Sringeri Week: The Guru Knows My Name!

Sringeri Week: The Guru Knows My Name! February 11, 2015

A big change is coming up in my life!

When we arrived at Sringeri (location of my guru, His Holiness Sri Bharati Tirtha) some of the people who were helping coordinate our stay called me Ambaa. It must have been my new friend Sundar who told them about my Hindu name. In real life only one or two people call me that.

I’ve debated internally for years about my name and whether I should officially change it. After all, it is pretty standard practice when converting to any religion to take on a name that matches it. But I’ve always before concluded no. [This post has a good summery of my fears about changing my name: How To Become a Hindu (Chapter Eight)]

It has always stayed in the back of my mind though. Recently one of my friends at bhajan group (I’ve been a regular there for two years now!) found out about my Hindu name and he thought it would be great for me to go by that as it would be easier for everyone to remember and pronounce, etc.

And during our stay in Sringeri being called by my Hindu name felt great. It felt right.

Then there was the moment when we went up for our first darshan with the guru (“seeing” the guru) and my dad and I went up together and were introduced. My name was given as Ambaa and His Holiness lit up. He smiled with such delight that I thought in that moment “that is all the answer I need.”

Because of all the steps involved and also because I had a ten year Indian visa in my maiden name, I have not yet changed to my married name. Now I plan to start that process and change my first name officially as well. I don’t expect people to switch to calling me Ambaa, but it will be good to have it on my official documents and ID. And if I start using Ambaa on my personal FB or my email, etc. you will know why from this post!



Edited to Add: I didn’t realize that I didn’t make it clear where the name Ambaa comes from for me. It was something I was called in Sanskrit class when I was 11. A little more about it here:

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  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    Wow ! ….Hiii Ambaa

  • Wow, Ambaa! This is a big step. In the renaissance faire world, we have a similar name culture, except we have names like Dwarf, Jumpy, Cap’n Biff, Elven, Rummy, etc., and I often don’t know their real names. These names have to be earned. They are not names you give to yourself. It must be given to you.

    By the way, it was cool that I was able to read your badge in the photo without looking up the Devanagari guide!

    • Ambaa

      Very cool that you could read it!

    • Ambaa

      Oh and I guess I didn’t make it clear where this name came from. It was one that I went by in Sanskrit classes when I was 11!

  • I suppose there are many ways of pronouncing that name, too. I can imagine a stress on the baa. Am-Baa. Or the first syllable Am. Doesn’t it mean limb?

    • Ambaa

      Actually, it means “mother” and it is another name for the Goddess Parvati! The emphasis is slightly on the first syllable.

    • Madhu K Agnihotri

      it is a natural call made by many animals to call mother.I think mainly picked by Cows like nature call .. Amma-means mother in dravidian languages Ambaa is Goddess Parvatii

  • Meenakshi

    So happy for you!! I have just started the same process! We were married in August, but delayed my name change due to residency requirements after moving. Since we just found out we’re expecting our 1st child, I feel like now is the best time to legally take on my married last name, as well as my Hindu name. I’m a little annoyed at what appears to be the process for changing a first name in my state though–public announcement in the paper, paying fees to/filing with/attending court.

    • Ambaa

      We have the same annoying requirements. What is the point of a newspaper announcement? Does anyone read the newspaper anymore? A little behind the times!

      It’s so much effort. First getting to the county court house, then changing ssn, then passport, then driver’s license, then bank accounts, then credit cards, then getting a new Indian visa. It exhausts me just thinking about it!

      Which is why I still haven’t done it and I got married the August before this past August! lol.

      Congrats on your pregnancy too! It does seem like the perfect time to work on the name thing!