All About a Spiritual Name
The Vedic tradition and texts from ancient times have laid down an exquisite Vedic ritual called Upanayanam. It is a fire ceremony through which students are ordained into sacred study for the benefit of there their own being and ultimately for the purpose of evolution of collective consciousness and upliftment of all beings. This ritual has been in existence since the time of the Vedas and is still commonly practiced commonly all over India.
I have ordained my gurukulam students. too. This What does ordaining mean? It means that students, after participating in a ceremony, become official members of a “wisdom family” and thereby become each other’s spiritual brothers and sisters. This family has come together for the explicit purpose of transformative education of Adwaita Vedanta integrated with its allied sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda, and also for the creation of humanitarian leaders of change.
Belonging to a wisdom family or becoming an intrinsic member of the gurukulam provides emotional and social anchoring and also benefits the students from the process of group evolution and group support.
Belonging to this family does not mean there is any change to the original religious status of the student. It merely means that the student has now vowed in front of the sacred fire that he or she will be a dedicated student and asks that may all forces of nature may bless him or her in studying.
At the time of the fire ritual, the Guru also gives the student a new name. This name has special significance. It is their name as a Dvija – twice born - Seeker of the True Knowledge, and hence, every time it is used, the right vibrations are activated (so it is understood). After the fire ceremony, it is considered that the student is twice born (dwija), the second time through the fire of educational journey into a new lifetime worth of celebrating personally and using the amazing knowledge, awakening health and consciousness, in the service of humanity.
So while the student’s common name has their “past” attached to it, the new name is like a brand new canvas in which the wiser, informed and educated present and future will be embedded into (in the form of subtle vibrations, or samskaaras).
Thus, the fire ceremony is not a concrete event but a symbolic process signifying, supporting and underlining the student’s deepest Sankalpas (intentions) to embrace transformative education, for benefit of self and society. When a student goes through the ritual, he or she invariably draws closer to him or her, the processes of education and its agents, the experiences, insights, texts, sages and the teachers. In doing so, heightened vibrations are activated in aid of the educational journey through the mantras and the invoking of divine powers that support the student.
There are no other tangible benefits to the initiation except the activation of spiritual benefits and vibrations.
However, the ritual as laid down by tradition, gets utmost respect for its spiritual impact on a given student’s life inside a gurukulam, and hence, it is sought by students who understand the significance of the fire ritual and its spiritual benefits; and is also therefore suggested to students by a teacher like myself.