Indian surnames, hindu surnames, origin and meaning

Indian surnames and family names are derived from a variety of systems and naming conventions. The surnames are influenced by religion, profession, region, caste etc. Here is our list of Indian surnames and their origin/ meaning. You can also add your surname to this list if it is not listed below. Send your contributions to

Abbott = One who worship and spread teachings of Sanatan Dharam (Hinduism)
Achari = Derived from Asari (Malayalam). Carpenters in profession.
Acharya = Priest & teacher.
Adiga = Priest from North Karnataka.
Agarwal = Derived from Agarwala or 'a descendant from district Agroha', ancient name of Hissar city. Agroha had 18 districts - Garg, Mangal, Kucchal, Goyan, Goyal, Bansal, Kansal, Singhal, Jindal, Thingal, Airan, Dharan, Madhukul, Bindal, Mittal, Tayal, Bhandal, and Naagal. All these surnames are synonymous with Agarwals.
Ahluwalia = A descendant from Ahlu, a village near Lahore.
Ahuja = A descendant of Ahu.
Arora = A descendant from Aror, today's Rohri in Sind.
Asan = This word derived from sanskrit Acharya meaning teacher. Kaniyar community of south Kerala, uses this title in virtue of their traditional avocation as elementary school teachers.

Bandopadhyay = A respected teacher.
Banerjee = Teacher from the village of Bandoghat.
Bharadwaj = Descendants of sage Bharadwaja.
Bhat/Butt = Priest or Scholar.
Bhattacharya = Priest & teacher.
Bhattathiri = Particular class of Brahmins in Kerala.

Chaturvedi = One who has learned all the four vedas.
Chattopadhyay = A teacher from the Chatta village in Bengal.
Chopra = Descendants of warrior Chaupat Rai.

Desai = Means one who owns desh (place). Landlord.
Deshmukh = Person who heads a territory, desh means a country (district) and mukh means head
Deshpande = District accountant / head of region.
Devar = Means God. Community is based in Tamil Nadu. Has Ambalakaarar (village headman), Maravar (warriors), Chervaar (palace workers) 4. Piramalai kallar (spies) as sub-sects.
Dhawan = Messenger on the field of battle.
Dhirwan = Rajput, One who worship and spread teachings of Maa Rajrajeswari, Uttrakhand origin.
Dubashi = Person who knows two languages, a Translator.
Dutta = Drived from Aditya or Sun.
Dwivedi = One who has learned two vedas.

Embranthiri = Brahmins migrated from Karnataka and settled in Kerala.

Ganaka = Hindu traditional astrologers (Kaniyar) in Kerala and Assam (Ganak Brahmins).
Gandhi = From Sanskrit gandha which means perfume, perfume seller. In Gujarati the word also means grocer or pharmacist.
Gill = Lake/Moisture/Prosperity. Punjabi sikh origin.
Gowda = Karnataka origin. Village headman.
Guha = Another name for Lord Kartikeya.
Guneta = People originally from Queta/Sind.
Gupta = Ruler/Protector.

Iyer = Derived from Tamil word Ayya which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Arya which means Noble.
Iyengar = One who has undergone the 5 purification rituals.

Jain = Follower of Jainism. Which is derived from Jina (one who overcomes).
Jha = Community of highly cohesive, traditional Brahmins who form part of ancient Vedic Brahmins. They are Maithili speakers.
Johar = Sanskrit for Jewel.
Joshi = Practioner of Jyotish or astrology.

Kakkar = Strong.
Kaniyar = Tamil-Malayalam translation of the Sanskrit word "Ganika"-r (those who calculate). Traditional astrologers of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Kapoor = Descendants of Moon.
Kaul = Means well-born. Derived from Sanskrit word Kula.
Kaur = Princess. Punjabi sikh origin.
Khan = Turkish in origin. Means Chief/Ruler.
Khanna = Derived from Khanda (sword).
Khatri = Punjabi version of Kshatriya (ruler). Khanna, Kapoor, Seth, Mehra, Malhotra, Chopra and Walia are all Khatris.
Kocchar = Armour.
Kori = derived from the word 'kora' means clean, which originated from 'gora' meaning whiteness.

Mahajan = Literally means big People.
Mahto = Head of the village.
Malik = Arabic word for King.
Malireddy = Kamma with surname from Samalkot mandal region in Andhra.
Marar = Performs music and percussions in Temples. Of Kerala origin.
Marri = The surname belonging to the people of Krishnadevaraya dynasty.
Menon = Of Kerala origin, Accountants.
Mehra/Mehrotra = Descendants of Mihr (Sun).
Mishra = Mixed or blended.
Mukhopadhyay = Main Teacher.

Nayar, Naik = Means leader, soldier.
Nair = Derived from Nayak, means leader. Nambiar, Adiyodi, Kurup, Menon, Unnitthaan, Thampi, Mannadiyaar are sub class of Nair.
Nambeesan = Lower class brahmin who performs temple duties in Kerala.
Namboothiri = Particular class of Brahmins in Kerala.
Negi = Surname in Uttrakhand, Rajput warriors.
Nehru = One who lives on the bank of a Nehr or canal.

Pandey = Saryuparin Brahmans who specialized in the study & research of the 4 Vedas and Puranas.
Panicker = Derived from Sanskrit word Parinayaka (martial art preceptor). Kaniyar Panicker or Kalari panicker of Kerala is commonly known by this name.
Patel/Patil = Village headman.
Patial = Belongs to Rajput family, Rulers.
Pilla/Pillai = Young lad, son. Malayalam and Tamil origin.
Pothuvaal = Performs music and percussions in temples. Of Kerala origin.
Prajapati - Suryavanshi descendants from Ikshvaku son of Manu prajapati (son of Daksha Prajapati).

Rana = Ruler. Some speculate it is the male version of Rani.
Rajput = Ruler, means offspring of the Ruler.
Reddy = Derived from "Rashtrakuta" which is Sanskrit for "Rettakudi". Rettakudi is converted into Rettadi and later Reddy.

Saini = Head of army.
Sethi = Derived from Sanskrit word Sreshti (Merchant). Incidentally Shetty/Chettiar has the same roots.
Shah = Persian word for Monarch.
Sharma = Hindu (Brahman) name from Sanskrit sarma means joy, shelter.
Shukla = Bright.
Singh = Derived from Sanskrit word Simha which means Lion.
Sinha = From the Sanskrit word Simha which means Lion.
Somayaji = Brahmin who performs Somayaga.

Tagore = Anglicised version of Thakur (Lord).
Talwar = Swordsman/Sword.
Tandon = Warrior or sun.
Trivedi = Learned in 3 vedas.

Varrier = Temple dwellers of Kerala origin, who performs other temple duties than Puja
Varma/Varman = Kshatriyas in South India. Affixed to the names of rulers.
Verma = Hindu name, from Sanskrit word varman which means armor, protection.

Yadav = Followers of Yadu, particular community related to lord Krishna.

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