do not have a family name. Having already lost his name with the birth of his firstborn, with input from his father, my father named me Kadek Krishna Adidharma.

Kadek, as is Made, or Nengah, cames from similar root words of ‘madya’ or ‘tengah’, being ‘the one in the middle’. And indeed, I am blessed to be the one in the middle. My sister Putu Trishna Aryani preceded me by 3 years and 7 months, and my brother Komang Dhananjaya Wishnuputra followed 2 years and 2 weeks later.

Krishna is the most popular name of one of the Avatars in Hindhu mythology: the reincarnation of Wishnu, the Protector and Sustainer of life, come to observe - not actively partake in - the first great battle where mankind fights over land and property. Note that Krishna places himself in the middle: initially as mediator and later as advisor. I believe (but I may be wrong) that in an ancient tongue the root of the word Krishna means black, the colour of Wishnu, which to the Balinese is the colour of life.

Adidharma was the name of the first school setup by an ‘Indonesian’ to teach fellow Indonesians. (The concept of the Indonesian nation was something that grew with dissatisfaction with Dutch colonial presence, strengthened by a strong youth movement culminating in 1928.) Why Ki Hajar Dewantara named his school thus, or why my grandfather also chose it, I do not know, but in my travels I have heard many yarns on its depth of symbolism. I will tell you my favorite:

I must tell you that the accuracy of the following story is dubious in nature, both due to my tiredness at the time, having just returned from walking in the foothills of the Himalayas, and pleasant intoxication with red wine and a certain tender herb I smoked with my illustrious hosts. Moreover, I would evoke, due to the inebriation of my hostess, who offered to read my future with her cards, whose memory I hold dear and shall leave unnamed.

Adidharma, she said, is a compound word. Adi is a diminutive, meaning small or half (In Balinese, it is also 'younger sibling', often used as an endearment). Dharma is the truth, the way, the universe, or God. Adidharma, then, is literally ‘half truth’ or ’small way’, or whatever combination of the above you hazard to come up with.

At this point her eyes glazed over, she threw her head back and her black hair became a curtain from which her face emerged, saying: “It is an allegory of the human thought.”

“We always think we are only walking the small path, that we only know half the truth. But how can the truth, in the pure sense of the word, be anything other than whole? How can we only walk half a path? We are either on it, or off it. And by our choice we are bound to be on some path or another. We choose it, so for the time, it must be the right one for us; else we’d choose to continue on another.”

So there you have it - I, the one in the middle, observer, mediator, bear a name full of stories.


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Last updated Saturday 2 June 2007 at 12:05 PM (+8 GMT)

© Kadek Krishna Adidharma (2007). Providing you link back to www.adidharma.net, you may copy up to 1,200 words without written permission.