From the Back of the Book
Sikh presence in Europe, North America and other continents has become increasingly visible during the last century, and many of them the world over have occupied coveted positions because of their dedication, hard work and entrepreneurship. More and more non-Sikhs around the world want to know about the Sikh culture, religion and traditions. Sikhs are identified by their unique names but unlike Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu names, there is no comprehensive publication or source of Sikh names. The Dictionary of Sikh Names is an exhaustive reference source that has been compiled to cater to the need of Sikh families around the world and help them select the traditional names in Sikh religion for their offspring. The dictionary is also intended to meet the need of those who want to find out the meanings of Sikh names. This reference book would be a useful source of information for the people living in different parts of the globe, particularly in western countries where, because of limited choice, it is still a problem to select meaningful and suitable names.
About the Author
Dr. Rajwant Singh Chilana is a Librarian at the Asian Library, University of British Columbia and Vancouver. He has over 25 years of professional experience of information management and teaching in different institution including the University of Delhi, Vancouver Public Library, and Surrey Public Library. Dr. chilana also worked as Library Manager and Adult Services Librarian at the Fraser Valley Regional Library in British Columbia, Canada. He has contributed several research articles and book reviews in professional journals. His previously published book include University Library Buildings in India (1984); handbook of Libraries, Archives and information Centres in India; and The Sikhs: Their Literature on Culture, history, Philosophy, Politics, Religion and Traditions.
The Sikhs who profess Sikh religion, constitute a unique community in the world. Sikh presence in Europe, North America and other continents has become increasingly visible during the last century, and many of them the world over have occupied coveted positions because of their dedication, hard work and entrepreneurship. More and more non-Sikhs around the world want to know about the Sikh culture, religion and traditions. Sikhs are identified by their unique names but unlike Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu names, there is no comprehensive publication or source of Sikh names. The Dictionary of Sikh Names is an exhaustive reference source that has been compiled to cater to the need of Sikh families around the world and help them select the traditional names in Sikh religion for their offspring. The dictionary is also intended to meet the need of those who want to find out the meanings of Sikh names. My professional colleagues friends and several library patrons always suggested and encouraged me to compile a dictionary of Sikh names.
This compilation is the product of several years of research in different libraries in India, Canada, United States and England. Various Internets resources and CD ROM databases were also consulted to make this work exhaustive.
This work is definitive and in-depth study in the Field of Sikh names and is unique in the sense that it has been compiled in the Roman script. All first names are arranged alphabetically, and have been given their meanings in English. This dictionary is intended to meet the need of people who want to name their babies and others who want to find out the meanings of Sikh names. This reference book may prove a useful source for the people living in different parts of the globe, particularly in Western Countries where, because of limited choice, it is still a problem to select meaningful and suitable names.
For the convenience of readers, this research study is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter is an introduction about the importance of names in various cultures and religious groups. The second chapter is on the naming ceremony, while around five thousand historical, modern and spiritual first names with their meanings are listed in the third chapter. Common suffixes, often used by Sikh families, are presented in the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter includes a comprehensive listing of last names. The sixth and seventh chapters have description of honorific titles and popular nicknames respectively. Some useful printed and internet resources on Sikhs and Sikhism are appended in this book as well. Listings of names with their meanings will definitely be useful their children according to Guru Granth Saheb. I am sure that this dictionary will prove to be an informative tool for parents, teachers, librarians, researchers, genealogists, family historians and all other reader who are interested in Sikhism.
Although I am not an expert, I have made a humble attempt to put together names and their meanings in this compilation. It is practically impossible to include every Sikh name in this volume. Thus this is just a sample of the great variety of names and an interpretation of their meanings. It is sincerely hoped that variations in spellings and interpretation will not offend anyone. In compilation of this book, I might have missed some names, and it there are any significant omissions and errors, I shall be pleased to be informed of the same, and will be glad to incorporate the changes in the second revised edition. I shall welcome honest and critical suggestions for the improvement and enlargement of this research work.
A great many people have provided valuable help in the compilation of this work, and I must recognize my indebtedness to them. Firstly, I must be highly grateful to the Almighty who gave me the inspiration to work on this project. It is with His kind blessings that I have succeeded in this venture. I wish to express my deepest appreciation to the knowledgeable and supportive staff of the Fraser Valley Regional Library, Library, British Columbia and Vancouver Public for their constant encouragement. Their cooperation has been gracious and wholehearted. Grateful thanks are due to the authors and scholars whose works were consulted for the completion of this book. They include Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, professor Harbans Singh, Puran Singh Gill, Sangat Singh and Mandeep Kaur Dimpy.
Thanks are also due to my friends, professional colleagues and relatives for sharing their knowledge and invaluable suggestions for the improvement of this work. I feel indebted to my daughter Parmit Kaur who constantly assisted me for three years in the compilation of this dictionary. I wish to extend my gratitude to my wife, Amrit kaur who always inspired, encouraged and supported me for this research study. Last but not the least, my thanks are due to my son, Jasmit Singh, for his computer expertise.
Pramit Kaur Chilana is a recipient of Governor General of Canada Medal for Academic Excellence. She has won several other awards and distinctions. Currently she is enrolled as a student at the Simon Fraser University, Canada.
Ever since human beings evolved language, they have always tried to name things of everyday use, places and even animals. With the progress of social consciousness, people were also given names, as without specific names of individuals it is practically not possible to carry on day-to-day business. Everyone on this earth has a name that is a unique identification mark. All human beings are given names quite early in their life. These names are the tags that they wear for rest of their life and differentiate them from each other. The more insight a person has into the powerful influence of his/her name, the greater is the opportunity to enjoy the success he/she is capable of achieving. Some people may have many names - first name, nickname and honorific name. Each name has a power and dignity of its own. In Western culture, most of the people have three names - two given names and a surname. The given name consists of first name and a middle name. A surname is also called as the family name, or last name, that differentiates persons with similar names. All these put together form the legal name of a person. Some persons may have one or more nicknames All names have specific meanings. Since ancient times people gave someone a name with a definitive knowledge of the meaning of the name. Names often have a mysterious quality.
There is power in names because they pinpoint the reality named and give definition and identity to that reality.
Mind and thought have their origin in an abstract plane of conscious intelligence, which comes into manifest form through the symbols of language. The brain is not the source but merely the physical instrument of the mind. When a name is attached to an individual, certain specific forces of conscious intelligence are combined. They constitute the nucleus of the mind. The conscious forces combined by the name can be represented by a numerical formula in much the same way as the basic chemical element combined in a chemical compound can be represented by a chemical formula. The mental characteristics of an individual can be read from the numerical formula representing the person's name just as the characteristics of chemical compound can be read from its chemical formula.
Boys and girls among Christians, Hindus and Muslims have different first names. Most of the parents tend to give male children names of religious significance or those that represent qualities of manhood, courage and bravery, while girls are given names depicting feminine qualities such as beauty, virtue and modesty. Among Shills there is no such differentiation as the same first name can be used for male as well as female child. For gender differentiation, the middle name Singh (meaning lion) is used for the male child and Kaur (meaning princess) for the female. Once initiated into Khalsa, Sikh women obtain the middle name Kaur. The middle name Singh is given to men, but Kaur is reserved solely for women. Though Sikh Gurus recognize the difference between men and women since, as individuals, we are all different from each other this difference does not imply inequality. Women and men are different but equals. Sikh Gurus considered women and men to be unique. They always respected the sexes and, therefore, made the distinction in middle names. It is unfortunate that the tradition of using 'Kaur' or 'Singh' is disappearing amongst several Sikh children.
These are dropped in favour of last names. Although Shills all over the world don't believe in casteism and are not allowed to use surnames, still some are using clan or sub-sect name as the last name (for detail see Chapter 5). There is new trend noticed recently that some Sikh women have started using Singh as middle as well as last name. After marriage several Shill and Punjabi women take their husband's name as a middle and last name. For instance, Ajeet Kaur when married to Iqbal Singh becomes Ajeet Iqbal Singh and Preetam Kaur when married to Mohan Singh becomes Preetam Mohan Singh. Most of the Sikh names are composed of two or more words combined to sound like one word signifying self- sacrifice, heroism and devotion to the guru.
There was a time when names of gurus and gods were very popular and a number of names were related to the religious deities. The Indian combination of devotional Hindu and Sufi Islamic doctrines founded by Guru Nanak, founder of Sikh religion, emphasizes the magnification of God by His name in a special form of devotion. A variety of names for God are recognized and uttered by Sikhs. Although Sikhs believe that it is beyond human capacity to describe and define God, people can become purified and free of their egos by means of the veneration of His name, with intelligent awareness and detachment from the world. Such names are still popular among some families, because as long as Sikh community is alive, there will always be names Ii:. ~ Nanak, Gobind and Harikrishan. Sikhs like their name to carry some significant meaning or heritage relating to Sikh traditions. This book lists several historical, traditional, spiritual and modern names often used by Sikhs in various regions all over the world. However, modern trend has introduced a more comprehensive listing of new names. In the choice of first name, a process of evolution has been at work, generally from simpler to the more elaborate names. In India the current popularity of compound and sophisticated names is owed to the increased emphasis in Sikh identity, also perhaps to greater concern for euphony and grandeur. Among Shills living in urban communities and Western countries, short and simple names are becoming very popular. In the present age of individualism there is tendency among some Sikh parents to choose names consisting of uncommon Hindu, Muslim or Christian names which are attractive but in truth devoid of any real meanings. As a consequence, some names are sheer inventions, which according to Guru Granth Sahib have no meanings. In selecting names among some families, both fancy and eclecticism play their part. Names from Islamic background such as Bakhtavar, Fateh, Hukam, Iqbal, Sardar, Shams her have been adopted by the Sikhs. Among those suggestive of Western background may be counted Angrez, Major, Jarnail, Andy, Susan and Gary. Several popular Hindu's names have also been adopted by the Sikh families and include Aarti, Ajay, Bhim, Meena, Divya, etc. Sometimes there is problem in the correct pronouncing of a Sikh name. One of the most uncomfortable situations for Sikh children beginning school is when their teachers and classmates have difficulty getting their names right. Constant mispronunciation may lead a child to drop the given first name and start using a simple nickname. In hospitals also some doctors and nursing staff find difficulty in pronouncing Sikh names correctly. People can always ask others how their names are pronounced and spelled.
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