My name is Uma. Naam tho suna hoga?! I know, too filmy. Trust me! I struggle to watch most movies. With the one that made the “Naam tho suna hoga” phrase famous, I couldn’t even last a few seconds into the trailer.
Without much ado, let’s get on to the topic! Even though I was named Uma, I go by Sri Devi Om today. Singer Prince changed his name into a symbol. Perhaps, even he wouldn’t have faced as much opposition as I did for giving myself a different identity. I’ve gotten all sorts of questions and vibes. The common ones are –
- How can you add Om to the end if Swami hasn’t given you Deeksha?
- Are you ashamed of yourself and your name?
- You have gone insane. (This one is my favorite. Whoever implied this spoke the truth!)
Honestly, I don’t feel the need to explain anything to anyone. Yet, I’m going to share the reason for ‘Sri Devi Om’. Why? There’s something I want my readers to ponder upon.
Before we get there, let me share a chapter from my life. Do you know who inspired my name ‘Uma’? A temple priest who had nothing whatsoever to do with my family. I know, it sounds weird.
When I was born, my paternal grandmom took a coconut to a Devi temple. As per tradition, the temple priest broke the coconut in half to offer it to the Divine. When he did that, he found a smaller coconut hiding inside the bigger one. He was super excited, but he also turned nutty. After all, coconuts are nuts, and they can have such an effect on anyone.
The priest exclaimed, “Miracle! Miracle! I’ve never seen anything like this in all these years of my priestly experience! Devi herself has arrived at your house. You must name her after the Devi of this temple – Uma.”
I’m sure my grandmom must’ve given the priest ample Dakshina after that. For, she hurried home in a frenzy and went straight to my mom. It was my mother’s style to avoid confrontations with her mother-in-law. She tactfully redirected my hyper-enthusiastic grandmom to my father.
My father has this knack for dodging difficult situations effortlessly. He had decided the name ‘Sri Lekha’ for me. Still, he didn’t reveal it to his mom. He temporarily escaped saying, “It’s a tradition that my dad sends in a name suggestion from the Lalita Sahasranamam. Let’s see then.”
Now, my grandfather was traveling at that time. This old lady (fine, mid-aged lady) writing this post was born when mail was the primary source of communication. All filmy stories must have a twist. The postal service delay brought in that much-needed plot change!
My grandfather’s mail didn’t reach in time, and my grandmom jumped on the chance. She said, “Your father hasn’t sent in anything. The priest has suggested a name. If he says, it is like Devi herself suggesting it.”
She had used the deadly Brahma-Astra weapon! In orthodox families, we may even ignore the word of the Divine but never the suggestions of the priests. Therefore, this woman here was named “Uma”.
A few days later, my grandfather’s post arrived. He had chosen the name “Sri Lalita” for me. Glad they didn’t pick that name. If not, my husband would’ve had a huge issue. Both his mother and wife would’ve been Lalita. As is, most men lose their hair in the confusions between their mother and wife. Imagine both having the same name!
Besides, in Chennai, where I spent a significant portion of my childhood, Uma was a common noun, not a proper noun. Go to any classroom and call for Uma. You will have an entire choir standing up to meet you. How can I not love such a “unique” name? That would be a crime.
Anyway, after reading my story, the next time someone asks you – What’s in a name? Please tell them – an entire family drama worth making it into the daily soaps!
Why on earth would someone change such an eventful name? Here:
This is what I want you all to ponder upon. When someone asks you – who are you? What do you say? Mostly, your name. That’s the attachment we have to our names. At the end of the day, isn’t everything just a tag? Our name is also merely a tag!
My parents and the world called me Uma. And, I started believing that I was ‘Uma’. I started functioning in this world as ‘Uma’. To truly go beyond conditioning, I felt it was important to let all tags and identities behind.
I’m still Uma formally, but I have renounced my name because I was too attached to it. Today, I just go by Sri Devi. To me, Sri Devi is not a name but a reference to the Divine that resides in me and everyone out there.
Other than the above, there are a few more reasons:
- The name that intuitively appeared during my Vision of the Divine was Sri. To me, that name was given by the Divine.
- Everything I write is by the grace of the Divine Mother. So, it made sense to give her credit by writing in her name – Sri Devi.
- When someone reads my posts, I desired for them to think of Mother Divine instead of me. Hence, I decided to suppress my name.
- As a person, I have changed a great deal. Today, I feel distant from Uma and closer to the Divine Mother. So, I decided to take on her name.
- There’s a deceased actress named Sri Devi. She took up all website domain names. Out of many combinations that I tried, Sri Devi Om was the only one available. If “Om Swami” got that name due to domain name availability, how could I be left behind?!
Finally, regarding the topic of Deeksha:
Swami had promised me Deeksha long back. It’s now at least a couple of years since. At that time, Swami had said, “The next time we meet, I will give you Deeksha.”
A few days after he promised me Deeksha, I felt my love for him decrease. I had done Seva to Swami without any expectations. I felt that with Deeksha being introduced into the equation, things got diluted a bit. Somewhere, it felt transactional.
When my beloved husband and I were in pain, Swami was the only one who stood by us. When everyone else pointed fingers at me and called me insane, Swami was the only one who told me otherwise. If there was no Om Swami, I would’ve been lying in my grave somewhere. I just couldn’t see my love diminish for someone like him.
Swami is way more than any worldly tag to me. For that matter, even the tag of Guru-Disciple. Hence, I haven’t gone to meet Swami since he promised Deeksha. He is my confidant and I’m his friend. He has no expectations from me and I have no expectations from him, including Deeksha. I feel liberated in this relationship.
Sometimes, Swami comes to meet me in my dreams. I’m content and happy with that. As a side note, Swami appearing in my dream are not figments of imagination. Because he tells me things that are way more than just a random dream.
A few months after Swami walked into my life, I asked him, “Are you my Guru?”
Swami said, “Why do you and I need labels? Let this relationship be even beyond the labels of Guru-Disciple.”
A while later, he said, “Perhaps, you’re going to transcend the need for a Guru.”
Today, Swami’s prophesy has come true.