Does a New Religion Mean a New Name?

It’s pretty common when someone converts to a religion to take a name that lines up with the new religion’s traditions. Even though Hinduism doesn’t always support the notion of “convert” you can still see a number of non-Indian Hindus who traded names from other traditions for Hindu names. Ram Dass, for example.

You know me as Ambaa, but I am not called that in real life.

I’ve said before that I don’t want to disrespect my parents by rejecting the name they gave me.

On the other hand, I am going through life with a “Christian” name, which doesn’t seem entirely appropriate as a Hindu. It seems like going by a Hindu name would be a way of showing pride in my religion.

Sometimes a guru will give you  a name. I’m not sure if it’s right to select your own name!

What do you think? Should converts adopt a name appropriate to their new religion? Where should they get their name from?


Stay in touch! Like Patheos Hindu on Facebook:

Are You Not Entertained?
Should We Judge a Religion on the Actions of Its Followers?
Why Am I Not Fully Content?
Is There Value in Pain?
About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org Stephanie Ellison

    Please… My Dad was with the Native American Church, as he said, and I never embraced Christianity, as it was too late for me when I first heard about it. I was too strong inside. I instead identify at this time as an Ancient, before there were any Christians, any Hindus, even before anyone had drawn anything of a religious nature, and that came about because of my deafness. They didn’t know until I was seven and a half years old, and it would be another year before I could understand well enough to know what religion is. By then, I was too strong, self-willed, and got off on the wrong foot with a Catholic nanny, of all people. I can still clearly remember what it was like to not know a language, not know anything about religion, even about social rules. I lived without these filters coloring my world, and I access that state of mind every day of my life. Because of this unique delay, it was very difficult to get my life going in the normal sense. I had to catch up with my peers, I felt alone in my lack of religion, and I was hell on two feet because of my frustration with language and late emotion-control development. I was also angry because I felt like all of this wasn’t important. My original state of mind mattered more importantly than all this knowledge I was being given. But I adapted without losing touch with that mind set.

    So, I am not a Christian, and my mindset predates anything out there.

    G’Day, गेस्त

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org Stephanie Ellison

    I received confirmation from my Aunt this morning about her name, Panna Flower. It was given to her by her yoga teacher decades ago, when she was a young woman. It was legally changed to that at that time. She was ridiculed by family for quite some time (even Dad made fun of her name up to his end, equating it with hippies without understanding that tradition’s history). Interesting!

  • Sarah

    I know this is old, but in case it helps… here’s how we approached naming our daughter. (For reference, her dad and I aren’t together anymore; his family is Indian of mixed faiths, some Hindu, some Christian, some agnostic; my family is American and mostly Christian, and I’m… complicated.) Her first name is Hindi, her middle name is American, her last name is her father’s last name (so, Indian.) It was important to me that she have a mixed name, since she has a mixed heritage.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X