Source of the Surname

I was always curious to know the meaning and source of the surname Kenkre prevalent among Saraswat Brahmins. I could not get reference to this in any book pertaining to Saraswat Community. I came across a word "Kenkarya" in one of the commentaries by Srimat Chandrashekharendra Saraswati (now Brahmibhut). I could not clearly get the reference to this word. But in my opinion Brahmins proficient in Kenkarya may have been identified as "Ken Kaarye" or Kenkre.

Assuming that the word Ken in Kenkarya may be related with Kenopanishad, I went through the Upanishad. This upanishad belongs to the Talavakara Brahmana of the Sama Veda. It has discussed the basic philosophical questions. All these questions begin with the word Ken (translates to by whom), hence the name Kenopanishad.

Wished by whom is the mind directed to fall (on its objects)? Directed by whom does the foremost vital air move? By whom is wished this speech which the people utter? Who is the radiant being that unites the eye and the ear (with their objects)?

The sages have answered these questions in the next mantra.

Because He is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, the vital air of the vital air, and the eye of the eye, the wise, freeing themselves (from the identity with the senses) and renouncing the world, become immortal.

Brahmins engaged in Kenkarya were inquisitive about and were researching about this journey towards immortality (Mahaprayan). Therefore Kenkarya was linked to "Aurdhwa Dehik Kriyakarma" by supreme priest of Kanchi.

The essence of Kenopnishad is seen in the 27th and 28th mantras.

Of this knowledge austerity, self-restraint and action are the feet, the Vedas are all limbs and truth is the abode.
The sage further says:

He who knows this thus, with his sins destroyed, becomes firmly seated in the infinite, blissful and supreme Brahman. He becomes firmly seated (in Brahman).

If our ancestors had strived for the truth and Brahma-Vidya (knowledge of God) through Kenkarya, then we should be proud of our heritage.

By Bholanath Ramchandra Advalpalkar


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