The Power of Names


“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.”
Juliet, Romeo and Juliet Act 2

Let’s consider Juliet’s statement, “What’s in a name?”  In the practice of Yoga, we use a variety of names:  Yogi Amrit Desai, Amritiji, Shri Amritiji, Gurudev.  Adding ji or iji to a name is a sign of endearment, shri means beloved, Gurudev means beloved guru.  All of these are names, labels, but the rose, the man, they describe remains the same.

Names, simple as they may be, have great power.  They can illuminate and they can obscure.  These names above illuminate the love and respect given to Yogi Amrit Desai and, at the same time, they somewhat obscure his humanity.  It is only by seeing through the name we recognize that Gurudev is just as much someone who needs a hug now and then as any other person.

Names are not limited to one or two words or even to nouns.  Beautiful, smart, mean and ugly are all names.  I love your smile.  You have such a pretty smile but you always frown, why don’t you ever smile?  These are also names, although we may not recognize them as such.  All just names but which would you rather hear?

It is very likely that you have recently been contemplating names for yourself as you made New Year Resolutions:  I need to lose weight.  I need to be more active.  These are innocent sounding enough but very often we hear another part:  I am too fat, I need to lose weight.  I am lazy, I need to be more active.  Be careful of the names you give yourself.  Be careful of the names you give others.

May you always have love and kindness in your heart and on your lips.

Jai Bhagwan