According to Hindus, not only has each letter a numerical value, but alphabets can also be divided into the masculine, feminine and neuter genders. They have also been categorized into the five elementary categories of ether, air, fire, water, and earth.
Certain syllables used in the beginning of a verse are creative, while certain others are annihilative and unfortunate. The entire theory of using certain letters and syllables in a particular order as mantras5 rests on the bed rock of scientific discrimination and classification of the letters and syllables, and the mantras have been constructed on the qualities and basic attributes of each sound. To describe them will take us into highly philosophic and esoteric theories well outside the scope of this book. So what we intend to convey is that the theory of sound vibrations, created by and related to each letter of the alphabet, is found in the earliest Vedic and Sanskrit works, written centuries before the Christian era commenced.
Among some sections of Hindus, the name of the bride is changed after marriage, to be in harmony with the name of the husband. Here, the criterion is that the first letter or syllable of the bride's name should synchronise with that of her husband. Suppose the husband's name is Sunder Lal. The first syllable in the name is Su, (the 'n' denoting merely a nasal sound at the end of the syllable in the Hindi or Devangiri script,) so the wife's name would be changed, say, to Sushama - so that the first syllable Su is the same as that of the husband's.
In certain imperial dynasties and royal houses, where particular names have been found fortunate, the same names are repeated, such as George I or George II, Edward I or Edward II, Man Singh I or Man Singh II and so on. In southern India, the same name is repeated in the third generation. For example, if Anantram has a son named Subramanyam, then Subramanyam's eldest son would again be named Anantram and so on.
That a name has a particular vibration, is recognized by the Jewish community too. When a man is seriously ill, his name is changed to a new one, in the hope that, perhaps, the vibration of the new name may be more favourable and the native may survive.
Among the Sikhs, the name of a newly born child is given by opening the Guru Granth Sahib at random and the first name on the page is given to the child.
Names have great significance. The Hindus have many names for God. 'The Vishnu Sahastra Nama', a holy book of the Hindus, gives one thousand names for God. Another book 'Gopala Sahastra Nama' catalogues another one thousand names. There are other religious books which give thousands of names for the one and the same God. Each name has a particular significance. A particular name is repeated for a particular objective.
What we intend to convey is that all old civilizations had realized that each letter had special vibrations, and the compound potentialities of each word differ according to the permutations and combinations of the letters. There are various methods of ascertaining and adjudging the values, and the method outlined in this chapter is only one of these. We hope the readers will derive the fullest benefit from this secret and sacred science.