The Introduction of Turiya

baby name, turiya, music, 1970s, album
Illuminations (1974) by Turiya Alice Coltrane and Devadip Carlos Santana

The rare name Turiya has appeared in the SSA’s baby name data just twice so far, in 1974 and 1975:

  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 7 baby girls named Turiya
  • 1974: 6 baby girls named Turiya [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Signs point to Alice Coltrane, who wasn’t just the widow of famous jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, but also an accomplished jazz musician in her own right. She played piano and organ professionally starting in the early 1960s, and later learned to play the harp as well.

Following the death of her husband in 1967, Alice did two things: she “devoted herself to Vedic practice,” and she began recording albums as a bandleader (instead of as a sideman).

In the ten years that followed, she released about a dozen albums on Impulse! and Warner Bros., many of them masterpieces that imagine a meeting point between jazz and psychedelic rock, gospel traditions and Indian devotional music.

So how does “Turiya” fit into all this?

At some point in the early ’70s, Alice adopted the name Turiyasangitananda, which she translated as “the Transcendental Lord’s highest song of bliss.” The Sanskrit components of the name are: turiya, meaning “the fourth (state of the soul),” sangita, meaning “music,” and ananda, meaning “bliss.”

The shortened version, Turiya, soon started appearing in song titles: “Turiya & Ramakrishna” (1970) and “Galaxy In Turiya” (1972).

But its most prominent appearance came in 1974 with the album Illuminations, which was co-created by “Turiya Alice Coltrane” and “Devadip Carlos Santana.” (In Sanskrit, deva means “god,” dip means “lamp” or “light.” Like Narada Michael Walden, Carlos Santana was a follower of Sri Chinmoy.)

Though Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda eventually left her professional music career to head a spiritual community — not to mention raise four children (Michelle, John Jr., Ravi and Oranyan) as a single mother — she never stopped making music.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Turiya?

Sources: Alice Coltrane – Wikipedia, Alice Coltrane’s Devotional Music, Alice Coltrane – Discogs

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