Thought Provoking Hindu Names (With Meanings and Explanations)

Thought Provoking Hindu Names (With Meanings and Explanations)

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Item Code: NAD152
Author: R.C Dogra & U. Dogra
Publisher: Star Publications
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788176503167
Pages: 254
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 320 gm
Back of the Book

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.

About the Author

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 attributed.

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 bearer.

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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