On Taking A Spiritual Name


Here am In Pune, India shortly after I took Sannyas in my red meditation robe.

Here am In Pune, India shortly after I took Sannyas in my red meditation robe.

I took sannyas over ten years ago and at that time I received a spiritual name – Ma Deva Arani. First, you are probably  wondering what sannyas is and what does it have to do with an American woman living in Boulder, Colorado. For me,  sannyas was a celebration in honor of my commitment to my  journey to my own authenticity and truth. My name comes from Osho, who has been instrumental in my life in terms of understanding myself and who I am.  Osho is a much beloved, enlightened master who although not in body continues to touch and radiate love and truth for all humanity for all time.  Never Born. Never Died. For me, he was an invitation into myself, my inner being, who I was and am under all the layers of conditionings I had accumulated in this life and previous lives.  I didn’t really know that there was this other possibility of just being me –  innocent and heart connected, beyond all the layers I had put on to survive in this world. I learned this from Osho and it was a gift beyond measure.  Grace. By the time I took sannyas, I had been doing Osho’s active meditations for several years, including many stints of 21-day dynamic meditations. I had been through a process called the Path of Love, which was staffed by many Osho sannyasins, and was on my way to India to visit his ashram in Pune.  When I took sannyas I was really committing to me.   I wasn’t seeking knowledge, I was seeking my own wisdom from within. And Osho was my  teacher pointing me inward with so much love and support from the beyond.

 Deva means divine.  Arani is the name of the kindling sticks that the  wisdom keepers used to light the divine fire in the temples in ancient times.  Osho tells the story in The Message Beyond Words, that all of us have arani within us and with a little friction we can light our own divine flame.  I love this both personally – yes I am applying friction and lighting my inner flame; and globally, I know that all of humanity has arani and with the right friction they too will become divine light.  

After I was given this name, which feels like my true name somehow and fits me like a glove,  it took me awhile to move into it, so to speak.  First, I was Arani only around my fellow Osho community and Path of Love family. Then over the years, I started introducing myself as Arani to all the new people I would meet. I kept my legal name Tanya R. Shimer because I was an attorney with ten years under my belt and it felt difficult to try to change my name in a professional practice based largely on referrals and good will.  Over time, more and more people started calling me Arani, with mainly my birth family and oldest friends still calling me Tanya.  I’ve gone from being surprised when someone calls me Arani to being surprised when someone calls me Tanya.  Perfect. I recently updated my FB profile and web page to reflect my full spiritual name – rather than Tanya Shimer or Arani Shimer, I am now Deva Arani.  I am ready to step fully into me – a spiritual being having a human experience.

It feels good and reflective of where I am in my life.  Shimer is my ex-husband’s name and that life seems like it belonged to someone else altogether a very long time ago. My birth name, Tanya Renee Gonzales also feels like it belongs to the past.  My intention for my life is to live in divinity and Deva Arani feels like an affirmation and mantra to do just that. It is symbolic of all of my prayers and meditations and my intention to take responsibility for who I am, here now.