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Reply To: What’s In a Name?” with Stephen Gerringer”


Hello Stephen,

Such a lovely article. I loved it and the title too,   “What’s in a name?”

“Ham-Sa” – What’s in a Name? It could be the sound of my breath, or our breath, it could be the hand of god, hand of Mary or the hand of Fatima, or the hand of Inana, or the hand of Venus. “What’s in a name?”

Thank you for the same. Besides the Hindi/Sanskrit/Urdu meaning of Ham-Sa, the name “Ham-Sa” reminded me of the  sacred symbol in many cultures, Judaism and Islam too. The hamsa (Arabic: خمسة‎ khamsah), a palm-shaped amulet worn as a protection or used as a sacred wall-hanging, or used as “Alam” in Shia-Islam. So, “Hamsa” has had a special meaning in my heart, mostly as the hand of Fatima, and now the beautiful breakdown of this word (which by the way, I should know very well) added another dimension to this symbol.

Hand of fatima

In Hindi/Urdu, Ham means “I” or We, and Sa, is usually, combined with Jai (life) so Jai-Sa, meaning like or as (masculine gender) or Jai(life) and  Jai-Si (feminine gender). So, Saying “Ham Jai-Si or Ham Jai-Sa” is as common as saying “you know” for the English speaking. Hence “Ham Jai-Sa” = “Like me” or “As me” or “Like us” or “As us”.

Imagine that  — such a deep word, so commonly used in my soul-language, and I never knew its significance as Joe explains, “This is a song we all sing. If you focus on your breath, you’ll hear the sound “ham,” just barely audible, every time you inhale—and the syllable “sa” sounds with every exhale. “Ham-sa, ham-sa,” sings our breath all day, all night, all one’s life, making known the inner presence of this wild gander to all with the ears to hear. ”

Yes indeed, “Mythic symbols, for Campbell, are more than just words on a page. Embodied in pictures, figurines, a car’s nickname, a book’s title, or even one’s own breath, they serve as touchstones that pitch the mind past the material world, to that which transcends.”

With gratitude