Social groups no longer could live in isolation. Pressure of population and increasing means of production made their inter-dependence necessary. Man no longer could meet with all his needs in his own village or commune. He was compelled to seek the help of his neighbouring villages and communities. Within his own social group the number of its members also witnessed an increase. Trade and commerce took him even to distant lands and exposed him to different social atmospheres. However, the stock of personal names being limited he could not individualise every member of his own group and those of other communities, as easily as he could do in the past. Therefore, a man could be identified by adding the name of his commune or social group when he was to be identified and individualised outside his community. This is, perhaps, the vague beginning of what we call Gotra system in the ancient India. But requirements of identification within one's own community could not be met with by this simple means of addition of one's community name to the personal name. The problem of homonyms must have, therefore, persisted for much a longer time.
Amimism has been a common phenomenon with all the ancient races and tribes. The fundamental and basic element of Indian religion, from which everything else sprang, was the propitiation of the spirits of the earth and sky to obtain good crops and fertile herds. "This aspect of Hinduism, as all Hindus know, still continues, overlaid by much more developed and exalted religious thought. And this is not, in my opinion, an aspect of religion to be disparged, to be looked down upon, or, to, be treated with scorn. We can trace it back to the Harrapa culture and even further back to pre-historic man, the ancestor of the present Adivasis".
Rapid expansion of the Aryans in India gave birth to a process of mixture of races. Thus throwing open the gates of much guarded Aryan communities to rush in a number of native and aboriginal beliefs and practices. Totemism was, perhaps, one of the strongest aboriginal waves to have left its indelible marks on the shores of Aryan ocean. Therefore names of inanimate objects were connected with the tribe and clan names. In spite of the positive vedic directions against totemic practices we have a large number of ancient Indian families which derive their names from some animal, plant or inanimate object. Mr L. M. Roy in one of his Bengali articles has tried his best to prove that the family names of the primitive civilized people first originated from the nomenclature of inanimate objects, such as mountains hills, rivers, forest or wood etc., and of animate objects-animals and birds, such as lion, tiger, elephant, cow, bull, bullock, lamb, serpent, bird, swan, duck, dove, patridge, hawk or hawkin, peacock, etc.
"These surnames still exist among the different civilized nations of the East and the West. Their similarity goes to show that we the people of the East and the West must have belonged to the same stock of the human race, although we might have later divided ,ourselves into various groups, such as Asian, European, American, Russian, African, Mongolian Caucasian, Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Siamese and so on.
1.3 Earliest Surnames
The nearest approach to surnames in ancient times existed among the Romans. They gave to each child a first name. A second one was added to indicate the family or class to which he belonged. Later a third name, usually a sort of descriptive nick name was added. Romans called this the Cogonomen. It often becomes the family name. Although the use of any kind of surname was almost non-existent in ancient India, yet the law-givers have laid down positive directions towards their use. Thus Vyasa emphasised that "the 'Sarman' was to be added to the name of a Brahman, 'Varman' to that of a Kshatriya, 'Gupta' to that of Vaisya and 'Dasa' to that of a 'Sudra'.
2 Varied Sources
Sources of family or surnames have been varied and diverse. It may be a totem, name of a class or tribe, name of an animate or inanimate object, name of village or locality, name of one's mother or father, name of the profession and even a nick name. Surnames in the beginning were simple marks of identification and individualisation. But the process of individualisation could never be completed in total. With the proliferation of families and tribes it became continued process. A name used as an individualisation mark for a certain social group consisting of, say about fifty persons could no longer serve its purpose when the number of members of that particular group became two hundred. Accordingly a number of sub groups came into being within a certain group. Therefore, the process of individualisation became a continuous and perpetual job. However new and newer situations, incidents and occasions presented themselves in a mechanical manner making the process of individualisation a self perpetuating procedure.
2.1 Birds and Animals
Sanskrit literature is full of such family names which owe their origin to the denominations of lower animals, birds and inanimate objects. Mr. Roy has quoted references from the Vedas to substantiate the above. statement. A passage from the Samveda says "People who are not revengeful and are forbearing like a Hamsas (Swans) even when tortured by their enemies, are called Harnsas (Swans). They and Brisha (Bull) go to Yajna-Griha (Sacrificial room) to perform the sacrificial rites. The Rigveda described the abode of these swans as 'Suchi'. They lived there under the leadership of Brahma." A saintly man or a Sanyasin. is even now called as Parmahamsa. Surnames like 'Swan' and 'Duck' exist among English speaking. people also.
In Aitareya-Brahmana at many places it has been stated that 'Snakes', 'Cows' or 'Bulls' performed Yajnas. Historical investigations have proved that they did not belong to any reptile or animal class. But they were socially well-organised human groups holding, perhaps, the totem of the snakes, the bulls or the cow. There are numerous references to the 'Nagas' as a tribe and as 'serpents' in ancient Indian literature. Their real identity is shrouded in a mystery. However, many scholars have worked hard to lift the curtain of mythology from their face and proved them as a race of early inhabitants of India. Nagas were the earliest inhabitants of Kashmir valley also is proved beyond doubt by the. 'Nilamata Purana'. Benjamin Walker describes them as a mixed Mongolian people. whose original home was probably in the highlands (Sanskrit: Naga) of Iran, which have even been the meeting ground for Aryan and Mangolian peoples. Nagadvipa was one of the nine geographical divisions of Bharata-Varsha or Ancient India, which formed a belt extending from Iran across Afghanistan to parts of the Punjab. The Nagas were of scythic affinities and associated with the serpent totem, of which some evidence is found in ancient Persian, South Russian myths. Herodotus relates to the story of Hercules who during his search for his lost mark, mated with Echidna, a half woman half serpent, and left a bow for his son Scythes. Thus does Greek mythology, with instructive symbolism, explain the origin of the Scythian people. General Cunningam takes them as the dragon-worshippers akin to the Scytho-Median Zohak. Three very old cast coins with figure of snake and the legend Kadsa in old Brahmi characters, which he found in West Punjab, have been attributed by him to early Takhas -the descendants of the Naga Chief Takshaka. This Takshaka Naga had his sway over the valley of Kashmir also. He was called the Lord of Saffron fields having his seat at Zevan (a village near Pampore). People to this day respect his abode called Takshaka Naga (a spring) and offer Tahar in every safforn season here. Mahavamsa records their presence and rule over Kashmir as early as 3rd and 4th centuries B.C. The Nilarriata Purana mentions the number of principal Naga deities as 527, besides the four Dikpalas who were Bindusara, Elapatra, Srimadaka and Uttaramanasa.
Col. Tod is of the opinion that they came from the "Shesnagadesa" which he describes to be the abode of the ancient Saythic, Tochari of Strabo, the Tak-i-uks of the Chinese, the Tajures of the present day Turkistan.
Some authorities hold the view that the Nagas were Tibeto-Burmese who occupied northern India before the advent of the Aryans. The North-western region of India, through which the Naga migration took place, was traditionally believed to be guarded by the Serpent King Nilanaga. There are numeral evidences, particularly in spring names of Kashmir, to demonstrate the clear authority of Nagas over the valley of Kashmir. Dr. Ved Kumari has collected a large number of evidences in her Nilamata Purana to prove the Nagas a human race.
Mr. C. S. Wake believes the Nagas to be "aboriginal serpent worshippers". Professor Hopkins says, "Garudas and Tarksyas may conceivably have been human chieftains of the Western coast though they scarcely present as strong a claim to euhemeristic interpretation as do their natural foes Nagas".
In Indian geography the word 'Nag' appears in many place-names of which one of the oldest was Nagasahvaya (later Hastinapur). The best known of the present day names Nagpur, is perhaps merely an analogous appellation given to an area where the Cobra is common.
Pargiter is of the view that the name Daitya, Danava, Naga and Raksasa do not always imply that such tribes were different from men or even Ailas i.e., Lunar races in Ksatriya tradition.
Carlleyle goes a step further to point out that both the Asuras and Nagas were of a highly respectable patronage and were descendants of ancient Aryan patriarchs of the Hindu racer°. Dr A. Banerjee regards them the spear head and backbone of the Asura people in India".
Dr Grierson says, "I am inclined to believe that they may have been the ancestors of the non-Aryan inhabitants of Hunza-Nagar whose language Burushaski has not yet been identified as belonging to any known family of speech".
G. F. Oldham takes them as sun-worshipping Sanskrit speaking people whose totem was the Naga or the hooded serpent". Kenny holds the view that the Nagas were a Dravidian people inhabiting the northern part of India before the immigration of the Aryan people to India."
The term 'Nagara' which originally meant the imperial capital, and now means 'town' or 'locality' is still used as a suffix to the naming of new towns. Nalanda, site of a famous Buddist University was also called after a 'Naga', namely Nagananda, and Takhasila (Taxila) after the Naga King 'Takshaka'.
In Sanskrit texts Nagas are described as handsome, intelligent race. 'Narada Muni' after his visit to their land, declared it more enchanting than the heaven. Naga princesses were frequently sought as brides for .the Indian princes. The marriage of Purukutsa, son of Mandhatri of Ayodhya, with Narmada, a Naga Princess; of Kusha son of Rama with Naga princess . Kumud Vati; of Asvathama, son of Drona, with a Naga maiden, of Arjuna with Ulupi, a Naga princess are conspicuous instances of such alliances. In historical times particularly every important dynasty was linked with the Nagas. They also founded their own dynasties. They were Harnayaka dynasty, founded by Bhimsara of Magadha, the Sisunagas of Magadha; the Lichchhavis of the Himalayan foot hills; the Bharasivas of the upper Ganges region and the Naga dynasty of Padmavati in Central India. The Puranas :state that no less than seven Naga kings ruled at Mathura. Krishna's ancestors and also the kings of Vijaya Nagar were the Nagas. Among others the 'Nhavi' of the Deccan, the 'Kur' of Chota Nagpur and .certain princely families of Mysore are said to have descended from the Nagas."
The Mahabharata is full of references to the 'Naga' families i.e., people who bear Naga as their family name. Vedvyasa says, "This son of mine. . .is born of my wife who belongs to the serpent sect." King Janmejoy's "Naga Yajana' was not aimed at annihilating the species of 'serpents' from India but was a declared war against Naga king of Taxila. Naga names have continued to .exist from the Buddhistic period down to the present time. The names of Pingal Nag and Ding-Nagacharya are not unknown to the literary world. In Bengal various sects of Hindus still use the word 'Nag' as their
Harivamsa describes the forced ouster of certain kshatriya dynasties from Hindu societies, which included besides others the Sarpa (Serpent) and Mahisha (Buffalo) etc., Mysore State is stated to have been founded by Mahishasura. The surname Sinha, Singh or Singha (lion) is very common in India and the surname Hathee (Elephant) and Bagh (tiger) exist in many Kayastha families of Bengal. Many Punjabi Hindu families use Hathi Singh as surname. Among Bengalis many people still bear the surnames Bhera (Lamb), Patka (Goat), Mahish (Buffalo) and Sial or Saalu (Jakal) etc. Use of animal names as surnames is not practised by Hindus only. A class of Englishmen still holds such surnames as 'Bull' and 'Bullock', 'Lamb', 'Beaver', 'Wolf', 'Fox', 'Fish', 'Seal', etc.20 (See also Chap. D for Kashmiri surnames derived from the animal names).
Historians have proved beyond doubt the supremacy of the 'Mother' in earliest Indian society. Woman was the leader of the class. Marriage system prevalent in primitive Hindu society gave an exalted position to the woman." In the sphere of religion it was a goddess rather than a god which occupied the first place and in the dual form of the names the goddess is always named first e.g., Lakshmi Narayan, Gauri Shankar, Radha Krishna, etc.
Among the Sakas, Kushans, Pahalvas and other peoples of Central Asian origin, descent was often traced through the female line. Vayu Purana, one of the oldest of the Puranas says, "The Devas (men of erudition) are called or classified according to the names of their mothers." The name of the mother of the Devas was Aditi. The Devas are called Adityas. Similarly, the sons of mother 'Danayu' are known as 'Danayus' or 'Dashyus' (robbers), the sons of the mother 'Kapila' or 'Suraai' and of mother 'Kadru' or 'Sarpa' are respectively known as cow or bull or bullock or buffalo and Naga." The custom of taking names. after the mother might indicate that the father was unknown. Story of Rishi Satyakama is such an example. In some circumstances it may point to the superior pedigree of the maternal line which would make it to be preserved as among certain Rajputs. More often it points to a matriarchal society.
Khasis of Assam are said to be a perfect specimen of matriarchal society. The mother still holds the supreme position. She is the bond of union among members of the family. She owns the property and through her alone is inheritance transmitted. Nairs of Kerala also used to be a matriarch people. A Nair family consisted of the mother, her children, her brothers and maternal uncles. Transmission of inheritance was maintained through the daughters and not sons. Relationship and descent was traced through women.
In the Gita Lord Krishna says, "I am hainteya among the birds" who was, this Vainteya? Vainteya had other names too. In some cases he was called Garuda or Stakshya. He was a Sage, a leader of the Vainteyas and one of the composers of the Vedic hymns. The Vainteya, Garuda or Stakshya did not belong to the class of ordinary birds. He was the eldest son of mother Vanita. Her issues generally were known as Vainteyas (birds). Keeping in view the existence of family names as 1Vlayur (Peacock), Koel (Cuckoo),. Bajpai (Hawk) etc., in our society and those as 'Woodcock' 'Dove' 'Peacock' 'Crane' 'Duck' 'Swan' 'Patridge', 'Eagle' and 'Bird' in English society we can come safely to the logical conclusion that these different denominations are the direct outcome of the general term 'Bird'. That is to say, that the people holding such surnames are the descendants of the 'Bird family'. The matriarchal system has almost been abolished from our civilised society. Traces of this system can be found among the hill tribes anal Keralas of India andthe aboriginal tribes of Africa.
Closely connected with matriarchy is the system of Polyandry. It permits a woman to have more than one husband at the same time. This custom is said to have prevailed among almost all classes of ancient India. It was very common among non-Aryans, particularly the Austrics, and was found among Brahmins and Rishis. The hymns of Atharva-Veda saying that a woman can marry even after having ten husbands is a direct reference to polyandry. Similarly, mythology speaks of a common wife of the 'Maruts' and of the 'Asvins'.
Many scions of the ancient rishi clans were said to be born of 'two fathers', or 'the sons of many fathers', and there are a number of references in Vedic literature to women with several husbands, or to a maiden being 'given unto husbands.' The vedic Rishi 'Prachetas' had ten sons who married a common wife 'Marisha' daughter of 'Kandu'. The beautiful Gautami married seven rishis as a common wife. The fisher women had two children by one of her husbands, Santanu and by another husband bore the renowned sage Vyasa. ',latila' the virtuous daughter of a Vedic rishi was, according to Mahabharata, the wife of seven learned Brahmins. So also ' Yarkshi', daughter of a sage, who in Mahabharata was the wife of ten brothers.
There is a story in the Puranas of the beautiful Madhavi who was jointly queen to three contemporary and neighbouring kings, and bore sons to three different families, after which she bore a son to the sage Visvamitra. Not content with the performance she had a Swayamvara and selected her husband the King Haryasva with whom she went into exile. The Kunala Jataka relates that the princess 'Kavita' selected five husbands at a time and married them all. Sarkar deems it not unlikely that Sita was the common wife of Rama and Lakshamana.
The most conspicuous example of polyandry is the marriage of Draupadi to the five Pandavas. Pandu, the father of Pandavas by a curse could not cohibit. with his wives. Kunti, the mother of Pandavas, knew several husbands and had mothered a son even before her marriage. Polyandry of Pandavas surprised Drupada who questioned Yudhishthira about the strange custom, "contrary to percept and morals', and Yudhishthira replied". It is beyond our power to discover the origin of this practice. We only follow the old and righteous path taken by our ancestors.
Dr. Majumdar is of the view that the custom of several brothers marrying one woman is even today more common in India than is generally believed, not, only among non-Aryans, also but among the Brahmins.
With the passage of time the banner of matriarchy was pulled down from the social complex of ancient. India and the supreme command of leadership of the family went into the hands of man. Woman was thrown into dark dungeon of slavery and subjugation with a strong dose of sedation, from which she is yet to recover fully. Every family was commanded over by a Patriarch with full sovereignty over its members, the life and liberty of sons, daughters and wives being his private property. These patriarchs became, in ancient Indian society, the founders of various dynasties and gotras. Descendants of these gotras have been since then using the name of their forefathers (gotras) as their surnames. For this we find these days such surnames as 'Kashyapa', 'Bharadvaja', 'Vasistha', 'Parasara', 'Vyasa', 'Vatsayana',. 'Gautama', 'Mondgalayana', 'Garga', 'Mitra' and so on. The practice of using father's or forefather's name as a surname is very common in present day India.. Take for instance the name of 'Lokmanya Balwant Rao Bal-Gangadhar Tilak'. Here 'Balwant Rao' is the Christian name of Lokmanya Tilak, the word 'BalGangadhar' is his father's name and the word 'Tilak' signifies the name of forefather of his family (Lokmanya) is simply an honorific. Similarly, take the name of 'Deshabandhu Chitranjan Das' and 'Netaji Subash Chandra Bose'. 'Chitranjan' and 'Subash Chandra' signify the Christian names of the respective individuals concerned. 'Das' and 'Bose' represent respectively the names of forefathers of 'Chitranjan' and 'Subash Chandra'.
The practice of using one's father's name is not unique to the Hindu society. It has been prevalent among Europeans also. Thus William's John writes his name as John Williams (i.e. Wiliiam's son) Brain's John is called Johno' Brain (Using the Irish prefix 'O, meaning of). Donald's John became John Mac Donald (Scottish). Howell's John was known as John ApHowell, shortened to Powell (Welsh). If a Russian were called Ivan and his son had the same name, the son would be known as Ivan Itanhovitch. Many other patriarch names like George, William, Anderson, Ripon, Muir, Harrington, Morrison, Stalin, Truman, Roosevelt, Attlee, Mackintosh, Gregory, Harrison, Washington, Evatt, Hopkins, Martin etc., are very commonly used as surnames.
2.6 Name of Locality
Name of the locality from which a person's ancestors had come is also used as a surname. To add the name of locality to one's name for a better identification is a common practice in South India. Thus the name 'Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan' is a combination of his Christian name (Ranganathan), his father's name (Ramamrita) and the name of his ancestoral village (Shiyali). Other names derived from places are Bhatnagar, Malviya and Sarvepalli. In north India and west India the suffix 'Valla' is added. It is anglicized as 'Wallah' e.g., Bombaywallah, Amritsarwallah. The practice of adding 'Wallah' to one's personal name became common, even necessary, among the displaced persons of West Punjab. They added the name of their locality with a suffix 'Wallah' for an immediate and easy identifiation. Thus arose a large number of names with the word 'Wallah' e.g., 'Peshawar Wallah' 'Sialkot Wallah', 'Lahore Wallah', 'Karachi Wallah' etc. Westerners also resorted to the practice of adding the name of place to one's name for identification. "Every village had its 'hall', its 'woods', and its 'village green'. Hence three common place names are Hall Wood and Green. These names might be varied in several ways. Thomas who lived near the wood might be called Thomas Wood or Thomas At Wood. If Andrews Inn had the sign of a lion, he might be called Andrew Lyon".
Another potent source of surnames in India and abroad was the profession or the occupation of the head of the family. If a man was a broker his descendants were known as 'Dalal'. Accordingly a blacksmith was known as Karamkar, a fisherman as Dhibar, a ledger keeper as Rokaria, a money-lender as Seth, a Cashier as Khizanchi and a clerk as Munshi. A reciter of sacred texts was known as Pathak. Among certain Bengali Brahmins the suffix ' Upadhya' (recitor or teacher) is added to the ancestoral village name e.g., Mukhopadhyaya (contracted to Mukherji) Bandopadhyaya (Banerji), Chattopadhaya (Chaterjee), Gangopadhyay (Ganguli). The system of suffixing Charia, Chariar or Acharzar,' teacher' to ancestoral place names is common in Tamil Nadu e.g., Rajgopalachariar. In the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the names Ahuja, Ojha or Jha meaning reciter are common. Mr. Roy has given us a list of surnames, of English people and the Hindus, based on occupation having similar meaning.
|Hindu surnames according to occupation||English surnames according to occupation|
| 1. Vais, Vanik, Krisak,
3. Jailey or Dhibar
7. Tehsildar or Borat
10. Nayak or Senanayak
11. Pathak, Uppadhya,
Odha or Ahuja, Jha,
Acharya or Charia
13. Malakar or Mali
14. Raj Kumar
15. Rajah, Roy, Rai, Ray
or Rae, Rao and
19. Aya, Bish, or Bishi,
Swamy, Goswami or
Gosain, Prabhu, Iswar
(Ayar or Iyer and
Ayengar or Iyengar,
the diminutive form
of Sanskrit word 'Arya').
| 1. Farmer, Husband
3. Fisher or Fisherman
4. Gold Smith
5. Black Smith
8. Priest, Pope, Bishop
2.8 Suffix and Name endings
To sum up the discussion it would not be out of place to mention certain name suffixes and Nameendings used by the Brahmanas and Kshtriyas of nor thern India. Brahmanas generally used the word 'Sarman' (as provided in Visnu Purana) as a suffix to their personal names. The words 'Dviveda', 'Trivedi' and 'Chaturvedi' were, in all probability, used as name ending of those Brahmanas who had specialised in the knowledge of two, three and four vedas respectively. 'Agnihotri' was used as a suffix to one's name by those Brahmanas who would put the Ahutis in the sacred fire 'Dikshita' was used by a person who had received the formal initiation and the 'Pathaka' was reserved for the recitors of sacred texts. Swamina was 'another epithet used by the Brahmanas who happened to be the leaders of a Matha. They are said to have been devotees of Lord Shiva and are associated with the Natha Sect. Lastly, 'Misra' was an epithet given to those Brahmanas who happened to enjoy the ministerial status in Royal Courts. 'Sinha' and 'Varmana' were the two common words suffixed to the personal names of 'Kshatriyas'. But 'Deva' and 'Pala' were other two name-endings. The Princes used the epithet 'Rajputra' and this word is conspicuous for having given the name of Rajputana to that region where Rajputs settled. They do not mix with the ordinary Kshatriyas and claim to have preserved their purity of blood." 'Rauta' and 'Thakur' fall in a mixed category of name-endings. They were used both by Brahmanas and Kshatriyas. Rauta was used even by the Kshatriyas of Rajputana. Mr Vasudev Upadhyaya suggests that it was neither a 'surname' nor any designation of the Brahmanas or Kshatriyas. It has been mostly used as a prefix with the personal names. Probablv it was a corrupt form of Rajyachyuta (i.e. one who has fallen down from a royal position). Thus Brahmanas and Kshatriyas who were related to royal families but were not heirs to the throne used the word 'Rauta' as a prefix. Some scholars are of the view that 'Rauta' is a corrupt form of Rajputra. The second significant title was Thakura'. It was used by the Brahmanas of Central India. It was most probably given to those Brahmanas who were engaged in worship of a certain deity. Thus there are many Brahmanas who were 'Rauta' but their sons and grandsons adopted the name prefix 'Thakura'. 'Rauta' is said to have been a military designation and was given to any Brahmana or Kshatriya who distinguished himself as a reputed warrior." A new nomenclature was introduced during the 'barbarian period', and became fashionable among Kshatriyas. Some of the more common name-ending will indicate the character of the change. 'Gupta', 'Protector' was originally a Sudra or Vaisya name. ' Guha', 'Secret' was an aboriginal Nishada name. 'Varma', 'Shield' was of Central Asian origin and became a cognoman for Kshatriya. 'Sena', 'warrior' was used in Bengal for the children of concubines of Brahmins-° but is now adopted by the nobility. 'Bhat', 'mercenary' became a popular name for a warrior. 'Putra', 'son', 'Datta', 'gift', Simha', 'lion', were honorific suffixes assumed by foreign princes. This convention was firmly established by the time of the great Sanskrit dramas and Kavyas, and even courtesans who figured in these works were frequently given names ending in Datta, Sena or Siddha.
3 Change of surname in Women
A woman loses the caste of her father, after she is married, (caste here means family name) and passes to that of her husband. Marriage does not result only in her physical transfer, but is often made to adopt a new surname. The custom of giving a new personal name, however, is progressively becoming out of fashion. To quote Dr Madan, 'the effect of this change in her emotional life is, of course, immense. Of late there has been brewing up a sense of revolt among the Indian women, of course elite ones, against the age old tradition of adopting the surname of husband and discarding the paternal appalation. A women's magazine published a fascinating report on the phenomenon of surnames and woman in the West and appealed to its Indian readers to do away with the practice of making themselves an appendage of their male spouses. It wrote that "in the wake of the woman's liberation movement that swept across the West as a whirlwind (and ended as a whimper in the international women's year), a law had been enacted in West Germany permitting the husband to add his wife's surname to his own name.However, after 3 years, the Registrar of Hamburg found that only two per cent of bridegrooms opted to take on the bride's surname. To give a thrust to the movement, the authorities decided to allow even the men who had married before the new law came into force to adopt the wife's surname. There was a momentary rush to grab the 'maiden name', but it soon subsided.
The Registrar of Hamburg feels that there are not many men who want to forego their ancient rights. 'There is also the fact that fathers exert pressure on their sons just before they step before the Registrar.
In India, man has no 'ancient right' to change the name of the woman he marries. Even in the days of epics, women kept their names separate from their fathers/husbands. Sita was never known as Kumari Sita Janak or Shrimati Sita Ram. She has always remained as Sita Devi.
It is not known why Indian woman should imitate their Western counterparts in adding the men's name to their own. It is a pity that while the western women are trying to have parity by compelling some of their men to adopt woman's surnames, Indian women are adjectly surrendering their age old rights to men".
4.1 South Indian
By and large South India has resisted the influence: of Europe on the structure of its names. Family name could not establish itself beyond the Vindyas. However, in some recent cases the caste name is being used as a surname using the preceding words as initials. But generally the caste name is subordinated to the personal name and is written either as separate word after the personal name or compounded with personal name. Normally the last word in the name is the given name.
Tamil name, normally consists of three or more words which in succession denote the name of the place of birth, given name of the father and the given name of the person concerned. The most potent word in such names is the word denoting the personal name of the individual.
The collection of words contributing to the given name, in Kanarese cultural group, is far more numerous, than the collection of words contributing to the family name. Quite against the North Indian names the personal name is more potent word in a Kanarese name than the family name. The people of North, on the other hand follow the practice of Maharashtrians in the structure of their names. This is quite different from the practice followed by the majority of Kannada speaking people.
A Telugu name consists of a large group of words. They are pre-substantive, substantive and post-substantive. The pre-substantive is comprised of either the profession, name of an ancestor, an attribute, name of a god-father, an auxiliary or a descriptive word.
4.1.4 Ayyangar and Ayyar
An Ayyangar name is hard to pronounce. Acharya is a part of their ethos. They name their children after the several names of Vishnu. Old fashioned names for girls are now no more in vogue. Ayyars follow a cumberous process of naming. Nick names are common among them and they often overshadow the real names. Ayyars have long and complex names and such unwieldly names often create. awkward and comic situations.
4.1.5 Baffing Names
The South Indian names present a baffling phenomenon for a North Indian. They feel difficulty in pronouncing them rightly. Sardar Khushwant Singh writes that, "what I cannot pronounce, I never get to know. I had this trouble with South Indian names. As a result I never got to know my Dravidian cousins or their problems as well as I should. Am I being facetious ? No. Please try out any of the following Magizhanan or Madiazhan, Nedunchezian, Azhagiasingar or even Era Sezhiyan. They tie up my tongue into knots and by the time I regain my speech the names are out of my head. Then there are others which only those endowed with the stanuna of cross-country runners can complete e.g., Tangataru Prakasam Pantulu Garu, Mayavaram Chidemberanatha Viathialingam Swamigol, or Mahabalipuram Swaminatha Venkatasubramania Ghanapatikal. And how does a simpleminded Sardar like me cope with a Tamilian lass with so tough a name asAlamelumangathayaramma? She is not likely to forget a man with an easy name like Singh nor the hirsute impression he leaves on her labials . . .such names are formidable barriers to understanding. I suggest the National Integration Council consider simplification of South Indian names as a step towards achieving a more harmonious relationship between the Dravidan South and the Aryan North: An irritated South Indian gentleman soon retorted back with the remarks that "neither is the South Dravidan nor is the North Aryan or the country Indian. British And Muslim dress, language, manners, customs have affected Indians like leprosy, affecting one part or the other (to improve on E., M. Forster).
Simplification of the identification symbols, name and dress may be beautification for some but deformity for others. To simplify Jawahar Lal Nehru and Moti Lal Nehru as J. L. Nehru and M. L. Nehru is unthinkable. The South Indian names are simpler, more Aryan, more Indian, more national, more sonorous than the Northern ones. Is not Veerandra Patil simpler than Rao Birendra Singh? Is not Channa Reddy less involved than Chananjit Chanana? Thanks to English. Prof. Gogineni Ranga Nayakulu simplified himself as N. G. Ranga as early as the freedom struggle, Rajgopalachari was made Rajaji. The South Indians have a better sense of national integration. They name their children after northern deities also: Visvanatham, Yagannatham, Badrinatham, Gangamma, Gangayya. There are several Gandhis, Nehrus, Patels, Tilaks, Gokhales, Lajpat Rais, Eswarachandra Vidyasagars, Rajendra Prasads, Tagores, Bankims, Arivinda Ghoshes in the South. I have yet to come across a Pattabhi in Punjab, a Rajaji in Rajasthan, a Prakasam in U.P. The southerners do not name their children after Demons. Inderjeet, the son of Ravana is unthinkable though several North Indians name their children after him. It is a taboo to have a name or surname after a wild lion as in Singh. We go in for humanised lions like Narasimha Rao, Narsimhan etc. Karunanidhi is more precise than Dayananda Sagar. The South Indian names have a tendency to change in accordance with different stages in life, affluence or adversity. Gopi is my pet name in the family, Gopalam among close relatives. Goppayya, a respectable diminutive used by our farm workers. These days people are going in for Kumars which become ludicrous in old age.
Surnames were used in Bengal by the middle of the nineteenth century. The practice became more common after the advent of British. Many Bengali surnames became anglicized in form and spelling as a result of contact with Western influence and surnames are still in process of change. Honorifics academic, vocational and patronymic words were given the status of family name. This was made the last word in a name. Moreover, the given name was split into two words, while contracting the given name, the initial letters of each of its parts are preceded by the surnanie. The composition of a Bengali name is thus:
(a) the proper or personal name;
(b) Padantta used to complete the proper name; and
(c) family name or surname
The number of words available for use as family name is not more than a few hundreds.
In Uttar Pradesh and other Hindi speaking areas, family names came into vogue in the nineteenth century. R. S. Sexana remarks that after the middle of the nineteenth century 'imitation of the English form of using Christian names and surnames appeared'. Family names are generally different from the gotra names. They are patronymics of one kind or the other. Castes and subcastes were also used as surnames. Again as in Bengal, the given name is broken into two parts. Given name is used, sometimes without a surname, in the split form, as two distinct words. But people remember them as a single word. For example:
(i) Rajendra Prasad Srivastava (ii) Sriman Narayan Aggarwal
4.4 Maharashtrian Names
In Maharashtra patronymic surnames had been in use for several centuries. Mahamahopadhyaya Poddar, the Maharashtrian historian told Dr Ranganathan that lists of such surnames are now in possession of priests. These are different from gotra names. They are based upon the names of ancestral village, profession or trade. Due to European influence, they were brought into public use by being added at the end of the name even as Western family names. This became a common practice about the middle of the nineteenth century. The given name is often contracted into initials. The number of Maharashtra surnames is quite large. A Maharashtrian name is, therefore, quite non-homonymons.
In Gujrat the structure of a name is similar to that in Maharashtrian. The function of each word in a name, taken in succession is also similar to that in Maharashtrian name. The evolution of structure has also been identical. However, in some Gujrati names, the fathers given name may not occur.
The given name of a Parsee is followed by toe father's personal name. In many cases it is, however, further followed by an occupational or caste name, e.g.,
1. Manik Ji Rostamji: Manik Ji is the personal name, and Rostam Ji is the father's name.
2. Dinshaw Rustamji Mehta: Dineshaw is the personal name, and Rustamji is father's name, Mehta is surname.
A Punjabi name generally consists of two words, written separately, but conveying a meaning only when read as a compound. The second word in a Punjabi name, as in Bengali names, did not fossilise into a family name or a surname. It , is used as a complimentary word. Opprobrious names are not rare in East Punjab. Muslim influence in the composition of a Punjabi name is also discernible.
The personal name of a Sikh is usually followed by the word Singh. Singh is not used independently. Some Sikhs use a caste name as the last word in their names. It may be pointed out that all Sikhs are called Singhs but all Singhs are not Sikhs. Rajputs and Jats also use the word Singh with their names. Sikhs have a limited number of given names. Women are using now the Hindu names. Given names are borrowed both from Hindu and Muslim names. Sikh surnames. are generally same as those of Hindus.
Khatri surnames like Bhatia, Bhandari, Chopra, Chowdhri, Dhawan, Kakar, Kapoor, Khanna, Kochhar, Mahendru, Sami, Sahni, Sethi, Tandan, Uppal, Vohra etc., are commonly used among Hindus of Punjab.
Common Surnames of India
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