How Religion Shapes Indian Names A religious, cultural and commercial fountain, the Indian subcontinent has a long history. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, 4 major religions, came from India. Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism continued to diversify India’s culture after their arrival in the 1st millennium AD. Religious influences have strongly determined the names given to babies in India more than any other cultural or linguistic factor. Indian names which are used in the country India, are also called Hindu names. However, not all Indians necessarily follow the religious Hindu practices. In fact, more and more Indians are using Iranian and Arabic names are a result of Islamization. Muslim Indians are required by the religion of Islam to use traditional Muslim names for their children.
The Republic of India A South Asian country with over 1.2 billion people, India is the most populous democracy and 2nd most populated country in the world. It’s the 7th largest country on Earth bounded by China (NE), Pakistan (W), Bangladesh (E), the Bay of Bengal (SE), the Arabian Sea (SW), and the Indian Ocean (S). After being under the UK’s administration through the British East India Company for centuries, India was established as an independent nation in 1947. A political victory garnered by the peaceful revolt led by Mahatma Gandhi. Naming Custom The typical Indian name consists of a given name and (0, 1 or multiple) secondary names. The secondary name(s) could be the caste, a patronym, the village, and/or the occupation. Indian names usually originate from the Indo-European language, Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the parent language for most of the other Indian languages, including Hindi. The Devangari alphabet is used to write many of the languages spoken in India, such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Kashmiri, and Marathi. The Devangari (an abugida alphabet) descends from the Phoenician alphabet by way of the Brahmi and Aramaic alphabets. Hindu Indian Names Hindu given names are usually derived from Sanskrit and come from Hinduism’s sacred texts. Common male names are Krishna, Shiva, Ajit, and Indra and Lakshmi and Sita for female names. Sanskrit vocabulary words are another typical Indian name source, like in Anand “happiness” and  Gita “song”. Indian names have become popular in the West, particularly among famous actors who have traveled to India on spiritual seeking journeys or have converted to Hinduism in America. The name Surya, used by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for their daughter, means “sun” and is the name for the sun god in Hindu. Sikh Indian Names Distinct from Hindu, Sikh names share a common derivation from Sanskrit. Most are dithematic, consisting of 2 name elements, with created combinations intended to apply special meaning or birth designations. First name elements like har and man and second name elements like inder and deep are combined for names such as Harinder ( the names of 2 Hindu gods, Hari or Vishnu and Indra) and Mandeep which means “lamp of the mind”. Sikh males usually have the surname, Singh (“lion”), while women typically have the surname Kaur (“princess”). This common surname distribution was an attempt to destroy the oppressive power of India’s caste system by Gobind Singh (1666-1708), a guru. Singh or Kaur can also be used as middle names which precedes the family name.  Indian Name Elements:

“meaning”, derived


indra, -endra
reference to Indra, a Hindu god
(Jaswinder, Narendra)

-esh, -ish
“ruler, lord” -fr Sanskrit isa
(Rajnish, Harish)

(Maninder, Mandeep)

(Inderpal, Gopal)

(Rajesh, Rajendra)