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How Carlos Santana Came to Be Known as ‘Devadip’

Gianni Ferrari, Getty Images

He got there way before Prince. In fact, Carlos Santana changed his name decades ago, in March of 1973. And, just like Prince, he eventually changed it back.

It happened after Santana was introduced to the teachings of Sri Chinmoy by fellow guitarist John McLaughlin. The Indian guru taught a “disciplined spiritual path that forbade the use of drugs and alcohol and encouraged music and poetry as expressions of thankfulness to the Divine,” according to author Norman Weinstein in the book Carlos Santana: A Biography. Sri Chinmoy renamed his new protege “Devadip,” which was said to mean “The lamp, light and eye of God.”

The newfound friendship between Santana and McLaughlin would also lead to a collaboration on the spiritually influenced 1973 album, Love Devotion and Surrender. They remained close, memorably reuniting for a 2011 performance at Montreux dubbed “Invitation To Illumination.”

A similar sense of harmony, however, didn’t last with Sri Chinmoy. Santana eventually left the flock in the early ’80s after noticing certain cult-like aspects of the leader. He didn’t take Santana’s decision well. In a later interview with Rolling Stone, Santana said Sri Chinmoy became “pretty vindictive for a while” when the guitarist departed.

“He told all my friends not to call me ever again,” Santana added, “because I was to drown in the dark sea of ignorance for leaving him.”

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