India is famous for its diversity; it is home to several different ethnic groups and cultures. The variety in the Indian culture makes it important to note that there are also certain cultural diversities within the country itself.
It has a population of over one billion people, with around three million new births every year. There are many languages spoken across India because of this reason. Taking into account all these diverse factors, we can understand why there would be an equally wide range of last names as well!
Here is a compiled list of the common last names in India.
Acharya is a surname found in the Brahmin community in India.
Agarwal is a business-oriented surname found mainly in north India. The surname Agarwal is derived from the term Agroha, which refers to the ancient city of Agar Sen’s previous capital. This is among the most widely used Indian surnames.
Ahuja is mainly from the Punjab region in North India and is also used by the Sikh community. Ahu was the name of an ancestor of the Arora lineage.
Anand is a popular Hindu surname that means happiness or joy.
Arora is a Sikh community found mainly in Punjab. The Arora is a mercantile people who originally hailed from the city of Aror.
The surname Banerjee comes from Bengal. The first word, ‘Ban,’ is an abbreviated form of Bandoghat, while the last word, ‘jee,’ is derived from ‘jha,’ which means ‘teacher.’
Bhatt is another popular last name in the goldsmith community of Punjab. It means a wise person.
Bhattacharya’s are Kanyakubja Brahmins who hail from north India’s Kanyakubja province. During medieval times, they immigrated to the Eastern Parts of India.
The surname Basu comes from Bengal. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word Vasu, which denotes ‘richness, jewel, and splendor.’
Bajpai is a Brahmin surname in North India. Vajpayee is another variant of Bajpayee.
Chetty originates from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Chettiar or Chetti are the other two variants of the name. They are mostly traders and agriculturists and weavers.
Chowdhury is a status title for a community leader. Historically, the title was given to people of prominence. It is now a common surname for both Muslims and Hindus in India.
Chakraborthy is usually found in the Bengal region and is to the Bengali Brahmin community. The surname means emperor or ruler.
Das is the most common last name amongst Odias, Bengalis, and Assamese people. It comes from the Sanskrit term Dasa, which means servant and worshipper.
Deshpande is a brahmin surname. It originated from ‘Despande’, a Marathi word.
Dixit is also a Brahmin surname. It is derived from the Sanskrit word diksita, which means rituals performed by a priest.
Garg is a surname found amongst the people of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan. It belongs to the Khatri or Kshatriya caste that has its root in Hindu mythology.
Gupta is an Indian surname that originated from Sanskrit word goptri meaning protector, shelter. Today it’s used by many communities across North India.
Gandhi is used by many different communities in India across various states e.g Gujarati Parsis, Punjabis who belong to different caste backgrounds such as the Jat community.
The Brahmin surname Haldar is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘haladhara,’ which implies ‘one who plows’ or ‘one who tills the land.
Iyer is a famous Brahmin surname in South India, prevalent in Tamil Nadu. Depending on cultural and territorial distinctions, Iyers are separated into numerous sub-sects. Ayyar, Aiyar, Ayer, or Aiyer are other spellings of the same name.
The most common surname is Iyengar in Thamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Ayyangars or Aiyengars are synonyms of this surname. Aiyan means preist or sage. It also comes from the Telugu word Ayyagaru which means father.
The name “Jain” comes from the Sanskrit term “Jina,” which literally means “ruler.”
Jaiswal is a Hindu surname found in India. Many Hindu communities including Jains and Rajputs use this surname. The Jaiswal dynasty is mostly a merchant who deals in a variety of goods.
Kumar is also used by many different communities in India across various states and it is not caste specific. Kumar means a boy or a prince.
Kshatriya is a variant of Khatri. In Hinduism, the Kshatriya caste is one of the five primary castes. It is also the caste from which Maharajas and other royalty derive. Kshatriyas are supposed to be warriors or rulers, and they were expected to protect Hindu Dharma.
Lal is a Hindu surname. The name “Lal” comes from the Sanskrit word “lalaa,” which literally means “caressing.” It also means darling.
The surname Malhotra is derived from a Khatri lineage. Mehrotra is a synonym of this surname.
Madan is a Hindu surname. The word “Madan” is derived from the Sanskrit word “madana”, which means ‘love’.
The surname Naidu is found in Andhra. It is made up of the substantive word ‘Naya,’ which means ‘head’ or ‘chief.’
Nair is a popular last name in India belonging to Nayar Community. Nair means “Warrior” in the Malayalam language.
The surname Patel has its origin in the Vaishya caste. The surname Patel is a popular Gujarati surname. In Gujarati, it denotes ‘village chief.’ The word Patel comes from the word Patidar, which means the one who owns land or property.
The surname Pandit has its origin in the Brahmin/Kshatriya caste. It may also have been used as a professional name for those who worked as priests or astrologers since ancient times. Pandit means a scholar or someone brilliant.
The surname Rao has its origin in the Kshatriya or Brahmin caste. The surname originated from India and is also used by people in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. It means king in Sanskrit.
The surname Roy has its origin in the Kayastha caste. The word “Roy” translates to the king or chief. Rai is another synonym of this surname.
Singh is a popular last name in India belonging to the Rajput caste. The meaning of Singh is Lion. Its origin can be traced back to ancient Indian folklore. It was adopted as hereditary by many ruling families in South Asia, who thereby acquired the title ‘Maharaja’ or Great King (of Greater Kingdom).
Sharma has its origin in the Brahmin caste. It is derived from the Sanskrit word sarma meaning joy.
Thakur is a Hindu name that means “god” or “lord.” Thakur is a Kshatriya surname, however, it is often prevalent amongst Brahmins as well as other castes.
Talwar is one of the most common surnames in India. The name means sword and is mostly found among Sikh and Kshatriya communities.
Udupa is a popular last name in India and is found among the Brahmin community mostly in south India.
Varma is a prevalent surname in North India. It is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘armor,’ and signifies ‘protection.’ It was first solely adopted by the Kshatriya clan, but non-Kshatriya communities are gradually adopting it too.
Yadav is a surname with its origin in the Sanskrit word Yadava. It means Yadu’s descendant. Yadu was a Hindu King. This surname is mostly found in Maharashtra.
In Kerala, Zacharia is a widespread Christian surname. Keralan households often use this as their first name.
As you see, India is full of many different cultures, religions, and languages. Just like the culture, various surnames are popular in India.
The surnames can be broadly classified into two categories- geographical and occupational. Hope this article was a great help to you.