History Vedic up to c.800 B.C. Texts: Rig-Veda (nomadic Aryan hymns), Yajur-Veda (public ritual elaborated), Sama-Veda (material recast for chanting) Solar deities, public rituals, caste system. Names of deities still used, also many vocabulary words. Late Vedic c.800 - c.400 B.C. Texts: Artharva-Veda (incorporates non-Aryan worship of places/nature, idols, yoga), Brahmana texts (explain Vedic rituals metaphysically), Upanishads (expand philosphical aspects), Panini's grammar, concept of Karma, devotion to one particular god. Epic c.300 B.C. - c.A.D. 300 Texts: Mahabharata (story of war between two related royal families, Pandavas and Kauravas, myths about deities), Bhagavad Gita (Khrisha reveals himself as god to Prince Arjuna), Ramayana (Prince Rama's exile, abduction and rescue of Sita). Names from stories popular. Classical c.A.D. 100 - c.800 Texts: prose, poetry, drama, some Buddhist works, religious texts continue to be written, Manu lays down rules for caste names. Vocabulary names common. Puranic A.D. c.500 - c.1000 Texts: the Puranas (basis of medieval Hinduism, retell myths and legends, contain information on religious practices, everyday life, and history), Tantric texts (establish goddess worship more strongly). Many new female names established. Medieval c.1000 - c.1600 Texts: (now in vernacular as well as Sanskrit, compilatons of earlier works), Namastotras (lists of names of gods, hymns made entirely of one deity's names), Gita Govinda (love story of Krishna and Radha). Compound names developed. Castes Manu's recommendations -

Brahmins (priests) auspicious names suggesting 'spiritual prosperity'

Ksatriyas (warriors) powerful names connoting safeguarding

Vaisyas (merchants) names implying wealth

Sudras (peasants and labourers) names denoting servitude

Women's names should be 'pleasant-sounding, plain in meaning, auspicious and end in long vowels so they sound like benedictions'

Parsees C6th B.C. founded by Zoroaster (Zarethustra), a priest in Persian religion including fire cult and animal sacrifice, text Zend-Avesta (in similar language to Vedic Sanskrit).

A.D. 800 fled from Persia at Arab conquest. Names are hard to tell apart from similar Islamic names as they have the same Persian sources. Parsees notable for

commercial success.

Christianity C6th introduced by Nestorians from Persia

Missionary groups active under European rule, and there are now several million Christians using names from Biblical sources although their religious practices are affected by local customs. Saints' names are from British, French and Portuguese.


Most of the numerous Hindu gods and goddesses have many different names according to which of their characteristics one is referring. These can all be used as personal names as can the main name. It is common to combine the names of two deities to make a new name. All names are masculine unless stated otherwise.

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This collection of names compiled by Kate Monk. Copyright January 1997, Kate Monk. Last updated October, 98. Copies may be made for personal use only.