Why does one get a new name when one becomes a disciple — what does it mean?
At Ananda we don’t receive new names when we become disciples, but only if and when we ask for one.
Your name is important, since you use it all the time, and hear people refer to you by your name. Imagine, just for fun, that your parents had given you the name "Stupid." You would always be saying, "I’m Stupid," or people would be saying, "Hi, Stupid.' It would not be a positive experience.
But imagine your name means "Bliss," as mine does. So, whenever i introduce myself or am called "Anandi," I’m reminded of my highest nature.
At Ananda Swami Kriyananda meditates on a person, if he knows them well, and waits until God gives him a name for them. If he doesn’t know the person well, he might ask them to suggest some names that appeal to them, and he meditates to tune in and see if the vibration of that name suits them. Most of the names he has given are Sanskrit, but sometimes they are Biblical or inspiring in another way, such as "Rose."
Swamiji has told us that our name is both a quality that is innate in us, but also one we can work on or focus on. So it is both a blessing and a sort of "assignment."
There are long-time members of Ananda who maintain their birth name, often because it is Biblical or because it suits them especially well.
Other spiritual paths may give names when a person becomes a disciple, and i assume they would do it for the same reason.
Joy to you,