How surya devi came to be: the full story
When I started recording music and put out my first EP, I never felt comfortable with seeing my birth name online or on a CD. I felt there must be a different name that I could use that would feel better. However, I had no idea what this might be. Starting in 2007, I took a number of trips to India. in 2008, I took a longer trip that lasted more than 6 months. On that trip I was determined I would find my artist name.
At one point in the journey, I was at the ashram of Mata Amritanandamayi in Kerala, which is in the South of India. She is most commonly known as Amma, or the hugging Guru. I decided that I would ask her for my name, I had taken her as my Guru the year before so figured this was the best option. She would certainly know the best name for me. When I spoke to others at the ashram, many people
offered that if I wanted to I could ask her for a name. I kept asking how do I do this and everyone told me just say “Amma, name!” when i went up for darshan (her blessing, which is a hug.)
One day in the hall she was giving darshan and I decided that it would be the day for me to ask. I remember the anticipation leading up to that moment. My heart was pounding and it felt like the excitement of a dozen childhood birthdays all at once. When I got close to her and it was my turn for a hug I said “AMMA, NAME!” just as I had been told to. She grabbed me and said nothing. NOTHING.
When she finally let me go, I went and sat down close to her on the floor and burst into tears. I felt like she had opened my heart in that moment but all I felt was that my heart had been broken for lifetimes and all I could do was sit there and sob. I couldn’t even move. I sat there and cried for hours which settled into a peaceful bliss afterwards as often happens around Amma.
As things were finishing up, I had walked upstairs and didn’t realize that this was where she was going to exit the building on that day. As I was standing there in the hall, suddenly the commotion of Amma in transit came closer to me and I realized she was going to pass right by me. It’s quite a production, everywhere she goes she has a minimum of dozens of people following her, sometimes hundreds. When she walked past me she stopped, looked me in the eyes, laughed like a little girl the way she does and gave me a high five and said “OM NA MA SHIVA YA.”
I was stunned. She always does this. Somehow just with one look or gesture she lets you know that she knows everything. Although I was grateful for my special, unexpected moment with her, I was still stumped. Still, I had no name. I was planning on releasing more music soon and didn’t want to use my
birth name. What would I do?
After a few weeks I left the ashram to head up way North to Dharamsala, one of my favourite places in the world. I love the Tibetan culture and I feel so at home in the Himalayas. I was still very frustrated because I didn’t have a name to use for music and I really wanted one. I kept praying and asking for a sign and nothing was happening. Often when I ask for signs or pray I get a very quick response of some kind, so I was very annoyed that I wasn’t getting any clues as to what the Divine wanted me to use as my music name.
One day, I was sitting in my room meditating and heard myself declare out loud “I AM NOT GOING TO MOVE UNTIL YOU TELL ME MY NAME. I AM GOING TO SIT HERE UNTIL YOU GIVE ME A CLUE OR SOMETHING.” I was expecting to hear some kind of message or word or something in my ears or see a vision somehow. Yet, I heard, saw and felt NOTHING. NOTHING!!! After I had sat there for what felt like hours (honestly it was probably 40 minutes :D ) I was so irritated that I opened my eyes. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that in front of me was a fluorescent light. On the light it said SURYA. I thought... wait a minute, Surya means sun. People have always called me Sunshine for as long as I can remember. Maybe THIS is my name!
So I asked for signs and suddenly I noticed that everywhere I went, the name Surya was there. They had probably been there all along but I hadn’t noticed them. I started getting more comfortable with using the name Surya and decided this was a good name for me. When I realized that Surya was usually a male deity, I decided to add Devi to the ending. To me this was a way of uniting the feminine and the masculine energies together.
I released several albums and collaborated with a number of amazing artists using the name Surya Devi. I worked with celebrities and had some incredible breakthrough moments both in my music career and as a holistic therapist using this name. I also experienced the most difficult and chaotic period of my life using this name. I will save that story for another time, but during that time period I was intensely pressured by a number of people ( a few real and a number of fake personalities) to give up the name Surya Devi.
"They" (I discovered 3 of them were not even real people!) told me that the name was connected to dark forces and evil energies and hurting people, so I had to renounce it. At the time, I believed in these people and entities so I complied. I wanted to obey them and do whatever was necessary to serve the light. Around 2015 I publicly renounced the name Surya Devi and changed all my social media handles back to my birth name: (first & middle) Elise Jené.
This was good and purposeful, it brought me back to using my birth name for most things, although there are still many people who know me as and want to refer to me as Surya. However, after some time I returned back to the same issue I began with: I just didn’t like having my birth name online for my music or offerings, and it didn’t feel right. I went back and forth on this for a while, wondering if I should return to Surya or choose something else.
I had created many albums and collaborated on projects already under that name. Also, because in the chaotic situation I was in I lost almost everything including my career opportunities due to the false influence of these personalities and some controlling individuals. I was brutally slandered online under my birth name and for a while I chose to keep a very low profile online to recover from this.
One day, I was on the phone call with my friend and musical collaborator Anahata Beatspeaker. We were having one of our usual deep talks and I was discussing the name issue with him among other things. Suddenly I had an a-ha moment: Everything the people and personalities involved in this chaotic situation had told me was untrue. Lies. Projections. They blamed me for everything when it was actually them who were deceptive, manipulative and in the case of the false personalities, not even real people! I exclaimed out loud “wait a second, if everything they told me was a lie, then I must use the name Surya Devi. They told me it was evil but it must be the opposite. Something about this name must connect me to something angelic, divine and beautiful. I have to use it.”
Anahata told me he had goosebumps everywhere (spiritual confirmation) and this was the moment I decided to use this name again. It was also further confirmed to me ongoing through my connection and work to the cosmetic company Amaterasu Beauty; Amaterasu is the name of the Japanese Sun Goddess who brings light to the world.
Surya Devi means the Goddess of the Sun. Knowing what I know now, would I choose it again? I'm not sure, and yet I feel like somehow, it chose me. Some things just come to be! Surya Devi is my musical name. I don't usually even spell it in capital letters because it feels better to soften the energy of it by using all small letters: surya devi. It is not a spiritual name bestowed to me by a Guru - even though Amma definitely played a role in how it came to be. Surya is an artist name that I use to create music and I pray that the presence of this name brings blessings to the songs and prayers that I feel so blessed to learn and sing.
I have always wanted to share light and blessings through music. Many years ago in a dream I was shown that one of my purposes was to embody the energy of the Divine Feminine on Earth, and I know I am one of many with this shared purpose. Devi refers to the Goddess, and it was the discovery of the world of the Feminine Divine that put my on the Spiritual path as a teenager. I am grateful to have this
special name to be able to use for musical creations and I pray that all the art I create and energy i radiate reflects the shining light of the Feminine Divine.
Thank you for reading this story!
Om Namah Shivaya ॐ नमः शिबय