Patanga: my spiritual name
by Patanga Cordeiro
Patanga is a Sanskrit spiritual name. Some names are very short, while others are very long. A spiritual name is the soul´s mantra, and it can also give indications of the soul´s mission. After receiving my name, I changed all necessary papers and documents, as I really wanted to call myself only by my spiritual name. Life is too short. I was given the name with the following meaning:
Patanga – a rishi who was part-author of the Rig Veda.
(A rishi means a “divine seer”) The conciseness of the meaning of my name is both a relief and a challenge. Few things to concentrate on, but much to discover.
Some of Sri Chinmoy´s remarks on spiritual names
When you repeat your own soul's name, I assure you that you will be able to bring to the fore all your divine qualities; you will be energised with your soul's divine power.
Sri Chinmoy 1
To get a spiritual name is really important. At that time you consciously know the meaning, the significance of your soul. If you know what your soul’s main qualities are, then only will you one day be able to bring them to the fore. If you do not know what you are trying to bring to the fore, then it is more difficult. But the moment you know what you are expected to do, what you are going to bring to the fore, then there is not only every possibility but every assurance that you will do it eventually.
Sri Chinmoy 2
Question: Could you please explain why you give your followers spiritual names?
Sri Chinmoy: Everyone has all the divine qualities, but one quality is often pre-eminent. One divine quality is usually more manifest in a certain person than the other divine qualities, and the soul has a way of manifesting the highest Truth through that particular quality. One soul will manifest through light, another through beauty, a third through power, a fourth through compassion, a fifth through peace, a sixth through joy. Each Sanskrit name I offer has a spiritual significance, and each aspirant has the capacity to realise and manifest the Highest through a particular quality which his name reveals and embodies. If the soul wants to realise and manifest the Highest on earth, then if the aspirant knows that particular quality, it becomes infinitely easier. When the disciples have spiritual names and they meditate on their names, at that time their divine qualities come to the fore most powerfully and make them feel what they are here for and why they have come into the world. That is why we give these names. 3
I know of three of Sri Chinmoy´s song-poems featuring the word Patanga. As a homage to my soul and the privilege of having received a spiritual name, I sing them everyday as a mantra. Below are the exquisite translations of these songs by Sri Chinmoy himself.
The river flows toward the sea.
I know not what urges the river-heart to flow.
The sea has a magnetic pull.
As an insect offers its life to the flame,
Oh, how I wish to offer my Infinity’s life
To the all-transforming Flame-Beauty.
Nadi chale jai
Na jani kena je
Patanga ase jyotir sakashe
Karite jibana dan
Temani amar kareche paran
He who has heard the sound of Your Footsteps,
He who has seen the Smile of Your Face,
How can he remain satisfied with little things on earth,
How can he remain without loving You as his very own?
Like an insect inside a blazing fire, if my body and vital are burned to ashes,
I know yet for certain I shall have a place in the depth of Your Heart.
He who knows nothing about You can remain forgetful of You, but not I, never.
O Mother Divine, do place us, the knowers of You and those who know You not,
In Your ambrosial, Elysian Lap.
Je shunechhe taba charaner dhwani je herechhe taba hasi
Swalpe tushta kemane se rabe tomare na bhalobasi
Patanga sama anale bhasma hai jadi deha pran
Tomar sakashe labhibo janani nishchoy ami sthan
Je paini taba kona parichoy se pare rahite bhule
Chena achenare ek sathe laho janani anke tule
Patanga as a name in Bengali and Sanskrit
(Note: By no means do I intend with this article to come to any final conclusion as to the absolute meaning of my name. These are just some musings of a seeker to himself. I am also including some of Sri Chinmoy’s remarks on spiritual names.)
In modern Bengali, apparently Patanga is used to denote insects, mostly of the flying type, and particularly the moth, but goes as far as even a kite. In Sanskrit, it seems to be more like “bird”, or more widely, “something that flies using wings”. “Pat” would account for “wing” and “anga” for “limb”.
In this vein, I often see some events from my life and attitude related to some of Sri Chinmoy's songs, particularly the Patanga (insect) lines:
“As an insect offers its life to the flame,
Oh, how I wish to offer my Infinity’s life
To the all-transforming Flame-Beauty.”
“Like an insect inside a blazing fire, if my body and vital are burned to ashes,
I know yet for certain I shall have a place in the depth of Your Heart.”
I don´t know if they are just coincidences, but often I see myself in the point of sacrifice, specifically of my body and vital energy, with a goal of spiritual progress or service. Be it in ultramarathons, meditation class giving, organizing Centre matters, translating books, website contributing, etc, often I have been dragged to a point beyond and beyond exhaustion. But I never regretted the deed, action or feat itself. To me it just feels like that is what I needed to do. I do not wish to excuse myself for past mistakes based on lack of wisdom, but there is a chance these happenings have had a hint of the soul’s angelical but powerful touch behind them. Sri Ramakrishna would occasionally describe the moth’s yearning as an example of a fiery dedication to an ideal – the moth will fly towards light, even if the light is a bonfire, since in its view it is better to die on the blazing light than to live in darkness. I can only hope I will be able to develop such yearning in this lifetime or the next!
I noticed I have a tendency to bring newness and change about my environment – maybe that is the “rishi” side of the name Patanga. More than that would be hard to say.
Two short stories related to my spiritual name
I have at two stories to tell regarding two of my friends and brothers, and our spiritual names. I have written a long version of the first story that was included in a book called “First Steps on the Sunlit Path”, if I remember well. So, I’ll just keep to a very short version of both stories here.
Premananda Jan Klaile
Even before I had met him, I was reading about famous disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. For some unexplained reason, the one called Swami Premananda struck me. The name Premananda would come to me daily, even more than once. I thought that maybe Sri Chinmoy would soon give me a spiritual name. But still, no, it was not quite that which I felt.
Weeks later I met him for the first time in New York. Soon Guru gave him the spiritual name Premananda. Talk about oneness! When we walk together, often people ask if we are twin brothers. Only please notice that he is a blonde, fair skinned Finnish person, while I am a dark-haired, tanned-skin Brazilian!
I met Ushika in my first 10-day race. We naturally became friends. With him being very, very experienced in such races, I often went to him for advice regarding injuries that would come up during the race. But even in such a tough race, while running together for some reason we would often laugh to the point were running became impossible, and we would walk like drunkards, legs crossing in front of each other (myself particularly). I asked the meaning of his spiritual name, and he said it is, if I remember correctly, “A hermit from the Rig-Veda”. Remember that Patanga is “a rishi who was part-author of the Rig Veda”! So our souls are in the same business, I might try and say. It is interesting also that the 10-day race was one of the key experiences of my life. I also made many other important friendships there.
I think I might someday come back to this page to write more about Patanga, as I discover more about my name and its meaning!
- 1. Prayer-world, mantra-world and japa-world, Agni Press, 1974
- 2. Surrender and realisation, Agni Press, 1976
- 3. Sri Chinmoy, Flame Waves, part 06, Agni Press, 1976
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