India is famous for its diversity; it is home to several different ethnic groups and cultures. The variety of Indian culture makes it important to note that there are also some cultural diversities within the country itself.
It has more than a billion inhabitants, with around three million new births each year. There are many languages spoken across India for this reason. Considering all of these various factors, we can see why there would be such a wide range of surnames!
Here is a compiled list of common last names in India.
Acharya is a surname found in the Brahmin community in India.
Agarwal is a business-oriented surname mainly found in northern India. The surname Agarwal is derived from the term Agroha, which refers to the ancient capital of Agar Sen. It is one of the most widely used Indian surnames.
Ahuja is mainly native to the Punjab region of northern 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 meaning happiness or joy.
Arora is a Sikh community that is mainly located in the Punjab. The Arora are a merchant people originally from the city of Aror.
Last name Banerjee comes from Bengal. The first word, “Ban”, is a short form of Bandoghat, while the last word, “jee”, is derived from “jha”, which means “teacher”.
Bhatt is another popular surname in the Punjabi goldsmith community. It means a wise person.
by Bhattacharya are Kanyakubja Brahmins from Kanyakubja Province in northern India. In medieval times, they immigrated to the eastern regions of India.
Last name Basu comes from Bengal. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word Vasu, which means “wealth, jewel and splendor”.
Bajpai is a Brahmin surname in North India. Vajpayee is another variation of Bajpayee.
Chetty originally from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Chettiar or Chetti are the other two variations of the name. They are mostly traders, farmers and weavers.
Chowdhury is a status title for a community leader. Historically, the title has been given to prominent people. It is now a common surname for Muslims and Hindus in India.
Chakraborthy is usually found in the Bengal region and belongs to the Bengali Brahmin community. The family name means emperor or ruler.
Das is the most common surname among the Odias, Bengalis and Assamese. It comes from the Sanskrit term Dasa, which means servant and worshiper.
Deshpande is a Brahmin surname. It comes 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 among the inhabitants of northern India and eastern Pakistan. He belongs to the Khatri or Kshatriya caste which has its roots in Hindu mythology.
Gupta is an Indian surname that comes from the Sanskrit word goptri meaning protector, shelter. Today it is used by many communities across North India.
Gandhi is used by many different communities in India in various states eg Gujarati Parsis, Punjabis which belong to different castes such as Jat community.
The Brahmin surname Haldar is derived from the Sanskrit term “haladhara”, which implies “he who plows” or “he who plows the land”.
Iyer is a famous Brahmin surname in South India, common in Tamil Nadu. According to cultural and territorial distinctions, the Iyers are separated into many sub-sects. Ayyar, Aiyar, Ayer or Aiyer are other spellings of the same name.
The most common last name 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 “chief”.
Jaiswal is a Hindu surname found in India. Many Hindu communities, including Jains and Rajputs, use this surname. The Jaiswal dynasty is primarily a merchant who sells a variety of products.
Kumar is also used by many different communities in India in 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 the Maharajas and other members of royalty are derived. The Kshatriyas are believed to be warriors or rulers, and they were to protect the Hindu Dharma.
Lal is a Hindu surname. The name “Lal” comes from the Sanskrit word “lalaa”, which literally means “to stroke”. It also means darling.
Last name 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”.
Last name Naed is found in Andhra. It is composed of the substantive word “Naya”, which means “head” or “chief”.
Nair is a popular surname in India belonging to the Nayar community. Nair means “Warrior” in Malayalam.
Last name Patel has its origin in the Vaishya caste. The surname Patel is a popular Gujarati surname. In Gujarati, it means “village chief”. The word Patel comes from the word Patidar, which means one who owns land or property.
Last name Pandit has its origin in the Brahmin / Kshatriya caste. It may also have been used as a professional name for those who have worked as priests or astrologers since ancient times. Pandit means a scholar or someone brilliant.
Last name Rao has its origin in the Kshatriya or Brahmin caste. The surname is originally from India and is also used by residents of the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. It means king in Sanskrit.
Last name Roy has its origin in the Kayastha caste. The word “Roy” translates to king or chief. Rai is another synonym for this surname.
Singh is a popular surname in India belonging to the Rajput caste. The meaning of Singh is Leo. Its origin dates back to ancient Indian folklore. He was adopted as hereditary by many ruling families in South Asia, who thus acquired the title of “Maharaja” or Great King (of the Great Kingdom).
Sharma has its origin in the Brahmin caste. It is derived from the Sanskrit word sarma which means joy.
Thakur is a Hindu name meaning ‘god’ or ‘lord’. Thakur is a Kshatriya surname, however, it is often prevalent among Brahmins as well as other castes.
Talwar is one of the most common surnames in India. The name means sword and is mainly found among the Sikh and Kshatriya communities.
Udupa is a popular surname in India and is found among the Brahmin community mainly in South India.
Varma is a common surname in northern India. It is derived from the Sanskrit word “armor” and means “protection”. It was initially adopted only by the Kshatriya clan, but non-Kshatriya communities are also gradually adopting it.
Yadav is a surname whose origin is the Sanskrit word Yadava. It means the descendant of Yadu. Yadu was a Hindu king. This surname is mainly found in Maharashtra.
In Kerala, Zechariah is a popular Christian surname. Keralais households often use it as a first name.
As you can see, India is full of many different cultures, religions and languages. Just like the culture, various surnames are popular in India.
Last names can be classified into two broad categories: geographic and professional. Hope this article has been of great help to you.