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Thread: How do you get a Hindu name?

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    How do you get a Hindu name?

    How does one get a name? I have heard that I can be called Bhakta Ken.. But how do I get a "real" name?

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Vannakkam Trisilex: I'm not sure what the question is. What do you mean by real?

    I legally changed my name in 1980 from my western birth name to my new Hindu name. There are two aspects. The one is just a legal thing. Its not much different than getting a marriage certificate. In Canada we call the government department the department of Vital Statistics. Any person can legally change their name for any reason. There is a small fee, a public notice given in an official government document, and a waiting period. People have lots of reasons. For example right after WW2, a lot of people with the surname Hitler changed it. Other ethnic people with hard to pronounce names or names that sound vulgar in English also changed it. Still others, like me, change their names for religious purposes. It is most common in converts to Islam, like Muhammed Ali or Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

    This brings up the other aspect ... religion. To get a Hindu name, you can consult with Hindu friends, or look up a 'List of Hindu names' on here. If you consult an astrologer, he might give you names that are suitable to your nakshatra. Of course this is not necessary. It depends on the individual. I personally believe in ethical conversion, which basically means proving your sincerity to all communities involved. It would mean some years of study so you know what you're getting into. But there are a bunch of different takes on this, the most common being its not necessary. There are also quite a few people who have two names.. one for religion, and one for the law. I'm not sure nowadays, but I believe ISKCON used to be like this. (Maybe someone from ISKCON can answer this for trisilex) We have a young man at our temple who goes by Nadaraja while there, but his birth name and working legal name is Greg something.

    Religiously, you would have to find a priest that would be willing to give you your new name. The ceremony most commonly used is the namakarana samskara, or name giving ceremony, the same one used for babies. I have no idea how the mass conversions back to Hinduism are done, with respect to names, if they've actually been changed to Christian names.

    When I chose my name (Murugan) it reflected my sense of Hindu sect, as well as comfort in the west. Hope this helps.


    Aum Namasivaya
    Last edited by Eastern Mind; 11 January 2010 at 02:02 PM.

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    If you get initiated in ISKCON (or by the Gaudiya Math), then your guru will give you a name. Generally (but not always) it will start with the same letter as your first name.

    If you convert to Hinduism by a namakarana samskara, you can choose your own name. However, as Eastern Mind said, you need to get a priest to perform the name-giving ceremony.

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottMalaysia View Post
    If you get initiated in ISKCON (or by the Gaudiya Math), then your guru will give you a name. Generally (but not always) it will start with the same letter as your first name.
    Vannakkam Scott: By first name, you mean your original Christian name?
    So is this guru-given name then made legal and put on passports, driver's licences, etc.? Just curious.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam Scott: By first name, you mean your original Christian name?
    So is this guru-given name then made legal and put on passports, driver's licences, etc.? Just curious.

    Aum Namasivaya
    In many other lineages the guru will also give you a name. Some say that you should also make this your legal name also. The Nandinatha Sampradaya believe that you should change your name legally to show acceptance Hinduism. In the book "How to become a (better) Hindu" they say:

    The change of name, and using it under all circumstances, and this means all circumstances, is an important sign of religious sincerity to the Hindu community. It shows the willingness of the newcomer to stand up and be counted as a Hindu. So significant is the change of name to the Hindu community that an adoptive with a Hindu name on his passport can gain entry to many temples which categorically deny entrance to Westerners on the grounds that they are assumed to be non-Hindus. Proceed with confidence. Be a hundred-percenter. Don't sit on the fence. It is risky to walk down the middle of the road. Stand up boldly and declare who you are.

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Chris: Yes, so true. I am living proof and stand here testifying for the part about the temples. The name on my passport garnered instant respect in most hotels I checked into too. Unless of course they were run by Christians. In that case they just gave me a strange puzzled look. There are some small hazards though, albeit minor. I get unsolicited telemarketing calls about cheap long distant calls to India. They think I must have relatives in India. I sometimes can strike up a conversation. The other day I talked to some guy from Coimbatore for about five minutes. But yes, instant respect when you introduce yourself to a newcomer here.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Namaste!
    I was also looking for a hindu/spiritual name and found the name Raman (from a list with some hindu names for the period of time I was born I guess). Could I use it for spiritual reasons? Or if I should find a priest performing a Namakarana Samskara maybe one day could I suggest this name because I like Rama and the name Raman.

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    I got my Hindu name from a dream in which Krishna Himself kept calling me "Govinda das", so I adopted it as my Hindu name.
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

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    Re: How do you get a Hindu name?

    Namaste all.

    From a gaudiya-vaishnava perspective(however I suppose that this is true for the other four vaishnava sampradays as well) it the only the guru the one who can give you a spiritual name.

    I don't agree at all with Subramuniyaswami(the shivaite author of the book quoted by Chris) when he says that you have change legally your name to be a true hindu.

    Anyway every hindu should follow the instructions of his own guru.

    Since gaudiya-vaishnava gurus don't ask their disciples to legally change their name,I won't when I will get my spiritual name

    Pranama,
    Orlando.

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