Spiritual Names


The reader may note that, with only a few exceptions, the names of those who produce and contribute to BACK TO GODHEAD are, to say the least, not Anglo-Saxon. The reason for this is that they are spiritual names, awarded to his disciples by the Spiritual Master at initiation.

Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is described in the Vedic Scriptures as having innumerable Names, each of Which is fully as powerful as God Himself. Being transcendental to material Nature, and non-dual, God and His Names are not separable. Thus the Name of God is God, and God is His Name. This is the spiritual significance of the Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By singing God’s Names, one comes into actual direct contact with God, and in this way one’s consciousness can be purified of its false material associations.

Aside from Krishna—Who is the Original Godhead—the Lord has many, many other Names, some of Which are found in Vedic literature, such as Madhusudana, Narayana, Damodar, Vishnu, and so on. When a student takes formal initiation under the guidance of a Spiritual Master, the latter gives him a Name of the Lord, followed by the word “das”—the servant of.

Spiritual initiation means the actual beginning of spiritual life—real life—and so the spiritual name awarded at that time is the real name of the pupil from that moment onward.

Names of very great devotees and saints are also sometimes awarded, such as Rayarama, who was a disciple of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Madhavendra, who was Lord Chaitanya’s grand-Spiritual Master. This is, of course, quite like the Christian tradition of naming children after the saints at baptism, except that spiritual initiation must be chosen freely by the pupil—normally after a period of preliminary study with the Guru. And spiritual initiation must be asked for by the pupil, never vice versa.

It should be noted that these Names of God are not Indian, though they are known and revered particularly in that country. The Lord appeared many times in India, but He is no more a product or property of India than is the Sun of the East, where it first appears. Lord Jesus Christ, in the same sense, can not be held as a Judaean god or culture figure.

Nor does the acceptance of the spiritual name imply Indianization on the part of the pupil. The process of spiritual realization entails the rejection of all material and bodily designations such as nationalism, sectarian religious faith, sex, race, or social status. The Names of Krishna, being transcendental and sublime, have nothing whatever to do with locality or era.

The word “brahmachary,” signifying a knower or pursuant of Brahman, the Absolute, is given to denote an unmarried student living a regulated, celibate life of full service to the Spiritual Master. “Adhikary” denotes a married man. And the words “devi dasi” denote women, either married or not.

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