Mitron.. yeh robot yahi banayenge!*
Just kidding. We named the robot Mitra due to its deep historic and cultural significance.
We were a bit disappointed that other Indian robotics companies were naming their robots after western names and wanted to have something Indian. And still be a familiar enough name across different cultures. The name Mitra is quite familiar whether you are in Europe or Middle East or South Asia. The Persian variant of the name has “h”
Mitra spans multiple religions. In Vedas it is a key deity that is often invoked in yajnas. Ancient Rome had this religion of Mithraism and Zoroastrians had Mitra as a key deity: Mithra. It was also an important deity in the religion of Manichaeism. In Buddhism, Maitreya is supposed to be the future Buddha who would propagate Dharma. One God many religions.
Mitra and Varuna form a great pair protecting the Ṛta [eternal order, law]. We named our autonomous car project [that we first started] as Varuna – the god of transportation and the robot as Mitra – the god of trust and contracts.
For building a brand it was good as it was short, easily pronounceable and didn’t have any other popular brand or household product with the name.
But, most importantly the inspiration came from a research paper wrote by a German historian that I read a few years ago. He was disproving the “pagan” elements of Vedic culture and went on with many details.
One of the key things he talks about was the god Mitra. Other cultures might have gods for natural elements, but in Vedic culture there were gods for contracts and meetings. Mitra is a god of trust, honesty and treaties. Only a culture that was dealing with large scale coordination with judiciary and diplomacy would have a dedicated god for that subject. In that sense, Mitra is a key hero to understand our culture.
A lot of what we know about that period of Indian civilization comes from the landmark Suppiluliuma (Hittite) -Shattiwaza (Mitanni) Treaty that is invoked in the name of Mitra, Varuna and other gods. [You can also read this: The ‘Aryan’ Gods of the Mitanni Treaties].
In the present day, the name means friendship in Indian languages and that is again a big plus – the robot has to be man’s companion.
In summary, Mitra was chosen because:
- It means friendship in contemporary Indian languages and a robot has to be a friend.
- It sounds Indian, but yet quite familiar across different cultures of the globe.
- It is gender neutral – we can keep it a boy or a girl.
- It is region neutral – in India you cannot associate a particular state/geography with this term.
- It is invoked in multiple religions and has a lot of historic significance. Great for a multicultural, cosmopolitan setting.
- It is short, easy pronounceable and with no leading product using it now. Makes it perfect for branding.
EDIT: People asked what happened to the Varuna above and that is in cold storage due to a small accident.