About the Author
Ramesh C. Dogra received his M. Phill. at the University for London and has written ten books and twenty five article son many South Asian topics, particularly in the fields of Indology, Sikhism and Bhutan. He currently holds the position of librarian at the 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 three books.
The authors had earlier compiled THOUGHT PROVOKING Hindu NAMES which has been appreciated and well received by intellectuals as well as by other readers and would be parents. This is another publication under the same series, which gives over 6,000meaningful and beautiful names for Sikh community, in Roman and Gurmukhi scripts with meanings in English.
This is a dictionary of names found in the hymns of Guru Nanak
(1469-1539) and succeeding Gurus contained in the Guru Granth
Sahib. Quite apart from the teachings of the founder of the Sikh
religion the Holy Book has a great literary and linguistic interest.
The Granth is written wholly in verse and the language used is
mostly in some dialect or other of Western Hindi (Khari Boli)
of Upper India than Panjabi; but it also contains some Marathi
hymns; and some portions, specially of the last section, are
composed in Sanskrit. The written character is nevertheless
throughout in Gurmukhi script.
The Sikh names are derived entirely from Sanskrit sources.
According to F. Max Muller German Scholar & Sanskrit. Sanskrit
is not the mother of Greek and Latin, as Latin is of French and
Italian. But Sanskrit, Greek and Latin are sister tongues, though
Sanskrit is the elderst sister. All the Indo-Aryan languages are
derived from Sanskrit. The Panjabi language is derived from
Sanskrit, but it has some pronunciations similar to the Prakrit
language, e.g. Rajindra is always pronounced as Rajinder in
Ever since mankind evolved a language, they have tried to give
names to things of daily use in their life. With the progress of
social consciousness people were also individually named, as
without particular names it was impossible to carry on the business
of a cultured society. The names of Sikh Gurus and their wives
(Bhaani, Damodari, Ganga, lito, Khivi/Khawi, Kishna, Mansa
Devi, Sahib Devi, Naanaki. Mahadevi. Sundari, Sulakhani) and
many other are included in this book.
It is believed 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. Inder ‘s name is said to inspire
respect and strength because of its inherent energy. This means
that the energetic and respected inspiring side of God' s character
is expressed and transmitted by his name so as to impress those
who know or hear it. That is why the word Inder (God's name)
is used as a suffix or prefix with many Sikh names.
At present Sikh names are aesthetic in sense, and in many cases
tend to be neither too long nor too short. These may be for family's
expression of gratitude to one other Guru for the blessings
received, wishes fulfilled, or may show an association with an
event, time place or person. The name Ajaaib Singh (strange Singh
[lion]) was used to keep away the evil eye. The name Sukh Singh
(prosperous or happy Singh) was used to show prosperity. The
names Harprit/Harpreet (love of God), Surjeet/Surjit (victorious
over God). and Amarjit/ Amarjeet (victory of immortality) show
the love of God and the relationship with God. The names
Gurudaas (devotee of the Guru), Gurudatta (given by Guru),
Gurumukh (following the Guru or from the mouth of the Guru),
Gurnaam (name of Guru), Gurprit/Gurpreet (love of Guru) - show
closeness to the Gurus and are considered auspicious.
In the past some children were named Kaala Singh (black Singh),
Gunga Singh (dumb Singh), Bola Singh (deaf Singh). It does
not mean that the child Bola was actually deaf, but such names
were given to keep away an evil eye. Mardana, a Muslim disciple
and a long life companion of Guru Nanak, was named Marjana
(to die) at birth by his parents as they had earlier lost all their
children soon after birth. His parents did not want him to die
and therefore he was named Marjana. so that an evil eye or God
of death who is jealous of him will overlook him. He survived
and died at the age of sixty-one. When he joined Guru Nanak,
the Guru changed his name to Mardana meaning brave or manly.
Orthodox people in the past usually used uch negative names.
bur now these names are not so popular,
A name usually serves to indicate or signify a person and does
not impure a person, It is a matter of common knowledge that
the name is regarded as an essential part of its bearer or its true
Modern names are not always derived from Adi Granth or pure
Sanskrit sources, though mostly they do not differ from those
used 500 years ago either in form or derivation. Old Panjabi, Hindi,
Prakrit and corrupted forms of dialectical variants, and even words
of Persian and Arabic origin, have crept into Sikh personal names,
like Arabic word 'Jawahar' meaning "jewel", the Persian word
'Gulab' meaning "rose". Persian and Arabic influence is more
dominant in Northern India than in other parts of India.
In the past, it was considered that a Sikh name should denote
power, strength, bravery and devotion. 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 Ashvini/ Ashvini, he was named Ashvini Singh.
If under Rohini, Rohini Singh etc. etc.
Some people also gave names to their children according to the
Guru or Supreme spirits mentioned in the Sikh scriptures, e.g.
Inder, Ram, Shiva, Nanak (happy, griefless), Angad (bestower
of limbs, king of Kishkinda appointed by Lord Ram), Amar Das
(devotee of Immortal God), Ram Das (devotee of Lord Ram),
Arjan (equal to Lord Shiva in prowess and unconquerable as Lord
Inder/Indra, main hero in Mahabharata), Har Gobind (Lord Shiva
and Lord Krishna conjoined), Har Rai (Shiva - King/prince), Har
Krishan (Shiva and Krishan conjoined), Tegh Bahadur (Sword
- brave), Gobind Rai (Lord Krishna - king or prince).
Amongst the Sikhs/Hindus, Lord Inder's name (God of thunder,
a personification of the sky, the chief of Devata) has become very
popular. like Inder, Inderjeet, Rajinder, Raghuvinder, Balvinder,
Dharaminder. Narinder, Satyinder, Surinder, Devinder. Many
Hindus and Sikhs use the name Inder/Indra as a prefix or suffix,
indicating the martial qualities of Lord Inder. The attributes of
Inder correspond to those of the Jupiter Pluvius and JupiterTonans
of the Greeks and Romans, and the Thor of Scandinavia, and
as such he is the impersonation of the skies.
The word Indra/Inder was also used amongst Buddhist as a
common noun hero, warrior. Some Javanese Muslims (Ali
Birendra) and Thai Buddhist use the name Birendra. Shilendra
is an epithet of Lord Shiva. from which the name of the Javanese
Slendro is derived. In history the Sailendr's were a powerful
dynasty (Sri Vijaya Empire) that ruled over Java, Sumatra and
many other islands for more than six hundred years.
The word 'Singh' means lion, and it is spelt as Shinh, Sinha or
Simha also. This title is borne by several Rajput castes of India.
The word has been used in India since the Vedic times, but since
1699 this word is affixed to names of all Hindus/Sikhs who receive
Pahul according to the precepts of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-
1708). His name was Gobind Rai from 1666-1699, and the word
Singh was added to his name in 1699. He was the tenth and the
last Guru (1675-1708) of the Sikhs. At the initiation ceremony
into Sikhism, a Hindu name such as Ram Chand becomes Ram
Singh etc. to denote the martial qualities of the followers of Guru
Gobind Singh. A Sikh woman takes the second name Kaur on
baptism. Kaur was also a common second name for Rajput women
and means both princess and lioness.
Many Sikh names are almost entirely interchangeable between
men and women, the only difference being the word 'Singh' or
'Kaur after the narne.Balbir Singh/Balbir Kaur, Surinder Singh!
Surinder Kaur, Mahinder Singh/Mahinder Kaur, Baljit Singh!
Baljit Kaur. Amarjit Singh/Amarjit Kaur etc.- a reference to the
martial qualities of the people.
In this book we have used phonetic transcription without any
diacritics, but. in many cases, long letter 'a' is transliterated as
'aa and 'i' as 'ee.
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 as original. The knowledge,
which has been stored here, is quite useful for the Sikhs, who
wish to name their children according to their ancient tradition.
The names are arranged alphabetically and a full entry consists
of a name in Roman and Gurmukhi script, and abbreviations used
in the parenthesis are: a-adjective, f-ferninine, m-masculine, n-
neutral. It is followed by many different meanings of the same
name in English and sometimes also includes the history of the
We are thankful to our son Rahul Dogra for offering his opinion
and comments. Thanks are also due to Mr. Amar Nath Varma
(Chairman and Managing Director of Star Publications) for asking
us to write this book.
We have tried to include all the varieties of Sikh names in this
book, but suggestions for improvement will be welcomed, and
we would like to thank in advance all those who would care to
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