Why Spiritual Names?


What is a reason behind changing the name when one is walking on the spiritual path? The true seeker is not attached to his/her name anyway.

—Aparna, USA


Dear Aparna,

It is not necessary to change one’s name when one has dedicated himself or herself to a spiritual path. However, you may have noticed that many Westerners do (myself included).

The Sanskrit names that most of us at Ananda have taken or received from Swami Kriyananda have deep meaning for us. There are several reasons for our decision to change our names.

One is that we feel that embarking on the spiritual path in earnest is like being re-born in a way – like taking on a new identity.

But more important is this: one’s name is generally heard, spoken, or written over and over each day. Words, names and sounds carry vibrations. The Sanskrit language especially has deep spiritual vibrations. So hearing or thinking that vibration often helps you to identify with the quality it represents.

You are right that we all need to move into a state of non-attachment to all things, including our bodies, personalities, and names (be it a spiritual name or a regular birth name).

But until that happens perfectly, it would be inconvenient for people to have to say, “Hey, you!” to get your attention. So a name is simply a convenience. As long as we have to have one, then many people prefer to have it represent something meaningful to them spiritually.

I think your beautiful name means something very meaningful, too, yes?