This book of more than 7,000 names is a very useful source of information for scholars, general readers and those who wish to name their children. All major Sanskrit sources have been searched for the compilation of this book. This reference work will be invaluable for those seeking to learn more about the fascinating heritage of hindu names.
Ramesh C. Dogra received his M. Phil. at the University of London and has published eight books and twenty four articles on many south Asian topics, particularly in this field of Indology and Sikhism. He recently retired from the position of Principal Assistant Librarian, Head of South Asia Department, at he school of oriental and African Studies University of London.
Mrs. Urmila Dogra, a civil servant in London, has been associated with the research projects of Mr. Dogra since 1986. She is the co-author of this book.
This is a completely revised edition of our book 'A Dictionary of Hindu
Names', published by Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, in 1991. Upon this
foundation we have superadded at least three thousand five hundred names
from Sanskrit sources. According to F. Max Muller, Sanskrit is not the mother
of Greek and Latin, as Latin is of French and Italian. hut Sanskrit. Greek
and Latin are sister tongues, though Sanskrit is the elder sister, All the Indo-
Aryan languages are derived from Sanskrit.
Hindu names is a vast subject that would really need at least ten volumes
to give it a justice. It is a big subject both- in time and quantity. In time
and quantity, because our earliest texts (Rig Veda) are dated earlier than
c.ISOO Be. and for all of the 1652 or so languages, we have taken names
from Sanskrit sources only. All of the religious works, the drll.!!la. the lyrics,
the sentimental and philosophical kavya, the Bhagvad Gita, Mahabharata,
Ramayana, the fables, Hitopadesa, Vedas. and works on sciences were
originally written in Sanskrit.
In this 'Work, an effort has been made to meet the long-felt need for a
dictionary of Hindu names. These names in Roman and Devanagari
characters, together with their meanings and explanations, are given. The
main portion •of this work consists of names from Vedas. Puranas.
Mahahharata, Ramayana and. other Sanskrit sources and dictionaries.
Following the world tradition of celebrating the Holy names of Gods and
Goddesses, we have included in this book one thousand names of Lord
Vishnu, and one hundred and eight names of each or the following Gods.
and Goddesses, significant of the one hundred and eight heads ina tosary
which is used during prayers:
Lord Ganesha, Hanuman, Krishna, Ram, Shive,
Goddess Durga and Lakshmi.
Ever since men evolved a language. they tried to give names to things
of daily use in their life. With the progress of social consciousness, men
were also named as without particular names of individuals it was impossible
to carryon the business of a cultured society, According to the general rules
of the Gril.asutras, the naming ceremony in Hindus is performed on the tenth
or the twelfth or the hundredth day, or at the expiry of the first year, after
the birth of the child. This wide option was due to the convenience of the
family and health of the mother and the child.
Throughout the Vedic period, the name given to a person was his own'
secular name and one or more name derived from a variety .of sources
including either from his father's, grandfather'S, mother's, or from his Gotra
name (derived from Vedic Rishis), or from a locality. The Vedic people
avoided personal names drawn from the Hindu gods or religion. The custom of giving names of divinitywas popular among non-Aryans, i.e. South Indian
people. The names of stars and planets were also avoided by the Aryans
during the Vedic times, as they would use names taken from nature e.g. of
mountains, hills, rivers, forests etc. The popular river names during Vedic
times were NarmadalNarbuda (daughter of Mekala Rishi), Sarasvati (river
goddess), Ganga (holy river, wife of Santanu and mother of Bhishmas).
During the Vedic period some Hindu families, and even some schools
of Vedic study, were called after some animals, plants, or inanimate objects
with which they were held to be totemically related. From Aja (goat) comes
the name of Aja (a tribe mentioned in the Rig Veda); Ashva (horse) is the
root of such names as Ashvapati (Lord of horses, an appellation of many
kings), Asvatthama (son of Orona and Kripa), Aswins, Aswinau (dual), Aswini
Kumaras (horseman, two Vedic deities, twin sons of the sun and the sky).
From GautamaiGotama (bull) came the name of the sage Saradwat (son
of Gotama and father of Kripa). There was another person called Gotama
who was the founder of the Nyaya school of philosophy. KaushiklKaushak
(owl) father of Vishwamitra, Kachchapal Kashyap (tortoise) is the name of
a sage, the son of Marichi, and one of the prajapatis or progenitors of created
things. Mudgal (a kind of fish), a Vedic Rishi from whom the Mudgal
Brahmans sprang. Nakul (an animal of the mongooses genus) was the name
or the fourth of the Pandu princes. He was the twin son of Madri, the second
wife of Pandu, from Pipal (tree) comes the name of Pippalada a name of a
sage who founded the school of Atharva Veda. From ShunaklShaunak (dog)
came the name of a sage, the son of Sunaka and grandson of Gritsa-rnada
(Atharva- Veda teacher). Bhardwaj (sky-lark, a well known bird that flies high
as it sings) is (he totemic name of a sage to whom many Vedic hymns are
Kukkura (dogs) were a tribe associated with the Virishnis along the
Yamuna. Sometimes names were used as part of a name because of some
association e.g. (Vyas, compiler of Mahabharata), was born on an island
called Dvipa and he was known as Vyas Dvaipayan.
Hindus believe that there exists a link between the name and deeds or
course of life of the divine or human being. Therefore a good name represents
goodness e.g. Shiva's name is said to inspire respect because of its inherent
energy, and this means that energetic and respect inspiring side of the God's
rharucter is expressed and transmitted by his name so as to impress those
who know or hear it.
Modern Hindu names are aesthetic in sense, and tend to be neither too
long nor too short. These may be a family's expression of gratitude to a deity
for the blessings received or wishes fulfilled, or may show an association
with an event, time, place or person. The name Dukhi Ram (miserable} was
used to keep away the evil eye The name Sukhi Das (prosperous devotee) was
used to show prosperity. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (a modern
Vaishnava reformer, accounted as an incarnation of Lord Krishna) was born,
some people proposed to give him the name of a tree with bitter leaves
(Nimai), as they believed that this is not liked by the God of death.
In some villages, a pregnant woman who IS afraid that her child would
die will usually sell it to a friend before its birth for four or five cowries.*
After birth the baby will be named Char cowries or Panch cowries, and it
is believed that an evil eye, or God who is jealous of some child, will
overlook one whose name be worthless. Similarly some children are named
Kala (black), Gunga (dumb), Bola (deaf). It does not mean that the child
Bola is actually deaf. Such names were usually used by orthodox people,
but now these names are not popular. A name usually serves to indicate or
signify a person and does not impute a person. It is a matter of common
knowledge that the name is regarded as an essential part of its bearer or its
true existence. The connection between a name and its bearer is so intimate
that there is for all practial purposes a question of identity, and it should
be given in a well considered way and should denote the personality of its
At present name are not always derived from pure Sanskrit words, though
mostly they do not differ from those used 500 years ago, either in form or
derivation. Hindi, Prakrit and corrupted forms of dialectical variants, and
even words of Persian and Arabic origin have crept into Hindu's personal
names, like the Arabic word 'Jawahar' meaning "jewel", the Persian word
'Gulab' meaning "rose". Persian and Arabic influence is more dominant in
Northern India than is other parts of India.
According to Hindu mythology, everything in the world is a
manifestation of God, therefore the name of any entity can be used as a given
name. A name is the primary mean of social intercourse. It brings realisation,
merits and is also considered as the root of good fortune. The naming
ceremony is very important in Hinduism, but in cities many people usually
do not conduct the ceremony.
The following directions were laid down by the early law givers
regarding the naming of children. A boy's name should begin with a
consonant and have an even number of syllables. A girl's name should have
an odd number of syllables and end with long 'a' or 'i'. The adoption of
a second name (Ram Das) is assumed for success and distinction in life, or
to show their patronymic or metronymic reasons like Mohandas Karamchand.
A name should be easy to pronounce, not hard to hear of clear meanings.
charming, auspicious, or should contains some blessings.
In the olden days it was considered that the name of a Brahman should
be auspicious; Kshatriya should denote power; Vaishya, wealth and that of
Sudra, devotion. Secret names were also given and were considered a sort of charm which may drive off evil and should not be used except in emergencies, lest its power should wear out. Hindus used to recite secret names only in prayers and during religious ceremonies. These days Hindus do not believe in such things and anyone may choose any name he/she likes.
Children were also given nakshatra (a lunar asterism under which the
child was born, or from the presiding deity). For example, if a child was
born under the constellation Asyini/Asvini, he was named Asvini Kumar,
or if under Rohini, Rohini Kumar etc. etc. Some people also gave name to
children according to their family deity i.e. Indra, Rama, Shiva, Ganesha,
Lakshmi, etc. A good name should have good meaning, signify glory, fame
and suggest the sex of the bearer.
A good and meaningful name is a symbol of cultural heritage and it
should be able to focus the image of the person within a few words. Hindu
culture, with its Sanskrit literature, has been famous in developing such a
taste which is found illustrated in every walk of life. There is not a single
Hindu name which does not speak of its heritage, ancestry, character and
personality in detail. This is what we have tried to demonstrate in this book.
Having considered the vastness of the field of personal names, and the
fabulous nature of the wealth of Sanskrit literature, we had to confine
ourselves, in our efforts, to some exemplary works of not a specific period,
but from the Vedic times to the present day.
Amongst the Hindus and Sikhs in Northern India (Panjab, Haryana), Lord
Indra's name (God of thunder, a personification of the sky, the chief of-
Devatas) has become very popular, e.g. Indra Singh, Indra Kumar, Narindra,
Satyendra, Surindra, Devindra. Many Hindus and Sikhs use the name Indra
as a suffix. The attributes of Indra correspond to those of the Jupiter Pluvius
and Jupiter Tonans of the Greeks and Romans, and the Thor of Scandinavia,
and as such he is the impersonation of the skies.
Names in this book have not been transliterated according to some
specific style. Strictly speaking, transliteration means letter-by-Ietter
transription from one alphabet into another, and some libraries and scholars
favour this, as they are concerned with reversibility - that is reconstruction
of the original - for the sake of identification. Other research scholars and
libraries favour phonetic transcription and do not believe in the necessity
of reversibility In transliteration. In this work we have used phonetic
transcription without any diacritics, except for the long letter 'a' or'i'.
The vowels a, i, e, ai, 0, au, used in the text, are long, and have
approximately the same pronunciation as the vowels in the English calm.
A, i, u are short, and equivalent to the vowels in the English words. The
reader should avoid pronuncing them as in English sat. Thus Sanskrit Sarna
is pronounced as English Sum. The letter 'b' and 'v' are occasionally interchanged,
so that words not found under the one letter should be sought for under the other.
The words and their meanings in any dictionary can scarcely be proved
by its compilers to belong to themselves. The aggregation and arrangements
of words with correct definitions give any dictionary as the best right to
be called an original work. The knowledge which has been stored here is
quite useful for the new generation of Hindus and Sikhs, who wish to name
their children according to their ancient traditions.
We are thankful to our son Rahul Dogra for going through the
manuscript and offering his opinion and comments. Thanks are also due to
for including this volume as a part of their prestigious publications, and
our particular thanks to Shri Arnar Nath Varma (Chairman and Managing
Director) for his unfailing courtesy and welcome help, encouragement and
willingness to publish the volume.
The idea of including names in Devanagari characters was the brain
child of Mr. Amar Nath Varma, and we are thankful to him for all the help
he has given us in this regard.
The abbreviatiolls used ill the parenthesis are as follows: a-adjective;
f-feminine; Ill-masculille; n-neutral. D-Durga; G-Ganesh; H-Hanumafl; K-
Krishna; l-Lakshmi: R-Rama; S-Shiva; V-Vishnu.
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